December 27, 2009 | Italian

Italian-Speaking Family Members Arrive!

Brandt's sister's family is going to be here for two weeks. They all speak Italian!

Brandt’s sister and her family have just arrived from Italy for a couple of weeks in New York. Her husband is from Genoa, and they are raising their three children there. They have an apartment a few blocks from us on the Upper West Side, which is fantastic, as it makes visiting easy and spontaneous.

Brandt with Charlie, Peter, and Sophie

The five of them came by our place in the late morning. I wasn’t home very long, because I was getting ready to go to my first track meet ever at the Armory Track uptown. But I did enjoy their company, as well as some Italian, before I left. Brandt’s sister told me, in Italian, about how learning Italian had made her forget her French. Her narrative was more than a few sentences, and fairly quick, and Charlie, 12, the older of my two nephews, looked at me quizzically and asked if I had understood. I said yes and gave a summary as evidence (after all, anyone can say yes).

I then tried out a little more Italian on him as well as his siblings, Peter, 10, and Sophie, 7. I got a huge kick out of it. I mean, I have been hearing them speak Italian since they were tiny, but I have never before been able to understand and respond. We have always had an English-only relationship.

Charlie asked me if I thought I’d forget my Italian when I went on to another language, and I said I did.

I get that question a lot these days. Forgetting doesn’t trouble me. It’s not as though you don’t get anything out of what you’ve learned, even if you don’t remember all the details. And you remember at least some.

Besides, my life is one long series of forgettings. Things just keep falling out the back of my head, and I just try to keep shoveling more in.

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