Teach Yourself Italian.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s “Personal History” piece may be the best thing I’ve read in the New Yorker on language (in the foreign-language sense), and since they’re making it available to nonsubscribers, I’m passing it along to you. It starts slow, and I confess to getting a little irritated with her endless difficulties at first (“Why not just give up, then?”), but it pays off in the end. (And the end is a real shocker.)

Update.
Lucy Ferriss at Lingua Franca has a nice response:

Lahiri follows a distinguished line of writers who have elected to compose their work in a nonnative tongue. Many of these — Vladimir Nabokov, Joseph Conrad, Ha Jin — have chosen to write in English. But since, as my colleague Geoffrey Pullum recently pointed out, English is the lingua franca of the globe, I’m not focused on them so much as on those who chose a different, less widespread vernacular. Samuel Beckett, an Irishman, wrote in French because it allowed him to write “without style.” Ágota Kristóf, who also chose French when she immigrated to Switzerland from her native Hungary, said toward the end of her life that “a book takes five times longer when I’m writing in French, even now. But I did a lot of theatre in my youth, and there, there’s not too much description, there’s dialogue, sentences. I began writing little plays as a game.” Ana-Kazumi Stahl, whose heritage is Japanese, German, and American, writes in Spanish. […]

Though I speak French fluently and read it passably, I am not yet prepared to try writing in French. I tell myself I’m too old. I remind myself how much I love English, and I do: I love the mongrel quality of it, the ridiculous wealth of vocabulary, the many ways a verb can be jiggered to convey different senses of the past, the inflections of syntax that convey a speaker’s region or accent. But really, I’m daunted. Partly it’s the steep climb that scares me — the passé simple! — but even more, it’s the rawness, the self-revelation that beginning to express oneself in a new tongue seems to bring on. As Lahiri puts it in her Daphne metaphor, “It’s true that a new language covers me, but unlike Daphne I have a permeable covering — I’m almost without a skin.” How dangerous, and how thrilling.

And of course that’s the entire subject of Elizabeth Klosty Beaujour’s Alien Tongues, which anyone interested in the topic should read. (It’s not just about Russians; she has a whole chapter on Beckett.)

Comments

  1. You’re right about that final twist!

    I happen to own a copy of “Teach Yourself Italian” too, although probably not the same edition as hers (mine is by Kathleen Speight, 2nd edition, originally published in 1962). The blurb begins “A working knowledge of Italian is not difficult to acquire, and the pronunciation of the language is relatively simple and consistent.” Stiff upper lip and all that.

  2. Reading the essay I kept thinking of Beckett. But this struck me:

    When my mother returns to Calcutta, she is proud of the fact that, in spite of almost fifty years away from India, she seems like a woman who never left.

    Seems to herself, perhaps. But I’m willing to bet that Kolkatans, even ones of her mother’s own age, see her as something from another time, or more accurately frozen in time. If she has not become an American of 2015, she has not become an Indian of 2015 either.

    See Nick Nicholas’s “Hyphenated and Less-Hyphenated Greeks” (Internet Archive copy).

  3. @Matt: Oddly, in terms of pronunciation, I’ve had more trouble acclimating myself to Italian than to Spanish, German or even French. Between remembering the values of e, o and z and making sure that my simple and geminate consonants sound distinct (especially in unstressed syllables), I’m still at the point where reading a sentence aloud feels like a chore.

  4. This appears to be an extract from her new book “In altre parole”.

    You can hear her speaking Italian in the video at the end of this article. Pretty decent accent.

    http://www.lavocedinewyork.com/L-italiano-di-Jhumpa-Lahiri-storia-di-un-amore/d/15144/

  5. À propos, how did the author’s name end up with jh-? Etymological jh has all become h, or so I have heard.

  6. David Marjanović says:

    The multiverse of headspace… o_O

  7. David puts it more nicely than I could ever.

  8. According to WP, it’s her child-name, adopted as her American name by her teachers because it was easier to pronounce than her proper given names Nilanjana Sudeshna. There is a standard way to represent /jh/ in Bengali script, the ঝু or bɔrgiyɔ jɔ, whereas /j/ is য , called ɔntɔsthɔ jɔ. The difference is purely etymological in Bengali, but significant when Sanskrit is written in the Bengali script. So I suspect we are dealing with transliteration here, where /jh/ = /j/, but it’s possible that as a child-name Jhumpa either resisted the sound change or was freshly re-created after it had run to completion.

  9. See Nick Nicholas’s “Hyphenated and Less-Hyphenated Greeks” (Internet Archive copy).

    Good lord, is Nick Nicholas now reduced to an Internet Archive wraith? What has the world come to?

  10. No, the site’s just flaky, or was as of last night, and nobody’s added a comment since 2009 anyway. But feel free to delete the initial part of the linked URL, down to but not including the second instance of “http”, which will bypass the Archive.

    I meant to mention that the pervasive /ɔ/ in Bengali words is the default vowel, corresponding to Sanskrit short /a/ and Hindi /ə/, all written (or rather not written) the same way. Therefore, the “English short u = Hindi short a” correspondence, as in Punjab = Panjab, does not apply to Bengali words, in particular not to Jhumpa. There turn out to be plenty of Bengalis who bear the name, which reinforces my first idea, namely that the “Jh” is pure transliterationese and not different from “J” except etymologically.

  11. David Marjanović says:

    David puts it more nicely than I could ever.

    Oh, I mean no disapproval. I only mean to express bewilderment. So many ideas that would never have occurred to me and that I can’t empathize with…

  12. can’t

    ?

  13. David Marjanović says:

    Quite literally. In some cases I’m really unable to put myself into other people’s shoes; I can only stand there like a Vulcan and state that such behavior doesn’t make any sense, with no emotion other than fundamental puzzlement.

  14. @David Marjanović: You’re not alone. I often find myself encountering reactions that I know fall within the normal range of human response, yet I also know that I could never ever experience myself. I can’t really empathize with this writer, but her story is all the more fascinating for its apparent oddity.

    I wasn’t surprised by the punchline though. It was pretty heavily foreshadowed earlier in the text.

    (By the way, does my use of “punchline” just now seem natural to all of you. In my idiolect, the word is not strictly limited to jokes, but I wonder whether that’s just me, or whether others share this meaning of the word.)

  15. George Gibbard says:

    There is a standard way to represent /jh/ in Bengali script, the ঝু or bɔrgiyɔ jɔ, whereas /j/ is য , called ɔntɔsthɔ jɔ. The difference is purely etymological in Bengali, but significant when Sanskrit is written in the Bengali script.

    In fact according to this pdf (http://home.uchicago.edu/~cbs2/b_instruct_downloads/Bangla.alphabet.VidyaSagar.pdf)
    bɔrggio jɔ is জ (historically /j/, while ɔntostho jɔ is historically /y/), and ঝ is just jhɔ, suggesting that /jh/ is unproblematically a phoneme.

    /jh/ > /h/ happened pre-Sanskrit, though Sanskrit had some instances of /jh/ in onomatopoeia, for example /jhaṭiti/ ‘suddenly’ (from ‘saying/going “jhaṭ!”‘). In Prakrit, the Sanskrit cluster /dhy/ regularly became /jh/, and I believe it’s been around ever since.

  16. David, have you ever learned a new language and joined a new linguistic community as an adult? What was it like for you? I found the author’s experience of “growing” a new identity not necessarily that closely related to the existing one quite familiar, for example.

  17. The ending does pack a punch, but the liberal use of the word “exile” annoyed me.

    I am surprised that Americans found Jhumpa easier to pronounce properly than Nilanjana.

  18. marie-lucie says:

    [Jhumpa] was easier to pronounce than her proper given names Nilanjana Sudeshna

    Besides the length of Nilanjana Sudeshna if counted as the first name, the problem for the American teachers reading the names from a list (rather than first hearing them) would probably be how to interpret the phonetic values of the “i” and the second “a” from the writing, and also where to place the stress, all of which would be obvious in Jhumpa in spite of the oddity of “jh”.

  19. Christopher says:

    I can completely relate to her. I too grew up with English, feel a distance to my heritage language, and feel totally compelled to write in a third language.

  20. Jhumpa Lahiri’s self-imposed Italian (language) exile? She should try it in Alta Irpinia – then I’d be impressed.

    A lovely writer, why reduce a love of the Italian language to just another culturally obtuse travelogue? Their family arrival a few days before Ferragosto speaks volumes, the key fiasco straight out of Italian for Tourists 101. No Italian friends? That’s an oxymoron. (Did I use that correctly?)

  21. John, George: Thanks for the enlightenment!
    (also all my best wishes for John Cowan)

  22. all of which would be obvious in Jhumpa in spite of the oddity of “jh”.

    I have heard Americans pronounce her name as Jhampa (a J remix of Champa) and as Jhoompa, as well as just to hesitate and hope someone else would fill it in. No aspiration as far as I remember.

  23. Oh, I mean no disapproval.

    Nor I.

    So many ideas that would never have occurred to me and that I can’t empathize with.

    Yes.

    I only mean to express bewilderment.

    This is the only point in which we differ. I couldn’t plausibly be bewildered by something I’ve encountered all too often.

  24. I, on the other hand, find some things bewildering no matter how many times I encounter them.

  25. A lovely writer, why reduce a love of the Italian language to just another culturally obtuse travelogue? Their family arrival a few days before Ferragosto speaks volumes, the key fiasco straight out of Italian for Tourists 101. No Italian friends? That’s an oxymoron. (Did I use that correctly?)

    If you think she’s a lovely writer, I’m not sure why you’re reading her piece so uncharitably. Do you life your life doing everything in the most sensible possible way?

    I have heard Americans pronounce her name as Jhampa (a J remix of Champa) and as Jhoompa

    I say Jhoompa myself! What am I doing wrong? How should an American say it? (Obviously you can’t expect a proper Bengali jh.)

  26. J. W. Brewer says:

    There’s an annual prize (going back 3 decades now) for German-language writing by authors whose L1 was not German: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adelbert_von_Chamisso_Prize.

  27. J. W. Brewer says:

    Of whom one of the more interesting in terms of life arc is https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galsan_Tschinag, who was born in Mongolia (“youngest son of a Tuvan shaman,” sez his wikibio) while it was under Communist domination and at age 18 was sent by the regime to study in the DDR at what was then known as Karl-Marx-Universität (now reverted to its prior name of Universität Leipzig), where he got the hang of writing in German.

  28. Athel Cornish-Bowden says:

    ”When my mother returns to Calcutta, she is proud of the fact that, in spite of almost fifty years away from India, she seems like a woman who never left.”

    Seems to herself, perhaps. But I’m willing to bet that Kolkatans, even ones of her mother’s own age, see her as something from another time, or more accurately frozen in time. If she has not become an American of 2015, she has not become an Indian of 2015 either.

    I’m willing to bet that as well. I’m very conscious that when I go to England after 28 years of living in France that I don’t sound like an Englishman of 2015. My wife finds exactly the same when she goes to Chile (though in her case it’s complicated by the number of words and expressions she’s picked up from our Spanish friends — I haven’t heard her say vosotros yet, but it wouldn’t surprise me if she did). I know someone who didn’t return to Syria after coming to France for his medical studies (he didn’t fancy doing his military service in the Syrian army, and who can blame him). That was about 40 years ago. I have met his sister and a niece, who both live in Damascus, and they agree that although his Arabic is intelligible it has a very old-fashioned sound.

    We expatriates lose our old cultural roots without ever acquiring new ones. No one would ever think I was French (though I feel Marseillais without feeling French).

  29. des von bladet says:

    We expatriates lose our old cultural roots without ever acquiring new ones. No one would ever think I was French (though I feel Marseillais without feeling French).

    I’ve always* felt Belgian, although I’m actually applying for Dutch citizenship.

  30. Well, I feel like a New Yorker after 36 years or so of expatriation from New Jersey, but certainly not a native New Yorker.

  31. I never really felt Australian and that twilight absence has served me well in Japan so far.

  32. David Marjanović says:

    David, have you ever learned a new language and joined a new linguistic community as an adult?

    No.

    What has me just blinking is: finding a language very difficult, somehow falling in love with it, and then spontaneously moving to where it’s spoken, just so, cold turkey.

    I, on the other hand, find some things bewildering no matter how many times I encounter them.

    Me too.

  33. Thanks, David, for the clarifications. It’s funny that her cold-turkey self-uprooting didn’t phase me at all. I mean, you’re entirely right, of course, that it might be seen as quite drastic. Another way of looking at it, though, is that it’s the sort of thing you might want to do if only given the economic security and time-freedom she has earned for herself. No regrets, but if I could have made the move on my own in a single leap, quite probably I would have.

    It’s interesting, though not really surprising considering the multitudes the Hattery contains, that there’s such a range of reactions to her piece. Part of me stubbornly and naively imagines gut-level that all lovers of foreign languages would like to live abroad, but there’s no real reason to think so. Any more than there’s a reason to think she’s typical of the very large group of Americans brought up in similar circumstances. You could not have a more monolingual upbringing than my own, but I empathize completely. With the exception, of course, that whereas for her, an ambivalent relationship with America was mirrored in her ambivalent feelings about English, for me the two are quite separate.

  34. twilight absence

    What a fascinating way to put it.

  35. I, on the other hand, find some things bewildering no matter how many times I encounter them.
    Me too.

    Of course I know what you’re getting at. What I was getting at is merely cognitive. After several bouts of being bewildered by the same thing, a little reflection shows it would be just as reasonable to be bewildered by this bewilderment, since it has long ago lost its basis in novelty. Another example: contempt breeds familiarity, thus pulling the rug out from under its own feet.

  36. But I’m willing to bet that Kolkatans, even ones of her mother’s own age, see her as something from another time, or more accurately frozen in time. If she has not become an American of 2015, she has not become an Indian of 2015 either.

    Why do you think she seems frozen in time? Not seeming like you ever left is not the same thing as seeming frozen in time… especially with phone, internet news/radio/youtube/etc, first release films in cineplex, Bengali bookstore in Queens, twitter, blogs etc that give access to Bengali developments (including linguistic) sitting in the U.S.A.. As well as all kinds of syncretic combinations of dress/speech/politics/dialects/traditional throwbacks/etc becoming common in Indian cities.

    If Lahiri’s mother didn’t seem she like had left a small town, I would have been surprised, but not a big city like Cal.

    (I say Jhumpa with a short u like Jumma Chumma only Jhumpa. But I actually have no idea if that is how she pronounces it herself.)

    all lovers of foreign languages would like to live abroad

    I can understand (and share) the curiosity about a different culture/language, but why abroad? There are foreign languages within this (American) nation as there are in many multicultural societies. A Native American language would give the same intellectual excitement and adventure, as well as the political solidarity of supporting a small language.

  37. col. squiffy von bladet (ret.) says:

    Why do you think she seems frozen in time?

    Because she left Kolkota fifty years ago, when none (or almost none) of the mitigating factors you mention were applicable.

  38. I can understand (and share) the curiosity about a different culture/language, but why abroad? There are foreign languages within this (American) nation as there are in many multicultural societies. A Native American language would give the same intellectual excitement and adventure, as well as the political solidarity of supporting a small language.

    It’s a good question. The answer that comes quickest to mind, which may not be the correct one, is the difference of environment. Intellectual excitement and adventure are absolutely possible at home, sure, but immersion? At a certain point one feels that nothing short of full-blown exposure can bring intimacy of understanding beyond a certain degree. (Mastery vs. fluency?) And it seems impossible to step outside one’s native Anglosphere while living in it.

    At least that’s how I felt at 22. I know now–partly through this site!–that this clearly isn’t necessarily true, but I still feel safe saying ceteris paribus it’s *usually* true, excepting the special case of English, which is so over-present everywhere people can reach astounding levels of fluency without ever living in an English-speaking region. (Of course for certain regions “English” may be Spanish or Russian, but the point still stands.)

  39. Why do you think she seems frozen in time?

    Well, of course I don’t know anything about her personally, but it’s typical for the members of a diaspora, especially as they get older, to view the changes in the home country as corruptions, something they want nothing to do with, thus becoming people without a country. Sure, it’s possible to keep up with Bengali developments from NYC, but that’s not the same thing as being there mobilis in mobili.

    A Native American language

    For one thing, there’s no accounting for which language(s) you fall in love with. For another, Italian may be hard but Navajo is harder. Finally, you can make a living writing literature in Italian, but hardly in Navajo.

  40. The answer that comes quickest to mind, which may not be the correct one, is the difference of environment. Intellectual excitement and adventure are absolutely possible at home, sure, but immersion? At a certain point one feels that nothing short of full-blown exposure can bring intimacy of understanding beyond a certain degree. (Mastery vs. fluency?) And it seems impossible to step outside one’s native Anglosphere while living in it.

    Yes, exactly. There’s no way to replicate the experience of living in the language’s native environment other than moving there. If the USSR had been, so to speak, a normal country, I would have considered trying it myself in my 20s.

  41. marie-lucie says:

    fisheyed: A Native American language would give the same intellectual excitement and adventure, as well as the political solidarity of supporting a small language.

    Theoretically, yes, but (in North America) there are at present very few (if any) Native American languages which have a true community of speakers, of all ages, speaking naturally as they go about all their business. An outsider intent on learning an endangered language is often more likely to be viewed with suspicion (“they are going to learn our secrets!”) than praised for solidarity! and in communities that have decided to revitalize a language now extinct or down to a handful of very old speakers, an outsider can also be viewed with envy if such a person appears to be learning the language faster and more accurately than the local youth. Nowadays more and more young people (and some elders!) from such backgrounds are getting degrees in linguistics, and that is all to the good, but not all the elders support those initiatives.

  42. there are at present very few (if any) Native American languages which have a true community of speakers, of all ages, speaking naturally as they go about all their business.

    Navajo seems to be one such language.

  43. marie-lucie says:

    Navajo is in much better shape than most (for once, it has a lot more speakers), but even there the language is getting endangered.

  44. What has me just blinking is: finding a language very difficult, somehow falling in love with it, and then spontaneously moving to where it’s spoken, just so, cold turkey.

    I assume that her move to Italy was not motivated purely by linguistic curiosity. Her love of the Italian language is presumably just an aspect of a greater fascination with “la dolce vita” – food, style, architecture, etc. I would find it bewildering if someone was so enamored by the syntax, morphology and phonetics of modern Italian that they decided they needed to learn and write in that language. I don’t find it unusual that someone would fall in love with the idea of Italy and move there, and try to adopt the language as part of that attraction. It happens to non-Italians all the time. Jhumpa simply took the language part a little more seriously than many other Italophiles.

  45. Exactly.

  46. David Marjanović says:

    I assume that her move to Italy was not motivated purely by linguistic curiosity. Her love of the Italian language is presumably just an aspect of a greater fascination with “la dolce vita” – food, style, architecture, etc.

    But none of that is in the article.

    Of course the love of a language could be part of the love of literature and poetry. And indeed Lahiri is capable of really strong emotional reactions to literature and poetry – but the only work that is mentioned in such a context in the entire article is Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in the original Latin.

    She asks me why I want to learn the language.

    I explain that I’m going to Rome in the summer to take part in another literary festival. It seems like a reasonable motivation. I don’t reveal that Italian is an infatuation. That I cherish a hope—in fact a dream—of knowing it well. I don’t tell her that I’m looking for a way to keep alive a language that has nothing to do with my life. That I am tortured, that I feel incomplete. As if Italian were a book that, no matter how hard I work, I can’t write.

    Clearly something quite different is going on. Apparently it’s a desire to metamorphose:

    Metamorphosis is a process that is both violent and regenerative, a death and a birth. […] The contiguity of these words, their literal juxtaposition, reinforces the state of contradiction, of entanglement. It gives us a double impression, throwing us off. It expresses in the mythical, I would say primordial, sense the meaning of being two things at the same time. Of being something undefined, ambiguous. Of having a dual identity.

    Until she is transformed, Daphne is running for her life. […]

    As I said before, I think that my writing in Italian is a flight. Dissecting my linguistic metamorphosis, I realize that I’m trying to get away from something, to free myself. I’ve been writing in Italian for almost two years, and I feel that I’ve been transformed, almost reborn. […]

    Why am I fleeing? What is pursuing me? Who wants to restrain me?

    The most obvious answer is the English language. But I think it’s not so much English in itself as everything the language has symbolized for me. For practically my whole life, English has represented a consuming struggle, a wrenching conflict, a continuous sense of failure that is the source of almost all my anxiety. It has represented a culture that had to be mastered, interpreted. I was afraid that it meant a break between me and my parents. English denotes a heavy, burdensome aspect of my past. I’m tired of it.

    And yet I was in love with it. […]

    By writing in Italian, I think I am escaping both my failures with regard to English and my success. Italian offers me a very different literary path. As a writer I can demolish myself, I can reconstruct myself.

    That is really stirring, nerve-wracking to read. I like to think I’d scream and be done with it, instead of embarking on a long-term project of metamorphosis.

    Ultimately, I can’t empathize with a desire to metamorphose. I’m a direct-developer. My personality is unusually constant.

  47. marie-lucie says:

    I think that Lahiri’s very different reactions to English and Italian stem from English being imposed on her from outside by the circumstances of her life, a language she had to master in order to function in the society she found herself in, while Italian, although technically more difficult for her for a long time, has been a free choice entirely, completely separate from the social constraints that she has always associated with English. She is indeed feeling herself metamorphosing in the way that a larva confined in a cocoon is emerging into the freedom of flight in the open air.

  48. One interesting thing about the “metamorphosis”… uh, metaphor, is that once the butterfly is out of the chrysalis no trace of the caterpillar remains. In my unscientific sampling of memoirs and so on I am more familiar with “divided self” imagery, where the new self does dominate the new linguistic context but the old self still runs the show in the old linguistic context.

    (Which can cause interpersonal friction, of course: “I fell in love with him when we were speaking Language X together, but now that we’ve moved to his home country together and speak Language Y, he’s like a whole different person — one that I don’t like nearly as much.”)

  49. marie-lucie says:

    once the butterfly is out of the chrysalis no trace of the caterpillar remains

    How do you know for sure? perhaps something infinitesimal, or hidden in some tiny organ, or even throughout the body structure, remains as a link between the old body and the new? In any case, a metaphor can never be exactly coterminous or homomorphic (?) with its concrete origin.

  50. marie-lucie says:

    (isomorphic, perhaps ?)

  51. David,

    If we follow the article, Jhumpa’s fascination with Italy first started with the country’s presence in English literature. She also mentions several visits to Italy and having Italian friends before getting serious about learning the language. Maybe I am reading into it a little, but the American who falls in love with Italy (or Provence or India or Japan) is such a common trope that I don’t find Jhumpa bewildering at all (Having a house in Tuscany is such a common desire of Manhattanites that the TV show “Seinfeld” mocked it on a few occasions). And the theme of metamorphosis (whether successful or not) is generally a part of that trope. Especially among adult American women, the desire to escape one’s self in a very different environment seems to be fairly popular lately- “Eat, Pray, Love” and “Wild” are two recent bestsellers/films that had a lot of financial success with that theme.

  52. Metamorphoric.

  53. David: But none of that is in the article … I like to think I’d scream and be done with it, instead of embarking on a long-term project of metamorphosis.
    Vanya: Especially among adult American women, the desire to escape one’s self in a very different environment seems to be fairly popular lately

    Good analysis. I can see now that this is what irritated the hell out of me in that article. I was sure I had encountered it all too often, but couldn’t be bothered to analyze it. Irritation, not bewilderment, imposed itself.

  54. John Grisham wrote couple of books about Americans escaping to Italy.

    The strangest of them all is about American who becomes coach of Parma Panthers, amateur team in Italian city of Parma playing American football (yes!).

  55. Because she left Kolkota fifty years ago, when none (or almost none) of the mitigating factors you mention were applicable.

    Well, presumably she didn’t get off the plane, enter a deep freezer for fifty years, exit the deep freezer to get driven directly to the airport to go back to Calcutta and be evaluated. Presumably, being a person takes pride in appearing as if she had never left, she could take advantage of various means of keeping up to date as they made themselves available. While at the same time, the city itself has been changing and probably reflecting influences from the place she was living, so mild Americanisms in dress and manner don’t stand out in 2015.

    I suppose I don’t find Lahiri’s comment particularly surprising because I have had similar experiences in several major cities, that as long as I speak in Tamil, nobody assumes that I have been living in the USA for a long time.

    As for NA languages — I just wanted to acknowledge that the USA is also a multilingual society. But to be honest, I suppose I am reflecting the experience of having lived in other multilingual societies, so I don’t think of “abroad” as necessary for immersement in an unknown language.

  56. But to be honest, I suppose I am reflecting the experience of having lived in other multilingual societies, so I don’t think of “abroad” as necessary for immersement in an unknown language.

    That’s an excellent point. Maybe it’s a particular problem of modern monolectal nation-states and their colonial offspring–and the habits and assumptions they inculcate in their natives. Can’t speak to the case of French or German, etc., but I can assure you that with English the problem is so bad it can keep monoglot Anglophones disfluent by default after literal decades abroad.

  57. David Marjanović says:

    once the butterfly is out of the chrysalis no trace of the caterpillar remains

    That’s exaggerated, but not by much.

    Having a house in Tuscany is such a common desire of Manhattanites

    Them, too? All the rich Germans do that. 🙂

    Especially among adult American women, the desire to escape one’s self in a very different environment seems to be fairly popular lately-

    Oh. That makes sense.

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