Mr B departs for Italy—where he will be working for an Italian company—with absolutely no knowledge of the language; he had no time for a language course. Moreover, he is convinced that most Italians are able to speak a bit of English nowadays, especially considering the emails peppered with English words which he regularly receives from Italy.
Here are some examples of the emails Mr B receives:
Example e-mail 1
Buongiorno signor B,
Vorremmo organizzare una conference call con i partner dello studio e dopo il weekend è necessario fare un meeting per parlare del business plan per il prossimo fiscal year. È importante ricordare che le Public Relation sono fondamentali per il business. Bisogna anche tenere conto che la reputation influenza la brand value.
Carlo Brambilla Managing Director
Translation: We would like to arrange a conference call with the agency’s partner, and after the weekend we need to meet to discuss the business plan for the coming fiscal year. It is important to remember that public relations is crucial to the business. We also need to bear in mind that reputation influences the value of the brand.
Example e-mail 2
“Buongiorno signor B,
Okay per il Suo arrivo dopo il weekend, ma non abbiamo ancora trovato una location per il meeting per il welcome ufficiale e per presentare il Suo team.
Luisa Gambini Personal Assistant”
Translation: We agree to your arrival after the weekend, but we still have not been able to sort out a location for the meeting for your official welcome and to introduce you to your team.
A piece of cake!
Once in Italy, his initial assumption is reinforced. He is welcomed by the receptionist, a slightly older woman who immediately tells him that she speaks little English. She then hands him his badge and gives him a tour of the building. She shows him various workstations, introduces him to the tech account, who will set up his PC and download the most important documents. They walk through the open space where everyone takes their coffee break. The receptionist leads him to his own office, where his name appears neatly on a name plate with the title Human Resource Manager underneath (Responsabile delle risorse umane). She also warns Mr B that he is expected at the Board of Management (Consiglio di Amministrazione) at 10.30 that morning.
That’s why Mr B decides to not worry about learning Italian—that is, until the day he goes to a “Do-It-Yourself” store (un negozio Fai da te) with his wife. He and his wife are expecting and looking for paint for their soon-to-be-born baby’s room. Because he most definitely wants a non-toxic paint for the room, he asks one of the employees for some information: “Excuse me, I am looking for paint without preservatives.” The employee speaks very little English, but she does recognise the word “preservatives”, then glances at Mr B’s wife heavily pregnant belly and replies, a bit bewildered, “Ma scusi…, non è un po’ troppo tardi”?! (Um, sorry, but isn’t a bit late for that?!)
“Preservatives”, or rather “preservativi” in Italian, actually means “condoms”.
After this painful incident, Mr B resolutely decides to take an Italian course as soon as possible! At Language Institute Regina Coeli ofcourse!
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