A sparkling mistake


When you’re learning a language, you’re bound to make mistakes. Many mistakes. I myself seem to stumble from one blunder to the next. This may at times be slightly embarrassing. Get over it – making mistakes is a very powerful way of learning.

One type of mistake is when you mix up words that are connected or vaguely similar.

Last autumn, I was at a language course in Bologna. At 10.30 am, we would all march down to a bar at the Piazza Santo Stefano for a break. I’m not a coffee drinker, so I ordered an orange juice.
“Are you sure?” the barista asked.
“Yes, why not?”.
My fellow students stared at me, my teachers seemed to disapprove. “Crazy Italian espresso freaks”, I thought, “looking down on people who prefer vitamins to caffeine!”

When I was served, I realised my mistake. I had asked for spumante instead of spremuta. Spumante is sparkling wine.
Sometimes we have to learn from our mistakes the hard way. Just swallow them, as it were, together with our pride.

After the break we went back to school for a grammar session. Suddenly, the congiuntivo trapassato made perfect sense to me. I saw it from a new perspective.
Most mistakes of this kind you only make once. Some, you wouldn’t mind making more often.

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march, 2023

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