When we started to learn Italian we went to a language school in Sicily. We opted to stay with a family instead of having a room in a hotel. That way we got to speak more Italian. And so we found ourselves in the home of Donna Antonina, who must have been well into her seventies but who liked having students to stay as it gave her some company. It was fine; she was a chatterbox. Maybe she spoke a little too much about going to church and her veneration of Padre Pio. Maybe she fed us far too much pasta. But it was great and we learned a lot.
Sharing our accommodation was a Japanese gentleman, an Italian teacher in Japan spending about six months in Sicily to improve his command of the language.
I mention this gentleman because I have been reading about another Japanese gentleman, Toru Sonuda. This one has just been awarded the Medalla de Oro de la Real Banda de Gaitas. Not only does this gentleman want to learn the language of the country but he has learnt to play the Galician bagpipes. And he has done it so well they’ve given him a gold medal. That is real cultural immersion.
All of this came about because of Xosé Lois Foxo who founded a bagpipe school in Ourense 27 years ago: A Escola Provincial de Gaitas de Ourense. Not only that but he also wrote the Gaita players’ bible, a book called “Os Segretos de la Gaita”. Some 7000 people have learnt to play the gaita following his method. Impressive! Mr Sonuda met Mr Foxo in the Czech Republic and arranged to have his book translated from English to Japanese so that he could improve his gaita playing and also his gaita construction. It seems he has a gaita factory in Japan. Who’d have thought it? I knew the Japanese were fans of flamenco but this is the first I’ve heard of the Galician connection. I wonder if they learn traditional Galician fold dances as well.
Another international exchange is the continuing story of the “desconecting” adverts. It turns out to be for a milk producing company: Larsa. The latest of their adverts I’ve seen features a photo of a bench on a hillside overlooking the sea. The slogan says “Este é o mellor banco do mundo”. It’s supposed to be waiting for us in some out of the way “desconectado” spot. On the back of the bench is written in English, “The best bank of the world”. When did we start calling benches banks? And when did we make comparisons that way? “The best bank of the world” smacks of bad translation to me.
Why don’t they ask a proper English speaker to vet these things before they put them out there in the public eye?