Everyone has advised me that the number one way to learn a language, besides speaking it, is by watching TV in whichever language you’re trying to learn. Since I’ve moved here, every week I have promised myself that I would watch more Italian TV but to be honest, it’s much easier said than done. I’ve never really been a “TV watcher.” Sure, I watch plenty of TV shows but I watch TV specifically to watch them; I’ve never been much of a channel surfer. And I favor reading over TV. What little time I have to dedicate to TV, I would prefer to pass watching something that I could catch up on like Mad Men or introduce myself to something I had been missing, such as Sherlock or my newest obsession: Orange is the New Black…thank God it was only two seasons or I wouldn’t have been able to stop. (I think Crazy Eyes just might be the best thing that has ever happened to me.) However, with every English word that spilled out of these non-Italian actors’ mouths, I would feel a tiny little guilt pang that I wasn’t watching something in Italian.
Well, I have found a compromise for which I have foregone some of my scant reading time in order to commit. A friend suggested that I should watch an American show that I know well, but dubbed in Italian with Italian subtitles. If I already knew the plot, perhaps the comprehension would come a little more quickly. So on that note, I have started watching Friends and am a little less than halfway through season one. Some Italian friends have argued that I’d fare better watching an authentically Italian show because the dubbing is horrible and the translations aren’t as literal, but honestly, I’m so focused on listening and reading the subtitles that I hardly notice the awful dubbing. And the practice is not so much about literally understanding Friends as it is about comprehending Italian-language scenarios.
Though what is strange for me is not hearing the character voices to which I have grown ever so accustomed. And not just familiar sounds of Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe and Joey…Janice, too! It’s just not the same, although, at the end of the day, it’s been vale la pena; it seems the end will certainly justify the means as my new Italian language learning exercise has already proven helpful. I know that Ross likes his mashed potatoes with i grumi (lumps) and that Phoebe’s non-eventful first date wasn’t a “granche’.” However, there are some things that are best left untouched and I must admit that I’m apprehensive about the forthcoming interpretation of Joey’s signature pick-up line, “how you doin’?”