by Melinda Gallo

Accento fiorentino

There are two schools of thought when it comes to picking up the local accent. Some people think it's normal while others think it's abnormal. I tend to believe it's normal. If it weren't, why would children who have parents who speak with an accent still pick up the local accent. And some people are just sponges when it comes to learning languages, like Madonna who now has a bit of a British accent.

I admit that when I lived in England, I picked up a bit of a British accent as well. I could hear it especially when I used words that were not in my American-English vocabulary. And, honestly, they didn't sound very good with a hard "r," so it made sense to say it with a British accent.

I have noticed that my accento fiorentino (Florentine accent) is getting stronger. I realize that I'm aspirating the letter "c" even more than before. I blame Alessandro since his accento fiorentino is quite strong and I speak with him the most now.

The other day, I told him I was going to my favorite bar Giacosa and he didn't understand me. I said it again by making sure I didn't aspirate the "c" and he still didn't know what I was talking about. I told him where it was and he said, "Ah, vuoi dire Giacosa." (Oh, you mean Giacosa.) by saying "giahosa." He then asked me, "Ma perché non lo dici correttamente?" (But why don't you say it properly?)

At the dinner Sunday in Siena, I told the guy across from me, "Pensavo che tu fossi americano." (I thought you were American.) He looked just like a friend of mine back in the US. His girlfriend looked at me and said, "Wow...un accento fiorentino perfetto. Brava!" (Wow...a perfect Florentine accent. Good job!)

It was then that I noticed how much I am aspirating my c's. I used to stop myself from doing it and one of my ex-boyfriends corrected me all the time, but it does come so naturally after spending so much time here.

Even if I don't aspirate the "c" (and they actually aspirate more letters than the "c", like "t" and sometimes "q" as in "qui"), it's supposedly obvious to people that I live in Florence because the cadenza (cadence) I have is fiorentina, and I also use many modi di dire fiorentini (Florentine expressions).

In the end Florence is rubbing off on me, and in more ways each day.

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