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Protect Yourself

Posted on Jan 18, 2009 | 9 comments

Condom machine outside a pharmacy on via Regina Margherita. We may be in Pope-land, but that doesn’t mean people aren’t still having their fun. Condom machines are found outside of a lot, if not most, pharmacies here.

Random “learning Italian language” anecdote. When I first moved here I was pretty well versed in Italian, but mistakes are always going to be made. During my first year here, I was having a conversation with my roommates about the difference between Italian and American produce. I was trying to explain that I found the Italian fruits and veggies much better because they used less preservatives then ours in America. I could remember what the Italian word for preservatives was, so I used technique I often do, which is to Italianize the English word and hope it works. I’d say it’s a good guess about 60% of the time but not in this case. I used the word preservativo as my guess at preservative. Well guess what people, that means condom in Italian, decidedly NOT what I was aiming for unless our farmers are using some secret condom growing method to raise fruits and vegetables. At least I was just at home with my roommates who laughed and kindly told me that the word I was looking for was conservante, which means preservative. I was mildy embarrassed, but hey, I never mixed up those words again!


  1. Italianizing can be funny 🙂

  2. I definitely can be! I checked out your blog, by the way, your photos are beautiful.

  3. Thanks, Jessica! I’m glad I found your blog (and not just because Rome is in my top 5 dream places to live 🙂

  4. Lol! Very funny, Jessica!
    Some embaracing situations happened to me in Argentina with a certain spanish word which has a total different meaning there… and I constantly forgot and kept on using it! lol!

    Glad to see condom machines on Pope-land!

  5. Eh eh eh.. my english teacher warned me about “false friend” words sounding similar to italian but that are not..

    For example “cane” in english is one thing in italian is “dog”.

    But you will never learn better than from a good mistake!

  6. honza – Prague is not that far away, so maybe someday the dream can become real!

    JM -Ah your situation has happened to me before too. That I knew I was doing something wrong with the word but couldn’t remember what was right and what was wrong. 🙂 I think you definitely need to have a sense of humor about yourself when speaking in another language.

    3mendo – Yes, the false friends can kill you! I never thought about the Italian cane versus English cane, but you are very right! You are also right that the best learning comes from mistakes. I think too many people are so afraid of looking stupid and making mistakes that they never try, and you’ll never learn another language that way!

  7. Well Jessica.. i learnt English from School (not so effective), internet, videogames, foreign people and videogames.. oh MTV too.. and today it happens that i teach in english as a part of my job.. yeah self-humor helps a lot, if you are the first who smiles about you people stop having fun of you and starts having fun with you! Go on with your italianization eh eh!

  8. I made the same mistake. I called the Alleanza Nazionale a bunch of “stupid far-right preservatives” and claimed Italian bread was remarkably “free of conservatives”.

  9. Jordan, yes! I’ve made that one before too because I can never remember the right way to say conservative politically. Which, for you non-Italian speakers is conservatore. This makes me think of an art conservationist or something 🙂

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