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Ciao Italia!

16 April 2008



One down side of living in the UK is that you never hear any other language than English. There are no foreign language TV shows and non-English films are seen as arty and, although subtitled, only on TV at some unholy hour. Foreign speakers on TV news and in talk shows are always dubbed, never subtitled. And so the people here are hardly ever exposed to other languages. I feel very strongly that this is a big reason for the English being so bad at learning a different language. To them, the sound is completely new as they have never heard it on the radio or TV.

Dutch people speak very good English in general, even those who have not studied it. The reason is simple: they watch English-spoken TV shows and the subtitles help them to learn the language a fair bit, without them even realising it.

Here in England, I have never heard a non-English song on the radio. Never.

Dutch radio plays quite a bit of foreign language music. Especially in the summer, you can hear all kinds of music. People go on holiday to France, Spain & Italy and bring back that song they heard there on the radio all the time. And when the Tour de France is on (3 weeks of minute-by-minute live reporting from reporters on the back of motorbikes on Dutch radio, yay!!) you will hear a lot of French music. Kind of gets you in the mood.

One of the first CDs my parents had was a compilation album called Ciao Italia. it had all kinds of Italian pop songs that I used to love. No idea what they were singing about but that music was part of my youth, my summer. I am sure Italians would consider the songs on that album terribly outdated. Look at any Italian compilation album and you will see the same songs all the time. Like Italian music has not moved on since the late 80s. (a bit like CDs with The Best of French music still having Edith Piaf and Jacques Brel songs on them)

This morning, I suddenly thought of an Italian song and I downloaded a bunch of tracks I remembered being on that CD. I played some songs on iTunes in the office. Everyone looked at me (as if anyone else would play that kind of music!) and said: what the hell is this?!! So I put my headphones back on and worked away whilst listening to Eros Ramazzotti, Toto Cutugno, Gianna Nannini and Matia Bazar. And I don't care their music is old fashioned.



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