The Slovenia Times

Pizza Talk



Well, it's not that big of a tragedy, is it, the nurse tried to calm him down nicely. You can still go to the seaside, you just won't be able to swim for some time. 'Exactly', added Metka and Miha, who came to take their injured friend home. 'We can go camping to Krk together and we'll keep you busy all the time!' That sounded encouraging enough and Nigel forgot about his handicap for a while. A couple of days later, after having bought all the necessary equipment, tons of pasta, canned tomatoes, an inflatable raft and a couple of towels, two Slovenes and one Englishman set off in Miha's old caravan. On the way, everybody spoke English so that Nigel wouldn't feel left out. 'You guys keep on talking in Slovene', Nigel said after a while 'It's better for me anyway, I'll have the chance to at least try understanding you.' But it wasn't so easy...when he thought he got the point of what they were talking about, it turned out that he totally missed it. 'Clovek means horse, right?' he asked once, or 'koliko je star? Who's a star?' and so on. They told him, laughing, that clovek is definitely not a horse and that koliko je star means how old is he. So he better kept quiet, frowning and thinking that it's going to take some time before he gets to the point of even understanding Slovenes, until Metka decided that it's time for another Slovene lecture. 'So, Nigel', she put on her 'professoresque' kind of look, 'As I've already told you, Slovene nouns have six cases. The first one is called Nominative, the second is called...' 'Stop that, Metka!' Miha interrupted her. 'Do you really think you're going to teach him Slovene this way? By giving him grammatical definitions? Come on, I know you're a student of Slovene, but my humble instinct tells me that pure definitions don't make you speak Slovene.' 'But I'm not giving him only definitions', she resisted, 'I also give him examples of how to use these definitions!' 'Yes, but what about letting him speak a bit? He'll learn how to speak without having to know what the third case is called, the important thing is that he'll use it right! And even if he doesn't use it correctly, it's ok as long as people know what he wants to say!' 'Oh really? Is that what you call knowledge of a language? For me, that's not speaking Slovene, but breaking Slovene and not wanting to do anything about it! If you learn something, learn it well! And...' 'Guys, guys, please...' now interfered in their feverish conversation which was slowly turning into a row. 'This is about me, right, so I'd like to comment a bit. You're both somewhat right. Miha is right saying I won't learn much only with grammar; I have to say, Metka, you've been a bit too enthusiastic about trying to teach me everything right, you have given me a lot of grammar explications, but you failed to put yourself in the shoes a total beginner. There's nothing bad about it, I appreciate your effort, but I don't need that much grammar at the beginning, I need to know how to form a simple sentence and learn grammatical stuff through that. But I completely agree with you on the fact that I have to try and learn the language properly, and that's where your explications come very handy. So we'll take it easy from no on, right?' 'Right', said Metka, a bit downcast, but she had to admit that Nigel made a good point. Until then, she wasn't aware that teaching someone Slovene is not that easy because you just don't realise that they cannot absorb all the information immediately and use it correctly without practice. After a while, the caravan stopped in front of a pizzeria and the three exhausted friends impatiently waited for their first meal of the day. When the pizzas finally arrived, Nigel thought of something. 'Ok, now I think you can explain this mystery to me: pizza is pica in Slovene and it's feminine gender, right?' 'Mhm', nodded Metka and Miha with mouthfuls of cheese and tomato dripping down their chins. 'And you say: To je pica. Or: Tu je pica. But why do you say Jem pico? I say this is pizza and Here is pizza AND I eat pizzA.' Metka hesitantly glanced at Miha and he tapped her on the shoulder, 'go on, professor', so she turned to Nigel: 'See, the best way to explain this to you without grammatical definitions is that you have to imagine what is going on with the pizza. If you say this is pizza, as you said before, to je pica, the pizza is on the table in front of you, waiting to be eaten. It's still untouched and in one piece, that's why you call by its 'original' name, the one you find in a dictionary, with an -a at the end, just like most feminine names. But when you eat pizza, you DO something with it, and that's when pica becomes pico, it changes the last -a to -o, because it's not just lying there anymore.' 'And it goes the same for all feminine names?' 'Exactly. Imagine a television. First you say: To je televizija, when it's only standing there and you are only pointing out that this is a TV - to someone who just came from the stone age, for example, and has never seen a TV set before. But when you turn the set on and actually watch TV, you say: gledam televizijo. Or, for instance, the waitress that we're waiting for right now: Tam je natakarica, Miha said when we were looking for her, and now he's calling her to bring the bill - Miha klice natakarico. Simple, right?' Nigel seemed happy with both the explanation and the pizza. When they paid the bill and he went to the toilet, Metka asked Miha: 'You think we should tell him that he just learned the first and fourth case for feminine gender?' 'Naah', they swung their hands and off they went to the sea.


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