In another thread, PSH asks, "Is English usurping koine status in Italy?"

In answer, una storia:

I was dining out last night. At the table next to me were two couples speaking... well, my guess is Romanian. Out of the "big five" Romance languages, I pretty much can recognize French, Spanish and Italian immediately. So what I was hearing but not recognizing immediately likely was either Portugese or Romanian, and since it sounded Slavic occasionally, we will posit that it was Romanian. In any case, the waitress came over, and one of the women attempted to discuss the menu with her in Italian. When that broke down, they resorted to... English.

So when two speakers of two different Romance languages, in a restaurant in Siena, have trouble communicating, they find common ground by speaking English.


  1. I have a few co-workers that are Romanian. I asked them what language it is that they speak at home and in Romania, their answer was "Latin". Of course, I know that they don't speak actual Latin, but I thought it strange that that is how they refer to it.

    They do speak better English than I do, however.

  2. If you had asked someone in Constantinople in 1400 what nationality they were, apparently they would have answered "Roman."

  3. You don't say....

  4. I was in a shop in Bologna a couple of years ago and a young tourist came in and announced in English to the shopkeeper that she was French didn't speak Italian. For some reason I was expecting a negative reaction from the elderly shopkeeper but instead they proceeded to converse successfully in English and the shopkeeper made a sale.


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