These are a couple of videos I made two years ago in an attempt to record an endearing habit that Pata once had, but has lost in the last few months. When inserting an Italian word into an English sentence, she would pronounce it with an exaggerated accent that sounded a lot like the kind of accent English speakers who know little to no Italian have. (If any of you have seen Laurel and Hardy dubbed into Italian, that’s the kind of accent she would affect.) She did it in the other direction as well, so in an Italian sentence, ‘fruit’ would sound like ‘froo-eet,’ for example.
Recording this habit proved nearly impossible because her code switching has never been predictable, and because she’s never been one to behave naturally when being recorded. At the beginning of the first video, you can hear me asking her to repeat something she has just said. When she does, the accent is almost imperceptible. I try to get her to say it again, without result, then, not wanting to give up, I press her by asking how nonna is pronounced in Italian, and then in English. At the end, she finally pronounces it the way she always used to when speaking about her nonna to me.
I made the second video just a few hours after the first one. Once again, the starring Italian word is nonna, but there’s also a bonus ‘BMW.’
I put off writing about these in hopes making better recordings, but that never happened, so here they are at last.