Since the weekend we spent in Tuscany on our honeymoon, we’ve both been using an app called DuoLingo to learn basic Italian. (By ‘we’ I mean me and my new husband, a term that still makes me feel like I’m a child playing an imaginary game of mummies and daddies).
A dream is forming in my head of a beautiful Tuscan stone cottage overlooking a golden valley (maybe with a private lake too), with chickens clucking around the courtyard, two very well trained Border Collies, a little herd of lambs and an assault course for my 10 guinea pigs in the garden. Every morning we would wake up to freshly laid eggs on toast (although I imagine we’d have to do the putting on toast bit ourselves), Matt would head off on the high speed train to work in Florence, and I would take the dogs on a long jog around our many acres of land before retreating to my little summerhouse in the shade to write all day.
Of course our current situation is that we have very little money, don’t even own a house in England and can’t speak Italian, so the Tuscan dream might be a few years off. As I have little control over the money part right now (until I finish my stupid novel and sell a few million copies), the only way I can work towards my new dream is to start learning Italian in the cheapest way possible.
DuoLingo is surprisingly addictive. It sort of (and I hate that I am about to use this word) gamifies learning. It’s all interactive with varied forms of testing (pictures, audio, multiple choice etc.).
However, I can’t help but think it’s hiding a dark message in the phrases it’s teaching me. Nine times out of ten it teaches me something innocuous like ‘I eat the apple’, or ‘the woman cooks the soup’. But every now and then it’ll throw in something more enigmatic into the mix, like Perche moriamo: ‘Why do we die?’, Sono tra noi: ‘They are among us’, and Io parlo con la tartaruga: ‘I speak with the turtle’.
I feel as though I am being gradually brain-washed with an important message I’ve yet to piece together. Perhaps, upon completion of DuoLingo’s free course, I’m going to finally understand the meaning of life. Perhaps I will finish the course – not with any useful conversational skills I can apply to everyday life – but with greater wisdom and insight into the mysteries of existence, and turtles.
Either way, I’m one teeny tiny step towards living the Italian dream!