Last year Aria was a teaching assistant in several high schools in Cagliari, the capitol city of Sardinia. Besides assisting the teachers she was able to work with the students directly giving them the opportunity to converse with a native English speaking person. She also developed written and oral exercises and games for the students to practice the language and to learn about American culture and history. During the time I was visiting her she shared with me some of her students work. There was one particular assignment: to write about your favorite English word, which resulted in some poignant results. I will share two of my favorites.
Dolores wrote: "My favorite english word is "wake-up" because the sound of this word is more beautiful than "svegliati."* If my mother speaks English, she could wake all my awakenings happy only with two words "wake-up". When I heard this word I think about a sunny beautiful day. Nothing can be wrong."
Gianluca wrote: " My favorite english word is an American one, it comes from the American slang language and it could mean a few things. The word is "Freak". The English dictionary says about it that in italian it means "capriccio", but this is not the way I use it. I like to say Freak a lot because it reminds me the first time I said something in English, in fact this is the first word I've learnt in that language. It was matched with another funny word that combined sounded so crazy like the meaning of it, it was "freakin' nuts", that mean "so crazy." In fact, Freak, means as I said before lots of things like, crazy, damn, ouch, lot of and so on....I love the sound of it I've always used to subsitute it instead of some bad words...it sounds like something stronger, something you must to say! When you want to say something very, very, very far away. Instead of saying three times very, you just say...its freaking, far away and it sounds good! There's something special between me and that word, it's weird to say I know, but it reminds me about a good friend, the one who taught me this freaking word. I think I'll it in my dirty English vocabulary for the rest of my life."
This is something I'd tell Gianluca if he were with me today. "Gianluca, guess what? Tomorrow is my Happy Freaking Birthday and I hope its the start of a freaking good year!