aprender un poco de (language) = pick up?

Discussion in 'Spanish-English Vocabulary / Vocabulario Español-Inglés' started by 0_Christine_0, Sep 6, 2011.

  1. 0_Christine_0 Senior Member

    Hola a todos,

    tengo una pregunta. No sé como se dice 'aprendí un poco de Italiano'.

    Es decir, ¿qué sería correcto: I picked up some/a bit of Italian / some words of Italian? En mi libro pone some, pero en los ejercicios me he encontrado esas otras dos posibilidades. ¿Son todas correctas?

  2. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    I picked up a bit of Italian. (Possible)

    BrE: I picked up some Italian. (I had a romantic fling with some Italian guy/girl)

    My preference

    I picked up a few words of Italian. :tick:
  3. Spug Senior Member

    AE: totally dependent on the context.

    "I picked up some Italian" would sound just fine in Christine's context to say that she has learned a bit of the Italian language. I can't imagine that a native American English speaker would have any problem understanding the phrase, nor that such a speaker—again, in Christine's context—would infer that she was talking about getting together with an Italian guy.

    Are you saying that in BE, "I picked up some Italian" would be inappropriate in Christine's context, and that you would immediately think of a romantic situation?
  4. grubble

    grubble Senior Member

    South of England, UK
    British English
    I'm saying that, if some girls were talking about their holidays and one of them said "I went to Italy and I picked up some Italian" the other girls would probably giggle even if it they knew that "words of Italian" was intended. The way that the words are stressed does make a difference.

    You can see this sort of humour in the Carry-On series of movies.

    However if someone who was learning English said it then they would probably assume that "some Italian" meant "some words of Italian" but they might check to be certain.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2011
  5. 0_Christine_0 Senior Member

    So, are all of them correct even though 'pick up some Italian' can also refer to a romantic situation?
  6. mijoch Banned

    British English
    The phrase "pick up some Italian" certainly can have the two meanings, and in written English it may be difficult to distinguish unless the context makes it clear.

    English is a tonal language. The differences here can be determined by the tonal profiles of the phrase in each of its meanings.

    I know that this forum is principally concerned with written English, but the tonal aspects of spoken English should not be ignored.


    "It's not what you say, but the way you say it."
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2011

Share This Page