Tag Archives: financial crisis

Lost in Translation 1 or “we wuz robbed”.

Handsome Swain went to collect the official photos from MiniNotTreading’s First Holy Communion yesterday. (That the photographer has been calling us for 3 months to go and get them is another story….)

I grab the bag from him and eagerly riffle through the pics, which are lovely. 15 full-sized ones, and then a “sample” (measuring about 3 x 4 inches, so a nice little extra) of each. And a free album to put them in.

He took 75 euro off me for those!!!”  expletes HS grumpily.

I say nothing, but reflect on the strange, and peculiarly Italian use and sense of the verb “take” here.

Because HS wasn’t saying “they cost 75 euro”. Oh no. He was inferring he’d been robbed. That the 75 euro had been extorted from him. Very much against his will. The 75 euro were taken, not given in a fair exchange for the product/service received.

I pointed out to him that we knew, when we ordered the photos, way back in May, that they were 5 euro each. And we ordered 15. With no prompting or bullying from the photographer. HS concurred and said he hadn’t meant it that way (he bloomin’ well had)  and it was just a modo di dire. (way of saying stuff)

But in Italy that doesn’t seem to matter, the fact that you know the price first. It is part of HS’s mentality, part of his upbringing, that whatever you pay is always too much.

I do private English lessons, and my tariff hasn’t gone up since they introduced the euro. Italy is in a financial crisis, a Great Depression, and I know that it’s better to ask for 15 euro and actually get  the clients, than ask for 20 and have people shake their heads sadly and tell me I’m too expensive. (“you know what she wanted to take from me?”) Despite this fact, and despite the fact that the local school of English charges more for a group lesson than I do for a one-to-one, people will always, but always, ask for a discount. They will ask for a discount on the basis that maybe I teach a different member of the family on a different day, or at a different time…the famous sconto di famiglia. And even when I point out that they may think they are deserving of a discount for their bulk purchases as it were, I am still working the same number of hours, they just don’t get it. They think I’m being pedantically British. I have learned that the best way round this is to mutter “Well, my normal price is 20, but seeing as it’s you, I can do you 15”. I have mortally offended one woman this year who asked me “is the price still 10?” because she paid 10 last year to a person who wasn’t a native speaker, wasn’t a graduate, and wasn’t me!!! I have sometimes said, and only half joking, that if I offered private lessons free of charge, some people’s immediate reaction would be “ooooh that’s a bit steep, can’t you do me a discount?”

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