Thursday, October 4, 2007

International in Italian

—By Sahely Mukerji, managing editor, Glass Magazine/AutoGlass magazine

Is Vitrum more international than Italian? Really depends on who you ask.

On the second day of the show, people from China, Taiwan, South Korea, Israel, Turkey, Lithuania and from different European countries walked the floor and shopped for machines. Communication consisted of broken English, elaborate hand gestures and vigorous nodding.

I happened to man our NGA booth for a bit while our pretty Italian hostess, Manuela, went to eat lunch. At least three people came by in a span of 15 minutes and asked me questions in Italian. My request for English was reciprocated by apologetic nods and amused looks. I speak four languages; only if Italian was one of those four, I fretted.

A few more instances when I regretted not speaking Italian: every time when asking for directions inside the humongous Fiera Milano; when trying to explain my suddenly dead Internet connection at the hotel; and even worse, when trying to book a ticket for the “Last Supper.”

The worst moment of my vernacular vulnerability was this afternoon at the Vacuum Tech & Coating Conference. Mariano Anderle, scientific director, International Union of Vacuum Societies based in the United Kingdom, and president of Italian Science and Technology Association, chose to give his presentation in Italian. His PowerPoint presentation was in English but he decided Italian would be the way to go. Can’t fathom his decision given that he’s a part of an international association and was speaking at an international show, but it sure made me stop and think.

How do you define “international”?

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