Methods of Investigation
To learn how to interact with Italians, one must observe the Italian society, become a part of it, think about it, analyze, and learn from experiences. Interaction with Italians is different than other types of things one learn about Italy, such as food or fashion, because there is a limit to how much information one can get. The question “What kind of people Italians are?” has no definite answer. It varies from individual to individual, situation to situation. Therefore, observing, hypothesizing and pursuing the answer through data collection and detailed analysis, is the only way to find the answers.
The methods I apply within this blog are similar to those used by anthropologists to investigate foreign cultures. They are also useful for uncovering patterns of the modern Italian language use. Here is an example of how this research works.
For instance, have you ever noticed that Italians seem to give a lot of compliments to each other? Why do they do this? Do they really mean it?
1. Hypothesizing or Making a Prediction.
To begin with, I am going to suggest an idea that can explain a certain type of Italian behaviour. So, perhaps, for Italians, giving compliments is just a habit, like saying “Hello” and they don’t really mean it. Also, seems like Italian women give compliments to each other more often than men do. Is that because Italian men simply don’t give compliments to their women? Or is it a pure female way to sweep under the carpet their…envy?
The plan is to observe a certain types of Italian behaviour and find as much related information as possible. Depending on the topic, I will use observation or my personal experience, as well as interviews of Italian native speakers in order to find out what do they think about certain attitude or how would they react in certain situation. And of course, I will use resources like books and the Internet. More percisely, to find out if my impressions are true, I need an investigation plan. So, in case of the example above, I could go to a women’s’ clothing store at the mall and listen. Or I would prepare a list of questions about complimenting behaviors and ask different native speakers how they feel about it from a cultural point of view.
3. Data Collection.
At this point I will gather information from different sources. This is where I go out and follow my investigation plan. The curious thing is, you actually never know what you are about to find out!
4. Data Analysis.
I’m going to analyze carefully what have I find out and whether I have uncovered any patterns… In this step, I may need to report my insights to my Italian friends, get their feedback and confront the ideas.
5. Reformulating and reporting.
This is the most important part where, I am going to reveal and report what I’ve learned. It is also the part, where I will leave you some space to leave a reply or ask questions. And, eventually, to think of how one could reformulate his/her own behavior to make it more appropriate within Italian society.
The whole “spiritual investigation” process may not be as easy as these five steps make it seem. Remember, however, that the answers are there if you learn how to look. And read betweemn the lines. Some helpful tips I can give you are: “Right” and “wrong” answers may not be clear. Different Italian people have different ways of doing the same thing. There’re more Shades of Grey within Italian society then within Grey’s trilogy.
I may need to investigate the same pattern of behavior more than once and from more than one source to get a good idea. And render this “spiritual investigation” true to life. Patience is a virtue!
Collaborating with my Italian friends as well as other people, and checking with them often, will help me gather more ideas and form better guesses about what I am investigating. That is why I will never thank them enough!
Looking at the same question from different points of view, may help us to find what we are looking for.
If you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to contact me. Please feel free to enquire.
They say, In Italy, All Roads Lead to Rome… In Italy in Love, All Roads Lead to Love…