As some of you know, I teach English in a company based in Florence, Italy. My students, divided into four small groups (different levels of English), frequently come up with the funniest stuff. In fact, I should really write a book about this experience…hmmm…
At any rate, the other day I was going over how we say numbers in English with my pre-intermediate class, a group of three cheerful chirpy women who are always ready for a good laugh. At one point we got to the number “one hundred thousand.” In Italian, one hundred is cento and one thousand is mille. One hundred thousand is the combination of those two numbers = centomila. As it is in English.
I asked M., the company accountant, if she would read that number in English, but she looked at me blankly and groaned: “ora non mi viene” (=“I can’t remember how to say it now”).
I asked: “Okay, let’s see, what’s that number in Italian?”
She answered straight away: “Centomila.”
“Well, it’s the same in English!,” I said encouragingly.
She smothered a grin and answered, “Ah, then: centomila!”