Monday, March 2, 2015
Travel Link-Up: Lost In Translation
I racked my brain for this month's travel link-up for stories on the theme of "lost in translation" - I really did. I scratched my head, scrolled through emails, recounted dozens of travel experiences ... but no funny/entertaining/bizarre or even mildly amusing anecdotes came to mind.
There was the time my mom and I travelled to St. Petersburg and Moscow together (as my college graduation present), having also spent time touring Stockholm and Helsinki, and she continually mispronounced "spasibo" (Russian for "thank you") as "spice bomb". "Spice bomb!" she'd say loudly, beaming as a bowl of soup was placed in front of her at a restaurant. Or, "Spice bomb!" she'd exclaim, upon receiving her ticket for entry into the Winter Palace. Despite repeated attempts to change her pronunciation, I gave up and succumbed to the "spice bomb"-ing that happened nearly every time I was in earshot.
But alas, the mysteries of the "spice bomb" were not enough to carry an entire blog post.
So I decided to think a little "closer to home". I've lived in the UK for over 8 years now, and I'm proud to have kept my American accent (it's something I work on daily). I thought about all the times I've had to put on a fake British accent in order for the automated telephone system at Lloyds Bank to understand me:
Robot voice: "In order to direct your call, please say, in your own words, how we can help you today."
Me (normal American voice): "Using card abroad."
Robot voice: "I'm sorry. I did not understand you. In order to direct your call, please say, in your own words, how we can help you today."
Me (faux British voice): "Using cahhhhddd abrorrrrd."
Robot voice: "Using card abroad. Did I understand that correctly? Please hold, while I transfer you to a member of our team."
And then, it hit me.
I was lying on my stomach on our bed, dangling my legs over the edge and watching an episode of House of Cards (last season, I nearly broke my neck binge-watching back-to-back episodes on my iPad. I seriously almost went to the doctor).
"Wydintchywatchitonthepiksie?" he said, at the door.
"Excuse me?" I asked, my eyes focused on the iPad.
"Wydintchywatchitonthepiksie?" he repeated.
I pressed pause and turned to look at him. "I'm sorry?" I asked again.
"WHY. DON'T. YOU. WATCH. IT. ON. THE. BIG. SCREEN?" he enunciated.
"Oh, thank GOD. Why do you MUMBLE so?" I huffed, and rolled off the bed, heading for our projector in the living room (yes, we've been watching TV and movies on our version of a home cinema ever since, oh, 2009).
Like I said, it hit me. SOMETHING GETS LOST IN TRANSLATION EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Between me and John. It's a combination of his accent (which is pretty much a "standard" English accent - no traces of Geordie, Brummie, or Scouse there) and his tendency to mumble.
(If we ever meet in person, ask me to do an impersonation. It's really good.)
My all-time favorite one is this: back in the day when we lived in Maida Vale and John thought it would be a good idea to "scoot" to Warwick Avenue tube station in the mornings i.e. on a scooter (like, the kind that children use), he decided to invest in one that wasn't, naturally, pink with purple handlebars or one that had Spiderman emblazoned all over it (this was sold on eBay after just under 6 months of ownership).
One morning, when we were lying in bed, and I thought John was reading the news on BBC.co.uk (as he often does in the morning), he exclaimed, "Mosquitos at Harrods!"
"Mmm ... that's nice, honey," I mumbled, burrowing deeper into the covers. "Is there a breakout or something?" In my semi-dreamlike state, I imagined women in furs screaming and running from a swarm of mosquitos following them from McCartney to McQueen.
"What?" he said, turning towards me. "I said, mosquitos at Harrods!"
"Yes, I know, darling," I said. "There must have been quite a swarm for it to have made headline news."
"MY. SCOOTER. IS. AT. HARRODS," he pronounced. "I. AM. GOING. TO. GO. BUY. IT. TODAY."
"Oh GOD!" I yelled, pulling the pillow over my eyes. "Why did you wake me up to tell me THAT?!"
Or the time he pointed out the window when we were driving along the countryside in Leicestershire.
"Look! A hit-ah-balin!"
"What?" I said.
"What?" I asked again, still not understanding.
"HIT. AH. BALOOOOONNNN!" he shouted. "You need to get your ears checked."
I squinted out the window at the colorful object disappearing over the horizon.
"OH," I said. "A hot air balloon. UGH, can't you pronounce ANYTHING correctly? And, STOP MUMBLING!"
"I. AM. TRYING." he said, through gritted teeth.
This post is part of the travel link-up hosted by fellow bloggers, Rebecca, Emma, Kelly, and Sam. Head over to their blogs to read some hilarious (and, at times, traumatizing) stories and join the link-up yourself!