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So much lost in translation.

16 May 2008

For example, the word ‘no.’

The Czech equivalent is ‘ne.’  Like a horse might say.

However, ‘yes’ in Czech is ‘ano’ which is often times shortened to ‘no.

Today, while I had about 2 hours to kill, I decided to go to my coffee shop and relax in one of the over stuffed chairs that overlooks one of the main tourist/pedestrian traffic drags, drink a Tiger Latte, listen to This American Life, and read my book.

I had half of TAL listened to via my walk to school and just as I had finished the second half and wrapped up my iPod to begin my reading someone comes to my tables and starts yapping at me in Czech.

Some dude.

Some dude who for some reason thought that my not speaking Czech and his not speaking English was an open invitation to sit down with me and somehow try to communicate.

This is where the first ‘no’ was misconstrued as a ‘yes.’

So he sat down and struggled to get me to understand him.  Poor sucker didn’t realize that I had no intention of playing that game as this was my time to relax and that my entire job is to basically try and translate what my students say to me and I was so far off the clock that a sundial couldn’t read me.

After a string of no’s and shrug of the shoulders telling him I was in no way competent to understand what he wanted, he continued to talk to me.

Apparently, non-verbals are misconstrued as well.  For when I opened my book and started to read while he sat across from me, he continued to talk.

I thought he would get the hint, but then he ‘asked’ me to watch his things while he went for a cigarette.  I was tempted to sneak out, but thought the hell with that.  I was here first.  I had my 2 hours planned and was not willing to have it ruined only 30 minutes into it.

He came back.  I read.  He left for a cigarette.  He came back.  I continued to read…and this went on for about an hour longer.

When I couldn’t handle him staring at me any longer, I got my stuff together to leave and he was miraculously ready to leave also and offered to walk me out.  I told him I had to go to the toilet which was upstairs and around the corner.  When I came out– he was standing there waiting for me!

About 12 more ‘no’s’ in his direction and I was finally free.

He kept saying thank you to me in Czech and now I wonder what I am mistranslating as that makes absolutely no sense to me.

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