Friday, September 03, 2010

I hear things, part 3

This is what I overheard, mostly in Korean, from the first week back at school after summer vacation.

Patrick: Why aren't you studying?
Adeel: I don't need to study, I learned this 20 years ago.
Patrick: I learned this 100 years ago.
Patty: What are you talking about? You weren't born 100 years ago, how could you get a pencil?
Patrick: I was doing taekwondo in the womb.
Patty: Yeah, sure, but where did you get a pencil? Did your mom swallow one?

Victor: The little booth outside my building blew over. Hey, what do you call that in English?
Lisa: You're so smart, but you don't even know that?
Victor: Yeah, well, I, uh...
Lisa: You're smart, you should know that!

Louis: What day is it today? Is it Wednesday?
David: 오늘 목요일이에요. 목욕 해야돼요. (Stupid pun that translates as "It's Thursday, so I have to bathe". Thursday and bathe sound similar.)

Adeel: What are you doing? Seriously, what are you doing? How old are you? Three?
Josh: What did he just say?
Ji Woo: He asked how old you are.
Josh: Huh?
Ji Woo, Shawn: He asked how old you are!
Josh: Oh, uh, I'm 12. Tell him I'm 12.
Ji Woo: Why don't you tell him yourself?
Adeel: Josh, how old are you?
Josh: Uh, what did he say?

Adeel: Hi everyone, welcome back! Did everyone have a good summer?
Thomas: Man, look how bald he is.

Adeel: Okay, now, who sees chocolate on page 7?
Ryan: Chocolate? What's chocolate? (Chocolate is the same word in English and Korean)

Adeel: Uh, guys, where's Morald?
Student: I think he went to the nurse's office.
Student 2: Yeah, he went to the nurses's office. He got hit in the face by a ball!
Rachel, helpfully translating: He went to the dentist. Dentist's office.

This last one was technically read, not overheard, but it's too good to omit. For a letter-writing contest, grade 4 student chose to write a letter to our principal. One sentence read something like this:

"My dream is to be a judge and I hope not to be as lazy as you."


Loly said...

Dentist. Ignorance enables no guilt of wrong translation That being said, it reminds me of bill murray in the movie 'lost in translation' where he asked his translator what the other guy said(which was more than ten sentences) ,got his answer of only one sentence in english and confirmed several times to her by saying "are you sure that's all he said?"

Adeel said...

I don't think ignorance enables guilt, but she's only in grade 1. Have mercy!

I've been there. I spend a lot of time translating for coworkers and three words in Korean. I now understand why, when I first got here, people would translate a long phrase in a word or two.

A lot of what people say in Korean ("맛있는 점심 드셨어요? 저희가 의자 2개 좀 주세요") doesn't really apply in English ("Uh, they would like to know if you have eaten a delicious lunch and whether they can have a couple of chairs"). Of course, it goes the other way too.

It's much better just to keep it succinct just for everyone's sanity.

Loly said...

in grade 1? 6-7 years old she is, I guess. wow. then I can't judge her. I forgot they are all under 11 or something. I haven't contacted any young aliens for 15 years or so. It's very foreign to me to hear all these stories not because it's about language class story but because it's happening in an elementary school.

to respect what the original speaker says is one thing, and to appropriately convert it in a conversational and reasonable context is another. thanks for reminding me of it.