Monday, 21 September 2009

Culture Shock Diary #7 - Having to Translate What I Say

Given that I speak the same language as Americans, I'm often surprised by how much I have to translate. A couple of days ago I asked to borrow some tights from a friend. She looked at me blankly until I explained what tights were, then said 'oh, pantyhose' (now I'm in a fix; I need to go buy some but there's no way I can go into a store and say 'where do you keep the pantyhose' and keep a straight face). Even when the word is the same half the time I have to translate. Today while having coffee with a friend I was talking about my work with former COMbatants in Burundi. After a couple of minutes of looking confused, he asked if I meant comBATants. I guess I did, and I suppose they do sound quite different... but it's a bit disorienting having to translate my own language into... my own language. I'm getting pretty good at it, but definitely surprised by how often I have to.

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