übersetzen Sie dieses! | Mental Poo

Thursday, September 27, 2007

übersetzen Sie dieses!

Ping-ding-dang-dong-wong-kang-pling

No, it’s not the sound of a bullet ricocheting in a steel room.

It’s the sound that the two new Chinese guys at the end of my row make when they’re talking to each other.

I’m all for diversity. In fact, I'd be more than happy if you'd send as many Korean women to my workplace as we can handle. However, I have a problem when the talent that is hired – for ANY job – has a problem actually understanding you. This makes for typically one-way conversation, in which you could pretty much say anything to them and get a nod of the head in return.

These guys started a few weeks ago, and I’m assuming they’re contractors. The first time I saw them, I was getting coffee in the kitchen and they came in together. The conversation went like this:

Me: “Good morning”
First Chinese guy: *blank stare*

..I try again...

Me: “So, you two are new here?”
First Chinese guy: *blank stare*
Second Chinese guy: “Good.”

Realizing these guys had actually no idea what I was saying to them, I took my coffee and left.

Me (walking out): “Have a good day.”
Second Chinese guy: “Blue.”

I have no idea how these guys take direction from people, unless it’s sent to them in writing and they throw it into a Babel Fish translator. And, if you’ve ever done that, you know what that can do to the original language. I received a technical support case in Spanish last week. Here is what the case notes looked like as entered by the customer:

“Comprobamos que no tenemos acceso WEB al antivirus, por lo que reiniciamos el servicio de Antivirus, pero al volver a arrancar el proceso no encuntra el Disco Duro.”

Here’s what they looked like after I translated them using Babel Fish:

“We verified that we do not have access WEB to the antivirus, reason why reinitiated the service of Antivirus, but when returning to take the process not encuntra Hard Disco.”

Ah – much clearer. Let me jump right on the solution for you. However, I don’t support disco, and haven’t since the mid-70’s, so I’m not sure I can help this guy. I transferred him to the Bee-Gees department.

My wife, who is a school teacher, was recently transferred to a school to take over for a teacher who was receiving bad reports from the parents. My wife works in an inner-city school district, where the population is primarily Spanish. It so happened that this teacher, a first grade teacher, was also Spanish with a thick accent. This woman had been moved from grade to grade will no better results (it’s really, really hard to fire a teacher…FYI). My wife’s job on the first day was to simply observe this woman. By the end of the day, she was horrified.

My wife gave me this synopsis:

1) She could not pronounce the kids’ names. She simply called after them: “You! Hey you! You…little girl!”
2) During the teaching of the sounds of the alphabet, she murdered it. She could not pronounce the sounds of the letters properly. For example, she said:

(Showing the letter “Y” to the children):

“De why says ‘ja’”

Yes. The letter why makes the sound “ja”. As in, “Jes, you may have the jello crayon”.

This was news to me. I had no idea. All this time I’ve been saying my sounds incorrectly.

My wife was horrified. She was horrified not only for the Spanish kids in the room who would, apparently, never learn to say sounds in English the right way…but for the other kids in the class who were non-Spanish, and were now learning NEW ways to say letters.

We can only picture little Billy Smith heading home to his mom, and mom says, “Billy, did you have a good day at school?”

..and Billy replies, “Jes, mom. Jes, I chore did.”

Mom: *blank stare*

Maybe we should get all the kids a Babel Fish translator.

4 comments:

D said...

Awesome entry.

I'm 1/2 Korean (and no, I'm not coming to your office) and my mother and most of her siblings came from Korea to the U.S. a long time ago, where they ALL learned to speak English, put themselves through school, and got higher paying jobs the old fashioned way...through hard work, instead of waiting for a weekly check from the working taxpayers. (Most of them are now Electrical Engineer's with Master's Degrees)

Although anyone can easily understand them, a couple of my relatives DO speak with accented English.

I get irritated when Americans who can barely get a proper grasp of their OWN language ('yo, all!)berate people who speak English as a 2nd language for having an accent.

-Um, hello...how many languages do YOU speak? In most cases, English clearly isn't even one of them.

-Speaking English as a 2nd language = acceptable.

-Living in the US with NO attempt whatsoever to learn the language?
...definitely not acceptable.

-There IS a distinction between the two.

And, you're right about ONE thing
-Korean women rock!

Geoff said...

Yeah buddy. D is right.
on all counts.

What do you call somebody who speaks three languages? Trilingual.
What do you call somebody who speaks two? Bilingual.
What do you call somebody who only speaks one language? American.

Un[Censored] said...

It would be great to go to a
Wal-mart around here where the employees spoke english. When I first moved to Southern California, I was dumbfounded...I felt like I needed a translator to shop at Target...and if you wanna order a burger from McDonalds...good luck with that!

A Girl, A Boy, and Me said...

holy crappla! You have just single handedly made me desire to never be politically correct again.

Sadly, I lack balls and will just sit here like a fool laughing at my computer screen.

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