Wednesday, July 28, 2010


(From yesterday - 7/27)

Translations can go really smoothly or really badly.

Sometimes it's surprising to know what words people from foreign countries recognize in speech. My friends from the university as well as my coworkers use either really random words or really vulgar ones - they understand what you're saying when you use "bad words". For example, I had been working on a stack of data entries for an hour or 2 when I thought I deleted all of my work. I immediately shouted, "Oh, $*!#!" without thinking about it. It got extremely quiet for a minute, and people snickered. I turned bright red and continued my work. Some of the guys in the office were joking about it with me later.

This afternoon we were talking about my fall when one of my coworkers, Erdem, asked if I had been drinking alcohol when it happened. I said of course not. I don't need alcohol to fall. Another coworker, Murat Bey, said when he drinks alcohol he feels like he is flying. I understand that he knows how to fly planes; he is a pilot. Well, of course I then asked if he was a pilot. Everyone looked at me strangely so I typed pilot into google translate. Stupidly enough it's the same word in Turkish. They were only looking at me funny because I asked if he was a pilot. That started another round of laughter.

Another type of translation error that I have had is with the word "bored". There are some common phrases used to say that one is bored, or that something is boring. The root word is sıkmak, which means "to squeeze". The technical phrase for I am bored is canım sıktı, or my soul is squeezed. In Turkish, there are infixes to create more words. Thus another verb sıkılmak means "to be bored". It's easier and shorter to say sıkıldım rather than canım sıktı. It's an easy phrase to say, as long as you know your vowels! Notice that when I wrote it I used an i without a dot. If there were an i WITH a dot, the word would change. Sikilmek means "to fuck". I'm sure you can only guess what happened. Of course I messed up the vowels and said "I was fucked" instead of "I was bored".

I have also started teaching some English to people around the office. They can understand it, but they start to get shy when they want to speak. I told them when we first started, "Have confidence in what you say. If you mess up, people will correct you. They might have a good laugh first, but at least you'll learn the correct way of saying something. Trust me. I have a lot of experience with this!"

No comments:

Post a Comment