Question: Why is it that someone in my line of business, with a blog bearing the name it bears, doesn’t actually do any translating?
Answer: Why, sir, I wear that incongruity and low level shame as a badge of honor.
But sometimes I help. I was very proud to save a translation project the other day, despite my inability to speak Japanese much beyond ordering a beer or finding my way to the rest room. (I learned early on not to ask “Where,” but to ask “Which way…” (a pointed finger is usually the best linguistic clue one could ask for.) They don’t call it body language for nothing.
Okay, so in my house, I’m the one who speaks the worst Japanese. And my fourteen-year-old daughter, who loves to correct my Japanese in the most insulting way possible, is now learning French and makes the same observations about my Français terrible. Très mal. Very disheartening. So we got a trip coming up to Istanbul in a few weeks and I’ve uploaded a ton of Turkish phrases to my shuffle. I’m sure I’m driving any Turks in my gym mad as I endlessly repeat such pithy phrases such as “Do you have any bread?” I’ll get off here.” “Which way is the bus station?”
But it’s paying off. I am now the king of Turkish in my little multilingual household. Charles Berlitz and your twenty-six languages of varying degrees of fluency… I am closing in. And I am meeting all these people, not just Turks, who are really into speaking Turkish. It is a very cool language, organized as if it’s gone through a thorough rationalization/reform, very elegant. And I’m meeting all those people who speak Turkish.