Thursday, March 22, 2007

Lost in Translation

In Columbia for a training exercise, we had a few hours worth of a tour through a military academy. Little kids were hanging around, practicing their English and trying to see what kind of goodies they could beg, borrow, or steal. As we were showing them the wonder that is the modern MRE (Meal, Ready to Eat), some of them decided to impress Joker with a song. I believe it was some sort of school song, with pride of the school, state, and nation. Joker was listening to the song, and dutifully clapped at the end. One of the kids struck up a conversation with him, but due to the child's poor English and Joker's nearly complete lack of Spanish, they quickly came to a frustrating stand-still.

Catching sight of me eating nearby, Joker got my attention and asked me how did one say the word 'American' in Spanish. For those not in the know, it is a fairly easy translation, just add the letter 'o' to the end. What I told him was similar, but not exactly the same."It's easy, Joker. 'American' is a word nearly the same in Spanish as it is in English." The resulting translational error was unintended, but nonetheless hilarious.

I continued to chow down on a particularly heinous MRE, the dreaded jambalaya, while Joker started to sound out the sentence that he was trying to get across.

" Hmm, I think that's it! (Turning back to the kiddos) Yo soy maricon!"

At this statement, I snorted a mouthful of MRE about 10 ft, and all of the children began laughing, pointing, and waving their 'Jazz' hands about.

'Maricon' is one way to say 'homosexual'.

'Jazz hands' there is roughly the equivalent of the limp-wrist pose, here in the states.

Joker had roughly, and erroneously, proclaimed his personal proclivity for hot man love.

Joker didn't understand what was so funny at first, I guess he thought that the children were celebrating his beginner attempts at conversing in their language. He also missed the fact that I was attempting to quietly chortle in the background, tears rolling down my face, my food forgotten. I realized that he had figured it out when a half-eaten pound cake slice went flying past my head with the accompanying, "Murphy, you're an ass-hole!"

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