Monday, January 5, 2009


The thing about living in Senegal is that everyone speaks French. They all go to fabulous parties and have interesting conversations where they laugh a lot and toss their pretty little heads while shaping their mouths to form exquisite, French sounds. I also attend these parties, but since I can't talk about anything except the weather and where I'm from and whether or not that is an outrageous price for a kilo of potatoes, I usually end up at the snack table eating carrot sticks and drinking red wine.

It is a real trouble, not speaking the language. I was completely and earnestly into learning at first, but what has recently dawned on me is that, even if I get okay at French, I will not be good enough to make a FRIEND in French. To talk about emotions or interesting things, or politics or ... whatever. I'm very, very far from that. Years. Infinity, possibly.

But the worst is that it makes me so dependent on Eric. He has to call the metalworker about making curtain rods. He has to call the phone company because the internet is down, call the pediatrician to make an appointment, type the classified ad for us to sell our car. . .. But wait, no! I can do that!!! Because I've discovered ... BABELFISH!! You type in a sentence, it translates it to French. Type in a paragraph and it does that, too! So, I went ahead and typed the ad out for our car, Babelfished it, and published it online. (Watch me go! Watch me go! Who needs to waste time learning a new language?!) Here is what I wrote:

PRICE REDUCED: Honda CRV 2002, 100,000 km, Runs great and was very well cared for. Imported into the USA in 2005 and has all maintenance records. Gas, new tires, automatic. The car has diplomatic plates (duty free)


You can imagine my disappointment when I found out tonight that my ad is a laughingstock. (I had to translate it back for another purpose. This is how it reads:

THE PRICE REDUCED: Honda 2002 CRV, 100.000 kilometers. Short large and was very well worried about. It was imported in the USA in 2005 and has all the discs D \ ' maintenance. Gases, tires automatic and new, The car has the diplomatic dishes (of frankness)

I think I understand now why the website is called Babelfish. What the hell are the diplomatic dishes of frankess? It sounds like a good name for a jazz band.

There really are no shortcuts in life. Are there.


Christy said...

That's hilarious!! One of my colleagues used babelfish to translate a fundraising flyer for our cheerleading team. Basically is translated that we had a bunch of girls selling alcoholic beverages!

Dani Schmidt said...


Clive and Dawn said...

yeah I used babelfish before, or is it babytuna (translated of course) or perhaps fishing for bagels? haha. funny though, made me laugh!!

Clive and Dawn said...

I wish we could leave him after he goes to sleep but he doesn't go to bed on weekends until about 9pm! So it might be a bit difficult, lol. The thought crossed our minds though :-)

Katy said...

I think that you are a delicious diplomatic dish of frankness. So great.