Lost In Translation

The English language is not as complicated as some of us think it is – of course HUMANS make it complicated just like everything else; relationships, gender, sexuality, etc. But getting your point across (in English) to an English speaker couldn’t be that difficult, could it?

I remember once when I was travelling on London’s underground I encountered a loud-mouth sitting opposite me. She was screaming down her mobile phone whilst the train was still overground. She was trying to get an alpha-numeric code (excuse me, letters and numbers) across to the recipient but she may as well have been a Scottish stammerer stuttering through a mouthful of hot potatoes…

‘…t! t! I said T not D…T! T! T! Can you hear me? I said T o! I DIDN’T SAY D…No! we are not saying the same thing! T for Tayo…Eh heh…yes…Wait o, did you say Dayo?…NOT D! T-T-T- HELLO…HELLO?…’ – She lost reception just as I was beginning to lose my mind.

Anyway I’m sure most of us who’ve booked airline/railway tickets are not bemused by the coded lingo the sales reps smack unto our eardrums i.e. R for Romeo, G for Golf, T for Tango, S for Sugar, F for Freddie, etc. You could save yourself a whole lot of saliva if you tried. After all, isn’t the important thing to be heard and understood?

The Internet has captured the shorthand generation of SMS pundits who now marade chatrooms with their lol, lmao, rotf, rotflmao, brb, gtg, ttyl, wtf, tgif, l8r, gn8 and the ‘not so popular’ myob. These codes have transpired into everyday use and MUST be understood by all.

I only have one instance in my life where the English Language did not prove useful – my JSCE…in Yoruba. I still remember the way my paper remained blank whilst I stared at the Essay question which said something about writing on my first day at secondary school (I think). I looked to my left and I looked to my right but no one was ready to let me sneak a peak. I did the only thing I could think of at that point…do a written plea (in English) and hope that the examiner would be sympathetic enough to let me sail through. It was way back in 1993 when I was 13 but it went a lil something like this…

‘Dear Sir,

I am from Rivers State and I speak Ijaw. You can even look at my name. I do not understand Yoruba at all and the teachers always taught us in Yoruba and I did not understand what they were saying. Please I am begging you to please take pity on me and let me pass this exam. I would be so grateful and I am sure you have a kind heart. Thank you so much. God bless.’

I still laugh about the whole thing and even now in Lagos I’m speaking Yoruba at a very basic conversational level. Even when I struggle to speak some people choose not to hear – I’ve been referred to as Tanwa and Tomiwa and I deliberately chose not to respond. If you were born ‘Kehinde’ and you allow people in Jand to refer to you as ‘Kenny’ then dont complain!

In conclusion, the English Language is still evolving and a good grasp of it could make all the difference in nailing that job interview, courting your future partner, getting picked to be the Best Man, receiving a standing ovation for a speech, and not to mention, writing a damn good persuasive letter…which reminds me – I almost forgot to state my Yoruba JSCE result…

 

I got an F9.

 

…yes, you guessed it! I failed.

 

..xTx..

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