Thursday, February 24, 2011

Indeportant Acts of Georgianglish (and Other Misunderstandings)

When living in a different country it’s inevitable that you’ll face lots of misunderstandings every day. Words get incorrectly translated, customs get misinterpreted, and the big ‘ol language barrier all contribute to this. (I can only imagine how confused the cast members of “Three’s Company” would be over here).

I admire all my students’ efforts to speak English, but often their blunders make for slightly different sentences. Beso, one of my favorite ninth graders, came up to me in the hall one day surrounded by his friends and asked me if I liked rape. I was a bit surprised by his question and replied by repeating his question to make sure I got it right. After Beso and his friends began nodding and smiling he admitted to me that he loves rape. He went on to say that he loves rape lie Jay-Z and Eminem.

After sighing with relief, I explained to Beso that ‘rape’ and ‘rap’ are very different things that he should be careful not to confuse.  

Our exact conversation went a little like this:

Beso: Do you like rape?
Me: [Jaw drop] Do I like rape?
Beso: Yes, yes! Jay-Z, Eminem…
Me: Ohhhh! RAP! I love rap, I hate rape.

Another one of my sweet kinderlach (shout out to Yiddish) is thirteen-year-old Mari. Mari is a real firecracker who’s too clever for her own good sometimes. While writing vocabulary sentences in class one day Mari shared the following sentence: “She is indeportant to her family”.

I turned to Mari and I asked her, “Do you want to say important or independent?”

Mari looked at me as if I asked her a strange question. “I want indeportant. Independent and important. She is indeportant”.

Well, there you have it; my kids are making up words. Shakespeare made up words and the youth of Georgia are too.

At home with Eka, misunderstandings are a dime a dozen. Eka happens to be obsessed with three English words:

1)      Probably
2)      Sometime
3)      Tomorrow

Whenever she hears me say any of these three words she often repeats it like a sweet Georgian parrot and then adds the phrase, “probably sometime tomorrow” just because she thinks the three words sound beautiful when said together.

Well, a few nights ago while watching an American film on television at one in the morning Eka heard someone use the phrase ‘f*** you’ and decided she liked how that sounded too.

She turned to me and promptly said, “Tomorrow f*** you probably sometime”.

Initially shocked, I told Eka that her sentence didn’t really make sense. Eka thought for a minute and then turned to me and said, “F*** you probably sometime tomorrow”.   (Well at least this sentence made sense).

Nini got a huge kick out of Eka abusing the F word and so we didn’t exactly go through the trouble of telling her it’s not exactly a polite thing to say to someone. Granted, I told Eka that the F word is a bad word, but I didn’t go into very many details… 

(Oh, and if you think that’s bad then I’ll spare the story about the time I taught Nini that an “Mmmbop” is just a word for ‘a boy with long hair’).

Well, back to the F word. A few days later Melissa came over to the house for some coffee and cookies (I have a rough life, I know) and Eka deemed it a good time to test out her newly learned phrase. So, with a huge smile on her face she looked at Melissa and said, “Probably f*** you tomorrow!”

Melissa’s eyes nearly popped out of her face.  Before I could even tell Eka that she really shouldn’t be yelling that phrase to every Tom, Dick and Harry- she looked at me with big eyes and said, “f*** you”.

Of course, after this small charade I did explain to Eka just how bad a word the F word really is. And I kid you not; the scream she emitted when she realized what she’d been saying for three days could be heard in Kalamazoo (which is actually a small city in Michigan). Anyhow, Eka gave me quite the scolding for allowing her to say what she said for three days.

Sometimes a simple misunderstanding can be averted by using the Georgianglish principle. The Georgianglish principle is similar to basic Spanglish. See, when speaking Spanglish (a combination of Spanish and English) people tend to add the preposition ‘el’ before any noun and add the letter ‘o’ after any noun. (Case in point: ‘el computero’ sounds like it could actually be a word in Spanish).

Georgianglish is similar; you just add an ‘i’ at the end of a noun and words suddenly sound Georgian. One afternoon I was restlessly trying to explain what ‘cancer’ is in Russian and after describing what one person thought was ‘narcotics addiction causing baldness’ it turned out that simply saying ‘canceri’ actually turned out to mean cancer in Georgian. Just adding one little letter put everyone on the same page.

It even works with celebrities. Eka was watching a movie on television and she was having trouble remembering an actress’s name.

This is the actual conversation we had (except it was in Russian):

Eka: Who is that?
Me: Susan Sarandon
Eka: No, that’s not her name.
Me: Oh, Susani Sarandini?
Eka:  Ah yes, that’s it.

Oh Georgia, your quirkiness never gets old. 

1 comment:

  1. Children in Samtredia are idiots. Rap SUCKS! With godly music from the heaven like Led Zeppelin... Pink Floyd... Rap? RAP?! OH GOD!

    We have no future. /: