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Thursday, June 30, 2011

Lost in Translation

Our sons have been home with us now for 2 1/2 years (from Ethiopia) and occasionally we still get a good laugh over something Jayden says that just doesn't quite translate correctly.  Most recently, we were at one of Emme's soccer games and one of her teammates has very long hair - and she happened to wear her hair in pigtails that night.  She was quite noticeable on the field with her long pigtails floating around her head as she played soccer vigorously and competitively.

I happened to look away just for a moment, and our team scored.  The crowd erupted with a cheer and I looked back to see the celebration and high-fives on the field.  I turned to Jayden and asked, "Who scored?"  Pointing to the player with the long pigtails, he said "That hairy girl!"

I started laughing, quickly texted Jayden's comment to Jay who was at Maea's soccer game (so he could enjoy it too), and explained to Jayden that if he ever hoped to have a girlfriend, he should never use the word "hairy" and "girl" together.

This little "lost in translation" exchange reminded me of a similar incident when the boys had been home with us for only 7 months.  At that time, Jay was spending time each day with Jayden to help him with schoolwork and after a particularly intense session, Jay emailed me at work so I could enjoy Jayden's comments and document them for future laughs.  Every now and then, we still quote one of these sayings to Jayden and he smiles his great, big smile.

From July 2009: 

Jayden (8), spends a little time each day with Daddy reviewing basic math and spelling problems so that he is prepared for 2nd grade this fall. He has only been in America for about 7 months now, and although he has made incredible progress with language, there are still some concepts that are hard to grasp, and we still have language barriers that are quite entertaining!

There are so many funny statements or questions made throughout the day, that Jay has started writing them down so we don't forget these one-of-a-kind moments.

Here are a few of the exchanges Jay noted today ...

I pointed to the number 23, and asked him "What number is this?" After a long pause and deep thinking, Jayden replied "Triangle??????"

Here are Jayden's excuses for not being able to answer any of his math questions ...
"I'm dying" ...
"My teeth hurt" ...
"I'm tired, me sleep no big" ...
"My eyes are hot" ...
"I'm cold" ...
"My brain no work" ...
"My brain no charge".

Jayden is concerned when I write things down in a notebook. He questions, "Why you writing? Jayden no good?" I told him he was good and I was just writing stuff down that I thought was funny. He doesn't want me to write stuff down. I'm going to keep writing stuff down.

Calculator = Calcagator in Jayden Englishiopian

When trying to explain what the word "between" means, I drew stick people of Jayden's friends, Aiden and Quincy, and drew a stick Jayden in between them. He was concerned about why I chose to draw a stick Quincy instead of a stick Spencer. We moved on to the next question and I made a mental note to draw stick Spencers from here on out. Jayden still doesn't know what "between" means.

To Jayden, "hundred-million dollars" can be used in place of the word "very". For example, "This pool hundred-million-dollars deep" or "I swim hundred-million-dollars fast".

In a conversation about tornadoes, Jayden questioned, "Tornadoes faster than Jesus?" Commenting on a cartoon villain, he said "This guy no like Jesus."

Reading through Jay's notes from today, I laughed until I cried, and then I hugged Jayden and told him he was very good.

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