Our new friend is from Libya. He just got here tonight. He’s staying for a month. We’ve never had anyone from Libya or anywhere near there. He speaks Arabic. He’s pretty. He looks way younger than 24, which is his actual age. He’s a tennis player and dentist. Remind me not to let him see me anywhere near a tennis racket. Or smile.
He seems overwhelmed and tired. Which I imagine he is. I mispronounced his name badly enough that he had me repeat it, then he spelled it out for me and said “Sanad. You can just say Sanad, no like SANAAAD” with the most obnoxious american flat nasal short a sound I’ve ever heard. He was imitating me. I’m afraid to say his name again. I’m serious. I’m afraid of him imitating me. Dang. I can’t say his name. We may be in trouble.
I’ll let you know.
I might be in trouble in lots of different ways. I am in a program at the University of Minnesota for translators and interpreters. I didn’t have time to do the oral proficiency exam before the class started, so I just jumped in. Although I understood that the the second half of the class (the discussion section) was in Spanish. My comprehension is pretty decent, and what better way to test it than to take a class that’s partly in Spanish, right? Right.
But I was mistaken. The minute Sra. Giannini walked in the door, she was speaking Spanish and everyone in the class was responding in Spanish. The whole thing is in Spanish. Everything but the readings. The first thing we all had to do was introduce ourselves and say why we were in the class. I was so busted as a person imitating someone who can speak Spanish. My voice shook, my vocabulary went out the window.
I actually did something I’ve never done in Spanish before. I spoke gibberish in Spanish. You have no idea how humiliating this was. I meant to ask, “are we going to use…” which should be “Vamos a usar…” but what came out was “Usos a vamar…” which is like saying “Using to go we…” Worse than that. I swear,at one time I spoke Spanish that was not baby-talk.
I understood the class fine. I understand the teacher and all the students except the Spaniards, whose accent sounds like they’re doing it on purpose. That’s an unacceptable bias on my part. I’m working on it. I will keep you posted. It’s going to be hard work. But translating is really, really fun. It’s like doing word puzzles.
The teacher said to be a good translator, which is completely different from being a good interpretor, you have to be a good writer in the receptor language (what I used to call the target language, which means the language you’re translating into) and like to play with language, be creative, be a perfectionist (which I’m not in an obvious way). We’ll see. I know how to work hard, but I’m worried I may have bitten off more than I can chew at this hardened phase of my brain’s life. A ver.
I’ll let you know.