Saturday, November 20, 2010

A lot of funny things happen in language translation

So at work, I speak Creole about ¼ of my day and am constantly trying to learn more and speak and understand it better. But, whenever you are learning a language, funny things tend to happen. Here’s one from yesterday:

There are a lot of low back pain issues and for a lot of people, simply stretching the correct muscles will do a lot of good and take a lot of pain away. So the other day I was stretching a Haitian woman’s hamstrings (muscle group on back side of your legs). To give you a visual, she was lying on her back on our treatment table with one leg up in the air. I was kneeling on the table facing her with her elevated leg against my shoulder so I could lean against her to stretch it. The stretch I do is one in which I lean against her to stretch the muscle, then I have her push against my shoulder so that muscle is contracting, then she relaxes and I push, etc. So when I have her push against me, I usually say, “Peze mwen,” which means “press me” or more typically, I say, “Puse mwen, puse mwen,” which means “push me, push me.” After I said this repeatedly, she and another Haitian woman in the room had a little conversation going between them and were laughing. I said, “What, am I saying it wrong?”

Laughing, they said, “No, but it’s funny when you say, ‘Puse, puse,’ because that’s what you say to a woman when she’s in labor and you want her to push.” Haha. I assured them no babies were going to be born in our training room. They assured me I could continue to use that phrase, but I’m also sure if I do, they’ll continue to laugh.

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