You say tomato July 7, 2008Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.
Darlings, I’ve been working like someone without an inheritance to look forward to of late. Ghastly, of course, to have to pay one’s own way in the world when surely it is a human right to be able to do nothing and yet still go to restaurants at least four nights a week. Still, working for a living does give me something to bollock the Russian about so it’s almost worth the bother.
The queer thing is, I had to linguistically reinvent myself as an American for the latest bout of wage-slavery. I’ve done this before, of course. Every now and again, an employer will add, as one final extra nudge towards irredeemable alcoholism, “Oh, by the way, the client would like the text in American English.” Piece of piss. Even employers whom I’ve regrettably built up a bit of a relationship with – the most boring drink I’ve ever had. Worrying about grammar and not getting too drunk throughout – have daringly admitted it’s just a case of changing the odd ess for a zee. The odd -re to -er. And then it’s been a life-long ambition to write the word ‘maneuver’ in some context or other. Sadly, it didn’t come up. Again.
But it all seemed much more difficult this time round. Perhaps the flippancy of the previous employer made me think it really was as easy as pie. But then their translations were always technical. Hardly as much as a sentence. So even if I did americanize wrong, it meant nothing because everyone who laid eyes on the document had committed suicide before the end of the first paragraph. Yet here it was all sentences. And grown-up-sounding ones that looked like they needed to be taken seriously. And my new-found zeal for the zee had me in trouble in no time, sticking them in where they had no rightful place. When I spelled and ‘zand’ I knew I was in trouble.
I went online for some real-American advice.
“Yo beeyatch. You online?” I wrote to a friend who’s not even that much of a bitch.
“Do Americans say, ‘annual leave’?” I asked, feeling more parochial with every zee-free tap of the keyboard, though I suppressed the emotion with restorative thoughts of the House of Windsor.
“Dumb-ass mutha-fucka. Ain’t no cock-suckin’ faggot gonna say no ‘Annual Leave’,” and I could sense him mouthing ‘annual leave’ in a fake English accent and raising a fake cup of tea to his lips with his little finger raised. He corrected me accordingly. “Hell, scrub, you needz to get yourself a real job ‘stead o’ sittin’ round all day on yo’ fat ass typin’ shit like some mutha-fucka.”
I finished sewing some frilly lace onto my curtains and got on with the job, imbued with the vigour of one who has learnt something new. He’d given me just the sort of gentle hints I needed. Any time I had another doubt, I would say the sentence out loud to myself. “Would an American say that?” I’d ask. When the case was particularly thorny, I’d say it out loud to myself in a Deputy Dawg accent, assuming, no doubt rightly, that no parochial anglicism would make it through that stern filter.
“Darlink, vot you doink? Vy you speak yoursyelf?” asked the Russian, standing scornfully in the doorway.
“Saying my translation in Deputy Dawg.”
“OK, but zen you maast hang out voshink.”
Almost happy with my final version, I pressed F5, replaced every ‘you’ with ‘y’all’ and sent off my last ever translation. My prostitute training-course starts next week.