Tuesday, September 26, 2006

A case showing the importance of good translation

Hawley among the stalled cars on the edge of a cliff on Hvar Island

To clear up the roadblock, the police logically decided they had to secure the van and move the truck out of the way. But for the truck to be able to continue on its way, the 30-plus cars parked in the middle of the road had to pull over as far as possible to the right -- that is the SHEER DROPOFF -- side of the road.

This prospect made me nervous.

I was apparently not the only driver feeling shaky. One of the officer went from car to car directing the drivers where to go and how much to pull over. When he came to our car he spat out some directions in rapid-fire Croatian we could not get.

Ne rejumijem (I don't understand) I told him.

He nodded and switched to English. "You will now go into river," he said.

Ne rejumijem!!! I said more forcefully.


"You will now go into river," he repeated. "It is easy. I will help you."

Ne Necu (No. I won't)I shook my head feeling some real panic.

"Look in rear view mirror," the policeman said. "I will help you just go into river."

Then Hawley figured it out.

"I think me means go in reverse," she said.

She was right and so was he. It was easy. And we did not go into the river.

1 comment:

Bokie said...

Hahaha, let me explain the misterious word: the policeman actually said rikverc, which is a bastard word coming from German. Now, if you didn't know it by now, it was one of the founders of this Cerberus-like language (being called Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian depending on the ethnicity of the speaker)Vuk Stefanovic Karadzic, who proclaimed some 200 years ago, "Write as you speak and read as you write"!

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