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Friday, November 9, 2012

Lost In Translation

It's common knowledge (in this house) that anyone over 5 years of age has a better working knowledge of the computer than I do.  My childen can navigate the web better than Charlotte herself and it was a fine day indeed when they discovered Google Translate.  At first, it was educational.  You know, a working knowledge of how to pronounce bodily functions in Hebrew, Japanese and Russian is great fun.  But then they figured out they could type in the same string of words and have it repeated back to them in their native language and it was even funnier.  I walked in yesterday to an interesting diddy telling me, The Mom, how badly they had to use the bathroom.  Lovely.

I personally think Google Translate is brilliant and quite useful (Hey if you need to find the restroom in Russia, you will be all over how to say certain words with the correct inflection) But I do believe it's missing one important language: Country (with different dialects represented  I would need Rural South).  Now, stay with me here.  I do realize that in the country people most generally speak English, but it must be said that what one word means in the city doesn't necessarily mean the same in the country. It might as well be two different languages.  I've had to learn the hard by (by immersion.)

Things like....

"Free Range Chickens" In the city, this set of words conjures up idyllic images of fluffy little birds, happily scratching on a hill somewhere, living a blissful existence while providing healthy, orange-yolked eggs.  In the country this means something a little different.  The real image is chicken poo everywhere, including your porch and the unfortunate inevitability of dead animals.  It turns out that humans aren't the only species that eye these fowl with visions of breaded, meaty goodness.  Everything wants to eat the chickens.  Free range means you are paying five times the amount for one chicken than you would in the grocery store because you only get one out five to the dinner table.  Free range in this instance means you really start to consider the benefits of a large fence around the coop and keeping their happy, feathered tushies inside it at all times.  Which brings me to the next word...

"Fence" That which is designed to keep what you want in, in and keep what you want out, out.  In the country this translates to "Money Suck" and/or "False Sense of Security."  When that thing called a fence boxes in five acres, chances are it's not doing it's job in some areas.  It means constantly checking the fence line and repairing all sorts of snafus.  It means considering a second mortgage to put up a really real fence and not just a bunch of wood planks and wire. 

"Neighbor" Used to be that dude I waved to every now and then, but never actually spoke to.  In Country-Rural South it became that guy on the golf cart giving you produce from his garden, advising you on what to do about the stray dog taking out your chickens and telling you all about his ailing health.  This is very cool (Not the ailing health part.  The part where you actually know your neighbor is a really real person and not an android sent from a far off planet to study your species)

"Sweet Tea" In Albuquerque this was a beverage brewed from tea leaves with a bit of sugar added to sweeten it.  Here it's a sugar based syrup with a tad bit of tea flavor added in.  It can be a bit much until you get used to it, but it doesn't take long for it to become a get-together staple!

"Up the road" (down the road, doesn't matter in this case) Used to mean at the end of an actual road.  Like at stop sign and all that. Now it can mean ANYTHING.  It can mean to the stop sign, up to the main road or even to the city. I am not quite sure yet, but I think this simply means "I am going somewhere different than my current location..."  I still have to study this particular phrase a little more to fully understand the scope of what it can encompass.

"Y'all" This used to be a mispronounced "yell" but now it's a very effective tool when wanting to call all your childen in the house without having to remember all their names.  I rather like addressing my brood as "Y'all" instead of feeling like John Boy Walton everytime I need them to all come together.. Very handy little word that y'all.

"Dog" Furry little animal that you feed, only for the benefit of it's loyal company (Husband reminds me they don't do anything of value, as opposed to the chickens).  Still means companion when you are CHOOSING to feed it, you know, dog food.  But this means something entirely different when said animal is using your chicken flock as a buffet.  In this case dog means predator. This is when the city girl must allow her husband to do what needs to be done without questioning his means.  This sucks.  I will never get used to all the unfed and unloved animals around my county, but the fact remains I cannot take all of them in.  I already have enough kids, let alone companion animals.  Seriously people, neuter your animals.

"Commute" No longer will this word translate to sitting in rush hour traffic, twiddling your thumbs while going 2mph hour on the interstate muttering about idiots who can't drive.  Now it's "Let's count the cows" and more importantly "Watch out for deer."  Idiots in this scenario would be the deer.  Beautiful creature that sees scary lit up moving thing and it's first instinct is to jump in FRONT of it.

"Bless your heart" This is bad. This is very bad.  I used to think this was a term of affection, meaning you wished blessings upon the person you were referring to and while I can't pin down *exactly* what this means, I have picked up a general understanding.  This now means you poor, simple idiot who doesn't have a lick of common sense, and I really cannot believe you have enough IQ points to be carrying on a conversation.  Bless your heart sweetie. 

This list is in no way comprehensive, but a small sampling of words that have changed in meaning from one locale to the next.  I imagine as I adjust to this foreign land, more words will be added and further understanding will be reached.  One day I will speak the language and have a complete grasp on what is being said when I choose to socialize with these Rural Southern Country folk.  Until then, I smile, nod my head and give the only words of explanation I can think of to redeem myself "I'm from the city.  A big one...."

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