Monday, January 2, 2012

Language Charades

Yesterday evening we took my parents over to my husband's Grandmother's place for a new years lanche (snack). It was entertaining on all accounts.

Out of the 25 people attending from Mr. Rant's family, about 5 spoke English. That leaves my parents sitting like the big pink gringo elephants in the room.

The best moment is when the uncles come and chat. Their English is good for someone who doesn't use it regularly, but they still need help. That is when the impromptu charade games start. Even though I am there to help translate, the vocabulary they needed help on is super random. Examples from yesterday: exhaust pipe, chrome and off the shelf technical material. Fyi, between the two uncles and my Father they were discussing building motorcycles and military issues in both countries. Last time I checked you are supposed to have easy light chit chat when you don't speak the language.

Regardless, it was absolutely adorable to see all the effort going into making my parents feel involved and comfortable. Even one of the cousins came and took over as the official unofficial random word translator. A good time was officially had by all.

At one point though, Mr. Rant and his cousin wanted to play a joke on my Father and their Uncle. They wanted to tell the uncle the wrong word. For example, instead of translating seat, the word he wants, telling him hammer or something like that. Just enough to confuse the crap out of the two men. I said hell no. They gave me shit for not playing along.

What do you think? Personally, I think the men were having a hard enough time as it was. 


  1. I have to say I have done those jokes on my parents and they do their job like a punk rock assassin.;)

  2. I don't know... to me the live-translator job is a 'sacred duty' of sorts. As fun as it can be, i don't think the loss of trust would be worth it. =)

  3. I would be tempted to do the prank, and then hopefully refrain from it in the end. This because these things can get out of hand leading to a situation that isn't funny at all, yet very awkward. Plus it can be cruel to the people that are being played, specially the one that is foreign. I would imagine that a visitor may already feel somewhat out of place to begin with, and this kind of prank could only add to this sensation if it goes sour.
    I must admit though that I would definitely be tempted to try it since, in my mind, I would be able to pull it off gracefully. But if I were to fail...

  4. I agree with Leo!

    It's great that your Brazilian family helped make your parents feel at home :-) Have your parents picked up any Portuguese? Mine learned a few words after being here for a week - although my mom keeps saying "embraços" instead of "abraços."

  5. Yes, I think you did the right thing. I guess I'm a little sensitive, but I don't like it when everyone laughs at me when I make a language mistake - there's never any malice in the laughter, but I still feel a bit left out that everyone else is sharing a joke that I don't understand (and I unwittingly provided the punchline!).

  6. I agree with Tom, you did the right thing. This kind of joke really sucks (and I'm not sensitive).

  7. its fine....relax :)
    its just an innocent joke
    enjoy your parents in rio!