So I’ve come to the sad and startling conclusion that I don’t think I speak the same language as … well … anybody else! How did I come to this beguiling realization you might ask? Simply. No one in my life ever seems to understand me! Thus, in the words of comedian Robert Benchley, “Drawing on my fine command of the English language – I said nothing.” Or I might as well have, because I swear, there’s a disconnect between what I say, and what others hear. At first I thought it was just a little miscommunication here and there, but thinking through each of my major verbal interactions, I’m convinced it is more. My words are truly lost in translation, and they go a little something like this.
What I Say & What My Kids Hear:
*“We are really in a hurry so get your shoes and coats on.” TRANSLATION: “Take your time and make sure to dawdle as long as possible on your way out today. You can even forget to brush your teeth until the last minute, Mommy will just wait.”
*”No more snacks before dinner.” TRANSLATION: “Ask for as many random snacks as you wish in your whiniest voice for the next half-hour before dinner to see if I cave in on my ‘no snacks’ request.”
*”Indoor voices please.” TRANSLATION: “Get louder so that you can tune out everything else going on in this house but your shouting.”
*“Please pick up your rooms.” TRANSLATION: “I think you should play Noah’s Ark, and take out two of every toy you have and leave them in a line from your door to your closet to see if I can avoid stepping on them all.”
*“Please stop playing so rough.” TRANSLATION: “Keep playing as rough as you want to and we’ll see who gets hurt first.”
What I Say & What My Husband Hears:
*“Hey, can you take out the trash?” TRANSLATION: “Someday, when you’re too bored to do anything else, can you grab the trash on your way out of the house?”
*“You haven’t really helped out much with the dishes lately.” TRANSLATION: “I’m so used to doing the dishes myself that I don’t even need your help anymore. You go relax.”
*“I really think we could use a date night.” TRANSLATION: “Why don’t I call a sitter and plan a night out for the two of us. You don’t need to worry about a thing. It’s more romantic if I plan it all myself.”
What I Say & What My Pets Hear:
*“Come on, get outside.” TRANSLATION: “Look at me in a confused way. Shuffle a few steps and then sit far away as I stand in front of this cold door.”
*“No begging! Go lay down.” TRANSLATION: “Come here! Get really close like you’re going to steal the food right off our plate and then lay down under the table at the littlest one’s feet in case she drops something!”
*“Go on. Shoo!” TRANSLATION: “Come here! Get as close as you can to my black pants and rub your fur all over them so I think of you all day when I’m at work.”
What I Say & What My Students Hear:
*“This homework is due tomorrow.” TRANSLATION: “You’ve got something to do, and it’ll be due sometime, but I don’t know when … so don’t even bother.”
*“There will be a test on this, so pay attention!” TRANSLATION: “I am talking just to hear myself talk, and you’ll never need this material again, so feel free to tune me out.”
*“I really want you to take your time on this assignment, it should take the whole time period.” TRANSLATION: “Last one done is a rotten egg, so get through this as fast as you can!
*“Please write in complete sentences.” TRANSLATION: “I’d like you to write your answers to me as if I were a pal you were texting. Feel free to ignore all grammar rules and logical English structure.
What I Email & How People Interpret:
*“Can you please answer the following questions? TRANSLATION: “I might write a litany of questions in a long email, but I really only want you to read the first sentence and answer that one so that I have to email you again later with the rest of the questions I need answered.”
*“Can you quick tell me …? TRANSLATION: “I’m going to write you for no reason, so feel free not to respond at all.”
*“Can you please send me the document in a non-zip file, as I cannot open it.” TRANSLATION: “Send the file to me again in a zip, I like the Rubic’s Cube challenge … it’s just what I needed to stimulate me today.
You see? Translation definitely lost. Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein had it right when he said, “The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” I hate to admit it, but I must not be speaking clearly … because my world is most definitely limited.
Hoping this message is translated with a knowing-chuckle.