Wanderlust Wendy

Half Way Around the Globe

hmm.. right. So I sort of abandoned this blog. I think the fact I just began and thus no real readers was a bit of a problem. But I gotta start somewhere, right? So I shall keep writing.
The other reason I’ve neglected was more legit. I’ve been traveling. In May, I went back to Taiwan for a visit and in June a good friend from the U.S. came for a visit here au Cameroun. And over these two trips, I had quite a few realizations about my linguistic ability.

En route to Taiwan, I had a layover in Paris. I was quite nervous about what the Parisians were going to think of my Cameroonian French. Parisians don’t exactly have the best reputation for being kind souls. And to my surprise, they didn’t look at me like I was from Mars. In fact, I even got stopped by a camera crew to do an interview on my Cameroonian shoe fashion! I wonder if that ever got aired. One of the more amusing things that happened to me as of late.

Then I was in Taiwan surrounded between English, Chinese, Mandarin, and Hakka for about 3 weeks. There were times when I thought that seeing an ultra sound of my brain at that moment in time would be really interesting. I was probably thinking in English about something irrelevant while my parents are talking to their friends in a mix of Chinese and Taiwanese. And then one thought that crossed my mind often was, “what if one day I bring home some American guy who can only speak English to this family gathering?” He would freak out.

Weeks later, my friend came to visit. Just as I am writing this, it occurred to me that between her and me, we covered almost the entire circumference of the globe, with the exception of crossing the Pacific Ocean. Anyway, beside the point. Megan is a great friend from my high school years. A true American, who only speaks English, but bless her heart, she tries. I gladly put on the translator hat. And this is when I realize I am really quite bad at being real time translator. I get very lazy and forget to translate a lot of things.

When we are with my French friends or Cameroonians, I try my best to translate French into English. And when we were with my Chinese friends, I attempted to not have her feel left out and translate as much Chinese as I could into English. It is absolutely one thing to be able to communicate in a language, and another to have to switch/translate between languages. There are so many nuances to a language that are very difficult to capture unless you know it.

Translation comes with practice. Lately, I have  new found respect for people who does it for a living. It’s quite an intricate job. I am exploring options on career other than translators with my language abilities, but perhaps I should look into it…?

1 thought on “Half Way Around the Globe

  1. […] Last summer, I had the chance to revisit my birth country of Taiwan. One of the many stops we made along the island was at the Lee family estate in Ping-Tung (屏東), to visit my amazing 91-year-old grandmother. At 91 and without much formal education, my grandmother still speaks 3 languages – Hakka, Japanese and Taiwanese. I suppose the polyglot gene had to come from somewhere! […]

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