Lost and Found in Translation
A project of the third annual Rutgers Translate-a-thon
Thanks to all who submitted their fantastic 100-word translation stories for our “Lost and Found in Translation” project! The winners of the contest are:
- 1st Prize: Meggi Blazeska (Economics/Creative Writing)
- 2nd Prize: Lindsay Fischer (Spanish/English)
- 3rd Prize: Amanda Wells (English/Spanish/Political Science)
- Honorable mention: Hue Dao (Cell Biology and Neuroscience)
Their stories are printed below. Please stay tuned for the details of Translate-a-thon 2022!
(Note: If you submitted a story to the “Lost & Found In Translation” contest in 2021 and would like it to appear in print here, please send an e-mail granting your permission to the organizers, firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. We would be thrilled to publish it!)
Overheard at a funeral (Meggi Blazeska)
“… My parents always lacked togetherness. They fought, and I’m sure they will continue to where they’re going. Even now, they are separated; in their individual coffins. However, since this is my mother’s funeral, I will end this speech in my mother’s mother tongue… Колку и да се одбегнувавте, на крајот сте закопани во истата земја, со една ќерка, поделена на два дела: еден кој му одговараше на тато, другиот на тебе. Верувам тоа беше бидејќи двајцата сте дел од мојот карактер, и индиректно не ви се допаѓаше туѓината во мене… А јас ве сакам еднакво.”
Overheard at a funeral:
“… My parents always lacked togetherness. They fought, and I’m sure they will continue to where they’re going. Even now, they are separated; in their individual coffins. However, since this is my mother’s funeral, I will end this speech in my mother’s mother tongue… However much you avoided each other, in the end you’re buried in the same ground, with one daughter, divided in two parts: one that fit dad, the other you. I believe that was because both of you are part of my personality, and indirectly you didn’t like the foreign in me… But I love you both equally.”
There’s something wrong with my roommate (Lindsay Fischer)
There’s something wrong with my roommate.
Their words float up to my flat from Blasco Ibañez, intermixing with cigarette smoke and the stench of broken orange peels which were plucked too soon. Sounds with which I was previously unacquainted greet me with a smile… la hostia… un temazo… and encourage me to sleep with their thick lisps and low frequencies. But I am worried about Martisa.
Apparently, she just shit in someone’s milk.
“Una pizza sin queso…” (Amanda Wells)
“Una pizza sin queso, y con papas fritas” A pizza without cheese and a side of fries. Not sophisticated, but, I thought, simple.
My wide-eyed waiter stared at me with confusion. I nervously apologized for my Spanish, and tried to repeat my order.
“No no, te entiendo. Pero no te entiendo” my waiter told me. No no, I understand you. I just don’t understand you.
He brought my order to the kitchen, where the chef looked to me with surprise. I didn’t understand the confused stares.
Until my waiter brought my order; a pizza without cheese, topped with french fries.
As a child… (Hue Dao)
As a child, I was always my parents’ personal translator that existed as a bridge between English and Vietnamese. A distinct memory would be starting at Rutgers in 2018 and filing FAFSA with my parents. My words often mesh and I’d fumble between the translation. Income tax papers scattered on the table. What’s loans in Vietnamese? What’s thu nhập in English? As a first generation, both sides were frustrated because it was our first exposure to it simultaneously. Now after three years, I’ve mastered the routine and I came out with necessary knowledge on income and taxes for future references.