Lost in Translation (Part Deux)
A few months back, I blogged a post called “Lost in Translation” (http://unexpectedtraveller.wordpress.com/2009/05/07/lost-in-translation/) where I spoke about my inability to speak to my washing machine technician. Language barriers can throw up some rather unusual moments, don’t you think?
We’re on a rather crowded tram in Lisbon. Waves of Portugese envelop me as we bump and jostle one another on our way to our destination. I cannot understand the language but since it is a Latin-based one, some words make sense. We have noticed some things on menus are familiar and others aren’t. What amuses me is how the same word can have separate meanings in different languages.
Take the Italian word deficiente. It is the root of the English word deficient meaning lacking or inadequate but in Italian it is used as a medical term and normally means “mentally lacking”. This word migrated to Malta, written deficjenti, and is often used as a put down especially in school playgrounds (or perhaps while driving).
When I see this word, this is the meaning I’m used to. So you can imagine my amusement when I read the first line of this sign on the tram.
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