Nothing’s Lost in Translation
Marlon finds that father-daughter communication is its own language.
The first English words my daughter Sofia
spoke were Thank You.
The first Czech word I learnt from her was
Tattynek which means daddy.
The fascinating thing about our
communication was that we genuinely “got” each other. And I’d like to think it
had a lot to do with our father-daughter bond. I was confident that she would
understand the underlying messages, the nuances and body language when I spoke
to her in English.
I have a Czech phrase book and even bought
one of those CD language courses, but it’s a tricky language. Aside from the
grammar and all the little thingies on the letters, the language itself is
strange when compared to other European languages like French or Italian. I’ve
done beginner courses in both French and Italian and I found they were really
not that difficult to learn; the key, as with most things, is consistency.
Anyway hearing Sofia speak Czech and
respond to me in Czech, made the language infinitely more understandable and
easy to digest. Being almost two years old, her vocabulary consists mostly of
multisyllabic expressions which were repeated over and over again. When she
wanted juice, she’d say “lemonanku” over and over again until someone
I made a point of not trying to speak Czech
to her, but wanted her to develop a taste for English, albeit during my brief
two week visit. I came armed with English DVDs of Barney, which she really
liked, and Winnie the Pooh. I think anyone born and bred in Africa has a
natural affinity to the wildlife here and one of the favourite games I like to
play with my kids is the one where I pretend to be a lion wanting to eat them.
So I grab them and growl and pretend to bite their tummies or necks. This
usually results in squeals of terror and delight and infinite requests for
more, more, more. I tried this game on Sofia,
and at first she was a bit surprised, maybe a little afraid… I kept saying to
her in English, “I am a lion and I’m going to eat you.” But I guess it was too
much, ‘cos she just looked at me like I had gone insane and as a result was
going to literally eat her.
Out came my Czech phrase book and I
discovered that the translation was something like “Jsem Lev” for “I am a
lion”. Once I said that, she got it immediately and soon she was squealing
around like frightened warthog trying to get away from a hungry lion. And of
course she wanted more, more, more. I know what the word she uses for more sounds
like, but I’m damned if I can write it.
The entire experience was truly fascinating
for me, that my bond with Sofia was established so quickly and so freely. I’ve
already had a few wordless and gibberish SMSes from her since I’ve been back.
And again our telepathic bond was reaffirmed when on the weekend I watched “The
Unbearable Lightness of Being” which is set in Prague and the surrounding Czech
Republic. Almost as soon as the DVD started playing, Sofia sent me three
do you think these telepathic bonds are real or just wishful thinking?