Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lost in Translation

There are so many languages here. Like 4,000. Ok, that's a slight exageration but there are quite a few even in this area so I had to kind of pick one to try to learn first. The one I chose is Krio. It's the one spoken in the city and I'll have the best chance of finding at least one person in a crowd who can speak that's the one I chose.
The other night I was down at the hospital seeing some patients. This is how it usually goes. The patient comes in and I start asking them questions in Krio. Then they stare at me blankly. Then my Sierra Leonean friend chuckles a little and asks the same questions in REAL Krio. Then I feel like an idiot.
Even though I feel pretty stupid, I really want to learn Krio so I keep trying and am learning a little at a time. The other night I decided to try out a few words I'd heard said around me. I was asking about this man's poo and asked if "ee go kaka?" There was dead silence for a second and then everyone around me started laughing. What the heck? I KNOW I've heard that phrase a bunch of times! After they stopped laughing and we finished the interview, I asked what that was all about. Apparently "kaka" is a word that you only use for children's poo. The fact that I'd used it with an old man was apparently hillarious.
This led to a conversation in which they told me that I should try to learn all of the "offensive words" first so I'll know when people are saying bad things about me. How many people are saying bad things about me??
Oh Sierra Leone......I'm glad I can make you laugh.

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