Lost in Translation? vol. 1
Posted On 01/05/2020
There are so many memes and silly posts out there about getting along with your in-laws that I won’t even begin to get into it.
I mentioned my mother-in-law worrying about my sleeping schedule in my first post, so I thought it might be a good segue to talk about our communication struggles. Unlike all the people trying to avoid them, I actually wish I could talk more to my in-laws and get to know them better.
Despite all my best attempts to learn Japanese, it’s not a language that you can just learn overnight. I’ve gotten to the point where I can follow pieces of conversations, but it’s a constant struggle between focusing on what is being said and then blanking when I’m trying to find the correct words in response.
So, as you can imagine, most conversations with my wife’s parents usually happen through her translating everything back and forth, which can be exhausting for her.
For example when we were visiting Kokoro’s family in Japan, I was walking around her dad’s childhood village and I had so many questions I wanted to ask him. How was it growing up in a small community? What was different from Romanian villages? What changed over the years?
I’m obviously a huge history geek, so I wanted to learn as much as possible and it turns out so is Kokoro’s dad! He recommended me several classic Japanese books, especially his favourite Ryoma Goes His Way (竜馬がゆく).
Unfortunately for us, all questions had to run through Kokoro and my excitement was easily lost in translation. Well, that’s mostly because she does not share my passion for history…to say the least, ha!
Anyway, the point is: it’s a pity we couldn’t bond a bit more over those things, or that our families can’t communicate as efficiently.
That being said, they do send each other adorable emails sometimes with pictures of their backyards or the weather in Canada/Japan, like the ones in this post. However, both Kokoro and I end up proofreading the emails before they press send since they use online translations. You can just imagine how some sentences turn out…
I can think of hundreds of other small examples and I’m sure I’ll be writing much more about this in the future!
Also, I was told my first post was way too long, so I should stop here for now. Last time, I received clear instructions to write a page, so I did! Kokoro forgot that you should always specify to academics whether the page is single-spaced or double-spaced hehe…
As usual, drop us a tweet if you have any similar stories or if anyone has read 竜馬がゆく(Ryoma Goes His Way) in English; I would love to know how and where you managed to find a copy!