- Nurse: Hi, I need an interpreter. My patient is from Africa.
- Me: Okay! What country are they from?
- Nurse: I SAID Africa.
- Me: ...I see.
When do you use “delicious,” “tasty,” or “yummy?”
SEMANTICS YALL, LET’S THINK ABOUT IT.
For those of you interested in language education, sciences, research, etc., you’re probably going to have to administer, or take an OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview.) I schedule new interpreters for OPIs at the translation office where I work at all the time, and they’re absolutely necessary for anything foreign language related. My professor announced that non native foreign language speakers were needed to volunteer to help train people to administer OPIs.
I ignored him.
Then he mentioned 20 bucks. 20 bucks? I’d humiliate myself for 10.
So I found myself making my way down to the Marriot located in my city.
Not intimidating at all.
I find the room where I’m supposed to be in, and check in. At the table, I humbly ask, “So… what’s the format of these interviews?”
The man responds, quite pleasantly in fact, that I have nothing to be worried about, and that I could and am encouraged to say that I live on Mars. The examiner is going to be a hundred times more nervous than me because he’s the one being tested.
Relieved, I wait for my turn happily on a bench and wait to be called.
I turned around happily and see the french speaking woman smiling at me. I walk over to her. Then, I’m not lying, this is what she literally said.
And then she smiled.
I panic, realizing that I should not be here, continue smiling, and walk into the room where 10 giggling Arab women sit around a conference table.
Ten? I thought this was a mono y mono thing.
The woman speaks again, “aslfjwohrohcfjaajh?”
Hahaha, of course lady! I’m going to pay close attention to your gestures and try to do what you want.
I sit facing away from the small clan of people across from a shaking man with crooked teeth.
He starts talking to me and things are going well. I think “Pffftttt.. That lady wasn’t speaking Arabic, I know Arabic. What this man here is speaking is real Arabic.”
I was on a roll. I had already shared my name, the name of my school, and who I live with.
Then he says something that translated to me like, “Msfkjsldhflkshclassask?”
Classes? I know all about classes.
I tell him, “5.” He wants to know about classes, I’ll tell him how many classes I’m taking.
He frowns, and looks behind me, then at his index cards, and then behind me again.
Ohhhhh, qrtkfkkj eh? Well I don’t know how to say the answer to that in Arabic, but I do know how to say the word language in Arabic, so I tell him the names of my classes (which is what I think he wanted) like this.
“Arabic, language and sons, (speech language development), language science (basic speech science)..” And just when I started sounding super smart, he changes the question.
Which he continued to do a lot because he realized he was getting nowhere with little old me. Eventually, he went on a rant for about a minute and ended it with a word I knew, “Goodbye.” I shook his hand happily and walked towards the door. As soon as I close the door, I hear the entire room CRACK UP like I was Louis Black or something. The first lady follows me and I say ask how I did (for some reason.) She says, “Weelllllllll you’re… a novice.. you know some words but, you had trouble putting together sentences.” Well, no pressure, you smeg face. Maybe if I wasn’t being watched like a hawk I would’ve been able to remember to word for “I.”
I thanked her, through my teeth, and shuffled along to collect my twenty dollars, and proceeded to the nearest H&M to spend it (and more) on “regaining my honor.”
Moral of the story is:
Language, fricking practice it.