Sivi voufou lifiséfez cefe mefessafagefe, vousfou cofonaifèséfez lafa lanfanguefe defe feufe…
This reads in French: If you can read this message, you know “langue de feu” (pig latin). And I can already tell you: my spell checker hates it!
Pig Latin is a language game of alterations played in English. To form the Pig Latin form of an English word the first consonant (or consonant cluster) is moved to the end of the word and an ay is affixed (for example, pig yields ig-pay and computer yields omputer-cay). The object is to conceal the meaning of the words from others not familiar with the rules. The reference to Latin is a deliberate misnomer, as it is simply a form of jargon, used only for its English connotations as a « strange and foreign-sounding language. »
Le javanais ou la langue de feu est un procédé de codage argotique utilisant une phonologie parasitaire 1 constituée par l’insertion d’une syllabe supplémentaire entre voyelles et consonnes, dans le but de rendre ce texte moins compréhensible aux non initiés. Cette syllabe comporte un son lié au nom de la variante : « ja » ou « av » dans la variante « javanaise » 2 et une syllabe comportant « f » dans la variante « langue de feu ».
(Source : wikipedia)
That is what Creole sounds like to me: I can understand the French words here and there, but they are exotically and beautifully assembled into a single string of syllables, like a song instead of speech. I sometimes feel like I should learn it as a foreign language, because it would be quite helpful in my line of work. Haitians often request “French” instead of “Creole”, or when they say “French Creole”, the American representatives understand either/ or… I have to explain that our automated system lists the language as “Haitian Creole” (and there is a good reason for it: there are other types of French Creoles, for example from Mauritius…). Either way, I would love to travel there someday on a missionary trip as an interpreter, if that exists…
But Creole is an official and real language, and when my supposedly French-speaking caller explained with a heavy American accent that « Ma langue maternelle est le pig latin, ma deuxième langue le français et ma troisième l’anglais », I advised my client it was most certainly a prank call immediately… Don’t people have anything better to do?
This week, I had two other interesting situations:
– A francophone man made a pass at me: « Vous parlez parfaitement les deux langues, c’est magnifique, j’aimerais beaucoup rester en contact, puis-je vous donner mon adresse de courriel? »… That is what happens when a client asks me to be on the call as a back-up because he can speak “fluent” French. The caller was so happy to understand every word when I jumped in to help, that he wanted to forget all about my client being on the line and just go on and “chit-chat” with me… great… I had to explain it was inappropriate for me as an interpreter to engage in a personal conversation. I really prefer staying in the shadow of interpreting, being the vessel I am supposed to be, not the cool girl next-door you enjoy having coffee with!
– A client (English-speaking foreign representative) called me an « interruptor« !?? I have had « operator », « interpretator » (sounds like Terminator!), « translator » (the latter is commonly mistaken for interpreter), but you mean that I am a light switch now (Fr. Interrupteur) or that my job is to “interrupt you”? Wow, from Terminator/ Borg, i.e. a robot, to an Interrupteur, i.e. an electric device… I am going up in the world!
I sometimes don’t know if I should laugh or be offended… I feel a bit of both. But while I get over it and finish my week smoothly (hopefully), I thought you would enjoy these anecdotes, dear readers, even if your laughter will be at my expense. The good thing is, that I can choose to get offended or not, and when I am in interpreting mode, I shield myself by putting my own feelings aside. Sort of like an empathic, kind, pleasant version of a highly intelligent cybernetic life form… a borg or Terminator after all? These are the voyages of the telephone interpreter… To be continued…