• Wednesday, June 13, 2012

  • Updated Wednesday, June 13, 2012 12:46 pm

A favorite quote of mine is, “Communication is a wonderful thing. It’s a shame we don’t use it more often.” But in this modern age, you would think we DO use it more often! What with the modern invention and easy access of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Skype, e-mail, cell phones, etc. Right?
Another interesting quote is, “We have two ears and one mouth. There’s a reason for that.” Makes sense to me! This certainly applies when I’m going out to dinner and the waiter recites the specials. I listen intently while my mouth waters, wishing I could order it all! And  yes, I DO want it all and I want it all covered in chocolate (another great quote!)
But on that note, hub Russ says, “Why do they call them specials? The only person it’s special for is the restaurant owner!” Plus, they never tell you the price.
That’s because it’s right up there with the most expensive thing on the menu — if not costlier! Special, indeed! But I digress.

Back to this thing called communication: a good friend of mine posted a question on Facebook recently, asking if anyone knew of a good baker for a special event. She needed a cake for two friends: one was getting married and the other was having a birthday party.

Well, since Katie, our daughter, is getting married in four months — Yikes! The time is fast approaching — I knew of a few names that had been given to me for wedding cake bakers. Therefore, I, along with a dozen other friends, listed names and comments for everyone to read. Oh! Did I mention that this friend, Jessica, is Miss Socialite (love it!) and has friends coming out of the wazoo, so I wasn’t particularly surprised that she got that many responses. I even read every comment, making notes, thinking I might end up with a couple of more names to contact for taste and price comparison.

But guess what? I was the friend Jessica was referring to that needed the name for the wedding cake baker. Duh! This is what I mean about communication.
Do you remember Emily Litella on “Saturday Night Live?” She and Jane Curtain would talk for ten minutes before Jane would interrupt Emily and say, “Emily, Emily, no, that is NOT what we are talking about.” Then Emily would say in that embarrassed yet clueless voice, “Ooooh! Well, that’s very different. Never mind!” And my favorite one of those episodes on SNL was when the subject of (supposedly) violins on television was discussed — which Emily saw no problem with and even endorsed the idea. The actual subject was really about violence on television.

As a wordsmith, I love the English language! I collect quotes, read fortune cookies and especially love translations. So, I was amused and delighted when Katie gave my dad a book titled, “Chinglish, found in translation,” by Oliver Lutz Radtke — the subtitle, obviously, a play on the phrase, “lost in translation.”
I had to throw that in because at first I didn’t get it — see what I mean about communication?
Radtke, a native German, works as a television news producer in Singapore and has obviously done his homework. He first began collecting these phrases in the year 2000.
The book is hysterical! I’m going to share a few of my favorites. These were found on hotel room doors, brightly lit highway billboards, construction sites, and even soccer balls, to name a few. Here we go: “After first under on, do riding with civility.”
Here’s another one, “Your careful step keeps tiny grass invariably green.” How about this? “When old man’s child go up hand ladder temporary need the family to accompany.” Or, another. “Happy trip for you.” And finally, “The store be sterilized inside, please be contented.”

Lest it seem that Radtke is being offensive or tasteless with this book, he himself says, “This book is about passion, not mockery.” He also notes that the reinterpretation of language allows for a tremendous amount of humor, a cross-cultural form of communication. I agree.

But, hands down, my favorite quote is something that Radtke read in a neat sticker inside a taxi door near Shanghai Foreign Languages University, where he was a student majoring in Chinese. And this, by the way, was what began his fascination with the Chinese and English language, and the idea for this book.

“Don’t forget to carry your thing.” And you know what? I bet he didn’t!

Ann Ipock “Life is Short, I Wish I Was Taller” amipock@ec.rr.com www.annipock.com.

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