Thursday, November 15, 2007

Subtitles make me nappy

Last night Andrew and I watched Leila, an Iranian film that used a lot of "artistic" shots that I found to be rather unartistic. Other than that, the movie was actually really good. I enjoyed watching it. I think it portrayed Iranian lifestyle beautifully and highlighted controversies, such as adoption, artificial insemination, and plural marriage, in a remarkably sensitive way. The story was touching and the acting was really pretty good. For the most part the subtitles were fine.

They had the normal mistakes hear and they're, which are to be expected in foreign films, but Andrew and I lost it, when the couple, who have been living separately for a number of years, began a very solemn discussion. I can't quite remember what they were discussing exactly, but one of them told the other something like how they "used to be so nappy together."

We found that so hilarious that for the rest of the night we kept asking what we could do to make each other nappy. We're planning on having a nappy Thanksgiving and will do everything we can to be nappy people.

I can understand how they made that mistake. I personally mix up b,t, and n in Arabic, so it's no wonder n and h are difficult to keep straight. Languages just confuse things. One of my favorite story of language confusion happened while we were in Jordan. A student got up to give a talk in church. His talk was about family home evening and he was using examples of lessons that stood out from his childhood. He described how they would often play King of the Hill with their dad.

When he mentioned that game, the person translating for him stopped translating and stared, dumbfounded. The student thought that perhaps the translator just didn't hear what he said, so he said it again, "King of the Hill, we'd all race up the hill and whoever got there first was the winner," and so forth. The translator looked at him all slack-jawed, but when the student nodded his encouragement, the translator swallowed and translated "King of the Hill" as "King of Hell."

So, here is this poor student trying to give examples of good things to do as families and what the Arabic-speaking members of the branch heard was that his family was racing around, trying to get to hell first.

But let's be honest, communication issues can arise even when we're all speaking the same language. Andrew's dad is doing a project for one of his classes. They are showing the movie and then giving people a survey and they have to do statistical analyses or something like that. We were invited to watch it and were planning on it, but Andrew was the one who was in charge of getting the details from his dad. He and his dad emailed back and forth a few times yesterday:

Andrew: What time is your thing tonight?

Reid: 7:00.....LAST NIGHT!!!! There is another showing at 9:30 Saturday morning.

Andrew: At the Costco place, right? How long is the movie?

Reid: Yes, at the Costco place. The whole thing will take about 2 hours. Bring Rachel, I will take care of her. I just brought mom home from the hospital. She had shoulder surgery. Yuck.

Andrew: We'll be there.

So, Andrew rushed home from work last night, we scarfed down dinner, and rushed to University Mall Cinema. But no one was there, not for what we were, anyway. We stood around for a bit debating which theater we should try, and finally just called Reid.

"Oh," said Andrew when he hung up. He was laughing so hard he couldn't even tell me what the plan was.

Andrew thought that "LAST NIGHT!!!" meant, "Tonight's the last night!!!" Had I read the email, I would have been able to tell Andrew that it was obviously last night meaning "yesterday." Now, I can see how he might have been confused but I don't think I would have been confused myself. So far Reid and I think it obviously means yesterday and Karen took Andrew's side. What do you think?


  1. My first thought (before reading the rest of the post) was that he meant yesterday, that you guys had missed it. Sorry Andrew and Karen.

    I enjoyed the 'King of the Hill' story, haha. :)

  2. I concur with you Nancy--it's something my family would say, in a tone of "thanks for missing it!!"

  3. So with Nancy. That's definitely an expression my family uses.

  4. Looks like our informal survey is not swinging in your favor, Andrew...sorry.

  5. Yeah, it meant "yesterday night" to me, too. Sorry, Andrew.

    I remember the King of Hell moment. One of my favorites.

    One time, Jeremy was IMing with a fellow Arabic TA at BYU. She was a native Egyptian, and so English was not her first language. At one point, Jeremy wrote in the IM that she should come to his office and drop off some papers. She wrote back, "OK, I'll."

    We still laugh about that.

  6. Definitely on Nancy's side on this one-sorry Andrew. By the way I laughed so hard with the Arabic story that I was crying. I'm nots sure if it was just so funny or because I'm pregnant or what, but that was a good 'lost in translation'