Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: IN-LAWS (07/11/19)
TITLE: Subtitles Required
By Corinne Smelker
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“Your brother’s marrying a Scots girl,” my father proclaimed. “We’ve not had Scots in our family before.”
Fiona and I had grown up seven hours away from each other, and technically in the same country. I knew she was speaking English, but it was nothing like I’d ever heard before. Of course, it didn’t help that she and my brother had spent five years in the Shetland Islands before moving back to the ‘mainland’ as the islanders referred to the United Kingdom. Because of distance, money and time, it was 15 years after my brother married that I got to meet Fiona in person. I thought watching the TV show “Shetland” with subtitles had prepared me for the strong accent – who was I kidding?
“Ah reet then, are ye?” was my first inkling that although Fiona wrote her Facebook posts in English, what she spoke was far from what I was used to.
I nodded my head and looked helplessly at my brother, John.
“You’ll get used to Fi. I did, eventually.” He flashed a brilliant smile at his gorgeous wife as he welcomed me into their home.
“Haud yer wheesht!” Fi exclaimed! “Dinna mind ye brother. He’s a wee scunner.”
Where was Google translate when I needed it?
“Auntie Denise!” I was suddenly engulfed in the hugs of my three nephews and one niece. I’d be on firmer footing here with the kids, right? Surely they’d have picked up my brother’s traditional British aka Midlands accent? Those hopes were dashed when my oldest nephew said, “Whit like?” I only realized it was a question because his voice lilted a little at the end.
“Um. Fine?” I took a stab in the dark that he was asking how I was. The nod he gave in response told me I’d hit the mark. Whew.
The weekend I spent with my sister-in-law, brother and their kids was absolutely exhausting. Not because of the flurry of activity, that was old hat to me since I have even more kids than they do; it was the mental acrobatics of trying to decipher what Fi and the kids were talking about. I’m sure they thought I was a little mentally slow because of my almost constant bewildered expression, and my willingness to just nod and agree with any question leveled at me. Who knows, I could have agreed to give them all my worldly goods and I would have been none the wiser.
As I packed up my car, preparatory to leaving, Emily, my five-year old niece came outside. Her bright blue eyes twinkled up at me, and she gave me a huge hug. “See ye efter.” I correctly deduced that meant, ‘see you later.’ Hey, you ARE learning! I thought.
The family stood at the kerb and waved as I drove away, “Hae a guid journey. I packed a wee bit o’ dinner for ye.” I heard Fi cry as my brother and his family faded from sight in my rear-view mirror.
I really hope that the Star Trek Universal Translator will become a reality soon. Next time I see Fi and the kids I have to know I haven’t agreed to robbing a bank, or agreed to paying for an expensive holiday for them!
Genesis 11:9 (NIV) That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.
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