Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Our Spanish class starts tonight. We'll be joining a dozen other friends for an informal conversational course, taught by a longtime friend who is an experienced languages instructor and has lived and traveled widely in Latin America. About the only language reference we own right now is an old Latin American Spanish phrasebook and dictionary set, which Rick bought before a business trip to Guatemala in 1995. The phrasebook contains all sorts of useful information for checking into hotels, ordering restaurant meals, and carrying out the other customary activities of vacationers and business travelers. It's occurred to me, though, that if I find myself traveling in a non-English-speaking area (and especially in the tropical Americas), my translation requirements might be a bit different:

"Are all the tarantulas in your country as attractive as this one?"
"My centipede requires fresh crickets."
"I have lost my aerial net. May I borrow yours?"
"Do not touch that caterpillar. Its spines are venomous."
"No problem, sir (ma'am). I am not afraid of scorpions."
"Please direct me to the habitat of your largest earwigs."

All I know is that if the group does travel to Mexico or South America this spring, I'll cause a lot of people to shake their heads. Hell, I got enough funny looks in New Zealand when I asked about the best places to photograph cave weta ("In a cave, you dumb Yank" was probably the unspoken subtext of most of the replies), even though everyone I met in New Zealand was gracious enough to give Americans full credit for speaking something resembling English.

Ah, entomology ... the international language of bugs may need no translation ....


Post a Comment

<< Home