translation and crayons and the resuming of language lessons

Translating is hard!! We have made attempts to learn the language while here, and one of my (Dan’s) favorite phrases is: “I know enough to get myself in trouble, but not enough to get out of it.” As different folks have visited and various groups have traveled through, I have, at times, had to translate from Latvian into English. While I don’t catch everything and I miss a lot of the nuances, I can usually convey the broad brush stroke meaning of the conversations.
Fluency in a language, I think, is similar to a box of at least 64 color crayons – you have the primaries, you have the basics, and then you have a variation on all of those. In a box of 64 crayons, one doesn’t have only ‘red’ – no, one has ‘brick red’, ‘maroon’, ‘mauve’ – etc…
Well, a few weeks ago a group of people from United Methodist Churches in Tennessee came to Latvia to spend time with people from the congregations here – to work on projects together, to share stories and songs, to share meals, to laugh…
Right now I have about 8 colors in my Latvian crayon box. So imagine my surprise a few weeks ago when, on the second Sunday of their visit, I was asked to translate the sermon – from English into Latvian because the pastor became extremely ill. The service went okay. The people understood the basic message – and they helped me as I searched for words…
So while Will, the preacher, had a great message with wonderful nuances on God’s goodness, I couldn’t convey all those meanings. It is as if he would say ‘sky blue’ and ‘midnight blue’ and ‘aqua-marine’, and I would translate, ‘blue’ ‘blue’ ‘blue-like with a bit of green’…
We are sooo glad that our language lessons begin this week – hopefully another color or two in the box by Christmas time…
Well, just wanted to share some silliness with you.
: ) peace

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One response to “translation and crayons and the resuming of language lessons

  1. Hey, Dan and Courtney, Hi from NC. I continue to pray for both of you and for your friends and family in Latvia. I love reading about you all in your blog. Dan, I enjoyed your translation/crayon anolog in this last blog-of course it may be the artist in me. It kind of reminds me of my time in Costa Rica when I had to spend the day with the pastors family after spraining my ankle and not knowing a stitch of spanish!Anyway, keep up the good work, and your spirits. I was watching some of the video of your work at the Wesley Camp and recognised those movements to the songs you were singing, Courtney! Such universal appeal!! Keep in touch, lisa_decker@bellsouth.net or carepages.com, whatididonmysummervacation08-will let you know what I have been up to this summer.God Bless,love, lisa decker

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