Translation Problems

When it comes to landscaping at my house, I pretty much leave the whole thing to God and my dog. Between the two of them I have sparse patches of yellow grass and dozens of holes which my canine has excavated out of sheer boredom.

I'm also very tolerant of the aberrant behavior of my trees. If they want to turn brown and fling themselves to the ground, I figure it is no business of mine.

For many years my "don't ask, don't chop" attitude toward trees allowed peaceful coŽxistence, wherein I was the Lord of the Manor and they were my arboreal subjects. Then a monstrous Douglas Fir next to my house died of what I assume were natural causes; a sad passing brought to my attention by my neighbor Fred, who pointed out that the precarious lean of the tree meant that when its root system finally relinquished its grip on the earth, the thing would fall right through my roof.

"Well, Fred, then why don't you come over and cut the thing down?" I asked pointedly, as I am made testy by people who are always bringing up problems without suggesting solutions. True to his type, Fred demurred, claiming that he didn't think he had the expertise to drop the tree anywhere but on my house, even though he's got plenty of money and could easily afford to pay for any damage he might cause.

He did offer, however, to put me in touch with "the best tree guy in the state," causing me to wonder how such rankings are assigned. Are there playoffs, or do the various garden journalists get together and vote?

"Only problem with this guy is, he doesn't speak English. He's from Brazil," Fred advised me.

"So he speaks Brazilian?"

"No, Portuguese," Fred replied, as if this made any sense whatsoever.

Because my Portuguese is a bit rusty-okay, I didn't actually know it was even a language -I decided to turn to the internet for help in producing written instructions for our state's number-one tree trimmer. What you do is go to the web site, type in your words in your own language, and then you receive a translation which you can then cut and paste into a document for printing.

I was not, however, able to locate an English-to-Portuguese translator. I was able to find Italian to Portuguese, though, and German to Italian, so when I found the English-to-German site, I'd completed the chain, and wrote out a document asking the tree guy to remove the fir tree which was menacing my house.

When I handed the tree guy my written request, he looked at me very oddly, but proceeded to bring down the fir tree without incident. His crew turned out to consist of his son, who could speak fluent English as well as Portuguese, and another man who spoke only English. It was for the third member of the team that the son wrote out a translation of my request, carefully jotting down the English words above my text, as follows:

Greetings to you, friend of the forest:

Above the home of my people lies the ghost of the growth of the planet, whose broad arms have enfolded us in the darkness of their frowns during the long periods of light and the playing of the little children of my loins. Now I fear that a great inclination seizes this hair of Douglass, with the making of a horrible momentum that seeks to cleave the sheltering and disrupt the napping of the father of my offspring. I pray you'll sing the ribbons of restraint and petition the linked chewer to formerly see the dried plumbing of those perilous offshoots of trunk, of which my compatriot Fred exposed electrifying laziness, with not a bruising of crown nor canceling of the eyes of the house. Upon autopsy, please to be creating a pyramid of such fabrication as to allow the warming of our nakedness before the location of burning within the area of living. Upon the occasion of the festival of the night, let us all join in a slobber of brewer's craft.

I belong to you,

Bruce Cameron

(Apparently, this is how they talk in Brazil.)

~ Bruce Cameron ~

[ by W. Bruce Cameron Copyright © 2002, ( -- {used with permission} ]


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