Translation, please

February 5, 2003

i met a boy who collects foreign words and i like that idea. collecting words, like pebbles or fortunes or ticket stubs. i used to know how to say i’m hungry in nine languages, but i only remember five.

tabatchoy (tah bah choy): someone overweight; a term one would use to tease, much like “fatso.”

a lady at the flea market on sunday asked me if i was asian. she stood a foot away from me at a table covered with old jewelry and knick-knacks. when i said yes, she dangled a medallion in the air and said, “can you tell me what this says?”

madaldal (mah dahl dahl’): chatty; talkative; rambly.

i looked at the characters on the metal coin, but my head translated it as art, not language. it was beautiful.

maarte (mah ahr’ tay): artsy-fartsy; also having a flair for the dramatic.

“no,” i told her. “i can only read english.”

“oh really?” she said, with wide eyes and a fallen smile. “that’s too bad. i really want to know what it says.”


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