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Day 25- Found In Translation by Carey Marie Shannon

Write a story in which two characters talk different languages

The Prompt

Communication can be one of the greatest challenges of the human race with roughly 7000 spoken languages in the world. Have you ever been in a country where you did not speak the language but needed to find a location or service? Have you ever helped a non-native speaker of the language in your country purchase an item or find the right train? Perhaps the communication resulted in gestures, pointing at an item or drawing pictures to convey a message. Write a story where two characters speak a different language and must communicate for the most part without words. It can be in first person from the point of view of one of the characters. If it helps, draw from your own personal experience(s).


Carey Marie Shannon

Carey Shannon loves to use her writing to make humorous connections between items that may appear completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for a serious Elvis fan and frequent blood donor.
Carey Shannon loves to write about humorous connections between items and subjects in life that may appear to be completely unrelated. A feat that is easy for an Elvis super fan and frequent blood donor. She has been a member of the Story A Day community since 2020 and now hopes to provide some inspiration quirkiness to other writers.

Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!

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10 thoughts on “Day 25- Found In Translation by Carey Marie Shannon”

  1. Ended up writing about a magical woman (who looks like a young girl) sent to investigate a rainbow dragon made of light who has landed at a lagoon and stayed there, not communicating with anyone. Cello Girl, the magical woman, manages to initiate a conversation where the dragon speaks in measures of bell-music.
    This was way more fun to write than I imagined it would be at first. Thanks for the prompt, Carey!

  2. On the drive to the grocery store this morning, I heard of ways local mothers are helping other mothers during the baby formula shortage and how anyone can help. The 922 word story came from that report. My character meets a young couple and their crying baby visiting from outside the U.S. The couple does not speak English. He hands her a piece of paper with the address of a store across town and she tries to help them.

  3. Finished today’s prompt…a little short story entitled Our Golem.
    As of today…all caught up on the prompts.

  4. In the last decade or so of my teaching career, our regional university discovered how much money it could make by attracting students from overseas. In a word, lots. Of course, some effort was made to ensure the international students had sufficient English language skills. They either had to pass a test, or successfully complete an ESL program. But mistakes were made. Students with very little or no English got into regular college courses being taught exclusively in English. The teaching staff complained, but none of us sent back our pay check in protest. The university felt its hands were clean, and loved the extra revenue, which helped keep in-state tuition lower. The only people being hurt could hardly speak the language. Anyway, that’s what my story is about.

  5. So, this prompt took a dark turn. It started with a fairy communicating with a glowing mist. The fairy was drawing pictures and the mist was reacting with movement and colors. At first it was a happy fun story, but then it became a story of obsession and co-dependance. I think it is definitely something I will investigate further. I can see it as a graphic story.
    Thanks, Carey. This one certainly took me down a different road.

  6. I wrote a story with characters speaking in two different languages, but it doesn’t quite follow the spirit of the prompt. Alfie has a tendency to start speaking in Spanish, especially when frustrated with Rhys, and Rhys doesn’t speak it. 273 words, including this line:

    Rhys swallowed hard. Alfie watched the movement of his throat. “I still don’t know what you’re saying. I know your eyes, though. If you don’t want me, Alfie, why do you look at me like that?”

  7. In “The Shaky Encounter”, I took some liberties. Firstly, I had the characters speaking in 3 languages instead of the prescribed 2. There are 4 people instead of the given 2.
    I did a course in French during my college days. Later, I had no need of using that language but for once when my students asked me some questions regarding my knowledge of French while we were doing a French play in translation, “An Episode in the Life of An Author”.
    My rusty French would have never let me write a bilingual story with some lines in French! My apologies to my fellow writers as a result.
    I’d also like to thank Carey for this unique prompt. You people are putting a lot of ideas in my head. I am sure to be benefitted by my experience of participating in StoryADay Challenge.
    I participated in another monthly contest in February and know it for a fact that it is well neigh impossible for us to keep in regular contact. So, I’d express my sincerest gratitude to Julie and all the other wonderful people for making this Challenge a memorable one in my life.
    Stay safe and keep writing to impact and inspire. God bless us all.

  8. 25th
    I ought to have written a story, (during my stay of nearly 3 decades) when I was invited during the tshechu (fair) to someplace where a lot of drinking and merry-making was going on. My Indian friend was also there. The kind hosts had a lot of trouble as we didn’t know Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan nor did we take beaf at that time. Finally, we were served red rice, eggs fried in cheese (or is it the other way round?) and a glass of hot, steaming milk.
    But I changed my mind being unable to reproduce the one-sided conversation that took place between us!

    I decided to try my hand at another incident, mostly imaginary instead.
    A Shaky Encounter :

    We were college students then. That day, the day I’ll remember as long as I live, Archin, my best friend, called out to me from the Table Tennis Room when I was passing by for a cup of tea from the College Canteen.
    “Rathin. We won’t have any classes after lunch. DKD’s on leave. Wanna go someplace?”
    “You go ahead as I’ve some important work,” I tried to bypass his request as I was sure that he, along with the usual common friends, was heading to the Victoria Memorial as usual. (Note 1)
    There was something about the luscious greenery of the place with the majestic white building of marble at the background that would work out magic not only in my friends but in girls coming from other colleges or institutes to one of the most memorable examples of architecture during British-India.
    As I was bent on passing myself for an intellectual, I avoided such places though. Naturally, Archin, having anticipated my reply beforehand, retorted :
    “I’m gonna go to the Museum today. Want to come along?”
    Now, I had been there in my teens when I visited that place with my father. Memories of some indistinct artefacts and giant-sized doors flashed through my mind, and I heard myself telling him,”Are you really going to the Museum – Indian Museum?”
    He bared his teeth in reply and off we went to the historic building. There is little point talking about the memorabilia, some statues and weapons of the British Raj, and even the carcass of a monstrous crocodile preserved in a glass box!

    “I’m tired, bro. Let’s go out to one of those green, grassy lawns to rest our weary limbs.” I told him at around 3 in the afternoon.
    We, went out one of those internal doors, found a cosy place and settled down on a bench.
    There was a bearded man in a creame shirt and a pair of trousers sitting at the other end of the bench. He had curly, golden hair with the locks falling down on his forehead. Though he must have been sitting there for long, he had his leather bag strapped around his shoulders still.
    He was a remarkably handsome man, with a cigar in his mouth and what looked like a brochure in his hands. Now, it is human nature that when you are with a friend or in a group, and you find a stranger all by himself or herself, you want to have some fun at their expenses, especially, when you are at the college-going age. And I was no exception.
    “Hi,” Archin said.
    “Hello. Bon apres-midi.” He turned to us, stretching out his hand. “Je suis Ruffel, fraincais. Vous est indien?” He queried next with a broad grin hovering over his mouth.
    “Yea.” I replied without shaking his hand. There was no knowing if he was suffering from AIDS or HIV! Other than the name, Ruffel, I didn’t understand a thing of what he was speaking! Nor did Archin.
    Archin though took the proffered hand in a firm grip before asking, “Do you speak English?”
    Ruffel looked at him first before looking at me inquisitively as the question possibly registered with him and he shook his head.
    He took a prolonged drag at his cigar before catching us both measuring him up. He next put his left hand back in his shirt picket and brought out an ordinary-looking cigarette packet. “Vous fumez?”
    I was shaking my head vehemently while Archin put his hand over his head before speaking hesitantly,”You sure don’t mind if I take a puff?”
    Ruffel had a quizzical look in his eyes before putting the packet back in his pocket. He took another long drag at the cigar and held it out to Archin.
    I was scared and pleaded to Archin with my eyes not to smoke the same cigar. Did the rascal have no fear for his life? How could he accept the cigar from the foreigner just like that?
    After a while, Archin handed the cigar back to Ruffel. I could sense some kind of camaraderie building up between the two. Archin glanced at me before asking him, “How do you find Lapier’s “The City of Joy”?”
    Ruffel’s face lit up as he answered:
    “J’habite a Paris. Je vais a Paris par l’avion.”
    I couldn’t make any head or tail of where the conversation was leading to. So, I elbowed Archin to get up. Then realising that the man didn’t have any English or Bengali, I muttered in our mother tongue,” Shala,Calcutta te esey Paris er pavillion dekhachchey. Chal okey ektu bhalo korey dhusey dei.” {The scoundrel is praising Paris and its pavilions while he’s still in Calcutta! Let’s teach him a lesson (to speak better of our native place next time).
    Ruffel, in the meantime, with a glint in his eyes, kept turning his head from one to the other. The smile didn’t leave him still!
    “Excusez-moi,” he cut in.”Ou est la poste?”
    “Byatar bodh hoi kshide peyechey tai postor katha bolche. De pathiye jahanname.” {The bloke may be hungry. That’s why he was talking of posto,( a popular Bengali dish). Let him go to hell, for all I care.} I continued speaking in Bengali before turning to Ruffel, “If you are hungry, go out and ask around for the way to the Maidan. There you’ll find all kinds of restaurants.”
    I was obviously lying knowing it quite well that no restaurants lay anywhere near the vicinity of the Maidan.
    Ruffel got up, looking obliging and smiling still. His smile grew broader when a Bengali lady in a sari came running out the door.
    “Taratari chole esho. Baba, gari pathiye diyechey.” Come faster. Dad’s sent the car.”
    We both looked agape at him. “Apni Bangla janen?” (Do you understand Bengali?) We asked.
    “Bhalo bolte pari na, bujhte pari.” (I can’t speak very well in Bengali but I understand the language) He replied in flawless Bengali before hugging Archin and me .I didn’t mind this time. If he was married to a Bengali lady, he had to be one of us.

    “Au revoir. Prends soin. Oh! Maney, bhalo thakbe ar nijeder jatno nebey.”

    The end

    Notes :
    Victoria Memorial : The Victoria Memorial is a large marble building in Central Kolkata, which was built between 1906 and 1921. It is dedicated to the memory of Queen Victoria, Empress of India from 1876 to 1901. (Source : Wikipedia)
    nijeder jatno nebey = Take care.

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