Being bilingual can be fun. It opens the world up to the nuances and subtleties of culture and languaging that is so hard to translate into another language. How do you translate a joke that is laden with dialect and localisms? Truth is, you can’t. It loses all context and falls flat.
TRH (The Retired Husband) and I are both Finnish born, first generation migrants to Australia. Being only seven when I crossed the oceans, I picked English up really quick. But I have also retained Finnish. I can speak, read and write it albeit it is what I would call ‘pedestrian. TRH on the other hand was sixteen so he has retained his mother language very well. Interestingly, we speak English at home unless we have Finnish speaking visitors. Our kids never really learnt much Finnish. They weren’t that interested to be honest. And to our shame, we didn’t push it either. They picked up the odd words. When they were little, we used to talk in Finnish to each other when we didn’t want them to understand what we were saying. THAT is something they did not like at all!
This preamble came about because I have once again immersed myself in translating Dad’s book from Finnish into English. Autobiographical to an extent, he wrote a book about the experiences of moving to a country where everything about life was different. Mixed into the stories he has woven in our family’s experiences too.
I wanted our kids to be able to read it. Hence, the translation. I’d got it to rough draft in 1999! Life got in the way and it sat on the shelf gathering dust until I found it again in 2015. There was another, shorter hiatus in 2017 when it sat on the shelf next to my desk. In plain sight, not forgotten this time. Every now and then I would look at it, thinking it was time to finish it. Last week I started to do just that. This time, I thought, I will complete what I set out to do.
So I have been busy continuing to edit the rough draft. The story part of it is now done. It has been interesting to meander down those paths of long ago again. I still have the final formatting and ‘polishing’ left to do. That will test my IT skills.
Whilst editing it a couple of years ago, I posted a few excerpts on my blog. Here they are for those who may be interested in having a read:
- Our first, proper family holiday in Australia was to a cane farm in Queensland.
- Dad met many interesting characters over the years. Here he tells the story of how dynamite can be used to treat toothache.
- Settling into a new country is hard enough. But when you add extreme heat to the mix of living in a migrant camp, it becomes really challenging.
- Australia has some unique animals. Dad discovered some of them on this fishing trip in the wilderness of Tasmania.
- Having your camping companion pull a gun on you and tell you not to move when you are having a quiet snooze can be somewhat nerve-wracking, as Dad found out.
© Raili Tanska