I need my dad’s nails cutPosted: January 25, 2013
<guest post from joel>
Kate is in town this weekend so I’m blogging today on Jessica’s behalf. Thankfully it is easy to pinch hit here in Paris because something ridiculous and/or embarrassing has almost always just happened.
If you own a dog you will probably agree that nail trimming is a miserable task. As we had done with my hair earlier, I attempted to trim the dogs’ nails myself. Unlike my hair, it was an abject failure. It became clear that their nail length was bordering on inhumane so I went to the vet to schedule a nail trim. I wasn’t sure they did nail trims. The groomer didn’t so I thought it was worth a try.
I all-too-often set out into new linguistic territory without having done my due diligence. I realized as I walked into the vet that I had forgotten the word for “nails” and the word for “fingers,” “toes,” “hands,” and I never knew the word for “paws.” I immediately had a rush of disproportionate panic. When I panic linguistically all the words from all the languages I have studied volunteer to fill the void in the sentence I am trying to construct. My proudest moment was incorporating Spanish, French, Mandarin, and English into a single sentence. ”Broken French” would be a compliment. I utter dismantled Spenchdarish.
The conversation went as follows. All understood French has been translated to English with mispronunciation reflected. N0t-understood French is represented as wanh wanh wanh.
Joel: Hello. Is it that here one can cut <gesture to end of fingers>?
Receptionist: <Stares puzzled. Unsure of how to respond.> Nails?
Joel: I’m sorry. Yes. Nawls. No my nowells. My father’s*. <realizing that wasn’t the right word from the receptionist’s panicked expression.> No, No, sorry. My dog.
Receptionist: <Relieved> Yes. Are they wanh wanh wanh?
Joel: <Not understanding the adjective, decides to recite as much information as he knows hoping that something will answer the question> Um. There are 2 of them. <wasn’t it> They close to here. <nope> They are small. <no> One is Scottish Terrier. One is Yorkshire Terrier.
Receptionist: <Seeing that the monologue may never end cuts off the customer with pantomimes to aid comprehension, not unlike one might do a half-trained chimpanzee, to indicate that she wants to know if they are gentle.>
Joel: Ah! Like this, like that.
Receptionist: <Satisfied that it is worth a try but mostly relieved that the train seems to have finished its wreck.> When can you bring them in.
I still don’t know the word for nails but I remember gentile and am glad to have the little guys trimmed up.
*The word for dog in Spanish is perro. The word for father in French is pere, which I pronounced perfectly on this occasion.