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From The Stacks

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Lost In Translation

February 7th, 2013 at Thu, 7th, 2013 at 2:42 pm by José

I grew up in a bilingual (English/Spanish) household, which had its advantages and disadvantages. The obvious advantage being that I could communicate in both languages, a skill that has paid off in the long run as Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States (US Census). The disadvantage was having to interpret for my dad.  Don’t get me wrong, I was more than happy to do this and saw it as my duty to do so; however, it was those moments when there was a dispute over something like a discrepancy on the light bill or an unknown deduction on the paycheck (this was especially grueling), that interpreting was anything but fun.  You see, my father has a colorful way with words…in Spanish.  I had to get creative with interpreting his colorful words, so as not to create a scene (my father was already doing a good job at that). There were many a time when I would rather crawl under a rock than interpret for my dad.  He’s come a long way now and can communicate in English on a basic level, but he always begins the conversation with: “My English is not so good.”  A poor disclaimer for what is about to come.

Luckily for our patrons today, the King County Library System has online tools that facilitate the learning of foreign languages.  All from the convenience of your own home.  Mango Languages, Transparent Language and Little Pim are language learning databases that incorporate multi-media to make learning a different langague fun and easy.  Library patrons can create a profile to keep track of their learning or they can jump right in and practice.  The service is accessible from home or in the library with your library card and PIN no# (typically the last four digits of your phone number).  This service is really convenient, as hard copy language learning materials can sometimes be checked out.  So instead of leaving empty handed, or having to place a hold on the item, patrons can start learning immediately online.

Technology has come a long way and I wish this service had been around when I was growing up having to interpret for my dad.  It would have saved me from a lot of embarrassing moments.  I do cherish those memories, however, no matter how mortifying at the time.

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