Sunday, October 3, 2010

Lost in Translation

I'm sure we Canadians are guilty of it too -- what we call pizza is apparently nothing like the real Italian pie; and I have to assume that we are misusing some of the many foreign words in our English language.

But I've never been more aware of the way things get lost in translation as I am here in Turkey. I'll leave the linguistic examples for another day, but want to tell you about a new "valet" service now available in Istanbul. The advertisement caught my eye right away because of what it was 'selling' -- an alternative to drinking and driving. I get excited whenever I see social education programs here for things I grew up with as givens -- recycling and car seats for children being two examples dear to my heart. Although I have heard of many people lose their licenses for a year for drinking and driving, this was the first time I saw an attempt to tackle the problem closer to the root -- instead of punishing offenders, here was an attempt to prevent drunk driving. And I was thrilled.

The only puzzling thing is the way the ad opens: At last, the 'designated driver' system so popular in Europe and America is here. It then goes on to explain its service: Just call this number and one of our experienced chauffeurs will immediately hop on his collapsible scooter and come meet you; he will then drive you home in your own car.

Obviously, the 'designated driver' concept has been modified to suit Turkish party-goers, who are far more spontaneous than us North Americans; whereas we designate our drivers before starting to drink, here, there is an 'out' for anyone who suddenly finds themselves too drunk to drive home. I guess one needs to know one's clientele.

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