My French Translator Problem
This is a true story.
The French love to tell Americans what to do, and Americans love to tell the French what to do. I am 100 percent proud to be an American when I meet Europeans, and angry when Europeans want to make me feel stupid. Yet, the longer I travel, the more I am aware, the French and British still run the planet, while us Americans and Germans think we do, we are allow to have the illusion of control. Spain just dropped out of the game for world control for many reasons.
The economic game of world control will be won by the country that learns the most languages, and sells the best quality products, the cheapest. (China --- French Drug Companies)
Yesterday, I went to the Consulat du Bénin here in Lome, Togo and paid 40,000 CFA to get a three month, multiple entry visas to Francophone Benin.
There are 53 countries in Africa, and 31 are Francophone, these countries have French as their Linga Franca.
I would like all my readers, and Americans to have an intimate moment with ourselves. We need to admit, the USA has a blind spot, we Americans fail to learn foreign languages. The reason is simple, the USA is insulated, we do not need to learn, unless we want to be the economic ruler of the world, and not only the military ruler.
The United States of American Education System is Great
I went to Indiana University, and studied Philosophy, English and Psychology but felt like I had a minor in Spanish. For a great reason, the School of Art and Science at I.U. required me to have 18 hours of Language. In the end, I took 14 hours of Spanish and 10 hours of French, and against my will, I was introduced to two languages, and removed my fear of languages.
The business school, who needs it more, does not require their herd of cows to study a language…?
Nothing causes more intimidation than to know you do not speak the language, one is helpless, the person with the dominate language, dominates, and wins.
Elena Volunteers to Translate at Benin ConsulateQuite by accident, when I just finished showering, and was trying to smell good enough to go to the Cusulat du Benin here in Togo, Elena stopped in to talk. She is a good friend, and I owe her more Cadeaus than she owes me, she has a kind, but strict heart. Note, is always a pleasure to know I always smell better than the French, they have not caught on the idea of showering yet, and they are still smoking.
About two years ago, Elena came over, to my Lome, Togo room and demanded I get out of bed here in Lome, Togo, she said something like,“Andre, vous avez la paludisme, vous avez besoin d'un docteur.”“Andy, you have Malaria, you must go to the Doctor!”
(I used the Systran Translator for copy and past, in reality, the formal French is seldom, if never used.)
Well, I was lying in the bed, like a wet rag, I did not have the force to even move my arm out from below my body. My leg was hanging off the bed, there was a blank, brainless look on my face, and it took all my willpower to just listen to her. I wanted to say,“Leave me alone, I am sick.”
The Problem with Company.Yesterday, Elena demanded to go the Benin Consulate“Je vous accompagnerai au consulat.”She said,“I will ACCOMPANY you the Consulate!”
I do not like the word company, or accompany, for 100’s of traveler reasons. The reason is simple, I am not a tourist, I am a traveler, and I am miles ahead of Elena’s desire to help me. I know the person who walks up to help, is not wanting to help, they want money for nothing, because they want to work over my ignorant side, to take on my vulnerable feelings, hit me when I am down.
What happens is this, Foreigners fresh off the boat, just off the plane, proudly walking with luggage tags still on their backpacks arrive overseas. The locals are clever, they snag us, walk up, say something like“Bonne arrivée.”Speak 2-5 words of English, and hook us foreigners into believing they love us, they then want to “accompany” us, to help us, and more or less drain dollars from our pockets. The sexy Togo girls are champions, and the Dread Black Boy shag tons of Peace Corps girls, --- Welcome to Togo, your daughter is ours, fresh meat.
It is natural, people like Elena, she has a great heart, she truly wants to help, yet in the back of her mind, she knows there is a cadeau at the end of the trip, a bonus, she will want 10 dollar in Taxi money, or some other yet to be understood reason to ask for money. It is not sin, to suck money from Millionairses, even in the USA, and more or less, I am rich beyond imagination in her mind.
Don’t get me wrong, when she put me on a Moto Taxi, took me to a medial clinic, she saved me many dollars, and stopped a killer parasite called Malaria in my body. Without her help, I would have been stupid, went to the Pharmacy, never got tested, and took some pills to get rid of this killer. I would have done a highly inadequate job of stopping the Malaria; she explained with great force, you need to have three pint bags of medicine, intravenously injected into your blood stream. You need to do this for three days; this will guarantee you stop all malingering malaria parasites.
I am grateful to Elena, she was strict, not a normal Togo cultural behavior, she taught me how to eradicate malaria parasites from my body, in an almost German way.
Well, she was mothering me again, she demanded to “accompany,” me to the Benin Consulate. Yes, I was malaria ignorant, but I am one of the most knowledgeable people on the planet about getting Visas to foreign countries, my passport is close to one-half inch thick, it shame even the most arrogant French, and European into submission of their betters. Elena has had Malaria, she has never left the country and applied for a Visa.
I refused to have a French Translator at the Consulate!
I hate translators, there is ALWAYS something lost in Translation, and getting a visa, is not the time to get something lost. When you have a translator, the governments officials job is easy, he or she can push me through the process fast, and “me jete.” of the office. Contrary to any delusions or illusions you may have about Embassies of the USA, or others, they do not want to help, they want to get us to leave as fast as possible, and stop bothering them, and so they can go back to playing on their cell phones.
The USA Embassy is almost the worst, it is even hard to find an American in an American embassy.
Now, you know how it feels, a Mexican comes up, does not speak English and sort of shakes, talks, and tries to request, you cannot help, because you do not speak Spanish, and he does not speak English. It is easier to say, “LEAVE,” come back when you speak English. Ok, you did not say that with words, but your body language SCREAMS.
I am shameless by now; I look the Benin official in the eyes, look deep into her body language, and try to determine if she is lying to me, to get me to leave. My body language says,“I am never leaving until this is done right, until you look me in the eyes and I am understand, so sit back, and take it.”
Well, with a French Translator, it is easy to baffle me out of the office, to get me to leave. Now, I am “German Strict,” while Elena is Togolese, she is at best, only going to demand the job is 25 percent done correctly. What makes Africa poor is they do really crap work, quality is always done at less than needed, and nothing is done to high standards. (Hard to be strict, it is impossible to freeze to death.)
In a way, the Middle East is the same, they cannot make a Nuclear Bomb, and they can only pay to have it made by Pakistanis. Well, the same is true for Africans; they just do not get up to speed on quality.
Do your Visa Correct, or Do NOT GoPlease note, the last thing you want done half assed is a Visa to another country. There are 1000’sof stories about Travelers stranded at airports, or borders because of Visa problems. In reality, the number one reason people pay bribes, is not because the official is corrupt, it is because the foreigner did a stupid job of getting getting a Visa. I am going to Nigeria soon, I am going to cross my T’s, and dot my I’s 20-30 times, not just twice.
French Translators stops the “meeting of the minds.” I demand, require, and refuse to accept, less than an intimate meeting of the minds when I am doing a deal.
This is “Contract Law” folks!
A legal contract is voidable if there is no meeting of the mind! Contrary to what you think, a translator does create a meeting of the minds, only by learning the French language, can I achieve the meeting of the minds needed. A translator, just allow to have legal deniability, they do not create true meeting of the minds, that is only possible when both parties speak a common language. The only common language on the planet is body language.
I speak French great! I speak Spanish great! I do not use translators; this is for tourists who has yet to understand, the full implication and ramifications of,“Lost in Translation.”
What this means is the ramifications of “Lost in Translation?” I could travel all the way to the Benin Border, or try to leave Benin, and enter Nigeria, and pay a bribe because my Visa was sloppy, created a question mark, only erased with a bribe.
People are willing to pay bribes when they know they do not undersand, and confused. The government officials create dead-ends full of confusion as bribe traps.
People who pay bribes normally are sloppy, they are lazy, it is not a sign of a well-traveled person. The savvy traveler does not pay bribes, they are way beyond that….
Learn the language, or allow the French to rule the World.
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