Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost in Translation

We had a baby group at work today. (Side note: Burmese babies are the cutest babies in the entire world and I am always scheming as how to get myself a Burmese baby. Unfortunately for me, any baby that comes out of me is NOT going to look like a Burmese baby, no matter what I do.) Anyways, our program's baby groups replace the regularly scheduled well-baby checkup which means that babies get naked and weighed for their vitals.

This particularly baby group had all three and four-month-old babies. Truly the best part about that age is just how fat the babies get. They have rolls on their thighs--roll upon roll upon roll. It's most certainly a product of being in the baby furniture stage. Babies that age are like seals storing up their fat for when they start becoming mobile and then they just burn through that fat and become lean again. (Another side-note. All of our babies in that group were well above the 75th percentile in both weight and height which just warms the cockles of my heart. So healthy and strong!)

At one point, I was holding a chubby boy who was wearing nothing but a diaper. He had these luscious, squeezable rolls and I had the sudden desire to just gently bite his soft thighs like I used to do to The Bean at that age. I turned to our interpreter, a lovely middle-aged gentleman, and asked him if there were any affection expressions in Burmese that expressed a desire to eat a child. I was thinking along the lines of the English phraseology of, "He's so cute, I just want to eat him up!" or "I just want to nibble his thighs!"

However, "S" immediately gave me a look of panicked alarm and I realized how culturally relevant expressions about eating children are. After I explained what I meant (i.e. terms of endearment, because the fat rolls are so kissable and naturally, kissing leads to biting, just a figure of speech, etc., etc.) he had a good chuckle and assured me that, no, there was not an equivalent turn of phrase or idea in Burmese.

But at least now I've realized how the rumors that white people eat ethnic babies got started.

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