Lost in Translation: My Awkward Airplane Journey to Canada

I once wanted to learn German, bought a book and read a few lessons, but stopped for some reason after learning how to read numbers. There are a few texts that I just memorize and keep in my mind: “How are you”, “I’m tired”, “Please give me a piece of chocolate cake”, “Please give me a cup of coffee”. For some reason, the editor added “I’m tired” after “How are you” instead of the usual “I’m fine”, but it was surprisingly practical. It is always a ten-hour long-distance flight to Germany, dragging a large suitcase and trudging into the hotel, the concierge politely asks if you are okay, this situation tells me that I am very tired, she thinks your German is really good, and you deal with it fluently. In the era when the Internet map was not developed, long-distance running on the banks of the Main River, no villages, no shops, hunger and thirst. Finally found the town after a long marathon, I rushed into the store and stammered in only German: “Please…give me a…chocolate cake!” “Please give me a…coffee!” Usually don’t eat chocolate at all Cake, but these two sentences instantly became a life-saving phrase. Did the teacher who wrote the German textbook foresee this ridiculous dilemma?

There are two golden sentences in German that can be saved, but French is completely useless. Except for words such as restaurant (restaurant) and Déjà vu (sense of sight) that have been translated into English, the only French I can think of are: hello, good afternoon, good night, thank you, happy trip, ocean, Tour de France The “group”, Saint-Exupery, the “Marseille” in the Marseille roundabout, and Hermes add up to exactly ten words. There is a word that has also become English. It is a daily word used in aviation. It is spelled en-route. There are four ways to pronounce it: in-route, on-route, Yin-Road (in-root), Om-Road (on-root).

Those who fall into the first three ways of reading are all influenced by the American accent. The first type is the extreme of American English, and the words are pronounced correctly and correctly. The second and third ones are read while reading, and the fourth one is more like its original pronunciation. Pilots who are accustomed to the fourth way of pronunciation are almost inseparable. They are trained in Europe or Australia. You can guess his (her) background by listening to the pronunciation of this word.

En-route 嗡路 means “on the road” or “in the journey”. It can be used as an adverb or an adjective in colloquial language. Although ing is not added, the context is always something in progress. Buzz the road, the little bees are buzzing on the road: the ambulance is on its way to the hospital, your delivery is on its way, and there is good airflow along the route today. At this moment, I am sitting in the economy class with seat number 25B on a five-hour flight over North America. There is an old man in the window seat at 25A on the left, and an old lady in the aisle seat at 25C on the right. I am sandwiched between them. This is a Boeing 777 double-aisle airliner with a 3-4-3 seat configuration. From left to right, it is: three-seater seat, aisle, four-seater seat, aisle, and three-seater seat. Looking around, the plane was fully loaded with about 400 people. The capacity of the post-epidemic era was fully utilized, and the hand luggage was piled up on the aisle. It was the slave ship that aviation fans had passed on. The right armrest has been occupied by the old lady’s left elbow; the left armrest is more honest and unreserved, with the whole right arm spread out on it. Once the city of armrests is taken away, the entire voyage may not be taken back, just like the unspoken rule of entering a meeting or classroom. At the beginning, you take a certain seat, and you may not be able to change it later.

Losing the right to armrests, I can only hang my hands on my chest and suffocate on this 43 cm seat. Falling into such a sardine predicament is purely a forced error. It is inevitable that the title is ordered and the seat is empty. Neither the journey nor the location can be decided by oneself. European and American airlines have different service standards from those in Asia, and there is an extra charge for everything. Veterans on the Om Road have already spent an extra 20 dollars to choose a good seat, bring their own tablet to record movies, and have a hand full of snacks. For example, the old gentleman around me came prepared. After reading an electronic news on the iPad, he took out an inflatable sleeping pillow cover around his neck, and fell asleep like a fairy. I naively thought that I could read two books during the five-hour voyage, but I didn’t expect that the reading light on 25B was broken, the windows on 25A were closed by the sleeping old fairy, and the cabin was completely dark. I can’t stretch my feet, I can’t put my hands down, and I can’t sleep because of the twelve-hour jet lag. Occupational disease reached into the seat pocket and pulled out the emergency escape card. There were more than 70 grids of icons densely packed on it, which was like a month-long comic strip. Few passengers will read this card carefully, only aviation fans will gracefully get off the plane; I will find another collection of side doors ─ vomit bags, and put it back after comparing the style of painting and expression. After all, I am not an aviation fan, so I interpret it differently.

The screen in front of you, which is smaller than an iPad, is loaded with an in-flight entertainment system. I noticed that the name of the software is called en-route, click to browse, food costs money, drinks cost money, Wi-Fi costs money, movies are free but earphones need to be purchased separately. Finally, I stopped in the entertainment category, a touch game called “Find Hidden Objects”, and then I squinted in the dark kitchen to find a pin that I didn’t know where it was hidden. After searching and searching, I finally found the needle, but the butterfly didn’t know where it was hidden. Even if you find butterflies, you need to find chains, crows, and golf clubs; the kitchen is closed, and there are garages, study rooms, and galleries… The level extends infinitely and never ends. The En-route software may be designed for passengers who are stuck in economy class sandwiches, looking for absurd items in non-existent spaces, and they are always in progress, never ending. Finally, I couldn’t bear to take out my portable library, read slowly in the dim “kitchen” on the small screen, and let my mind and the author drift to the Ou Snow Mountain in the 1950s. The old lady in seat 25C suddenly turned her head and asked, “Did you read it straight down?” “Yes, read it straight down, from right to left.” “Interesting, really interesting.” She said. I added: “Traditional Chinese and Japanese are read from right to left, straight down.” The old lady smiled, and then reached out to turn on the 25C reading light, and the light hit my out-of-print library impartially. “Will you be better like this?” A bright light in the darkness, I nodded like a pounding garlic. “Good!” she said. I replied: “Merci!” I used up one-tenth of the French vocabulary, thank you for saving my life.

She thought it was a novelty for me to read square characters, and she said it was great that I could be bilingual (English plus some kind of oriental script). I glanced at her iPad mini. She was reading a book with a reader. The dense vowels in the horizontal book were dotted with some tick marks. I thought to myself: “I envy you that you can read Saint-Exupery’s “Night Flight” in your mother tongue!” The broadcast words of this voyage are French first, and then English; the captain can only speak English, and the French is translated by the flight attendant. . Suddenly I realized that although the passengers on this flight to Montreal in the French-speaking area spoke English with a North American accent, no one would pronounce en-route as the four quack pronunciations I am familiar with. I am the plane Minorities who do not understand French. So I took the liberty to beg the old lady, pointing to the en-route on the screen software and asking her to read it to me. She uttered a series of wonderful syllable combinations “Dirty Watt”, which is different from the four ways I know. Dirty Watt Dirty Watt Dirty Watt Dirty Watt… I recited it silently for about ten times, and the words came out of my mouth like swearing; even the old man 25A woke up, and the immortal showed the way to join the teaching, and my throat was still throbbing. Without that kind of sound, it is as noble and inaccessible as the pronunciation of Hermes.

Don’t worry if you can’t pronounce the word 嗡路 (ordinary people can’t understand it if you can pronounce it). What I worry about is which one is French, Ou Lei or Latte, and how to say chocolate cake (if possible, I want to learn other kind of cakes). The old fairy read his book for a while, then continued to doze off and fell asleep; the old lady took out her wool knitting and started to consume the flying time. I didn’t dare to disturb them anymore. I read the library for a while, closed my eyes and immersed myself in miscellaneous thoughts. I haven’t been able to get together during the three years of the epidemic. Are the flight partners who are about to meet also like me, caught in such an embarrassing 25B seat, and moving forward in a cramped way. We’ll discuss wasps nesting in plane pitot tubes at Munich airport, lithium-ion battery detection dogs on cargo planes in the Middle East, runway incursions at several U.S. airports, wireless headsets on the ground in Haneda, Japan, ATC reporting mechanisms in the European Union, Airbus Barometric altitude setting… and so on. Then we will be like the dragon ball after making a wish, we will shine for a while, and we will once again scatter flowers from the sky, buzzing all over the world, and turning back to an inconspicuous stone.

Will the return flight still fall into the 25B seat? Still squinting for butterflies in the kitchen or turtles in the garage? Is there still such an old gentleman and old lady beside you? At that age, it is considered healthy and happy to be able to plan a road trip without relying on human hands. In late spring and March, the snow had not yet melted, and the unique six-wheeled eagle claws of the Boeing 777 were firmly grasping the 10,000-foot runway in Quebec. Flights come and go, but the buzz doesn’t necessarily end, or ever. Passengers pulled out their mobile phones on the taxiway, reconnected with the world, and entered another state of progress again. Click on the calendar and find a time to cut it at any time, and you will always cut several painful spots at the same time, just like cutting a full round fruit cake diagonally, you will cut strawberries, peaches, mangoes, kiwis, red oranges, yellows and greens at the same time. Determination cannot be avoided. How many people can be willful enough to separate one by one and only pick what they like to eat, and how many people can be willful enough to declare that they will never eat cakes again?

The still queue of people is waiting to get off the plane. The passengers sitting next to each other may not have an aesthetic feeling for a while, but they are 99% certain that they will never see each other again. I stood in the cabin, breathed out the tired air, and kept fussing about which is Italian, latte or au lait. The old lady and the old gentleman suddenly carried each other’s luggage, I was stunned for a while, I didn’t expect you two to be a pair, deliberately separated when choosing seats, I was like an innocent little animal caught in a cage for five hours. Suddenly I feel that cakes and coffee are not important, if someone can teach me a French swear word at this time.

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