Monday, 27 August 2007

Names across the language barrier

Further to my post on names (below), I have a dog who’s had a hard time health-wise. A scorpion sting a few months ago set off a series of nasty chain reactions: irreversible nerve damage in one leg, which has given rise to frenzied licking by the dog and a constantly open wound on one of her toes, a brain lesion that causes Parkinson’s-type symptoms; and the onset of epilepsy.

Our local (Afrikaans-speaking) vet has been a star in helping us cope with the fallout, but there has been one thing about his otherwise tender and attentive treatment that has puzzled me: he’s never called my dog by her name. This is unusual for him, since he knows and addresses all his other animal patients personally.

The dog is a stray who turned up at our home at a crucial time and seemed sent by the gods, so I called her Serendipity, ‘Sere’ for short.

And the folly of this was brought home to me recently by an Afrikaans friend, who, when I told him what I’d called my dog, looked at me appalled and said, ‘Jy jok!’ (You must be joking!)

‘No, why?’ I said. I thought the name was rather pretty, in a hippy kind of way.

‘You know what ‘‘sere’’ means in Afrikaans? Sores!’

* BTW, Elijah Bob Patricius Guggi Q Hewson is Bono’s offspring. Poor kid.

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2 comments:

meggie said...

Unfortunate about the name. But, how is a girl to know these things?? Couldn't he use the full version? Or does that mean something worse? Hope Sere gets better.

angel said...

mwaaaaaaahahahahahahaaaaa... that makes me think of when i took my old cat "grampa scratchy" to the vet coz one eye pupil was permanently enlarged and i thought he'd had a stroke or something...
i also asked the vet it it coulda happened when "taxi" smacked him? when the poor dude did a double take i had to explain that taxi was one of my other cats and he and the old man don't get on at all... then i giggled all the way home!