Lost in Translation?

Last night’s dinner was our ‘standard’ Saturday night dinner. Steak, potatoes, vegetables, and this week’s notable addition of very large, succulent, marinated and grilled shrimp. A veritable feast.

My place at the dinner table is right next to my father in-law.  Following is an excerpt from our dinner conversation.

Me: ‘How do you like the shrimp?’
FIL: It is not to my standard, but it is alright. But then you know, I eat everything.’ The last sentence is usually followed up with a list of strange foods he had to eat during his travels. He was nice enough not to include my cooking in yesterday’s list.
Me: ‘Oh, so you don’t like it?”
FIL: ‘ To my tongue it tastes different. I am used to different standard.’
Me: ‘Ah, I see.’

My husband told me later on, that he prefers his ‘chingri maach’ (shrimp) in a soupy gravy and cooked to a hard, rubbery texture. Standards, indeed.

The conversation was followed by one with my hubby this afternoon. ‘Honey, please don’t ask your dad how he likes today’s dinner.’ His reply, as expected was, ‘good idea!’

The question is this:  in which context did he  mean ‘standard’? Did he mean ‘standard’ as in ‘customary’ or ‘standard’ as a measure of quality? His English is a pretty good, if very old-fashioned Indian-English.  To get an idea about Indian English or ‘Indlish’ click on this link  from ‘India outside my window’, a wonderful blog about Southern India. You will see that although we may be speaking the same language, the meanings can be quite different.

At any rate, I won’t be asking about the food anymore. He is eating it so far, and I know I am a good cook. If I can please four out of five people most times, that’s good enough for me.

One comment

  1. Aie! This is so much more polite than the dinner conversations at our house with my f-i-l present! I’m not sure which is worse; “I will NOT eat that c___!” or “I am used to a different standard.” I think I will take the quiet, polite smolder over chaos any day…then again, subtlety is a powerful tool, in’t it? You are a good egg.

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