Terp Speak (language warning)

Our convoy interpreters risk their lives every day. Working with us they are targets in a big way from all sorts of directions not limited to the insurgents. They have to live inside the compound because they wouldn’t last a night in the city. I admire them (although they can be bloody sly at times).  But there is something about them – that any soldier who has worked with them will know – that can be bloody funny: their English.  It’s a weird melange of Hollywood, Bollywood and good old Anglo Saxon obscene.

Me: “S, what’s the story with (a location)?  We’re getting hit there too much… should we delay the convoy?”

Terp: “No boss, no muther-fuckin way. We ready to go much no worry.  We go and the Taliban come then we cool to rock n roll over the fuckers.”

Me:”So that’s a ‘No’ to the delay?”

Terp: “Much a big fuckin no boss. Leave it with me. It’s cool, no problems.” {Big grin, thumbs up and off he goes}

That particular convoy was smashed just outside ‘that location’ and took a few casualties. When he got back the Terp looked shaken but still grinning. “Rock n roll, boss!” Balls of steel, that one.

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~ by Centurion on May 5, 2010.

7 Responses to “Terp Speak (language warning)”

  1. LMAO that’s funny. But you got to hand it to him for his tenacity. and maybe dumb luck. sorry to here some got hit tho.

  2. Wow, I’m just reading the dialog between yourself and the Terp and detect some sense of your relationship, how you communicate. I get the impression the relationship with the locals is not much deeper. Wow. How do you trust anyone? If it was my family on the line, I would profile in a big way, any Arab and/or Pakistani, Saudi no matter how good they speak the local tongue, keep them away. It’s now legal here in Arizona to profile, you go ahead and do what you need to do and stay alive.
    Vaya con Dios

  3. Hello, I just added you through wordpress after seeing your blog on Wired.com. The way the interpreters speak reminds me of New England french speakers! Add some “eh, dere” and it’d be perfect.
    Thanks for your blog. I have friends in the military as well, and I really appreciate the honest views I get into what’s going on over there.

    • Joysef, thanks for reading. I’m just trying to tell it as it is in all its grinding boredom and odd moments of electrifying terror. A lot of laughs and a lot of worries. Good men and fools. It isn’t Pulitzer material but, hey, it keeps me sane.

  4. U guys are brave, and doing a great job! Wish u all the luck… Godspeed !

  5. There’s a funny ‘reverse’ anecdote from Uruzgan (Oruzgan) province. Terp accompanies a US ODA. Every time they visit a village, the lieutenant ask questions and makes remarks to village elders full of ‘f*cking’, mother-f*ckers’ etc. The terp, fully aware of local customs, adapts the language into very polite and respectful phrases.

    Then the terp is hired by the Dutch. On his last patrol with the ODA, he literally translates what the Lt. says. The village elders react deeply offended and openly hostile. ‘What the f’*ck did you tell them?’, the lieutenant asks. ‘Well Sir, for the first time I literally translated what you said’, says the terp. ‘As you can see, swearing at them is not very effective.’. One Lesson Learned…

    • Hans, thanks for reading and for the comment. A very good lesson learned by that young LT – let’s hope he remembers it!

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