Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Robert Ducky

Le Petit has a bathtime song, the classic Sesame Street Rubber Ducky Song. I may be no Ernie, but I sing it enthusiastically every time we give le Petit his bath. Unable to cobble together the lyrics from a vague childhood memory, I admit I googled it, but I memorized it months ago and it's now ready to pass on to the next generation.

Le Petit has a rubber ducky for the bath to go along with the song. It's a high-tech luminescent ducky with LEDs that change color. It was a Christmas present, and although I would probably have bought him something truer to the song and actually yellow and squeaky, I have to admit that it captivates him and sometimes even keeps him from splashing us.

Over lunch last Sunday, my husband mentioned the song and the ducky to my mother-in-law.

"But I don't understand," she asked, clearly confused. "Why do you call him rubber?"

"He's made out of caoutchouc. And he's squeaky. You see?"

What followed was a who's on first conversation, only resolved when my husband and I realized that my mother-in-law understood Robert and not rubber.

The scene was repeated ten minutes later when we explained the song again to my father-in-law, at which point I started laughing uncontrollably.

Leading me to wonder, has the subtle pronunciation difference between Robert and rubber caused other problems beyond the realm of toy ducks? Translation is fraught with hidden difficulties, indeed.

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