December 21, 2006
Qapla' batlh je

There's nothing like a minor natural disaster to bring a community together. We don't have any of that blaming FEMA, President Bush, or Governor Gregoire and finger-pointing at utility companies. Not for us sturdy Puget Sound types. No sir.

Despite the bravery of our elected officials and the population's universal adherence to the "Three days, Three ways" public service message long before last week's storm hundreds of residents have succumbed to the epidemic of carbon monoxide poisoning. A virus causing people to bring internal combustion engines and open fires into enclosed living quarters has spread through the region hitting the non-English speaking immigrant population the hardest.

Fortunately the Seattle Times came to the rescue by filling the front of the paper this week with warnings in what must have been about sixty languages warning folks not to light barbeques or run generators in their homes because of the danger. The Times is the paper of choice amongst those who can't speak or read English with particularly high circulation numbers amongst the Somali population.

Some naysayers might say the simple solution would have been to just require legal (and illegal) immigrants to learn a few hundred words of English so they can be on par with your average high school graduate. Since this advice sounds like something which would come from the mouth of Michael Savage it has been disregarded.

My suggestion would be to breed Babel fish and stick them in our ears. Sadly, I read in a 12-part series in the Seattle P-I that the Babel fish went extinct in Puget Sound during the Reagan administration after the invention of SUVs, fire retardants, MTV and over-fed orcas.

I'm sure there are some who are insulted though at the arrogance and narrow mindedness displayed by the Times editorial staff at only including a paltry sixty written translations on the front page. At my elementary school in White Center there were almost twice that many languages spoken just on the playground.

More importantly the Times has completely ignored the local dialects spoken by many inhabitants in and around the Emerald City.

Fortunately with the advent of blogs we're able to fill the gaps left by the mainstream media. Being a linguist, I myself am fluent in at least one language and I have a good understanding of a half-dozen more.

Californian: "Do not burn charcoal or use gasoline generators indoors, including the garage. What are you, stupid?"

Redneck: Woman I don't know. Lighting them briquettes in the trailer jest don't seem right to me. Les keep warm in the backseat of my Camaro instead.

Klingon: Ta' ghobe' meQ qul joq vum HoS daq juH Qovpatlh!

Morse code: -.. --- / -. --- - / - ... ..- .-. -. / -.-. .... .- .-. -.-. --- .- .-.. / --- .-. / ...- ... . / --. .- ... --- .-.. .. -. . / --. . -. . .-. .- - --- .-. ... / .. -. -.. --- --- .-. ...

Jive: Say Icky. Take it slow. Lay off your old lady's butane box when your doss in the pad. Dat's gospel.

Sasquatch: Oooook! Ooormph rooo rooo uughhh unghhh!!! (Beat chest three times and look over right shoulder)

Cockney: Don't set McIntyre with Mickey Mouse or you'll take a Lucky Dip in Gypsey Nell.

Ballard: Ya ol' coot. Yust leave da yenerator in da fish shed. Grab da snoose und feed da seagulls.

Chinook Jargon: Boston wau'wau si'wash wake mamook pi'ah, olapitski ko'pa house.

There are many more local languages out there which need to be transcribed. If you are a translator who is fluent in Ebonics, JavaScript, Elvish (dark and wood), Dylanese, Veder-speak, McDermott, mime, Grey or Voodoo economics please leave your contribution below.

In the spirit of public service here are a few more helpful hints for those still without power:

If your neighbor happens to be blonde or is perhaps the state's senior U.S. senator make sure you remind them that it's not necessary to keep changing all of those light bulbs which aren't working now.

If you are an Islamic terrorist, ELFer or a disgruntled militia member remember that the C-4 you've smuggled across the border from Mexico can be used as an excellent heat source in well ventilated areas.

Don't burn those extra copies of the Seattle Times or Post-Intelligencer in your kitchen sink. At least until you've read last Sunday's Real Estate section...

Don't attempt to attach jumper cables from your car battery up to your fuse box without the assistance of a professional electrician or your cousin Ed if he's in town.

If you live in Medina and happen to be driving through Auburn, Spanaway, Eatonville or South Park and you see a third world landscape of homes in disrepair, appliances in front yards and wrecked vehicles just relax. It's normal and trust me, there's no need to send in the Red Cross.

All of the warning labels and safety manuals, printed in four different languages, which come with hammers, screwdrivers, buckets, flashlights, appliances, goggles, beef jerky strips and coffee cups purchased these days can make an excellent secondary fuel source in a pinch.

Plastic houseplants don't breathe carbon monoxide.

Posted by DonWard at December 21, 2006 09:58 PM | Email This
1. You wrote this after "Happy Hour" - right?

Posted by: WVH on December 21, 2006 10:35 PM
2. Huh?

Posted by: mickey on December 21, 2006 11:25 PM
3. The Morse Code is pretty good. I'm impressed. But you have an extra space between the - and the ... in the B in BURN and you spelled VSE instead of USE.

(I was a General class amateur radio operator in my youth)

Posted by: Stefan Sharkansky on December 21, 2006 11:29 PM
4. Yeah, the Morse code is pretty good, but maybe you better leave the humor to the liberals.

Posted by: jamesy on December 21, 2006 11:43 PM
5. Yeah, leave the humor to the liberals. Here's a sample of Liberal humor:

Why did the chicken cross the road?
Because Bush is a Zionist drunk!

Yep, that there is some DAMN fine humor.

Posted by: Mumblix Grumph on December 21, 2006 11:54 PM
6. Why don't we teach them English like we're supposed to?!

Why, it might even save some lives.

Or, we could follow Gov. Gregoire's advice on KIRO Newsradio last night: she's had instructions for avoiding carbon monoxide poisoning posted in several different languages...on her website.

Pretty handy, during a power outage!

Posted by: If You Can't Read This, Thank the Teachers' Union on December 22, 2006 12:03 AM
7. Reporterward, pretty clever stuff! I liked the Klingon and Redneck the best!!!

Hey, speaking of humor and fun, when are we going to go take some pictures with Lenin in Fremont? I've got the perfect costume laid out for him!

Posted by: Patrick on December 22, 2006 12:32 AM
8. Here's the Californian message in Arabic:

لا حرق الفحم او استخدام البنزين في الداخل ، بما في المرآب.

Posted by: Patrick on December 22, 2006 12:34 AM
9. Too bad you couldn't have got some ebonics in there, Don.

Posted by: Art & Mona on December 22, 2006 01:07 AM
10. "Ballard" used to work in my hometown of Poulsbo....before half of California moved there.

And the "Medina types" could learn of other cultures by remembering my niece's description of an infamous Tacoma suburb: "Spanaway, where the homes are mobile and the cars aren't".

Posted by: Saltherring on December 22, 2006 05:29 AM
11. There was a major shortage of ballots in King County in the last election. It's now obvious Ron Sims was hording them to give to Somalis for fuel for their weber kettles. The fact that they died won't effect the next vote count. Very progressive.

Posted by: Walters on December 22, 2006 07:42 AM
12. Jackasslingo: Hey, don't be yourself.

Insensitvo-conservatonics: learn to read English warnings before you learn how to collect free social services.

Nannystate-ics: well, that's ok--we'll take care of you & your survivors (& those you bring from your homeland in the future) for their entire lives & set up a fund at the local bank to boot for college.

BoyScout-onics: Man--WE knew better!

BoyScout parent-onics: See what happens when libs attack institutions like ours that teach responsibility, assimilation to America and "old fashioned" survival skills?

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on December 22, 2006 08:24 AM
13. For your Fat Albert fans.......Whyba youba gonba lightba thatba fireba inba houseba Fatba Albert? Thatba notba rightba.

Pig latin......on'tda ightla irefa nia ouseha, upidsta

Posted by: Dengle on December 22, 2006 08:24 AM
14. Welsh: Peidio a gwneud tan yn y ty--gallwch chi'n marw (
Refrain from making fire in the house--you could die)

Who knows how many monoglot Welsh speakers might be in the area, after all--we need them to be safe, too!

Posted by: pseudotsuga on December 22, 2006 09:04 AM
15. Welsh: Peidio a gwneud tan yn y ty--gallwch chi'n marw (Refrain from making fire in the house--you could die)

Who knows how many monoglot Welsh speakers might be in the area, after all--we need them to be safe, too!

Posted by: pseudotsuga on December 22, 2006 09:05 AM
16. Why would some one who can't speak English be taking or buying the Times? Just a thought.

Posted by: Flamb on December 22, 2006 10:32 AM
17. Why would some one who can't speak English be taking or buying the Times?

They like to look at Ryan Blethen's picture.

Posted by: Tyler Durden on December 22, 2006 10:43 AM
18. Alas, the lack of common sense leading to carbon monoxide deaths is not limited to non-english speaking immigrants.

A couple years ago, early in the morning, I opened the door of my place of employment. Immediately I was assaulted by the heavy smell of gasoline. I was astounded to find two plastic containers of gas on a storeroom shelf, one of which was bubbling over due to the heat. A small spark could have sent the entire building to kingdom come. I never found out who was responsible for this misdeed, but in my experience there are a lot of young folks now that simply never learn basic common sense. What do we expect when so many grow up without fathers? And public schools feel it is more important to indoctrinate kids with multi-culturalism and other liberal garbage rather than teach basic life skills.

Posted by: Bill Cruchon on December 22, 2006 11:15 AM
19. Bill 18--right. related to Englisn/American culutre assimilaton and common sense are more thoughts--

i move to eliminate diversity and other ethnic, native or fluff (silly) tolerance studies in WA grade schools and replace them with common-sense life skills like the Boy Scouts taught: survival, basic emergency skills, basic first aid, safe knife & ax useage or awareness (with stupid no tolerance weapons laws suspended) and other common sense skills.

half our kids dont know how we get food or how to clean a fish or where our meat gets processed. naturally, make it age-appropriate. i've even overheard many kids in zoos and aquariums who didn't know basic animal/fish identities. i'm not saying make every kid a Navy Seal Survival expert, but get more practical things dissemiated somehow. either school, parents or clubs.

how about a stint on a farm for a week/month for social studies or science credit? care for animals & do some actual labor?

many things are missed today in favor of knowing the latest way to score high on video games or the latest rap song with foul language & bad role models.

Posted by: jimmie-howya-doin on December 22, 2006 11:35 AM
20. What Flamb said.

Posted by: Michele on December 22, 2006 12:05 PM
21. Grunge: You set a fire in the house and you'll probably die. Your life really sucks anyway.

Posted by: Vexorg on December 22, 2006 01:08 PM
22. Stefan,

Thanks for the typo catch. I type Morse code with a Roman accent, hence the "USE" of the word "VSE"...

Vexorg, That is probably the best contribution so far. Dengle is a runner up with Fat Albert (good memories there).

Patrick, I would never, ever be caught defiling one of our historic artifacts in Seattle. Operative word in that sentence is caught.

Posted by: Reporterward on December 22, 2006 03:07 PM
23. Come ON !! Everyone knows that the chicken crossed to road just and only to prove to the possum that it could be done.

Posted by: JT on December 22, 2006 05:45 PM
24. My favorite part of it is how the radio stations keep saying "the storm caused 4 more deaths today, as another family died of CO poisoning after running their generator indoors" leading to cries for more nanny-statism...

They should be honest and say, "Stupidity caused four more deaths today..." It's a freakin' internal combustion engine, morons!

Posted by: A Commenter on December 22, 2006 06:16 PM
25. Why would some one who can't speak English be taking or buying the Times?

Excellent question.

On the other hand... Why would some one who can speak English be taking or buying the Times?

Posted by: TB on December 23, 2006 11:34 AM
26. Um, the Klingon is atrocious.

> comes out as: "He accomplishes it; no!; fire burns; it flutters; strength works; home eavesdrops, asshole!" What is that supposed to mean?

At least it's real words (although my guess is that the daq [sic] was supposed to be the noun suffix -Daq).

Grammarian, Klingon Language Institute

Posted by: Krankor on December 24, 2006 01:36 PM
Post a comment

Email Address:



Remember info?