Bienvenue en Nouvelle Calédonie

Keith July 6th, 2008

Actually just back in Australia now from a few days’ holiday.  Had fun in Nouméa, Ile des Pins, and Phare Amédée, but couldn’t actually log into WordPress from the hotel, as the connection there was via some sort of rather badly behaved VPN.

Enjoyed the time, but some aspects were disappointing.  Mining is treated as more important than tourism in New Caledonia.

It was fun to practice my French again, but ran into an interesting language barrier.  On our second day there, Marilyn was experiencing some pains.  Fortunately turned out to not require any critical attention, but we did spend a few hours at the main hospital in Noumea – Gaston Bourret.

It was easy enough to communicate that there was some pain, using a mixture of my French and their Anglais.  But the problem arose in communicating the type of pain. How do you distinguish between a dull ache and a sharp pain across the language barrier?  A “niggly” pain doesn’t really translate. 

Looking up “pain” in my English-French dictionary was potentially dangerous.  One of the French alternatives offered was a word that I suspect actually means “labour pains”.  An attempt to use this could well have got us onto the wrong track entirely!

Language barriers become fairly obvious in this context, but how often do we have equally misleading communication when we are all speaking the same language?

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