Saturday, December 2, 2006

A transcript of Musa’s attempt to speak Bambara to an English-speaking cab driver

Musa: “i ni ce. i ka kεnε wa? ne tɔgɔ Musa. Ne tε se bamanankan na kosεbε, nka ne b'a men dɔɔnin dɔɔnin. N b'a fe ka taa Arlington la. kaa fara numanbolo fe! kaa fara numanbolo fe! Namara ka cha. A mine! Sisan. N b'a fe ka wari sara ka taa. i ni ce. n taara.”

[Hello. How are you? My name is Musa. I don’t speak Bambara very well, but I understand a little. Take me to Arlington, please. Turn left! Turn left! You are cheating me. Stop! Now. I want to check out. Thank you. Good bye.]

Cab driver: “Why are you handing me this strange-looking money?”

Musa: “N be se k'a sara ni Malian wari ye wa?”

[Do you accept Malian currency?”]

Cab Driver: “If you don’t pay me American, I will call the police.”

Musa: “Don’t you speak Bambara?”

Cab Driver: “I was born in Naperville, IL where I grew up speaking only English.”

Musa: “Oh. Sorry. Keep the change.”

Cab Driver: “i ni ce--I mean, thanks.”

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