Saturday, September 29, 2007

Lost in Translation

The internet is a wonderful and amazing tool. From all over the globe, people of every race, religion and creed, are connected instantly through the use of the World Wide Web. For example; In the past few days, I discovered that “Derailed” has been getting several hits (visits) from Russia. After a little investigating, I discovered that my new Russian friends are being directed here from this website:

Here, a Russian blogger named Mat Art wrote this post:

про...традицииЧасто в фильмах показывают, что при рождении ребенка, счастливый родитель угощает знакомых и родственников сигарой. Откуда пошел такой обычай, и что он означает?Искал в сообществе, результатов нет.

Ha! Ha! Ha! Those crazy Russians… they really crack me up.

Okay…I really didn’t know what it said, but I was bound and determined to find out, so like a CIA operative (Oops...bad analogy), I cut and pasted the above paragraph onto a Russian to English online translator site.
Here’s the result:

About... Traditions it is frequent in films show, that at a birth of the child, the happy parent treats friends and relatives with a cigar. Such custom whence has gone, and what it means? Searched in community, results are not present.

Obviously something was lost in the translation, but I got the gist. I still wondered, however, what this post had to do with my humble, little blog, so I decided to translate several more sentences from the “comments section.”

It turns out that my new Russian friends are totally perplexed about the American custom of handing out cigars after the birth of a child. For the life of them, they can’t seem figure out what a long, wrapped, tobacco leaf tube has to do with childbirth. One guy went so far as to suggest that cigars are phallic, and represent fertility.

Mat Art thought that perhaps the cigar is for the stork when he delivers the baby. Or according to the translator:

Type at the out of breath stork a smoke break after delivery?

Someone answered this question with another, hoping to shed a little more light on this curious custom:

Only when the son so do.. why so?

Mat Art then basically gives up and says:

Yes?? Sorry, concept then I have no especially

Finally, one of the readers shares some information he learned from an American blog called "Derailed":

It is the American custom. Earlier in Staffs, as well as everywhere, women gave birth to houses. If the child was born before term - it put in a box from under cigars, and then transferred on kitchen, is closer to an oven that at it was more chances to survive. The father to released a box from under cigars and distributed them. And it was led. It is possible to esteem here, for example: http: // //2006/10/smoke-in-wood-pile.html

Now I understood what the connection was. This comment is referring to a post I wrote last October. It was called “Smoke In The Wood Pile.” It was a story my mother once told me about the birth of her twin baby brothers. She said that the boys were both pre-term and were, of course, very small. They could barely breathe, so in an attempt to keep them alive, a quick thinking midwife (an early MacGyver), placed the babies in cigar boxes near the kitchen stove. The heat from the oven turned the cigar boxes into make-shift incubators, and saved one of the babies' lives. Somewhere in this story I kiddingly suggested that the custom of fathers handing out cigars, stemmed from a midwife needing an empty cigar box. It was a joke, but I guess it got lost in their translation.

Still, I do like to think of my mother's "half baked" story making its way around Russia. I think she'd be proud.


Jill said...

Loved your post, but now you have me curious too! Now I want to KNOW...why DO we crazy Americans hand out cigars at childbirth????

P.S. We handed out chocolate cigars at the births of our two daughters...No way could I look into the eyes of my adorable little newborns while contributing to the future pollution of their tiny pink lungs!!!

Anonymous said...

I remember using a Spanish to English translator once. I put in some Shakira song, and translated it into English. It said she was singing about a bread man and a cat in a tree. Obviously, there are some sites that just can't be trusted. The one you found was apparently much better.

P.S. That's cool that people in Russia are reading your blog.

Anonymous said...


Jeff said...

^ Best comment ever.

Emmett Fitz-Hume said...

where did you learn your Russian, JCPenney?

sandi said...

This post made me laugh so hard. If I had any techie sense to me at all, I would do a trackback to my site. I want everybody to read it. I've gone around smiling all day, thinking about that Russian translation.