A Name for the Reunionnaise Cat

Hello. My name’s Barry and I’m English. I was born in London, but I moved with my family to Leicester, a city in the East Midlands, and it was there that I went to school.

Growing up both in London and Leicester, our family owned a succession of dogs. They were my mother’s pride and joy and she looked after them, showering them with her considerable love and affection. The dogs in question were almost all mongrels, which she either bought cheaply as puppies from the local dog’s home, or even finding them abandoned in the local park. She had an uncanny knack of coming across these dogs or, as I believe, the dogs had an uncanny knack of abandoning themselves as she approached, somehow knowing that, if picked up by my mum their fate would be a life of warmth, regular meals, exercise, and general wellbeing.

I mention this because, having married a Réunionnaise girl, I emigrated to Réunion 17 years ago. Having built my house it seemed only fitting that we acquire a dog to guard it.  Lily is a small crossbreed terrier, in other words a mongrel, or, as she is known here on Réunion, a Royal Bourbon.

A Royal Bourbon: what a glorious name to give to the everyday  mongrel dog.  Mans most faithful friend. The Royal Bourbon, a metissage of canine heritage, tough, resilient, present, mirroring their human masters of this island.

Until recently I also had a cat. He too was of mixed heritage. He was a beautiful animal, sleek with huge eyes. And I’ve been thinking, if the mongrel dog is known as a Royal Bourbon, what name should we give the crossbreed cat? Indeed, does a name exist already? Or should we, designate a name ourselves. My own idea would be a Regal Mascareigne, but I would welcome any of your ideas.

Vocabulary

To own  – posséder
Pride and joy – La fierté
Mongrel – Chien batard
Puppy – Chiot
Uncanny knack – sixième sens

Wellbeing – Bien etre
To acquire – acheter
Sleek –  lisse, élaçee
Having lived – Ayant habité
Having built –  Ayant construit

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Beautiful Places

A while ago, I met an elderly couple who had lived in Le Tampon since they were born. We were talking about how beautiful Reunion Island is, and the huge variety of places to visit on the island. During our conversation, I was shocked to discover that in 80 years of living in Reunion, they had never been to the beach. « Are you sure? » I asked, knowing that the beach was just a 20 minute drive away. But they insisted that they had spent their lives working and visiting friends only around Le Tampon. It was too hot and crowded on the coast, they told me.

If that hadn’t shocked me enough, I also have a friend in his 30s who had never been out of his hometown, St Paul until he was a teenager. And I know a woman who grew up in the south of Reunion and only visited St Denis for the first time when she was 20 years old.

At first, I couldn’t understand these stories. After all, my Reunionese colleagues, friends and in-laws are often going overseas on holidays and I meet people all the time that have been to Australia, where I’m from. But I guess when you live somewhere so beautiful all your life you get complacent about exploring it. After all, I’ve been here for 5 years now and still haven’t made the effort to visit Cilaos or go paragliding, two things I’ve wanted to do from the moment I arrived.

Yesterday, I was at the farmer’s markets when I bumped into a Reunionese friend I hadn’t seen for a while. I was telling her about the wonderful day I’d just spent at Langevin, swimming in the river and enjoying the fresh air. « Oh », she said. « I’ve never been to Langevin. But I just got back from a holiday to your country. The Sydney Opera House is amazing, isn’t it?! »

I laughed and answered, « I don’t know. I’ve never been there. »

Vocabulary

Crowded – blindé
Hometown – ville natale
Teenager – ado
In-laws – belle-famille
Overseas – outre-mer

Guess – supposer
Paragliding – parapente
Farmers’ market – marché fermier
To bump into – tomber sur

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Translation Errors

I read a very interesting article recently at Tourism-Review.com and I’d like to share it with you. It’s called “Translation Errors Cost 120 Million Euros for E-Tourism in France Alone”

“Sixty-five percent of travel sites in France contain blunders or translation errors, according to the latest study by TextMaster, professional translation services, as well as writing and editing online content is estimated at over a 120 million euro loss each year.

“Our top stay,” “Challenger Destination,” “Acceptable Use Policy,” “Speedy Rental,” “Some Useful Informations,” and “Well-Being Expect For You” are all expressions found on the pages of travel sites.

The E-Tourism sector is worth €18.5 Billion in France. With a conversion rate that is increased to 70% when a site is completely multilingual, it is estimated the industry loses more than €120 million annually because of bad translations or flagrant errors: “Multilingualism is fundamental for a tourism site that aims, in essence, to reach for an international audience. But sometimes it’s the best translations that are the enemy, and it’s better to translate a site poorly into 40 languages than excellently into 5-10 languages,“ says Thibault Lougnon TextMaster CEO. The study also reveals that 58% of these sites have non-translated texts, i.e. phrases in French in the English version and English expressions in the French version. Finally, 33% of French travel sites have no English translation at all.”

So what are your thoughts about this article? Leave your comments in the Facebook box below, and we might feature them on our main page.

Vocabulary

Travel – voyage
According to – selon
Study – étude
Loss – perte
Rental – location

Billion – milliard
It is worth – il vaut
Rate – taux
To reach for – à atteindre pour
CEO – PDG

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Americans in Mafate

Last year two of my girlfriends from back home in Texas came to visit. They were girls I knew from working in a bar while going to college, and we would do a lot of partying back then…but just as often, I’d meet them at the gym and we’d work out together. So I thought they were kind of sporty, you know?

Well I was very very wrong. Before they got here, I asked if they were up for hiking and they agreed. I suppose I never considered that to a normal American, a hike is just like a flat trail in some trees. I took them to what I was told was the easiest hike in Reunion…going down to La Nouvelle in Mafate.

You park your car in this big parking lot and you have to walk over to the start of the trail…maybe just like a ten minute walk on a tiny incline. JUST THAT PART—from the parking lot to the trail–that walk–had them complaining and breathing hard. They asked if it counted as part of the 2 hours we would be hiking. My Reunionais husband thought they were joking…and he was really shocked to learn that they were not!!

We started the hike and it was just horrible. The girls were complaining the entire time, I felt so guilty because I wanted them to come here and have fun, and it really seemed like I was ruining their lives!! So we walked the whole way in an angry, awkward silence. And it was just awful. After we arrived in Mafate, we took showers and everyone felt much better. We kind of calmed down, and..we had a great dinner and drank lots of rum and danced under the beautiful stars. It was a perfect night. But my friends had resolved to find ANY way out of walking back up the mountain the next morning.

They were asking everyone in the gite how to get out of Mafate without walking. As you might know, there are not many other options out of Mafate. Except one. By helicopter. I don’t know how it happened, but my beautiful, blonde Texas friend somehow convinced the owner of the gite to get us a ride out of Mafate in the morning with his cousin, who was (happily) a helicopter pilot.

We weren’t 100% sure we could get a ride until 6:00 the next morning when the gite guy came to the window and said “hey if you’re going, you have five minutes before my cousin leaves!” We threw everything into a sack and raced out of the gite…running towards the deafening blades of the helicopter. All of the other travellers in the gite came out of their rooms to laugh and wave us on our way.

My husband and I were so embarrassed!!! But at least now, everyone has a great story about the time they met some Americans in Mafate.

Vocabulary

College – La Fac
To party – Faire la fete
To work out – Entraîner
To be up for – Être prèt a faire qq chose
To complain – Se plaindre

To breathe – Respirer
To joke – Plaisanter
Somehow – D’une manière ou d’une autre
Deafening – Assourdissant 

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Roundabout

Here’s a true story…

When you are speaking a foreign language , you can expect misunderstandings to happen from time to time.  But even speakers of the same language can have breakdowns in communication.

A few months ago, my friend Danielle and I drove into the centre of Ravine des Cabris.  She had an appointment at the dentist and I was heading for a cut-price household goods store.  We’d arranged to meet up later at a cafe.   She was running a little late and so, at the roundabout by the dentist, she pulled over to the side of the road and said, “Okay, I’m going to leave you here”.  I decided she wanted me to leap out of the car quickly as she hadn’t time to drive me to the store.  So I did.  But what she wanted was for me to take over driving, and for her to hurry to the dentist.  So she did.

An hour and a half later, I was sitting in the cafe, munching a croissant and reading Le Journal.  Danielle charged in, looking furious.  “Is that how you take care of the car?” she yelled.  I was completely confused. I even replied, idiotically,  “What car?”  The car had been at the roundabout, windows open, engine running, keys in the ignition for an hour and a half.

When we realised how we’d managed to completely misunderstand each other, we found it very funny.  So did everyone else when we told them the story.  We decided that Reunion is probably one of the few places in the world where you could go back and find the car just as you’d left it.  In London either you’d be in major trouble with the traffic cops, or the car would be stolen.  Or possibly both.

For a while after that incident, whenever we made arrangements, we checked very carefully that we were both clear about the plan.  Sometimes even in two languages.  You can’t be too careful when it comes to communication.

Vocabulary

breakdown – rupture
cut price – bon marché
running late – etre en retard
pull over – arreté
munching – maché

ignition – allumage
charge in – entre en pas de charge
yell – clamer

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