We all have our favourite sites on the Internet and one of mine is Yahoo! Babel Fish (http://au.babelfish.yahoo.com/translate_txt). As I’m writing a book about France and my French language expertise begins with ‘bonjour’ and ends with ‘merci beaucoup’, Babel Fish has proved without price.
But I’d like to tell you a story that, to my mind, elevates Yahoo! Babel Fish beyond the ordinary and into the fantastic (or if you are under the age of twenty – into the stratosphere).
Some months ago the mother-in-law of my neighbour, Sylvie, came from Korea to baby-sit one year-old Joelle while Sylvie went into hospital to have her second child. Mum-in-law could not speak English so when a crisis arose there was a real problem.
One morning, mum-in-law went out of the front door to take a packet of garbage to the rubbish bin up the driveway. The door closed behind her. Unfortunately, it was on a Yale and it locked her out and trapped the baby alone in the house. Mum-in-law was, understandably, hysterical.
She came over to us and all she could say was “baby, baby”. We couldn’t work out what the problem was and she couldn’t tell us.
Then my grandson had a brilliant idea. We got mum-in-law to the computer and grandson switched to Babel Fish. We began asking questions. Each question he translated into Korean on Babel Fish. They had to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions as the Korean lady could not work the computer and of course the keyboard had only English keys.
We finally discovered that she had locked herself out of the house with the baby asleep upstairs. We were also able to ascertain that Sylvie was in the maternity ward of the local hospital.
Needless to say that thanks to Babel Fish all ended well. We phoned the hospital and spoke to Sylvie. I don’t know whether we interrupted her labour pains or whether baby Donelle had by this time emerged. In any event, Sylvie told us where the spare key was kept and we unlocked the front door to the grateful thanks, in Korean, of one very relieved lady.
Now, don’t tell me that isn’t a ‘happy-ever-after’ story, and all thanks to the Internet!