My grandmother would be about 125 years old today.  She was born in a country that didn’t exist when she was born. Now it is called Belarus. English was her third or fourth language.  I don’t know how well she spoke any of them, but she got her message across.

She died before smartphones were invented, yet she taught me to read the phone messages I get that are converted into text messages.

Back in the day, she used to write me letters.  I recall getting one shortly after I was married.  I passed the letter to my wife who exclaimed “What language is this?  It isn’t English!”

“Yes it is,” I replied, “but you have to read it out loud.”

When my grandmother wrote “ve vas dere for dot” – if you read it out loud you understand “We were there for that” – Simple.  Her spelling was phonetic, but with an accent, her accent.  “Vent” is the past tense of “go” and so forth.

So when I got a converted-to-text phone message from a friend saying “I told him you’re welcome to visit my blog Catherine Crow.” I knew he was telling me about his blog Cantorbury Tales.  Not speaking with someone called Catherine Crow.  But the misunderstanding and approximate fit is typical for these kinds of transcriptions.  It happens all the time.

It is a reminder that pronunciation, subtlety, and unfamiliar words are not yet incorporated into these transcriptions.

The easy way to understand these voice mail transcriptions is just to read them out loud and imagine someone with an accent is doing the speaking.

10 Q

(which for those who don’t read this out loud, says tenk you)

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