Monday, January 19, 2009
Why, viboks you very much!
Sometime last summer I switched out my new cell-phone for an older model left with us by our friends. As usual, I often used the phone to send short text-messages to people instead of calling them. When painstakingly typing out little messages on the cell-phone touch pad, the phone’s built-in ‘dictionary’ is supposed to help you spell words. With this second-hand phone, however, the dictionary would give me these really ridiculous choices that didn’t even remotely resemble English words. So, I ended up having to spell out most words letter-by-letter. (That I kept text-messaging for months despite this inconvenience is evidence of the West’s addiction and subservience to technology…and of my imbecility perhaps?) I would try to write out very basic sentences like “Do you want to play volleyball” and nine times out of ten the dictionary would not get any of the words right. The most annoying word of all—that ‘thanks’ that we Americans like to tack on the end of every utterance—perpetually popped up on my little screen as ‘viboks’. “What kind of idiotic English dictionary doesn’t know how to spell ‘thanks’”, I would mumble to myself in disgust. It did occur to me several times that perhaps the phone’s dictionary wasn’t configured, set to ‘English’…or maybe wasn’t a dictionary at all, but rather a computer virus sent to destroy all my communications! Finally, last evening, I was complaining to a friend about this, and he calmly reached over, took my phone, and changed the dictionary setting from Swahili to English. All I could say was ‘viboks’.