Translation for breakfast (with a side of pancakes!) A fictional short story

Greater than 2 minutes, my friend!


“Bom dia!”, I said, walking into the kitchen.

“What? What did you just say?”, my father asked.

“Bom dia!”

“What is wrong with you?”

“Nothing, dad! I’ve just been learning a few words in Portuguese, with a friend I met on Facebook.”

“I told you she was spending too much time on that useless website”, my mother chimed in. My mom, Emma, had never been too fond of social media. Or the internet. Or computers, for that matter.

“Why are you wasting your time with that thing? You should be studying”, my father said.

“I want to study languages, and it seemed like a good start. You know, talking to people”, I replied.

“Seriously? Study languages? Morgan, you need to start taking life seriously, you’re fourteen, you should be thinking about a career by now”, dad said. My father was a business man. John Harris had his own company. Well, his own grocery store. He was a hard worker, but like my mom, he thought sitting behind a computer all day long wasn’t work.

“Well, I am. Maybe I’ll become a translator”, I said proudly.

“Morgan, have you completely lost your mind? You do know no-one needs translators any more, right? Everyone speaks English nowadays, anyway. Except in the UN, but you’re not really thinking about moving to Brussels to sit in a booth and talk into a microphone all day, are you?”

“That’s not really… Never mind. I just want to learn languages because it’s fun and it’s one of the best ways to understand other cultures. Maybe I’ll become a translator, maybe I won’t. I don’t know yet”, I said.

“Plus, there’s translation apps now”, my brother Jeffrey walked in the kitchen just in time to make matters worse.

“What’s that?”, my mom asked.

“It’s just a software where you put stuff in a language and it makes it change into a different one. That’s why no-one needs translators anymore. Besides, if she can sit around all day playing with apps, I can become a beta tester and play videogames for a living. Pays more, too.”

My brother had such a perfect timing.

My mother’s face just went plain red.

“Young lady, if you think you’re going to spend your whole life sitting in front of that computer and going on Facebook instead of getting a proper job, you’ve got another thing coming!”

I sighed. They would never understand what I meant, so I decided to have some fun with the whole situation.

“Right, so if you think languages are a waste of time and there’s no need for translators — or interpreters, for that matter — I’ll just speak Portuguese until I leave for school.”

My brother laughed.

“Go ahead, sis. I’ve got one of those apps right here on my phone. Just talk and it’s going to translate every word you say in less than a second”.

I looked at my plate and the delicious pancakes I was almost done with.

“Fogo, estas panquecas estão um espectáculo. São de comer e chorar por mais ”, I said, amused.

My brother frowned. He stared at his phone, looking puzzled and annoyed at the same time.

“This… this makes no sense. Fire, these pancakes are a show. They are eating and wanting more? What does that even mean?”

“I was just talking about how awesome these pancakes are, silly! I’m off to school. Até logo!”

My brother looked at his phone again.

“Oh, I got this one. She said bye. Told you this thing was useful.”


Maria João Trindade

About Maria João Trindade

Literary translator and proofreader, occasional photographer and full-time cat lover.

18 thoughts on “Translation for breakfast (with a side of pancakes!) A fictional short story

  1. It might be worth adding this paragraph, haha:

    “Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.” 😀

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  2. Lovely indeed. Portuguese was one of my very first foreign languages, as we live next door to “big brother” Brazil and there are frontier towns where you can simply walk to the other side. When I was a 2-year-old, it was fashionable to go shopping in Chui, one of those frontier towns. And back we came with lots of cans, dad reading aloud in Portuguese with a funny accent. So, no joke I started learning Portuguese through food, too!

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  3. I just LOVE your story, Maria and I also loved the manner you told it in! I wonder, what your mama would say about you becoming a creative content writer (for example) or a fiction writer; you do have a talent for that! 🙂
    I, personally, was fortunate with my parents; they totally supported me when I chose to go for languages and pass those hard exams to enter the English language high school. I guess however they pictured me more like becoming a teacher than a translator, but all in all, they were happy with my choice. In fact, I kind of became a precedent in the entire family (and I mean among all the relatives) – no one before me and after me had ever been or became ever interested in languages. So all my aunts, uncles, cousins etc. seemed surprised but at the same time loved talking about the “wonder kid” able to speak in another language.

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  4. I like this creative story, thanks Maria!
    Oh yeah, I need to explain again and again what a translator does and even then people don’t fully understand it (although they find it interesting). No matter the lack of insight in the importance of our jobs or the attacks by technology (and users), we’re still needed!

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