It was one of those moments, gray and tense and difficult, when I would have even welcomed the rain. Cycling through the city I stopped at a small shop and not finding what I was looking for, asked the shopkeeper, a lady visibly of African origin, if she spoke English. She did, and did so with a surprisingly clear and non-French accent.
It turned out she is from Madagascar, and at my request she would even tell me how to say “life is beautiful” – that is my standard for “say something” or “teach me something” lately – in her language, which I promptly forgot. But she also explained that in Malagasy (yes, that’s the national language of Madagascar, and she wore the exact same face when I asked about it as I do when people ask about what language we speak “over there”)
– that in Malagasy one would never really say that, for it’s a much more poetic and philosophical language, and what they would say in the context of life would translate to
“Life is like aloe and honey”.
I really have to be a linguist.