How We Are Translated

Jessica Gaitán Johannesson


After you opened the windows, you started talking about a book you’d been reading. It claimed that, in reality, we actually don’t think in one specific language. If we did, nobody would be able to say things like ‘that’s not what I meant’. There would be no ‘what I meant’ to compare with.

‘Do you remember in the beginning-times?’ you said. ‘When you woke up and told me in detail about murders in Swedish films? I asked you stuff, too, when you were asleep, and you always answered in Swedish. I asked you what we should name the First Mouse and you talked for like half a minute.’

‘I don’t do that anymore, do I? Talk about the murders.’

‘I miss it a little,’ you said. ‘You know in Swedish they call it sproke bad.’



‘Oh,’ I said,

‘Språkbad!’                   ‘Language bath!’

You peeled your lower lip over your gums to try and dislodge something from between your teeth. Everything was so great again. You looked like a frog travelling at high speed.

‘Isn’t that brilliant?’ you said. ‘Imagine if you could take a bath and then come out understanding someone else’s language.’

“I told you I didn’t take a bath. I was looking through your messages. Who’s Hector by the way?’

‘He lives in Göööööteborg, he drives a taxi and plays D&D.’

You’re very excited about starting daily conversation with Hector.

How We Are Translated Jessica Gaitán Johannesson