"Last in Translation"

"This is a really neat idea, Balki!" Mary Anne said as she joined Larry and Jennifer on the couch in the boys' apartment.

Balki sat in the chair backing the fireplace and facing his friends. "It was actually Cousin Larry's idea."

"I'm actually embarrassed I didn't think of it sooner," Larry chimed in. He turned to Jennifer and Mary Anne. "Balki's had to work so hard to get accustomed to a new country, a new culture, a new language. I just figured maybe we should learn a little more about our friend's native tongue."

"This is very exciting!" Mary Anne exclaimed. "I always wanted to be…" She stumbled, trying to think of the word. "To be…"

"Bilingual?"

"Oh, no. I could never be that. I don't like women that way!"

"Mary Anne," Jennifer tried explaining patiently, "bilingual means that you're able to speak two languages."

Mary Anne paused. "Oh…right," she said sheepishly.

"So what do you say, Professor Bartokomous," Larry grinned. "Are you ready to teach us how to speak Myposian?"

"Am I ready? Does a nebadinko like sheemalavos?" He was met with three blank expressions. Balki leaned forward. "That means 'yes'."

"Just remember, Balki," Jennifer began constructively. "We already know what babasticki is. You won't need to translate it in graphic detail…..again." Larry and Mary Anne winced slightly at the memory of Balki's previous descriptions of babasticki.

"Ok," Balki began eagerly. "I'm going to teach you some phrases to get the sheep spleen rolling! Now, repeat after me: Eena bokah—"

"Eena bokah," Larry, Jennifer and Mary Anne repeated in unison.

"Inagei davros—"

"Inagei davros."

"Alambri dai."

"Alambri dai."

"Eena bokah…inagei davros…alambri dai."

"Eena bokah…inagei davros…alambri dai," Balki's friends receited.

"Altogether now," Balki orchestrated. "Eena bokah inagei davros alambri dai." It was repeated back to him perfectly. "Very, very good."

"What does 'eena bokah inagei davros alambri dai' mean?" Jennifer asked as she, Larry and Mary Anne looked to Balki with great curiosity.

"'Would you hold my crook while I bathe my yak?'"

"That's what it means?" Larry questioned incredulously.

"Well, of course it does, don't be ridiculous! What else it would mean?"

"Balki, I think the idea of these lessons is to teach us Myposian that will be useful to us. I don't think any of us plan on carrying a crook or bathing a yak."

"Maybe not in Chicago, but it's common practice in Mypos."

"If I go to Mypos, I won't be toting a giant hook or soaping up beasts that weigh more than my car!"

"What I think Larry is trying to say is," Jennifer interceded as she placed a hand on Larry's knee to calm him, "can you teach us some words to begin with, just so we can get the basics?"

"Well, ok," Balki said dejectedly. "I was hoping to teach you how to give directions to the nearest sheep saliva pit, but I guess we can start slow."

"A sheep saliva pit?" Larry grimaced.

Mary Anne's eyes grew wide. "Wow! I wonder what they keep in it!" Balki, Larry and Jennifer just looked at their friend. "Well, how else am I supposed to know if I don't ask?"

"Uh, Balki, maybe you should just start with simple words," Jennifer suggested. "For instance, what is the Myposian word for 'man'?"

"Baya," Balki responded.

"Baya!" his friends echoed.

"And woman?" Jennifer asked.

"Amba."

"Amba!" the three students called out.

"And food?"

"Flavos."

"Flavos!" Larry, Jennifer and Mary Anne repeated.

"And what about curling iron?" Mary Anne requested. Again, the other three looked at her. "What if I'm in Mypos and I wake up with flat hair? How am I going to ask for a curling iron?"

"Oh, we don't have curling irons on Mypos," Balki explained. "We just take a stick and breathe on it until it becomes very warm. If that don't work, we get Mavika, the biggest man in the village, to hold it under his arm until it heats up."

Mary Anne stared blankly at Balki for a moment as Jennifer and Larry looked on in disbelief. "What about hot rollers?"

"Mary Anne, these aren't the basics!" Jennifer exclaimed. "If we go to Mypos, the first thing we say isn't going to be, 'I have a cowlick, where are the hairdressing implements?'!"

Mary Anne stood up, frustrated. "Oh yi yi yi youki biggi mooki, Jennifer! Kandamiki ohch madali deiba deiba yungi domba filki! Ohchpa eefi yanda nooti andrivonti, ehmpa truziki oh po po dovenda miki eenta!" Balki, Larry and Jennifer stared wide-eyed at their friend, who sat down, realizing their shock at her fluency in Myposian. "I once dreamed I was a Mypiot," she said matter-of-factly.

Dumbfounded, Jennifer spoke up. "Uh, maybe we should end today's lesson. We don't want to overdo it on the first day!"

"I think that's a good idea," Larry agreed. "Jen, why don't we go for a walk? I think I need to get out of The Twilight Zone before Mary Anne starts speaking Portugese, Balki starts speaking German, and I start understanding both of them."

"Right behind you."

Larry and Jennifer hastily exited the apartment, as Balki smiled while moving over to his girlfriend. "Can you really speak Myposian?"

"It sure looks that way, huh?" Mary Anne responded, bewildered. She faced her boyfriend and a small smile grew on her face. "Oh, should I say, 'You bet your bibbibabkas'!"

"So you no need lessons after all!"

"I don't know about that. I think it might be fun. Besides, just because I can speak Myposian doesn't mean I understand it."

"And just because a goat can grow a beard, it don't mean he know how to use the soap!"

Mary Anne nodded. "I know what you mean."