Lost in Translation

Adaobi Ugoagu

My name is Adaobi.
They call me Dobes.
My name is Adaobi.
They call me Dobi.

I am my parents' first daughter, so they named me first daughter.
That’s the literal translation. But English eludes the weight of its meaning.

Adaobi is beloved in her father’s eye. She’s a daughter of the king.
The first daughter of the king.
In Igbo, the vowels are rounded and silky, easy to slip on and off the tongue.
But along the way the translation got lost, along with its elegance.

I don’t remember actively resisting reinterpretation.
They quipped that it sounds like the photoshop.
I laughed.
They decidedly cut out the A.
I unknowingly came into agreement with them.
Until I almost forgot the meaning.


About the Author

Adaobi Ugoagu is a Nigerian-American creative living in SoCal. She’s written for faith-based publication, Inheritance Magazine, and was a contributing writer or Alabaster’s book, On Beauty and Faith. She’s currently a strategist at a communications agency and when she isn’t running brand social accounts, you can find her creatively directing photoshoots, styling, or penning her thoughts on sociocultural trends.

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