My wife and I are now five years or so into our journey of learning the delightful and difficult language of our Central Asian people group. Along the way, we have made some cringe-worthy and hilarious mistakes. I remember reading in CJ Mahaney’s book, Humility, that being able to laugh at yourself is a good way to grow in being less prideful. So in that vein, I present to you our list of epic language mistakes.
- “Then Jesus sat down next to the canary and began to teach about the kingdom of God.” The words for shore and canary are extremely close! I said this while teaching in church.
- “The squeegee is our peace!” I meant to say that Christ is our peace… again, squeegee and Christ are painfully close, hinging on a throaty “h” sound that is quite hard for us to pull off.
- “Thanks so much for the monkeys!” When we were trying to say thanks so much for your hospitality.
- “But where are the monkey’s people from? Where are the monkeys people?!” I had not yet learned that asking where someone is from literally means asking where their people are, whereas another phrase is used for objects and animals.
- “This is so tasteless!” I was trying to tell my friend’s mom how delicious her food was without yet understanding how an”ey” and “ah” prefix vowel reverses the meaning of an adjective.
- “You are drunk!” When trying to say, “May your head be blessed!”
- “My death.” Instead of “My husband.”
- “I’d like the fat chicken, please.” Definitely meant to say the boiled chicken.
- “We live behind the frogs of spring.” Actually lived behind Spring Apartments.
- “How much Islamic Law should I fry for the rice?” Noodles, little noodles, not Islamic Law…
- “Please turn to song sixty sixty.” The local believers never let me live this one down, snickering for the next year every time anyone in our group said sixty six.
- (Singing) “I only want you, Tanya!” Who’s Tanya? And isn’t this supposed to be a worship song?
- “How old is your donkey? May his years be long.” When trying to ask about the age of a man’s son…
In conclusion, please be merciful to those learning your language. And if you are learning another language, be sure to laugh. A lot.
P.S. If there are other language learners out there, please feel free to leave your own language bloopers in the comments for our mutual edification.