My husband has been interviewing veteran missionaries. One of the questions that he asks is: “What has been the biggest mistake in your cross-cultural experience?” This question is meant to get a light-hearted response concerning language bloopers. He has had some funny responses. One man said that he was demanding a glass; they had brought him a canned drink, and he does not drink out of cans. He kept insisting on a glass. Finally, someone told him that they appreciated the fact that he was learning their language, but what was it exactly that he was wanting. He told them in English that he wanted a glass. They told him that he had been telling the man, “I want a kiss right now!” If you would like to listen to some of these interviews, you can do so by going to missionaryonfire.com.
Here are some more language bloopers that other missionaries shared.
One man while preaching in French, said that the man was beaten with virgins (vierges) instead of rods (verges).
In a Spanish speaking country, a lady was trying to say that she was embarrassed (avergonsada); instead, she said that she was pregnant (embarasada). Another lady made the same mistake at a Spanish conference, but she was dating the pastor’s son!
A single lady was spending the summer with missionaries in Mexico. She learned the word for hunger (hambre). At the close of her first teen meeting, she announced in front of everyone that she had very much “hombre,” which means men instead of hunger. She was teased all summer about that one.
A man who was in language school in Russia meant to say, “I love Friday!” at the end of the day of classes. Instead, he exclaimed quite loudly, “I love DRUNK!” One “t” is the only difference between the two words.
A lady in the Dominican Republic was trying to ask the neighbor to help her with the cherries (cerezas), but she asked for help with the beers (cervesas) instead.
Another lady who is learning Spanish keeps saying that she cooked someone instead of saying that she knows them.
If you have a language blooper or a funny story that you would like to share with us, please e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include the name of each family member, your field of service, and a picture of your family if possible.
Until next week, keep your sunny side up!