Bilingual Bloopers

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When our language helper, Lilee, asked me what kind of meat I like to eat, I attempted to say “kai kap muu kap NGUA” (chicken and pork and beef). But instead, I came up with ‘kai kap muu kap NGU” (chicken and pork and SNAKE)! Lilee gave me a funny look and replied in English, “Really?!” –K.R, Laos

Our language tutor was teaching us to pray in the Indonesian language. We write out our prayer for his review and then read/pray them before class begins. My wife was thanking God for his mercy, but omitted an “h” sound in the middle of the word. She thanked God for his spider webs instead! —D.C.

After dismissing his congregation, a missionary in Germany went to the back door to greet people as they left. He greeted each member with a handshake and smile and told them, “Gutten nackt.” They realized that he meant to say “Gutten nacht” meaning good night, but grinned or snickered because he had actually said good naked. The preacher was greatly embarrassed when a member at the end of the line corrected him. —Christine […]

A basic conversation goes something like this: Sabaidii! Jao sabaidii baww? (Hello, how are you?)

Khoi sabaidii. Jao dee? (I’m fine. [How are] you?)

Khoi sabaidii. (I’m fine.)

It’s a good thing Jon was only practicing his language skills because instead of saying,

Jao dee (How are you?), he accidentally said, Jao dai! (You die.)!

—Chris, Laos

I knew a little Spanish, so our Spanish Pastor asked me to translate his remarks to the English congregation because he was uncomfortable addressing them with his broken English.  I was dismissed from this translation assignment after the first practice run.  I would have thanked the English congregation for all of their help and chicken (pollo) rather than for their help and support (apoyo). —MW

We were living in Petrozabodsk when my friend, Laura, came to visit. Conversing with my neighbor, she said that she had arrived Friday. But instead of saying “pyatnitsa” (Friday), she said “p’yanitsa” (drunk). She realized her mistake as soon as the words were out of her mouth, and we all smiled as she frantically exclaimed, “No, no! Not p’yanitsa, pyatnitsa! Pyatnisa!” —Amy, Russia

The new missionary told his congregation the story of the man with 100 bees. (They were puzzled; they had never read this story!) One bee was lost so the man left the 99 in the fold and searched for it. The man found his beloved bee with a hurt leg. He carefully wrapped it, gently placed the bee on his shoulder, and carried him home!  (Realizing the missionary’s mistake, they all smiled as they pictured […]

After lunch, the congregation spends time in Q&A about the morning message. People were stumped by a question about how long it took for Elijah to get to Mount Horeb, and several answered that it took three days. I spoke up, boldly saying, “si sip meu.” I mistakenly thought that meu in meu ni (today) and in meu ni wan (yesterday) meant day. Everyone laughed because I said that it took Elijah forty hands.

When our evangelist friend visited us, he preached through a translator. A story he told began like this: “I was out in the lake swimming with the water over my head.” Our translator stopped abruptly with a very confused look on his face. He could not understand how a person could be both out of the water and in the water. Even more, the water was, apparently, over the person’s head??? (James, Russia)

The new BIMI missionary in Japan, Ron White, was preaching about sin, or tsumi: “Tsumi are bad. Tsumi cause death. We need to get rid of our  tsumi!” But there was a big problem. He said tsuma instead of tsumi and was actually saying, “Wives are bad. Wives cause death. We need to get rid of our wives!”

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