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English doesn't always translate well

I’m returning this week to Mama Kat’s workshop and writing about the following prompt…

1.) Describe a time when you had difficulty communicating with someone who speaks a different language than you.

Oh there was that time, when I was walking down the road in Kiev.  This man kept following me and trying to grab me.  If only I would have known how to say “don’t touch me” and “go away” prior to venturing out on a walk.

Then there was that time when I was playing the “I’ve got your nose” game with an adorable little Ukrainian girl.  Suddenly the look on her mother’s face fell in complete shock at what this young american girl was showing her innocent daughter.  Apparently the not-so-universal sign for “I’ve got your nose” translates to the Russian equivalent of the American’s middle finger.

And finally one of my favorites…

We were meeting with a deaf family in Ukraine, sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ.  By this time, my Russian was coming along.  My Russian sign language was a completely different story.  The little bit of American Sign Language I learned while hanging out with the deaf students during second grade, did not come in handy.  Not handy at all.

We were talking to this sweet family about the importance of studying the scriptures and praying often and that it is something you need to do for the rest of your life.  To help demonstrate our point, we shared a scripture from the Doctrine and Covenants (D&C 10:4) that states we must not run faster or labor harder than we have the strength and means but that we must endure to the end.  Suddenly the mother began to cry.  We asked why she was crying.  She said, “Because I can’t run at all!”  Once we explained that she didn’t have to really run and that it was an example, she calmed down a bit.

When have you been faced with a challenge to communicate in another language?

Mama's Losin' It

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