Monday, January 02, 2012

A Lesson in Language

On Monday, I begin the process of trying to learn a new language, Tonga. But I think I had my first unofficial lesson this past Wednesday.

As a way to mingle with the community of farm workers and their families who surround our home, I try to go fishing every once in a while. These Zambians with their fishing equipment (bamboo poles and fishing line), are limited with what they can catch usually fish smaller than the size of my hand. So, this past week, when I caught a little bit bigger fish (about 1 & 1/2 lbs) I decided to give it to the family that I was fishing beside.

The woman who I tried to give the fish to, spoke no, none, zero, zilch, nata English! So, I decided to try and tell her in Nyanja (the language we learned in the capital, but a language not always spoken in Chikankata) that I was giving her the fish. I said "Ndi patsa nsomba kwa inu. Mu patsa babanja." Meaning "I give you this fish, you give to your family." She replied rather kindly, took the fish and then left with her family. I thought, even though I don't speak Tonga yet, maybe, just maybe I can use my Nyanja to get by until I do.

Well, the next morning, I found out just how successful I was in my communication. I was telling Moverty how I caught a fish the previous day and gave it to a family. He asked me for a description of the lady I gave it too and then proceeded to tell me that the lady came by and gave the fish to him. Apparently, she thought I caught the fish and gave it to her to bring to my home. I guess I wasn't strong enough to carry it the 400 yards to my house.

I told Moverty that if he saw her again to tell her that the fish was for her. But a good lesson was learned. When people don't get the intended message in their heart language, there can often be times when miscommunication occurs and the message is not understood. Being that we have a message that brings life, reconciliation and relationship with God the Creator through Christ, it gives me all the more motivation to learn this language called Tonga!

1 comment:

Keith said...

Rolling on the floor with laughter!