Sunday, February 19, 2012
More amusing language blunders
Saturday, February 18
In a previous blog (Language blunders embarrassing but, from distance of time, amusing), I told of some interesting mistakes that I and other stranieri have made in Italy, and today I hear of two more while working with Curtis, a missionary in Italy who is also helping Steve and Patti move furniture to their new house. Curtis has been in Italy for nearly 10 years, and as I ride in his car, we have a helpful conversation about learning Italian, during which he mentions that he now is able to deliver a sermon in Italian.
Always looking for an interesting story, I ask if he has made any memorable mistakes during a sermon. “I’ve probably made mistakes that I’m still not aware of,” he says. “Someone did point out a problem in my first sermon. I meant to say, ‘capiamo,’ or ‘we understand.’ Instead I said ‘capisciamo,’ which essentially means, ‘we piss together.’ Someone discreetly pointed this out to me after the sermon.”
However, he said that his friend Terry, who is already included in my previous language blunders blog, had an even worse experience. He preached an entire sermon on discouragement, with the gist of the message being that we should not be discouraged. But there are only a few subtle differences between scoraggiare, discourage, and scorregiare, pass gas. Terry repeatedly used the wrong word and hence he essentially preached that his listeners should not fart—surely good advice in a land where fare la bella figura is important, but not exactly a message with the spiritual significance he intended.
“Now I try at all costs to never use the Italian word discouragement,” Curtis says, “because after hearing that story, I can never quite be positive that the correct word is going to come out of my mouth.”