Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Is my brain tired or am I just crazy?

Anyone who has studied a second language knows that words may have multiple meanings depending on context. Well, the following story is an example of one of my language blunders.

I was recently doing a training session with nationals. I had been talking with the group almost completely in Arabic the whole morning (about 3 hours). Near the end of our time together I was struggling to keep the Arabic flowing. So I switched to English to communicate a thought. One of the students stopped me and asked, “What, are you finished talking Arabic now?” I was surprised but quickly responded, “Mukhi taaban,” which I thought meant, “my brain is tired.” Yes, it does mean that, but it also has another meaning, “I’m sick in the head” (I’m having psychiatric problems),” or more colloquially “I’m crazy! Now, I’m not sure how this phrase was taken by the group, (although many of them laughed) but I know that I will be more careful the next time I use this phrase!

The moral of the story: not everything translates literally and have a sense of humour while studying language!

Posted by GT

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