We are chugging along at learning the Tigak language and culture!
We’re sure some of you have seen yourself or someone you know in some of the pictures we’ve used to help us learn words and phrases in the language. It’s sure fun to involve you!
Our language helpers seem to be getting a kick out of us too, as we struggle through simple words and short sentences. But then suddenly they find themselves actually ‘kicked out’… let me explain. In the Tigak language, it is all to easy for us to mix up these two phrases:
- We (the two of us) go — “Mek inang”
- You (the two of you) stay — “Muk minang”
So then that awkward moment happens when we accidentally kick our language helpers out of their own house… “Muk inang” (you go), “e mek minang” (and we stay).
Here’s another one for you… The other day, I was sitting outside with a lady, and she started going over the names of basic body parts with me. We had just been learning those, so I chimed in with one I was pretty sure I knew… “My hair!”, I said, pulling at some hair on top of my head. After a confused stare, she corrected me. It turns out I had just pointed to my hair and said “My dolphin!”
Then there was the awkward moment when Naya was asked to remember the word for butterfly, which is “Pepe”. She thought for a moment, then said proudly, “Pekpek”. (Ouch! Unfortunately that means poop, not butterfly… awkward!)
During our first week learning language, I had written down how to say, “Can you sit and story (talk) with me?” I was thankful that I chose to clarify the question with my language helper before I took this one out to the village, because I was about to go around asking ladies “Can you sit and go out in a canoe with me?” This would’ve made for some interesting language learning, and a very confused me.
Perhaps the most interesting is a cultural idiom that Noe learned somewhat awkwardly. One afternoon, one of the guys told him “Ok, I’m going out to the mangroves.” Noe responded, “Ok. … Can I go with you?” The guy fidgeted for a moment, then said, “Uhh-well…ok…” So they walked together toward the mangroves. But the guy kept looking at Noe rather uncomfortably, wondering how long Noe was going to keep walking with him. Suddenly it hit Noe that this guy did not in fact mean he was going for a walk to the mangroves. He was actually trying to get away for a ‘bathroom break’.
I had a similar experience not too long after this… an elderly woman was chatting with me, and when she was ready to leave, I asked her where she was going. She said she was going to the mangroves. I clarified, “the mangroves?” “Yes,” she said, “To rest.” I decided (thank goodness!) not to pursue it further, and let her go. As she walked away, I wondered why she would be going to the mangroves to rest, and not to her house… it was not two days later that our teammates were talking about how a lot of the people will use that expression “go to the mangroves to rest” when they have ‘business’ to take care of. Ahhh!! Now I understood! And I was SO glad I hadn’t asked her why she was going to the mangroves to rest! (In this culture, they do not discuss bathroom habits.)
Oh and then there was the time very early on when we invited someone, “You come thing.” instead of “You come eat.”
Truly, we are enjoying these fun moments where we are able to laugh at ourselves. Pray that we’ll continue being diligent to learn and study, and that the Lord will continue to bless us with laughter and smiles along the way.