Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Funny Story and More Funny Language

The other day, we asked our language teacher to teach us some Tongan swear words so that we could catch potential potty-mouthed students in our classes. I always have a stack of language flash cards in my pocket, so naturally, I made a card with these words and their English translations. Fast forward a couple of days, and Sela, a Tongan 5th grader and her mother were hanging out in our garage while we were studying. I noticed that the girl was intrigued by our actions, and I thought it would be a sweet gesture to let her see some of our flash cards. I'm sure you can guess what card caught her attention...

Being the more perceptive spouse, Alissa was the first one to notice Sela's stunned-excited-embarrassed-all-at-once face. She calmly asked if I had indeed written the kapekape (swears) on a card. I immediately realized what had happened and shot up out of my seat, just as Sela was informing her mother about the specific contents of my special card. Unbelievably embarrassed, I began to desperately explain to her mother in broken Tongan my reasoning behind the card, and that I had not created it to simply increase my conversational vocabulary. She was very gracious to me and told me that it was a good idea, as a teacher, to know the words. The whole family had a good laugh over it, but I was still pretty embarrassed. I usually don't have any good "most embarrassing moment" stories; perhaps I have a good one now.

In addition, here are some new funny Tongan language things we've learned recently:

In our unit on the body and health, Tulu told us that the Tongan term for body odor was "namu peka." I knew that namu meant smell, but I hadn't heard peka before. It turns out that peka is the word for bat (as in the hairy flying animal). So, when you comment on someone's poor odor, you are quite literally telling them that they "smell like a bat." I guess the flying foxes aren't known for their attractive scent.

Another day, Mandy was telling our group about something delicious she'd eaten for dinner, and that she was sorry she didn't bring us any. Tulu suddenly exclaimed, "Amenita! Kaipo!" Kai means eat and po means night, so we were a little confused. She explained this term (in a way that all of us found hilarious) by saying that Amenita was "eating on the sly". Apparently, it's a big no-no to eat in a sneaky manner and not share with others. To this day, we still laugh about Tulu, a non-native English speaker, using the term eating on the sly...So, so funny...

- Mark

No comments:

Post a Comment