March 17, 2012

No Comprendo, Part Tres, in which I accidentally curse at a child.

(Learning a new language is hard. I've written about it before, a while ago, here and here.)

Wednesday night is Club Alas night at John and Kerry's house. For those of you who know about Cubbies, Sparkies, Pals and Pioneers, and all that, it's a lot like AWANA. Kids show up, run amok, we calm them down, they say verses, they hear a Bible lesson, they play games, we give them sugar and send them on their way. The games are always relays of some kind. You wouldn't believe the thousands of variations on relay races.

The other night I was there, listening to verses like always. Adalis was her usual energetic, sarcastic, kind of obnoxious 6th-grade self. I forget exactly what led to this, but she was cackling maniacally about something, tapping her fingers together like Mr Burns, ("Excellent.") like an evil plan was coming together. She looked kind of sinister, in the kiddish "I'm being funny" way.

Now's as good a time as any to give you a basic Spanish/Latin root session. The Spanish word for bad is mal. Bueno is good. Malo is bad. Very bad = muy mal. You can see that English and Spanish have a common ancestor when you think of the word "Malevolent," like evil, bad, sinister.

So I know that mal- is a prefix for bad stuff. Sometimes, when you're not sure about which word to use in Spanish, you just have to guess. So I wanted to say, "So evil!" And I know full well "Que mal!" would have done the trick. But for whatever reason, I said "Que maldicion!" I've probably heard/seen that word in movies, subtitles. Like much of the world, I'm learning how to swear from movies.

This stopped her immediately, and her eyes widened. Like, "Oooohh, You said something naughty!"

Oops. Swing and a miss on guessing at Spanish. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

She went to another leader who told her, yeah, in that context, that's a curse.

As it turns out, instead of saying, "So evil!" I said "Damnit!"

I had a good laugh about it. Then I realized I had cursed at a child. And that's the sort of thing you're supposed to apologize for, so I told her I was sorry.

Lesson learned.

2 comments:

Kendra said...

LOL! Love it! Yeah, maldicion is NOT a nice word. :)

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