Many of us will never forget learning about when John F. Kennedy gave his famous speech where he tried to say to the people of Berlin, that as a free man he was a fellow Berliner like them. What he actually said was that like the people of Berlin, he was a jelly doughnut. Something got lost in translation.
Having been a missionary in South Korea, I can tell you from firsthand experience that learning Korean can be very difficult. A fellow missionary had taken Korean language classes for ten years four hours a day. Even with all of this training there were words he still didn’t know. When we make a royal flub with what we say, the best thing we can do is laugh at ourselves.
I will always remember when I thought I had said to my Korean hosts who had taken me out to a supper, that I really couldn’t eat another bite. I was full. I was confident I had said it right. What I actually said was, “I can’t eat any more because I’m full with child.” The translator found it difficult to avoid laughing. When I started laughing my hosts and the translator relaxed and laughed with me.
We all can say things we don’t mean. We honestly think we have communicated effectively only to discover that the other person just didn’t understand. For example, how many of us have had what we wrote in an email taken in the wrong way? So many of the nuances of our thoughts and the message we seek to convey gets lost. This can lead to misunderstandings. The person we are communicating with is viewing or listening to our communication through the window of their experiences.
How many of us wish we could hit the erase button on some of the things we wrote or said? I know I have. We all have felt this way at one time or another. We try hard to communicate well, but there are times we all blow it.
Do we forgive ourselves when our words hurt another person? I am still learning to do this. Sometimes, I want to have my own erase button for some of the hurtful things I’ve said to my wife, Karen. I love her with all of my heart next to God, but sometimes I say things in the heat of an argument, I would take back in a heartbeat if I could. Our words can hurt or they can heal.
“Words! What power they hold. Once they have rooted in your psyche, it is difficult to escape them. Words can shape the future of a child and destroy the existence of an adult.
Words are powerful. Be careful how you use them because once you have pronounced them, you cannot remove the scar they leave behind.”
― Vashti Quiroz-Vega, Suspense/Thriller and Fantasy writer. Avid reader, adventurer, nature and animal lover
Let us be careful about how we communicate our thoughts. Like John F. Kennedy when he called himself a jelly doughnut or me when I said I was pregnant, we can think we have communicated properly only to discover we haven’t.
If we all work harder on our communication less of our thoughts will get lost in translation.