Thursday, July 17, 2008

Our First French Presentation

We spent much of today going over the material for our French presentation with Allison (who is bilingual), making sure that the French grammar & vocabulary used, especially on the PowerPoint slides, were correct. You know how it is when a pastor is preaching and putting the various points of his message up on PowerPoint, and suddenly you see a spelling or grammatical error? Something like that can be enough to throw you right off track from what he’s saying. And sometimes it's downright painful! (Or maybe it only affects us like that cuz we’re linguists :) Anyway, we figured that our mistakes in spoken French would be distracting enough. No use making people suffer any more than absolutely necessary, right?

Then we practiced the “Preaching Through An Interpreter” skit, with me playing the visiting pastor this time, and Allison playing the interpreter. But rather than doing both parts in English like we do for anglophone audiences, this time only I spoke in English while Allison interpreted (or more often misinterpreted!) what I said into French.

We ended up rewriting some parts of the script completely because many of the funny parts in the English version are based on plays on words that just don’t work when you try to translate them into French. But Allison and some friends came up with other possibilities that worked well in that language. Of course, there’s always the possibility that some of those who hear the skit will not understand all of the English part, but they’ll at least know that something is very wrong with what the interpreter is translating in French! Allison was afraid that after the skit, no one would ever ask her to translate anything into French again! Haha, don’t worry, Allison, I’m sure everyone knows you better than that! And they realize that we probably coerced into doing it :)

All this week, I’ve been asking people to pray that God would give us the spiritual gift of tongues for a few days, and that they would specify French as the language of choice! Well, our French was far from perfect, but most of the fifteen or so people that came from Allison’s church at least laughed at all the funny parts, so I guess we were able to communicate sufficiently clearly for that. But they also laughed at a few parts that weren’t supposed to be funny… Hmmm…

However, they were a great group and we told them that we appreciated them coming out to help us practice our French for an hour or so :) There’s more truth to that than I’m sure they realized because on Saturday evening, we’re doing an entire “Welcome to Ouagadougou!” event in French for a much larger group of people. Another first for us. And it’ll be twice as long as what we did tonight. May God have mercy on those poor people and bless us with an extra measure of that spiritual gift! :P

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