Serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in northern France, southern Belgium and Luxembourg.

Monday, December 7, 2015

How to share a language

This week was kind of a blur. Elder Smith and I have been working hard trying to baptize the whole city and it's gone by super quick. 

Let's see, what even happened? We went to Arras, Lille and Calais for exchanges, which made the week even shorter. (Side note: the mission spends a lot of money getting us missionaries from one place to another. If this were a business, it would honestly be the worst business plan ever.) We taught 13 lessons, got frouged a few times, did a bit of contacting, got bugged by some Arab kids who may literally all be clones of one another, planned Blessing's baptism, and a bunch of other stuff. 

Something cool this Sunday was that the branch finally got a translation system so that all the Nigerians can actually understand what happens in church. So they all put in earphones and someone sits in the back with a little headset to do live translations into English of everything that's going on. Kinda cool. I was the one who got to do it first and I felt just a little like a secret agent. Spiritual James Bond. They said it really helped their experience. 

I learned from my Nigerian friends about Broken English (also known as "Pigeon"), which is a language they speak in Nigeria. Apparently not everyone there gets a formal education, so they don't all know how to speak English. And their tribal languages are all different as well. Being the friendly African people that they are, they can't stand the thought of a person not being able to participate in a conversation, "because how can you get to know someone if you can't speak to dem?" And thus Pigeon was formed. Basically it's English with no grammar rules whatsoever, and so people can pick it up really quickly. (For example: "I'll see you later" doesn't work, because "I will" is a grammar rule that indicates future. So you say, "We go see latah.")

Our ami Lawrence explained Broken English this way: keeping a language to yourself is selfish. You must share it. When you have a piece of food, how do you share it? You break it in pieces so everyone can have some. So, logically, they did the same thing with the English language: broke it in pieces, broke it in every way they could, so that everyone could use it. Man, I love African culture. 

That's all I've got for this week. I love you all, soyez sages! Christmas is coming. We go see latah. 

Elder Stanford
Mission française de Paris

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