01 June 2011

the wrong kind of seat

An anecdote: On Sunday I used my learner-Finnish to ask the chapel caretaker for some prayer benches, in case any other adults wanted to use them to come down closer to the children's level.

I wanted something like this:  
(the picture source is a page with instructions for making your own)

Instead I got something like this:

photo by Hanna-Maarit (used by permission)

I worked out pretty quickly that I had used the word for "food" instead of the word for "prayer". Looking at the two words now...

"food": ruoka
"prayer": rukous

... I'm sure native speakers of Finnish would say that they're very clearly different, but for a moment there I was really baffled. I'm pretty sure the caretaker was baffled, too! I tried to correct my mistake and only muddied the waters further. Whatever it was she understood the second time, her response was: We don't have any of those. 

I said, But they were here on Easter Sunday! 

Oh! she said, You mean the prayer benches. 


  1. Oh, the joys of speaking a foreign language! We all have them. A friend of mine here who was having thyroid trouble told us that she was having problems with her "turtle" since the words are similar in German.: ) I have some big bloopers as well that I can't print on the internet.: )

  2. I think there's a spiritual link though - prayer feeds us :)


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