Like Translating Irish English to American English

  • posted by: admin
  • posted in: Various Countries
  • posted on: October 24, 2012

The following are some thoughts from one of our mobilizers involved in connecting church leaders and teams with opportunities to serve in Europe. 

I recently returned from ten days in Europe with leaders from a church in Atlanta. Our last stop was my home away fromFBCgentsInDublin home: Dublin.

After days in Dutch-speaking Amsterdam, Flemish and French-speaking Brussels, and German-speaking Cologne, my Atlanta friends expected communication to be straightforward. After all, they do speak English in Ireland (as well as a form of Gaelic called Irish, which few Americans are aware of).

However, in the early hours of our time in Ireland, they realized that though many of the words were the same, the meanings were often very different. What Americans call pants, the Irish call “trousers.” To an Irish person, pants are underwear. You don't stop at the ļ¬lling station for gas. You get “petrol.” Gas is something you get from spicy food. Asked to meet at “half three,” they stared at me until I explained it meant 3:30, (which was different than it had been in Germany two days before where it meant 2:30). Silverware became “cutlery,” being picked up was being “collected” and somehow the evening meal became “tea.” They got to the point where they became careful with their words.

So when it came time to discuss the challenges of talking about God in Ireland, I realized I'd stumbled on to a helpful teaching illustration. The word "God" simply means something else to most Irish people than we would understand from the Bible and from a personal relationship with him through Christ. Culture, religion, social ills (like child abuse) and corrupt political power had altered the meaning. Many of my Irish friends would claim to believe God exists, but frankly, they don't like Him very much.

I believe that now, more than ever, Ireland needs people who, through their words and the demonstration of their transformed lives, can clarify the truth of a God who loved them enough to die for them to bring them back to himself. It won't be easy, but it's the same work Paul did in Athens when speaking to religious people who had yet to hear the truth about God.

So what are we waiting for? Let's get stuck in! (Translation: “Let's get to it!”)

Countries: Various Countries, Ireland

Categories: Evangelism / Discipleship