The Church Is Hangry

, , , | Romantic | October 17, 2018

My boyfriend and I are a multilingual couple. My first language is English, his first language is French, and the first language that we started talking to each other in was Polish, in which we’re both semi-conversational. We’re both also studying each others’ first languages to improve our communication, and between our three languages have sort of calibrated our normal conversations.

We are planning on getting married next year, and our church requires a private interview with the priest in preparation for marriage. The priest doesn’t know either of us, and speaks English fairly well, but not perfectly, and doesn’t speak any French. Our Polish isn’t really up to the high-level vocabulary of the interviews, so it’s all in English. When we’re interviewing together, everything is fine.

When it’s my turn to interview alone, we have a few difficult moments where the priest phrases a question in a weird way or pronounces a word such that I have to ask for him to repeat it a few times for me to understand, such as, “Are you agree with the church teaching about XYZ?” But overall, it’s okay. As we end the interview, I tell the priest that my boyfriend might have a bit of difficulty understanding him if he speaks very quickly, and the priest says he’s realized that and promises to speak slowly.

I sit outside the office and wait for my boyfriend’s interview to be over. After about ten minutes, the priest opens the office door and asks me if I know another word for “permanent” in French. I tell him no, but offer my phone for Google translating. He shuts the door and the interview continues for a while.

When it’s over, my boyfriend explains that the difficulty was that he heard the question as, “Are you angry with the church teaching about marriage being permanent?”

He replied, “No.”

It took a fair amount of repetition for the priest to clear that particular question up, and I learned that my boyfriend has a lot of difficulty hearing the differences between, “agree,” “angry,” and, “hungry.”

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