Thursday, January 17, 2008

Ambiguity of Language: When native Speakers Speak like Language Learners.

The ambiguity of Language
Some years back a friend sent this to me. I just thought about it and wanted you all to laugh a bit, so I have explained some of the ambiguities for English Language Learners. Language is sometimes too ambiguous that at times it tends to set ablaze the very fire it was trying to quench. Here are some of those occasions.

1). Don't let worry kill you -- let the church Help.

Ambiguity:

A. What is seems to mean:  let the church help you to die or kill you rather than worry.
B. Real meaning: Don’t let worry kill you; you should let the church help you in your condition.

2). Thursday night -- Potluck supper. Prayer and Medication to follow.
Remember in prayer the many who are Sick Of Our church and community.

A. What is seems to mean: It sounds as if after they finish the potluck supper, they will pray and then take medications. The second part also sounds as if  they are interceding for runaway members who are disappointed with their church.
B. Real meaning: Prayer and mediation (intercession) will follow the potluck supper. Pray for church members who are sick.

N.B. This one is as a result of malapropism or auto correct fault. The speaker wanted to use the word mediation, but they used medication. You should use words you know their meanings.

3). "For those of you who have children and don't know it, we have a nursery downstairs."

A. What is seems to mean:  those of you who have children but do not know you have them.

B.Real meaning: Those who have children but do not know that we have a nursery, there is one downstairs.


4). The rosebud on the alter this morning is to announce the birth of David Alan Belzer, the sin of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

A.What is seems to mean: It sounds like the rosebud was commemorating  David Alan Belzer as being conceived in sin by Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer
B. Real meaning: The rosebud is to commemorate the birth of  David Alan Belseer the son of Rev. and Mrs. Julius Belzer.

N.B.This is a spelling error.

5). This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.

A. What is seems to mean: It sounds as if each end has a baptistery.
B. Real meaning: It simply means that at the end of  each meeting, the children will be baptized.

6). Tuesday at 4:00 PM there will be an ice cream social. All ladies giving milk will please come early.

A. What is seems to mean:  It sounds as if they want the ladies to come and give milk for the ice cream.
B. Real meaning: the ladies that will help to donate the milk which they bought (and not their breast milk) should be there on time.


7). Wednesday, the Ladies' Liturgy Society will meet. Mrs. Jones will sing, "Put me in My Little Bed" accompanied by the pastor.

A. What is seems to mean:It sounds as if Mrs. Jones will be singing to the pastor to put her in her little bed. Can you imagine what the husband thought about that announcement? Not my wife!
B. Real meaning: The Ladies Liturgy Society (name of a singing group), Mrs. Jones and the pastor will sing a song titled “Put me in my little bed”


8). Thursday at 5:00 P.M. there will be a meeting of the Little Mothers club. All wishing to become little mothers, please see the minister in his study.

A. What is seems to mean:  This one sounds as if they are saying if you want to get pregnant come and have sex with the pastor.
B. Real meaning: Meanwhile they want to say if you are pregnant or will soon be a mother come and see the minister in his study.

9). This being Easter Sunday, we will ask Mrs. Lewis to come forward and lay an egg on the alter.

A. What is seems to mean: it initially sounded like she will come and lay an egg like a hen to give to the church.
 B. Real meaning: They mean that they will ask Mrs. Lewis to come and place an egg on the altar.

10). The service will close with "Little Drops of Water." One of the ladies will start quietly and the rest of the congregation will join in.

A. What is seems to mean: It seems like she will start to drop like water, and the rest of the congregation will follow her to imitate the raindrops.
 B. Real meaning: This means that the service will close with a song Little Drops of Water, and one of the ladies will start to sing and then the rest of the church will join her to sing the song.


11). Next Sunday a special collection will be taken to defray the cost of the new carpet. All those wishing to do something on the new carpet will come forward and do so.

A. What is seems to mean: Initially it sounded as if  they were going to collect an offering to buy a new carpet on which they usually have sex, and that all those who want to have sex on the carpet  are invited.
 B. Real meaning:  what they are saying is that anyone who wants to donate for the purchase of the new carpet should step forward next Sunday.

13). The ladies of the church have cast off clothing of every kind and they may be seen in the church basement Friday.

A.What is seems to mean: Initially it sounded as if the ladies are naked in the basement and anyone was free to go and watch them. It was as if the ladies were gibing a peepshow.
B. Real meaning: What they meant was that they have removed  and taken all the clothes in the church to the basement, and anyone who wanted to check and see if their clothes were there, should come on Friday.

14). At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be "What is Hell?" Come early and listen to our choir practice.

A. What is seems to mean: It will sound as if people should come early and listen to their choir practice on going to hell
B. Real meaning: People should come early and listen to their choir practice how to sing the song "What is Hell."

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