Friday, August 24, 2007

Small World...Biblical Hebrew Joke

So we were having dinner with friends. Among the guests were a female pastor and an American missionary from Congo, where PH grew up. He, of course, can speak French and Lingala, the trade language of the region, and could converse with the female pastor, who spoke some English but was more comfortable in Lingala and French. I could understand most of the French, but my spoken French is pretty rusty. She found out I had studied Hebrew in seminary, and said (in Lingala) that she had studied Hebrew in seminary in Kinshasa, but couldn't say she was really good at it. She then looked across the table, this delightful woman whom I had barely understood up until that point, stared me in the eyes, and said...

"Dagesh Forte!"

At the risk of making a funny moment unfunny by explaining it, this is a doubling of a Hebrew letter to make it stronger. In English-speaking Hebrew classes, we call it strong dagesh. She told me it was the only thing she remembered from her Hebrew studies.

We both burst out laughing hysterically, the only ones (besides PH) who got it.

Never thought I'd be referencing Biblical Hebrew with a Francophone Congolese woman pastor in our Nation's Capital.

It is a small world, indeed.

No comments: