Slice of Life 6 – Yoke or Joke? #sol24

6 March 2024


When I was in São Paulo last month, we went to church one Sunday, and the pastor preached on this passage from Matthew 11, where Jesus says:

28 Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.

We had an interpreter who was really good, and explained everything well without mistake, except for one. Throughout the sermon, the yoke of Jesus became the “joke of Jesus.” It was funny to hear at first. There was no way to explain the mistake to him, and in context we knew what he was saying, so we just got used to it. But in a whole sermon about taking the yoke of Jesus upon us, we heard that word joke a lot. Later at lunch, one of us asked him about the sounds of Y and J in Portuguese words; they wondered if that’s why he got it mixed up, but he didn’t make the connection at first. It wasn’t until later when he realized he had gotten the two words mixed up, he hit his forehead, laughed and said, “That’s why you were asking me about the sounds of the letters!”

Isn’t it a miracle that people learn new languages with so many words, when one letter or sound change can make the words totally different? Language learning is such a marvel. Anyway, I wrote this little #50preciouswords story about a similar mix up with yolk and joke.

A New School
By Denise Krebs

Sara moved from São Paulo last year. I moved from Fresno. She’s learning English. I like her.
“I have a yoke for you,” she tells me today.
“Egg yolk?”
“No, silly. A funny story yoke.”
“Ok. Tell me your joke,” I say.
Sara gives me hope for this new school.

And now some photos of Joshua trees especially for Glenda and all of you:

These Joshua trees are growing in my yard. I feel so blessed.


8 thoughts on “Slice of Life 6 – Yoke or Joke? #sol24

  1. Denise, I love this. Sometimes the mix-up becomes a new way of remembering the important points. The yoke and the joke are like laughter in the blender of letters. Maureen wrote a funny slice this week too, about anointed by Jesus and annoyed by Jesus as a mix-up. I love the humor that the misunderstandings bring, and I do believe that when Jesus hears, he chuckles too. He gave us the sense of humor in the first place, so I know he does laugh at his humans.

  2. Very delightful post, Denise. You have so many rich experiences to share. Love how you captured the dialogue exchange. It is amazing how language can be much different. I had a Vietnamese student and he tried to explain to me that in his language there were no hard t’s so it was hard for him to articulate that sound.

  3. Denise! Jou’re the best! Thank you for the Joshua trees. My heart and eyes need them as I see more snow falling right now! Yes, it is hard to learn and understand, and translate language. That we communicate at all is a miracle. I remember from my time teaching g in Arizona that /y/ and /j/ are easily confused, and pronouncing /y/ often sounds like /j/. Besides, a good chuckle at church soothes the soul.

  4. What an engaging post. I am truly enjoying the experiences you are sharing with your readers.

  5. What a delightful mix up – yoke and joke. This may be irreverent, but I love the idea of God lightening our load through jokes. I can just imagine your guide’s forehead slap, realizing their mistake – oh my. Wonderful poetry, too, sharing a similar mix-up – it is so hard to learn new languages.

  6. I hope I am not overthinking this, but I love the fortuitous meeting of these two words. “Joke” comes from a Latin verb that has given modern Romance languages their verbs for “to play.” “Yoke” comes from an Indo-European verb meaning, “to connect.” Coincidence?

    1. Paul, That’s awesome! Thanks for the insight. And, Maureen, I agree about God connecting with the laughter of people. Making connections and play–they do go well together.

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