#15 The A-Z of Jesus Slang (Part 1)

Having explored the idea of feeling unwelcome at Church in last week’s post, I thought I’d put myself in HNAC Alison’s shoes and think about why she might feel unwelcome there.

As an English teacher I pretty quickly heard Hamlet in my head: words, words, words.

On many occasions, I’ve taught my non-native English speaking students about colloquial language and slang. I’ve explained how slang is informal language particular to a certain group of people.

I then like to throw a sentence of Aussie English at them, such as: I’m gonna shoot thru to the G th’s’arvo coz I’m a footy fan.

FYI #1 I have never actually heard anyone say that sentence, but it is possible.

FYI #2 I have translated that above sentence for students before and it required word by word attention most of the way. The G = MCG or Melbourne Cricket Ground, if you don’t know.

Being that I’m learning Mandarin myself, I feel it a duty to assist any interested learners with acquiring the potentially foreign language of Jesus slang. I probably wouldn’t classify all these words as ‘informal’ but let’s not get pedantic.

A: Ark

“The Ark” is a phrase you might come across in Churchy chats which could have two different meanings.

One is referring to the massive boat that a guy called Noah was told to build.

This Ark was huge. It was about the size of one and a half footy (football) fields. So if you are heading to the G this arvo, imagine another half of the G added on one end and you’ve got yourself Noah’s Ark.

I was actually at the G not that long ago. That is one big boat.

The other Ark that might get a mention is “The Ark of the Covenant” Ark. This Ark was a lot smaller and was basically a box covered in gold.

When the ancient Jews were wandering around in the desert having just left Egypt where they were slaves, they needed a box to carry their important things.

Their important things included The Ten Commandments that Moses got from God, Moses’ brother’s staff made from dead wood that started to grow leaves on it and a jar of the food God sent them from heaven that they called manna. Manna in ancient Jewish apparently means “What is it?”

So when you hear someone mention “The Ark” just chill in the conversation a bit until you can work out whether it’s the boat or the box.

B: Babylon

This word just makes me hear Boney M and David Gray in my head, almost simultaneously.

Anyhow, there’s a fair amount of symbolism in the Bible and Babylon definitely has some attached to it.

In Old Testament times God told the Jews that if they didn’t listen to him some bad stuff would happen. They didn’t listen to him and then some bad stuff happened. This included their being forced into exile in another land, which just happened to be in a city called Babylon.

Babylon basically represents everything bad. Exile. Suffering. Punishment. Away from the land and the temple. Being under a curse, not experiencing a blessing. Separated from God… you get the idea.

Hopefully your experience of wandering into the local Church won’t make you feel like you’re in a foreign land, further away from God than you already did. At least now you can go armed with your growing pocket notebook of common words and phrases used by the native speakers.

Yours in language acquisition,


Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

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