10 months ago by


I’m sure there is some statistic out there that shows how more and more people are meeting spouses and partners that speak a different native language. I won’t bother finding that statistic because I’ve heard that facts don’t matter. But it’s true, just trust me. When I saw my soon-to-be-wife, who happens to be the photographer for Atelier Dore, on Tinder and saw that unique and beautiful name “Bogdana” – I didn’t expect my life would become filled with unique and beautiful words. Or at least I’m assuming they are actual words…because I have no damn idea.

My wife is from a part of Ukraine where they speak Russian, so that is her native language. But for reasons that I won’t get into because Atelier Dore doesn’t deserve to get hacked by Russia, most Ukrainians also speak Ukrainian. So that is two languages that I needed to attempt now and then while we were dating, to show that I cared about her culture and that I wasn’t the sort of American to say things like “speak English” or “is Ukraine IN Russia?” When I would say something correctly – I believe “you have beautiful eyes” in Ukrainian was a favorite – she would blush and smile. When I would say something incorrectly – hot tip “babushka” should not be said to a young woman – she would laugh. It was win-win. This is easy. What could go wrong?

The cartoonish bubble music of an incoming Skype call is heard.

Ukrainian Wife: You ready to meet my parents?
Me: I can’t wait!
Ukrainian Wife: Don’t be nervous, they’ll love you.

The smiling faces of my future in-laws.

Future In-Laws: Previet! Previet Bogdana! Previet Jason!
Ukrainian Wife: Previet!
Me: Previet!

My big smile from speaking to them for the first time, and getting the greeting right.

Ukrainian Wife: (unintelligible to me)
Future In-Laws: (unintelligible to me)

There is a pause in the conversation. Wait, are they asking me something? Just keep smiling.

Future In-Laws: (unintelligible to me)
Ukrainian Wife: (unintelligible to me)
Future In-Laws: (unintelligible to me)

They all start laughing. Are they laughing at me? Should I laugh also?

Me: (laughs)
Ukrainian Wife: (laughs at me?)
Future In-Laws: (laughs definitely at me)

The laughter fades out. I choose to maintain a slight smile which should be good for all occasions.

Future In-Laws: (unintelligible to me)
Ukrainian Wife: (unintelligible to me)
Future In-Laws: (unintelligible to me)
Ukrainian Wife: Kakashka.

I know this word! It means poop. It’s my favorite Russian word so far.

Me: Kakashka!!! Hahahahaha.

Not much reaction.

Ukrainian Wife: They’re updating me on the revolution.

I excuse myself.

Me: Poka poka. (goodbye)

Relationships are hard. Translation-ships are harder.

Written by Jason Ferguson


Add yours
  • Jorge Alexandre Teixeira October, 11 2018, 6:29 / Reply

    Funny!!! You’ll get there ,Jason !!!
    And …Bom fim de semana !

    Jorge ( Lisbon , Portugal )

  • Oh, j’adore ! Mon mari a appris le francais qu’il parlait a peine lorsque je l’ai rencontre il y a quelques decennies, puis il a fait un effort pour apprendre aussi quelques mots d’armenien pour plaire a ma famille !
    Courage Jason !

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