“¡Estoy embarazada … and it’s the bishop’s fault!”: Appropriate Incongruities and Latter-Day Saint Missionary Language-Learning Narratives and Pranks

Eric A. Eliason (Brigham Young University)

Mormon missionaries world-wide struggle to learn new languages. Senior missionaries may prank their junior “greenies” with instructions like, “Yes, ‘sayonara’ means ‘goodbye’ but in this part of Japan, the locals say ‘sayo onara.’” For weeks, the unsuspecting greenie says this this to everyone before realizing it actually means, “Oh! A fart!” Stories about such pranks, and of greenies’ self-created language bungles, are among the most popular student submissions to BYU’s folklore archive. This paper will explore reasons why this might be and examine the relationships between the various genres involved—PEN, FOAF, legend, prank, custom, and initiation ritual.

Part of 05-02 Folk Humor, De- and Re-Centered, Friday, October 14, 10:30 am–12:30 pm