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Mosque kiss not on

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Misunderstandings between people of different nationalities can be the result of culture as well as language.

George Virtue offers a faux pas from 20 years ago when he and his wife were visiting Israel and went to see the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem.

"While wandering around inside this sacred Muslim mosque I leaned over and gave my wife a quick kiss on the cheek. The next instant I was being physically escorted out by some very upset Arab gentlemen and my wife was being shepherded out behind me.

"The place was packed with tourists and we immediately became the centre of attention.

"I then made, what is possibly, the biggest blunder of my life. I asked the gentleman who had a firm grip on my arm, 'What is going on?' He replied in a voice that echoed around the whole mosque, 'You leave, because you make love to your woman.'

"The shocked silence and astonishment in the whole place was broken when a Texan woman, standing some 20m away, pointed at us and yelled, 'My gaaaddd, thar gettin' chucked out for havin' sex in the place.'

"We exited so quickly we left our escorts well behind."

However, most of the faux pas sent in continue to involve language difficulties.

French-born Frederique Abbott provides one from each side of her relationship with Kiwi husband Mike.

"Once I was in Brussels for work and my Kiwi husband-to-be was in London. I decided to send him an email telling him how busy my morning was and that I couldn't wait to get home tonight because I was 'naked'. I meant 'knackered'.

"And Mike, went down the same path when we stayed in Paris for three years. I remember once, we were having dinner at my parents' house when Michael thanked my mum for the supper by saying 'merci beau cul' which means 'thank you nice bottom' instead of 'merci beaucoup' meaning 'thank you very much'."

During her six years' nursing in Israel Josie Coyne had a few problems with her Hebrew but if anything they seemed to help people.

During her first year nursing at Hadassah University in Jerusalem, for instance, she was helping a teenage girl who was tearful and in pain after surgery to correct sweaty palms.

"I had given her an injection of pethidine and she wanted to know when she could have the next pain relief. I replied, 'B'od arba shanim' or 'In another four years' instead of 'B'od arba' or 'In another four hours'. This cheered her up no end."

- NZ Herald

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