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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Rookie Mistake


This one's another verbatim true story. I even stood all confident and proud of my German like in the second panel there.

23 comments:

  1. Haha! Hey, it's just one letter you got wrong ;)

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    1. True. In a different language though :-/

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  2. My first year living in the US.
    With ex-boyfriend at fancy trustee dinner:
    Trustee: Have you been well?
    Me: So, so, thanks for asking. I've been constipated for several days and nothing seems to make it go away.
    Trustee: *awkward silence and stare*
    Boyfriend: *smirk*
    Me: *utter confusion*
    (In Portuguese, "constipação" means to have a cold...)

    - Daniela

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    1. HAHAHA! That's brilliant. Now that you mention that, I have a similar story actually, maybe I'll make a comic of it as well - I was on the bus in Italy with my then-girlfriend, and I loudly proclaimed in Italian: "I tuoi genitali sono belli!" ("Your genitals are beautiful!") "But I was just trying to say you have nice parents!" I said.

      She grew red in the face and shushed me, and we immediately got off the bus. She then explained that "genitali" means genitals, while "genitori" means parents!

      The difference a couple letters can make...

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    2. :D
      An English student on an exchange in Italy once tried to compliment me on what I was wearing and said "Bel maiale!", i.e. "beautiful pig".
      What she meant was Bel maglione (jumper/sweater).

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    3. Hah! Thanks, now I will always remember that and never make that mistake.

      Or maybe now I'll ALWAYS make that mistake...

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    4. Same with Spanish "constipado" :-D I always try to be careful when talking about colds... X-D

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    5. Oh boy, that was funny!! :D

      Interestingly enough, a similar mistake could easily be done by English speakers venturing to say «they have a flu» to a Quebecer French audience. For us, «avoir le flu» (although we pronounce it with a French «u») means to have a serious case of «diarrhea». I remember, as I was younger and not having the same command of English I have now, English speakers saying they had just had a flu in the calmest of ways to fellow classmates. I was thinking to myself «Gee, anglophones surely are not afraid to talk of these things openly!»

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    1. It has more to do with accents, but it reminded me of this time I wanted to sound deep and say to my American boyfriend "This is it, I'm burning the sheeps" (Yup, I meant ships)

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    2. And another one about direct translations and "false friends":
      In Mexico City subway
      Girl: Soy caliente (I'm in heat)
      Passengers stare, she realizes the mistake
      Girl: Oh, no! Ahora estoy embarazada (Now I'm pregnant)

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    3. Oh, man that's funny. Did that happen to you?

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    4. Oh, no I wasn't there! My friend was in the subway that day and came home telling the story.

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    5. People used embarazada in my spanish class when I was in high school, when they meant embarassed, and it was really funny.

      Also, a girl in class used gustar to say she liked her friend, not knowing that it has a sexual connotation, like she pleases her sexually. The teacher looked shocked (it was a Catholic all-girls school, for reference), but she just went along with it. The teacher was a native Spanish speaker with iffy English, and didn't understand the mistake until later.

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  4. My husband told this, I guess it happened to his aunt and her husband. They met an English speaking couple and the gentleman complimented the aunt's dress, and the husband thought he needs to return the compliment and said to the gentleman's wife "Nice turkey!"

    (in Finnish language a fur coat is 'turkki' and the country Turkey is also 'Turkki', so his apparent generalization to English language went terribly wrong ...)

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    1. My dad's German, and when he first stayed at my mom's parents' place in Ireland, at the end of the trip he said "thank you for your hostility!" XD

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  5. Omg, that's hilarious!!! :D thanks for all the stories, they're super funny!
    False friends can really be tricky...we especially had to learn them at school (German brief and English brief are not the same / German Mörder doesn't mean "murder" in English even if the pronounciation is the same) but i unfortunately (or fortunately?) don't have a funny story to tell...

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  6. LOL. So true! My latest was to take a "puff" from an inhaler in German. My colleagues are still laughing :)

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  7. I started learning Deutsch a few years ago, and I'll never forget the day I apologized for not paying attention. My teacher had been very irritated with the class that day, so naturally I described her as aergerlich!

    I meant "wuetend" XD

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  8. Reminds me of my 4 year old son (who is German/English bilingual) recently who was visiting Oma & Opa for the weekend. We came on Sunday to have lunch and there was Lammgulasch that his Oma cooked. Our son said he didn't want to eat it, because Opa said "it was spicy," even though we told him it wasn't. Later on we realized that his Opa said (paraphrasing) "Das Gulasch ist vom Scharf," referring to the "Lamm" (sheep), and our son heard it as "Das Gulasch ist scharf" (spicy).

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    1. Hah! That's fantastic. I also hope to have bilingual kids who will make such adorable mistakes

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