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Language Goofs - Tell us your stories

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<a href="/en/translator/achampnator" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1317347">Achampnator</a>
Joined: 30.11.2016

Ouch that hurts

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

I'm over 50 and I'm from Eastern France, but I spent more than 35 years in Paris and its area (when I went there, people used to make fun of me because I would prononce "vinte" instead of "vin" (vingt) and "nôr" instead of "nar" (nord). Perhaps my pronunciation is influenced by the fact that I always read much, so when I say "patte" or "pâte", I visualize the (written) word in the same time and cannot mix them up. I've also been teached to make the "liaisons", so I say "vin-t-euros" and not "vin heuros" (20 euros), as 95% of the journalists say by now (it always makes me jump from my chair !)

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

It's the same in Russian :

"Птицеферма у нас есть,
"И другая строится.
"А колхозник яйца видит,
"Когда в бане моется.
(We got a poultry farm / And we're building still another one / But the poor "kolkhoz" worker / Eggs he sees, when he washes himself in public baths).

In Québec, they use the world "gosses" to name the same part of the body... but in France, "gosses" means "kids, children"... so you'd better be careful (Où sont tes gosses ? Bien au chaud !)

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017

My husband and I used to go to the same hair stylist / or barber, if you prefer
One day she tells me:”your husband is funny “ ? ‘He asked if he has a hole in his head....
It took both of us time to realize that he was worried that he is getting bald

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

I felt awkward one day in Portugal, I was sitting on the terrace of a café with a girl friend, and I had noticed that, in order to call the waiter, the Portuguese used to make a loud "Psshhhttt" ! So I left my right hand and, with dignity and rather proud of myself, I uttered a loud "Psshhhttt" too. My girl friend, who was from an educated family, laughed, and told be that this was a very common way to call the guy... and I'd better do it no more. But I forgot how one should say... (probably "empregado !" ?)

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<a href="/en/translator/ww-ww" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1294288">Ww Ww</a>
Joined: 03.06.2016

One I heard long ago that caused quite a stir among English speakers was a Russian - English paradox introducing a group leader and their people:
What was said when being addressed was Смелый русский хор (Brave Russian Choir), but sounded to them like Smelly Russki Whore. Had to put those who did not understand what was said at ease about that.

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017

So, he is under 50, because he still sees them?

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

I love your avatar and most succulent plants. Oh yeah, and the funny story too, one of the few stories that didn't involve a vulgarity.

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<a href="/en/translator/l%C3%ADadan" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1109697">líadan</a>
Joined: 31.03.2012
DarkJoshua skrev:

Add Venezuela too. My Venezuelan teacher was shocked when she went to Spain and heard people using "coger" all the time.

I was shocked when I heard others saying to 'coger' something for the first time, I was ready to smack my aunt for saying it (she picked up words from peoplw in her church, how ironic that I thought it meant 'f*ck' coming from a church group). We use it to say 'f*ck' and others use it to say 'pick up'.

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

Someone at the market keeps telling me about how much he loves the poetry and songs of Facundo Cabral, and it makes me nervous.

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017

Fresh off the boat, we are in the store, asking a worker where can we find some chips. Of course, our Slavic “chips” sound like “cheaps” and the guy looks at us silly telling us they are everywhere

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

Sounds like the guy wasn't trying very hard. Maybe he was stressed and busy.

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017

Oh, no, he just wasn’t brilliant Teeth smile
And by the way, we had finally found cheap chips along with queso and guacamole Regular smile

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

Cheap chips, i love it. Good thing you weren't in England. "Chips" in England are "French fries" in US.

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017

Oh, dear, in England I would ask for “no fat on my fries, please” and in France for “a lot of cheese on my french bread, пожалуйста”. Regular smile

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<a href="/en/translator/magicmulder" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1264038">magicmulder</a>
Joined: 26.10.2015

No real funny stories to share, just ordinary ones.

Not my mistake but happened to a classmate during our class trip to Rome: We went to a restaurant and he wanted his steak and his soup served at the same time. Unfortunately, he had memorized the wrong word and said "dopo" ("after") instead of "insieme" ("together") and even repeated it vividly to get his point across (his exaggerated seriousness was the funny part, he was like an adult telling a child "don't do that" - "Dopo. Very important. Dopo!").
Later he started arguing with the waiter about "wrongly carrying out his order" until I reminded him that he had used the wrong word (had he told me before what he intended, I could've corrected him right away).

My most awkward own mistake was when a classmate asked me what the English word for "brav" ("decent") was and I replied "brave". Typical false friend combined with lack of attention.

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

Reminds me that, at the time I was very unfamiliar with Russian language (I still am, but a little less...), I was trying to tell my driver about a turn on the road : I remembered the German word, "Kurwe" (and the French : courbe), so I said "после курвы" (after the whore). Success guaranteed.

Editor (Resident Evil)
<a href="/en/translator/magicmulder" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1264038">magicmulder</a>
Joined: 26.10.2015
Jadis skrev:

I remembered the German word, "Kurwe"

"Kurve". Wink smile

I have friends from Northern Germany who keep believing their knowledge of Low German helps them in the Netherlands or Belgium. I usually cringe at their attempts to converse with locals. Another restaurant story from that context: We once ordered food in Brussels where they misread the handwritten menu, believing they were ordering "gezookte salm" (which they understood as "sugared salmon" and were like "oh that sounds interesting") but got "gerookte salm" (smoked salmon) instead. And they hate smoked food.

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

You're right, it's "Kurve'. Anyway, it sounds rather alike ...

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

I like your stories. Thanks for sharing!

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

That link is cool!

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<a href="/en/translator/blacksea4ever" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1390089">BlackSea4ever</a>
Joined: 19.07.2018

я перевела "Начало приговора" как "начало предложения"
In English, sentence is a phrase or judgement [as in court] - I confused them in my translation of Waltz for Paris...

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<a href="/en/translator/breezyday" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1394713">BreezyDay</a>
Joined: 31.08.2018

Oops!

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<a href="/en/translator/zarina01" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1295512">Zarina01</a>
Joined: 13.06.2016

Which department are you originally from?

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

If over 8,000 people live there, there is nothing strange about it... Regular smile

Ἐλέῳ Θεοῦ Βασιλεὺς Ῥωμανίας
<a href="/en/translator/padim7gr" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1391611">padim7gr</a>
Joined: 01.08.2018

July 2018, Zagreb, Croatia: I was at the central square (Trg Bana Josipa Jelačića) for the welcoming event of the World Cup finalists, with my little sister. We were trying to reach a spot with a better view of the stage; before that, we had to reach a barrier and jump over it. It was fully crowded and people were pushing back, thus squeezing my sister between a person and me. There was a lot of music and noise, so I mustered up my strength and shouted "ŠTO RADITE??? OVDE JE MOJA ŠESTRA!!!" ("What are you doing??? Here is my sister!!!"). I was so desperate to speak in Serbian (see "ovde" vs "ovdje"), that I mistakenly pronounced "s" in "sestra" as "sh" (š), whereas in Croatian it is "sjestra". Because of the noise, it didn't matter; they obliged and left us some space...

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<a href="/en/translator/annabellanna" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1240490">annabellanna</a>
Joined: 27.03.2015

Something alike happened to a friend of mine telling to a Slovenian friend the way to reach somewhere...

Editor (Resident Evil)
<a href="/en/translator/magicmulder" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1264038">magicmulder</a>
Joined: 26.10.2015

You forgot to include the explanation for us non-Serbians. Wink smile

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<a href="/en/translator/alma-barroca" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1110108">Alma Barroca</a>
Joined: 05.04.2012

I honestly just came across this thread while I was checking the forums, it was quite interesting Teeth smile I have a few stories...

When I was taking English classes a long long time ago, we had to repeat what a character was saying in an audio. He was talking to someone whose name was 'Jackie'. What did I call 'Jackie' when it was my time to repeat? 'Junkie'. Surprisingly enough, most people in my class, which were around my age, understood.

The other thing happened when I was still starting to learn Italian. I was talking to a native and meant to say something else was beautiful (I should have used the 3rd person, as such). But I used the 2nd and called an Italian person I'm not even remotely close to gorgeous.

Last was some time ago. My city is always packed with tourists, and as I happened to live near the beach we kind of needed to speak at least 2 languages quite often. There was a Spanish guy on my street, I knew he didn't know where he was going. He asked me for advice on how to get to the beach (like 50m away from where we were), but I do not speak Spanish to a fluent level. I said something like 'Debes seguir a la derecha' (something like my native Portuguese 'Deve seguir direto', but he turned to his right and started walking away. I knew I said something wrong. So I asked him to follow me and showed him where the beach was.

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<a href="/en/translator/jadis" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1387945">Jadis</a>
Joined: 01.07.2018

A long time ago, I reworked a French Wikipedia article on "Ukrainian Cuisine", which had obviously been written by someone who didn't speak French very well. It stated among others :
- that to get oukha (fish soup), you first had to catch the soup (in the river?)
- that "kapustiany" (sauerkraut) were made from "déchiqueté" cabbage (shredded, but in French the word rather evokes the result of an exploding shrapnell)
- that Ukrainians used to feast on "drunk" duck (or drunk aubergines, failing that) ("stuffed" in English, but in French, « bourré » usually means "drunk")
- that "korovaï" (a sort of bread) was decorated with « bigorneaux » (periwinkles ???)
- that "rosolnik" (a kind of soup) was served with « reins » : in French, « reins » refers to people's kidneys, and « rognons » to animals' ones : perhaps political opponents' kidneys ?
- that "halushky" were "little ears that rolled triangular balls" (really?)
- that "pampushky" (doughnuts) were "thrown in the air with cinnamon sugar and filled with cloves" (a local tradition, probably)
- that "kutia" (Christmas dish) was made out of "clous de girofle, blé, écrous, miel, et délicatesses ». The English word "nut" can refer to a fruit or to metallic fastener, but in French, « écrou » is definitely a metallic fastener, and pretty indigestible. Perhaps if nothing else is available... we all remember the Great Hunger...
- that fish was often served « gelé » (frozen fish, instead of « poisson en gelée » = fish in aspic). True, hard climate there...
- shashliky (skewered meat) were grilled on skewers under white wine (how many liters?)
- to prepare "kanapky" (canapés), it was necessary to "blacken white-based canapés" (with a flame-thrower, or just a felt-tip pen?)
Of course, "kompot" (non-alcoholic beverage with fruits) had become « compote », but that's a usual mistake.

Well, anyway, that was an interesting cultural overview... Sorry for the Ukrainians (fortunately, the translation has been much improved since then).

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<a href="/en/translator/juliaarkhitektorova" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1488578">Julia_Arkhitektorova</a>
Joined: 07.02.2021
Jadis skrev:

- that to get oukha (fish soup), you first had to catch the soup (in the river?)

А я на выдумку лихой, возьму и вылезу с_ухой. Вот именно с_ухой из речки без осечки. Angel smile

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<a href="/en/translator/florbox" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1503836">florbox</a>
Joined: 11.06.2021
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<a href="/en/translator/alma-barroca" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1110108">Alma Barroca</a>
Joined: 05.04.2012

Oh, this is not one of my language goofs, but quite a widespread one: No, most Brazilian people do not speak Spanish though we're able to understand some of it and will try some Portuñol (like I did in #82) if needed.

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<a href="/en/translator/igeethecat" class="userpopupinfo username" rel="user1365086">Igeethecat</a>
Joined: 16.12.2017
Jadis skrev:

- that to get oukha (fish soup), you first had to catch the soup (in the river?)

And to make "курячий суп локшина" (chicken soup with noodles), first, you have to catch a chicken, then noodles (off your ears.. Russian insiders joke)... After that satisfaction guaranteed Wink smile

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