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"Oops, that's not what I meant!"..Language boo boos

"Oops, that's not what I meant!"..Language boo boos

Old Jun 13th, 2000, 06:07 AM
Beth Anderson
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Fun Post!!

One of my goofs (that I am aware of anyway - who knows how many goofs I have made) is:

In German class in college, oh so many years ago, we were learning parts of the car. and practicing talking about cars/transportation, etc.

as you know if you study German, they like to throw together two (or ten) seemingly unrelated words to to make a whole new word or idea...

so, I started talking about the Schweinwerfer on my car.

which means, "Pig Thrower".

I meant to say Scheinwerfer (which means Light Thrower, or rather, HEADLIGHT). look again, there is a small, subtle difference in those two words.

needless to say the teacher was very amused. (he made up a whole new word in English just for me: "the Pig-a-pult" - instead of catapult, get it?)

I have never forgotten the word for Headlight in German. Interesting how we learn things, isn't it?

maybe we should all be in a state of perpetual embarrassment, do you think that would that make us geniuses? (we would remember EVERYTHING that ever happened to us!!!)

hee hee hee

Old Jun 13th, 2000, 07:59 AM
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In high school I began dating the exchange student from Chile. I was trying to impress him with my nonexistent language skills over the telephone one night, and accidently told him that I had a spanish dictator in my bed (instead of a spanish dictionary ON my bed)! Suffice it to say, he was intrigued.
Old Jun 13th, 2000, 08:10 AM
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There are a couple of old chestnuts in this vein floating about, the first of which is that during the Marshall Plan after WW2 the US sent thousands of food parcels to Germany with the inscription "Gift from the American People" stamped on the boxes/sacks, forgetting that "Gift" in German means "poison." Way to go.

The second is a famous goof by General Motors trying to sell the Chevrolet Nova in Latin American, not recoginzing that No va (doesn't go) is not a ringing endorsement for a car.

Old Jun 13th, 2000, 06:17 PM
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A naive young thing cringing in her first bikini remarked to only French-speaking friends while enjoying a picnic on the beach and observing the pinetrees behind,"Oh, les pines sont belles!" Pinetrees are not feminine in France! The same not-so-naive Americaine, after an entire night of debachery, walks into a Patrisserie early on a Sunday morn to ask for "un douzen des cruillons!" instead of 'croissants'! Oops, indeed. But we live and learn...just hope the Nuns survived.

Old Jun 13th, 2000, 11:29 PM
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In Russian, the word for "buy" is pokupots, the word "to bathe" is pokupotsya -- you figure it out, and don't depend on the person behind the counter. And anyone, regardless of sex, might doosh; unlike the more common French/English meaning for douche, it means "to shower".
Old Jun 14th, 2000, 08:31 AM
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Here what happened to me when I stayed with a U.S. family, being a foreign exchange student:

I was undergoing a medical treatment at that time and had to take pills every day.
That one day my hosts had a party and had all those important-looking friends of theirs having fun and socializing around the house. One of them knew that I was supposed to undergo some medical treatment, so she asked me how it was going. To that I said: "I am on the pill," which made her stare at me for the rest of the evening.
Who knew that the right way to put it was simply to say "I am taking pills"...
Old Jun 14th, 2000, 09:09 AM
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These are great! I just reread and caught Lindi's about "to your health" in Hungarian. When my magyar friends taught me that salutation they were very VERY careful to make sure I knew the difference
Old Jun 21st, 2000, 04:37 PM
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My first trip abroad was to Spain with a group from my college. While in Sevilla, we visited a little church and participated in the Sunday service. My friend Millie was giving a talk about how God gives us strength and we need not fear. Unfortunately, she said, "No tengo mierda," instead of "No tengo miedo." The whole congregation got a good laugh out of that fact that she didn't have shit.
Old Jun 21st, 2000, 05:49 PM
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Thank you everyone, for the laughter.
Old Jun 21st, 2000, 08:00 PM
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This is not my story, but I just heard it recently from our hostess aboard the barge in France (keep in mind that this woman now runs a business in the french language!)

When Diana and her husband were sailing around the world, after crossing the Pacific, they would soon arrive in Tahiti. For many days prior she practiced a brief greeting in French to use with the customs agent. Over and over she practiced, "Je regrette que je ne parle pas francais. Je suis Americaine." ("I'm sorry that I don't speak French. I'm American"). When she arrived at the customs office, though, she panicked, and what came out was "Je regrette que je suis Americaine" ("I'm sorry I'm American"). The customs officer smiled, and in perfect Engish replied, "Well, we cannot all be French!"

Incidentally, I'm still in ignorant bliss of whatever bloopers I may have committed on my last trip!
Old Jun 21st, 2000, 09:13 PM
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On my first visit to Germany, and speaking only high school German at the time, I took a young lady out to dinner one evening. The waiter gave us a table in a high traffic area, and, wanting a bit more privacy, I suggested to my compaion that we shift to a table in the corner. Unfortunately I came out with ' shall we change our clothes in the corner? ('wollen wir uns in der Ecke umziehen?') when I meant 'shall we change to the corner?' (wollen wir in die Ecke umziehen?').

I'm sorry to have to tell Cindy that there is no word 'Brost' in German, but there is 'Brust' and plenty of it.
Old Jul 14th, 2000, 01:05 PM
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To the top for Nancy
Old Jul 14th, 2000, 01:42 PM
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Thank you Elzabeth!!
And also Dawn and Lesli, who also helped.
A great b-day present for my dad!!
Old Jul 18th, 2000, 10:51 AM
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This is a GREAT thread!
Our English friend staying with a French family had this story: the family was discussing the large back-side of an aquaintance. The Englishman said that he was sad because he had no back-side. Apparently, the slang for rear-end is plural in French, but he used the singular. So basically, he actually said he was sad because he had only one buttock. The French family is still laughing about that!
Old Jul 18th, 2000, 11:49 AM
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Put this on the wrong thread.
An almost embarissing experiance in Germany after I'd been there 3 or 4 months. I was at the public swimming pool and met a nice young english lady. We conversed and hung out for the afternoon and made a date for the evening. As I was departing she said "Knock me up at eight"!! Fortunatly some one clarified it for me before I left to pick her up!!!

Old Jul 18th, 2000, 02:39 PM
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thanks to Dawn, I was able to print this out for my dad on his 74th.
Now i want to add something that I read in a book.
The author was in France, staying with a host family.
The mother asked her if she would like more to eat.
Trying to impress them with her school French,
She thanked her and said she was "pleine" (? if I spelled it correctly), meaning she was full.
Apparently in French, the word "pleine"
is used only with pregnant women and female cows in need of milking.
I love these language boo-boos.
I can't wait til next year, when I can make some of my own (which I am sure to do)
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 04:01 AM
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hey !! lol thanks for the best laugh i've had in a long time.
lats yr in norway on a ferry from lofoten back to the mainland , the capt welcomed us on board and appoligised for the weather being " overcoated " maybe he meant "over cast "
also on the trains the conductor keep telling us we were waiting for a 'meeting"train, thankfully the train always passed by.
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 09:05 AM
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This is a long story and the punchline isn't that great, but I had an experience that might work for this post:

A few years ago, I spent several weeks in Bulgaria doing a project for the Bulgarian/American Enterprise Fund. The first week or so was spent, by the state department's design, soaking up the culture and trying to understand the people, as well as getting acclimated to the habits, pace of life, food, etc. I was sent to Varna (a city on the Black Sea) for a long weekend and was housed in a seafront resort a few miles outside of town. I was itching to get to work after a day or so and asked someone at the front desk about a cab into town. "Don't take a taxi," I was told. "They overcharge Americans.Instead, go to the bus stop a few blocks away and take No. 43. It will drop you off right at the train station (in the center of Varna)." When I arrived at the bus station I realized that all the numbers where in Cryllic and I couldn't tell a 43 from a 443. I approached a bus and asked the driver, in broken Bulgarian, if he spoke English. No, he said. I know a little bit of German and so I said "Sprechen Sie Deutsch" or something like that and he nodded. I thought about how I would ask him if this were the bus to the train station and remembered the word for it. "Hauptbonhauf?" I asked while pulling a thick wad of Bulgarian Lev out of my pocket so I could pay the bus fare (I had just cashed an American Express traveler's check for $100 and received a two inch thick stack of Bulgarian currency). The bus driver got up, pulled me into the bus and said "sit, sit, sit." We took off towards town and I watched in horror as we appoached bus stop after bus stop. The Bulgarian commuters would stand up, step toward the curb and then watch us whisk by like a scene from the movie "Speed." I realized then that I had just rented an entire bus. When we arrived at the train station the bus driver insisted on manuevering his way up the circular driver, an area reserved for taxis. He turned, a big smile on his face, and announced proudly "Hauptbonhaus" I handed him a stack of money (probably $20 bucks--the monthly salary of some Bulgarians at that time) and slunk off the bus. I took a cab back to the hotel that night.
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 03:19 PM
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This is topped for Luigi,
But also for Jwagner, the last poster.
I think your story fits this thread quite nicely.
What a ride!!
Old Jul 20th, 2000, 05:42 PM
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I once reduced my Italian ex-husband AND the waiter to tears of laughter at a restaurant in Rome when I tried to order one of my favorite appetizers, prosciutto with figs. Instead of the correct masculine "fichi", I used the feminine form (fiche), which is a rather rude term for female private parts.

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