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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 Jan 6th, 2003, 05:08 PM
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A friend told me that on their honeymoon, their first night in Paris, her husband took her to a romantic restaurant...candlelight, wine, wonderful food. You get the picture. When the waiter asked them toward the end of the meal (in French) if everything had been to their satisfaction, she looked up at him with starry eyes and said "Oui, je t'aime". The surprised look on his face and her husband laughing made her realize that she had just told the waiter that she loved him (not that she had enjoyed her dinner).
Old Jan 22nd, 2003, 09:04 PM
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I love cheese...my husband loved a brie type cheese with a layer of walnuts offered to us on an Air France flight to one of our trips to Paris. Day after day whenever we would see a Fromagerie we would enter, look and ask for a "Fromage du noir". We would get strange looks and it seemed no one had a cheese with nuts. After three days of this I looked up "nut" and foun that ,we had been asking for "cheese of the night".
During a french exam, the professer looked over my shoulder to observe my translation. Noticing the scent of his cologne, I told him ""Il sente beaucoup."He cracked up and disturbed the class. i meant to tell him he smelled good, not a lot. To top it off, he told the class why he had cracked up. I could have died.
Old Jan 23rd, 2003, 08:31 AM
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A few years my daughter was attending trhe Sorbonne, and after a feww glasses of vin, I ordered a sorbonne instead of a sorbet.

My daughter also insists I orederd an umbrella at another resturant, though I have no recollection of this.
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 08:58 AM
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I was describing my cute French tutor to my Quebec colleagues and used a phrase I'd learned in France: "beau gosse" (which means "cute/beautiful kid"). Apparently, in Quebec this means "nice package" (only much ruder). In the dubbed version of Ally McBeal I was watching in France, Ally repeatedly called the cute, singing young man who joined the show "nice package" (and she was not talking about his voice or his clothes).
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 09:14 AM
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Emily, "cheese of the night" would be "fromage de la nuit." What you ordered was the "cheese of the black man."
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 10:25 AM
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A Quebec friend of mine had her cousin visit for a couple of months so she could learn English. I invited her to dinner without her cousin (who speaks very good english) and she wanted to impress me with how much she had learned. The first thing she did was order a salad with the dressing "outside" (instead of on-the-side).
But the most histerical time was when she and a neighbor of mine and I went drinking one night. My neighbor knows a little french but comes across like he know a whole lot more. Well, at about 1:00am and with a good buzz on by all, my neighbor begins bouncing a wadded up napkin on the back of his hand. [At this point I must tell you that the french word for "seal" (the animal) is "phoque" and pronounced very similar to "f---"]. Watching him bounce the napkin on the back of his hand she states "You are a good phoque". My neighbors face turns white and noticing the shock on his face she continues "Sorry, you are not a good phoque". I still laugh thinking about that night.
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 11:04 AM
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My mother and I were driving from Paris to Normandy. We were hellishly lost in Caen and stopped at a gas station to get directions. I got stuck in the car (it was small) as I had parked too close to one of the gas tanks. Mom got out with her french translation book and went into the gas station. I had pointed her to the page that said, "I need directions to___" but somehow as she was getting out of the car, the page had flipped and she went into the gas station and all flustered said, in french (thinking she was saying, "I need directions to___") "I have to go to the bathroom!" and she said that phrase over and over in French and the two gas station attendent men just smiled at her and shook their heads. Finally, I came in, saw what had happened, and corrected the mistake. But, she and I laughed about it the entire way to Normandy!!! It was too funny!!
Old Jan 24th, 2003, 01:04 PM
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I love this post and am glad to see it back.

On our first trip to italy, after checking in at a hotel ,
I told them at the desk that
"in due giorni, mia cucina arrivata "
I got the strangest looks each time I mentioned it.

Finally after trying to figure the WHY of the odd looks,
I realized I was telling them that
"In two days my kitchen is arriving"

I used the word for Kitchen/ cucina instead of the word for Cousin/ cugina.

I went over to the desk
and told the gentleman
(in my beginner's italian)
that I had made a mistake
using the wrong word,
and what I had meant to say.

He looked at me, smiled and said
"Yes, we know you did"
(made a mistake)

We laughed each time we ran into each other for the rest of our stay.
Old Jun 14th, 2003, 02:18 PM
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I am from Russia, came to USA with very basic English and 8years wasted on Deutch. At one of a mexican cafe I asked waitress for a strip. My american friend was a little bit shocked , but waitress was not. She said OK and went somewhere.
Later we understood that she was mexican, and knew English not much better then me.
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 11:27 PM
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The only thing that comes to mind now is "fried crap" on the menu at a restaurant in Bangkok. I know I have more stories, I just need to pick my brain a bit...
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Old Jun 14th, 2003, 11:32 PM
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Maybe someone actually said it at some time, but some Norwegians like to joke around with English speakers and say "I like to rape after a meal." ("rape" means to burp)

Oh those Vikings...
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Old Jun 15th, 2003, 08:15 AM
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This is so funny!
I first went to France when I was 16, in a school exchange. The family I was to live with went to meet me and explained that we were going to granny's, who baked the most delicious "gateau" (cake). Unfortunately, it sounds like "gato" (cat, in Spanish), so I was terrified I was going to live with a family of cat-eaters.

A few years after that, I met an Argentinian boy, whom I introduced my friend Concha... and he looked at me in the most strange way. Later, I learnt that Concha, which is quite a usual name in Spain, is a very rude way to refer to feminine genitals in Argentina.

Linda: "Embarazada" is not colloquial at all; it's the proper way of saying "pregnant" in Spanish.

Hunkster: In Spain, you can ask for huevos in any shop. They are colloquial for testicles, but there won't be any misunderstanding. We do ask for them
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Old Jun 15th, 2003, 11:24 AM
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I went to the UK to see the sights and visit a friend. While dining in a restaraunt in Manchester we both said the same thing at the same time.

I remarked how we were seeing eye to eye and I held up my two fingers and went from my eyes to his eyes with this gesture. My friend got beet red and I realized what I had done- I gave him the equivalent of the middle finger. He said you do realize what you just did right?

Talk about being mortified! I should have known better, even though it was funny there was definitely an uncomfortable moment of silence!

What an idiot!
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Old Jun 15th, 2003, 12:50 PM
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Just back from ten (wonderful!) days in France and made this delightful mistake. While in Bordeaux we had a popular aperitif, Lillet. Upon our return to Paris, at our favorite brasserie, I ordered, in my high school French, three Lillet. The waiter seemed confused/amused, which I attributed to my poor pronunciation. Upon his return he served us with three glasses of milk (le lait)! As you can guess, he took them away and, in good cheer, brought us three Kronenburgs.
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Old Jun 16th, 2003, 12:56 AM
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These are so funny..nice to have a laugh early in the morning
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Old Jun 16th, 2003, 08:31 AM
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It happened in my native country of Kazakhstan. I was working as interpreter for some American doctors who came to read lectures. I never thought that American English is different from British English (this happened somewhere at the beginning of my career as an interpreter). So, we were in a conference hall of the hospital when one of the doctors said that she would like to use a bathroom. I thought that bathroom is for taking a bath. I told the personnel of the hospital that this lady wants to take a bath. It caused confusion and a little bit of panic. There were no bath tubs on the ground floor where the conference room was. Those that were on the first floor were not in good shape (don't forget this was in Kazakhstan- part of previous USSR). The only good bath tub was on the second floor. I told this doctor that the bathroom is on the second floor. She was surprized and asked whether there is any bathroom anywhere else. I told her "NO". The local nurses rushed to the bathroom on the second floor to prepare it for this doctor. When we came there, they were waiting with a towel. The doctor went to the bathroom and came out pretty soon. Local personnel was relieved that she changed her mind and did not take a bath.
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Old Jun 16th, 2003, 08:34 AM
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Here are mine, English and Spanish bloopers.

English is my first language so there is no excuse but...

I had gotten a new job with a new company and big, big pay raise. The gentleman I was replacing was named Dan, the VP was named Dick. One day I consulted the VP Dick about something and went to relay the message to Dan.

Very loudly I said, "Hey Dick, Dan says"

I meant to say "Hey Dan, Dick says"

Dan wasn't too forgiving.

With Spanish here are two stories:

1.I went to a Methodist church service in Chichicastenango Guatemala. My father is a Methodist minister and I thought it would be nice to see a non-Catholic service. They were so welcoming at the church. Everyone rushed to share their bible and himnal.
And, of course, wanted to talk to me after the service. I tried explaining that my father was a Methodist minister but most of the words in Spanish for minister carry the concept of a Catholic Priest. I tried ministro de la iglesia metodista, sacerdote, cura etc... They were horrified thinking I was fathered by a Catholic priest in violation of his vows.

2.Tortillera in Central America is the person who makes and sells tortillas. I was translating for a visiting businessman from Spain and he asked me where I learned Spanish. I mentioned the tortillera and he gave me a funny look. Turns out tortillera is the word, or sounds like the word, for Lesbian in Spain. And I kept telling him how we couldn't wait for the Lesbian to deliver the tortillas everyday for lunch.

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Old Jun 16th, 2003, 09:02 AM
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Policywonk: I didnt realise that sticking up two fingers was not perceived the same in USA - I have learnt something... So if I get annoyed with someone in US, I'll just 'flip the bird'!

Must tell you about this one (fellow UK fodorites will find this funny!). My partner went to use the bathroom in Commander's Palace, New Orleans - a lovely upscale restaurant. He came out of there shaking with laughter. I asked him what was funny. He told me there was an advertisement on the wall in the Gents, which stated that Commander's Palace served food "seasoned with spunk!" Oh my! this is so rude, I can't translate unless you really want me to! Needless to say, we were pleased we hadnt seen the advert before eating - it would have put us off! amp;
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 04:28 PM
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Awesome thread!! Sure made for many good laughs

I have only one goof in English that I can think of - I was talking to the Kiwi guy that my family hosted for a year, and at one point I said that "with this device the sound is muffed", to which he chuckled and said I'd be better off saying "muffled". He told me he had made the same mistake once, apparently "muffed" has some kind of reference to the female genitalia, though I can't remember the exact meaning.

My mum however made a really funny goof once, we still laugh about it to this day. She was talking to the French consul in Venice (she is the German consul) in French, and when the consul asked her what the family plans were for the winter holidays, my mum said "On va chier" ("We are going to take a sh*t") instead of "On va skier" ("We are going skiing"). In Italian, "to ski" is "sciare", and the "sc" sound is identical to the "ch" in French. Mind you, she speaks good French, so that made it even funnier!
Luckily, the French consul politely made her realize what she just said and they both just laughed about it
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Old Jun 17th, 2003, 05:22 PM
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With a runny nose and down to my last tissue, I headed into a pharmacy in Sevilla to get more but I couldn't recall the word for tissue. Holding up my last tissue, I asked [in Spanish] "What do you call these?". The clerk very slowly and distinctly replied "KLEENEX'.
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