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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Fun with Foreign Languages

I love foreign language. Its a fun game for my brain. Thing is when I play games, I play for fun. So here's some fun that's happened whilst I've studied and made an ass out of myself in several languages.

1. Today in Spanish we sang and translated the lyrics to La Cucaracha
La cucaracha, la cucaracha
Ya no puede caminar
Porque no tiene, porque le falta
Marihuana que fumar.

The cockroach, the cockroach
Can't walk anymore
Because it doesn't have, because it's lacking
Marijuana to smoke


2. In Chile when I first began studying Spanish, we were given a worksheet for homework. Each number gave a noun and a verb. Your job was to take them and make a sentence. Number 19 said, colon, descubrir. Meaning, Columbus, discover.
Having never heard Christopher Columbus referred to by his ACTUal name, I looked up the uncapitalized colon. It said colon.

My response to the question:
Si tu buscas el colon, una doctora descubre el bajo de estomago.
If you look for the colon, a doctor discovers it below the stomach.

Of course I was called on to read my response to Number 19. It was met by many confused looks and my beat red face.

3. In high school German class, we were often assigned to work in groups and write dialogs that we then performed in front of the class. On this particular occasion, we were to write a dialog about school supplies and the beginning of school. My group wrote a rivoting dialog where the main character's life hung in the balance. What could save this dashing gentleman you might ask? An eraser. The word for this was Radiergummi. We, for some reason, thought for certain we'd heard a shortened version as the correct translation: Gummi.

Our performance began. The class sat on the edge of their seats. When we gave the final line "Hier ist eine Gummi!" Our teacher turned a wine color and glared at us.

Frau Wolf "You know!"
Us- looking around "Huh?"

Gummi is slang for condom. Like Rubber.
Our hero had his solution, but explaining ourselves was more complicated.

Have foreign language fau paux to share? Please comment!

1 comment:

heather c. said...

Ahh, so many.
A notable one while living in Morocco was when I, in a rarified mix of classical Arabic, Darija, and maybe a little French, proceeded to call myself and my twelve teenage girl charges, "women," a simple mistake. Except that in Morocco (Arabic in general), "women" is used only for married women. So the village ladies heard me call myself my students prostitutes. And considering some of our cultural difference, maybe that was appropriate.

Another was when Dad and I were visiting Japan. He was lecturing at some of the Universities in Tokyo with some of his fellows who had lived in Colorado while I was growing up. My dad was supposed to give a lecture one afternoon when another doctor came up and said (and yes, I am probably going to hell for this), "I'm vely solly Dr. Lodman, but the director cannot come to your recture. He is currently attending to the erection of a new committee chairman."