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Old 22nd December 2008, 03:58 AM   #1
Keira
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Default Any funny story about language misunderstandings when learning Spanish? (or English)

I was just thinking of some embarrashing stories than happened to me when I first arrive to Scotland... I just wanted to share them

The first ones are typical Spanish... I asked to my landlady for "shits" for my bed, I used to say that I lived in Alicante where there are very nice "bitches", of course I meant "beaches" (the last one in front of all my second hostfamily, a very religious one and with little children). I said: Jesus! When my teacher sneezed... Probably there are more funny stories that I can't remember at this moment...

To me the most hilarious one occurred when taking the speaking Cambridge exam with my Italian classmate. He told to the examiner: "I don't want you to piss me off". Then I kicked him but he didn't realise... Having finished the exam he told me what he meant was: "I wouldn't like to bother you" (I'm not sure wether this phrase is correct or not). The thing is... Obviously we didn't pass the exam. My partner was so nervous that spoke all the time without stopping and at random so that I spent the time trying to interrupt in order to have any chance...

Probably you have already seen that video: "The Italian man who went to Malta", really funny! :

http://es.youtube.com/watch?v=1nOC8xMjHZw

Any story else?
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Old 22nd December 2008, 11:07 AM   #2
Juanjo
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Originally Posted by Keira View Post
I was just thinking of some embarrashing stories than happened to me when I first arrive to Scotland... I just wanted to share them

The first ones are typical Spanish... I asked to my landlady for "shits" for my bed, I used to say that I lived in Alicante where there are very nice "bitches", of course I meant "beaches" (the last one in front of all my second hostfamily, a very religious one and with little children). I said: Jesus! When my teacher sneezed... Probably there are more funny stories that I can't remember at this moment...

To me the most hilarious one occurred when taking the speaking Cambridge exam with my Italian classmate. He told to the examiner: "I don't want you to piss me off". Then I kicked him but he didn't realise... Having finished the exam he told me what he meant was: "I wouldn't like to bother you" (I'm not sure wether this phrase is correct or not). The thing is... Obviously we didn't pass the exam. My partner was so nervous that spoke all the time without stopping and at random so that I spent the time trying to interrupt in order to have any chance...

Probably you have already seen that video: "The Italian man who went to Malta", really funny! :

Any story else?
On a tapas crawl in Madrid when I was first learning "la lengua de Cervantes" I ordered coños for my friends instead of cañas!
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Old 24th December 2008, 03:58 PM   #3
jonnie2005
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Default confusing phrase

I laid on the bitch, boy it was nasty. I had a choice where to go and I chose witch. After I was being treated real bad I said kiss ass (quisas) I shouldn't have come to witch bitch this is afterall.
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Old 24th December 2008, 05:47 PM   #4
ruxpin
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Exclamation Oooops....!

Hi Keira.....

Speaking of embarrassing moments with English/Spanish reminds me of an incident when I was staying in Spain for a holiday. Friends we know who live in Spain where we were holidaying had just finished installing a wooden handrail along the staircase in their property. I volunteered to go to the big local DIY store to purchase a tin of varnish to finish the job. An opportunity to practice my Spanish I thought. Looking through my dictionary I wrote down the Spanish word for "Varnish". I remember thinking that is a very long word for varnish, but in my haste I thought well sometimes it is like that. For example "too" in Spanish is "demasiado" and "Breakfast time" is "La hora del desayuno" so off I went pleased I had the opportunity to practice my Spanish in the real world. I arrived at the store and started a conversation with a very nice store assistant who could speak a more than a little English. I asked for the tin of varnish. She doubled up with laughter and said that is not varnish.... What is it I asked? She explained she did not know the word in English and when she had managed to control herself she took me to the appropriate shelf where tins of varnish and wood stain of every type could be seen. Got my varnish and returned to the apartment to look up my error. This time I put my glasses on to read the dictionary and could see my mistake at once. I had looked up the word for "Disappear"....VANISH.
Yes I asked for a tin of disappear.....

Last edited by ruxpin; 24th December 2008 at 06:09 PM. Reason: typo
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Old 24th December 2008, 06:04 PM   #5
Petrichor
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Hi Keira,

We all have to go through the ordeal of making embarrassing mistakes while learning a new language. But they are very funny when one reads about them . I think you will enjoy reading this page.
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Old 24th December 2008, 08:20 PM   #6
Alison30
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Whilst on a day out in York with my Spanish intercambio a couple of summers ago I said 'estoy caliente'...she choked on the water she was drinking at the time and when I asked her why she was laughing she said that if she was a man she would have been very happy I won't forget that it is 'tengo calor' for I'm a bit warm in future!!
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Old 27th December 2008, 08:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keira View Post
I was just thinking of some embarrashing stories than happened to me when I first arrive to Scotland... I just wanted to share them

The first ones are typical Spanish... I asked to my landlady for "shits" for my bed
This reminds me of Spud having had a little 'accident' in Trainspotting...

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Old 16th October 2009, 10:16 AM   #8
duncan_m
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Originally Posted by cisscou View Post
These story is very funny.
Thanks for the post.
I'm laughing.
Hello? Spammer?

Duncan.
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Old 19th October 2009, 07:05 PM   #9
mblanc22
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Default Spanish marketing blunder!

When Parker Pen marketed a ball-point pen in Mexico, its ads were supposed to have read, It won’t leak in your pocket and embarrass you. The company thought that the word “embarazar” meant “to embarrass” (which it didn’t) so the ad actually read It won’t leak in your pocket and make you pregnant.
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Old 19th October 2009, 07:40 PM   #10
Garry Knight
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My story isn't that funny, but I thought I'd share it as a cautionary tale for everyone learning Spanish.

Walking through one of London's parks, I was asked for directions by two ladies of about the same age as me. After giving them directions, I asked them where they were from and they said, "Spain". "Aha!", I thought, time for some practice. "Sí, sí, Les muestro" ("I'll show you"), I said, and walked along with them as I was heading in that direction anyway.

As we were chatting in Spanish, I noticed that one of the women, the one who was doing most of the talking, seemed to be getting more and more stand-offish, and I wondered if I might be making more errors in my Spanish than I'd thought. She kept reverting to speaking halting English, so I wondered if perhaps she might prefer to get in some practice, just as I was.

A short while later, I got a barely muttered "Adios" as we parted company. It was only on thinking about it afterwards, when I was no longer feeling the pressure of wanting to be understood, that I realised the mistake I'd been making.

The ladies might have been around my age, and I might have been eager to show how friendly we English can be, but I should have remembered - you don't address people you don't know - and especially visiting tourists - as "tu"! At least, not without the permission of a "Puede tutearme".

Oh, well, I haven't made that mistake since.
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Old 22nd October 2009, 11:15 AM   #11
elsenorbw
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Not one of mine.. but my spanish boss who is learning english recently started an email..

Hi Gays...
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Old 22nd October 2009, 11:51 AM   #12
patch
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Originally Posted by Garry Knight View Post
My story isn't that funny, but I thought I'd share it as a cautionary tale for everyone learning Spanish.

Walking through one of London's parks, I was asked for directions by two ladies of about the same age as me. After giving them directions, I asked them where they were from and they said, "Spain". "Aha!", I thought, time for some practice. "Sí, sí, Les muestro" ("I'll show you"), I said, and walked along with them as I was heading in that direction anyway.

As we were chatting in Spanish, I noticed that one of the women, the one who was doing most of the talking, seemed to be getting more and more stand-offish, and I wondered if I might be making more errors in my Spanish than I'd thought. She kept reverting to speaking halting English, so I wondered if perhaps she might prefer to get in some practice, just as I was.

A short while later, I got a barely muttered "Adios" as we parted company. It was only on thinking about it afterwards, when I was no longer feeling the pressure of wanting to be understood, that I realised the mistake I'd been making.

The ladies might have been around my age, and I might have been eager to show how friendly we English can be, but I should have remembered - you don't address people you don't know - and especially visiting tourists - as "tu"! At least, not without the permission of a "Puede tutearme".

Oh, well, I haven't made that mistake since.
Surely not, Garry That would surprise really me! My Spanish teacher (a 65 year old woman from Madrid) once told me not to worry about using Usted. "I don't like to be addressed as Usted because it makes me feel old!"

Okay I'm no expert but...from an Englishman who is obviously practising his Spanish?

Now I'm worried......
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Old 22nd October 2009, 01:01 PM   #13
richardksa
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The scene: Lunch, just yesterday. The waiter is bringing our coffees; Café con leche for me, Café con hielo for her. He wanted to know which was for who. Normally my friend would have said, "Con hielo para mi y el con leche para el señor. This time I got in first.
"Con leche para me", I said, "y el con hielo para la señora".
My friend is not yet thirty - and unmarried!
"I cannot believe you called me "Señora", she cried.
"But I thought that was the polite thing", I protested.
"You called me Señora", she repeated, he voice demonstrating displeasure.
"B b but ...."
"I am going to tell everyone you called me Señora. They won't believe it!"
Luckily she was smiling. Phew!
Be careful guys.

Last edited by richardksa; 22nd October 2009 at 11:37 PM.
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Old 22nd October 2009, 10:12 PM   #14
Garry Knight
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Originally Posted by patch View Post
My Spanish teacher (a 65 year old woman from Madrid) once told me not to worry about using Usted. "I don't like to be addressed as Usted because it makes me feel old!"
These ladies were about 10 years younger than that, in their mid-fifties. That's when your old enough to feel that you deserve to have respect because of your age but not so old that getting that respect makes you feel old.
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Old 22nd October 2009, 10:12 PM   #15
Garry Knight
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"Con lache para me", I said
That'll be from "lachear", to chat up, I suppose...
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Old 22nd October 2009, 11:39 PM   #16
richardksa
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That'll be from "lachear", to chat up, I suppose...
Errant fingers. It's corrected now, thanks. And I learned a new word, so thanks again.
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