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Old 28-10-2015, 10:01   #16
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

Years ago while I was living and working in Puerto Rico and trying to learn Spanish on the fly. The staff in my office spoke English but the warehousemen didn't. One asked me what I was going to do that weekend. I carefully formulated a literal translation and told him I had "un compromiso caliente" a "hot date".

Xavier ran into the office and spoke to my secretary. She pulled me to the side and explained. We then spent the next hour trying to figure out who else I had told that day and whether it was she or I who was going to call them to clarify.
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Old 28-10-2015, 10:03   #17
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

I sail a lot in Italy. Usually various friends, often ladies aboard. Onboard language is Italian.

I always have a problem when navigating when talking about "leeway" which in Italian is "Scarroccio" but the first word that comes to my mind when discussing our leeway is "scorreggio" which means FART ! I have made the mistake so many times that they now know what I really mean.
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Old 28-10-2015, 10:42   #18
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

First time in St. Barths 30 years ago, on charter, on Sunday morning - desperately trying to find some bags of ice before we took off. Trying to recall my high school French, I asked every local I saw: 'Je voudrais vendre un eglise.' which I thought meant 'I would like to buy some ice.'


It actually meant: 'I would like to sell a church.' Puzzled looks. No ice.
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Old 28-10-2015, 11:34   #19
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

This is (fortunately) a second-hand story.

A well-established American lawyer attending a Japanese law school (so he was quite good at Japanese) was invited to dinner by one of his professors. A very unusual and much valued event in Japanese culture. Before dinner, the professor had his young daughter give a short recital on her flute. At the end of the music the American attempted to compliment the daughter on her fine flute playing. Turns out there is a subtle difference between the word for flute and the word for something rather vulgar. Daughter was embarrassed, professor was not impressed, dinner was awkward, as was the lawyers remaining term at school.
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Old 28-10-2015, 11:55   #20
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

Travelling around Holland many years ago with barely a word of the language, but a friend with me was reasonably fluent - he'd lived with a Dutch girl for several years - so to save me any embarrasment he taught me the phrase 'Spigten, ich bin Ingles halafa zolle' (phonetically) to use in response to anyone who spoke to me, assuring me that it meant "Sorry, I am English and speak only that".

I used it regularly for four days before a local finally took pity on me and advised that I was actually saying: "Sorry, I am an English halfwit."
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Old 28-10-2015, 12:14   #21
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

caliente, rooting, Quantos anos tiene ? All Greek to me!
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Old 28-10-2015, 13:08   #22
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

We were touring a tiny winery in Burgundy during a canal boat trip, and a delightful younger fellow invited us down into the cellars (actual cellars below the old church). While down in these ancient (to me) caverns tasting his wines he indicated he and his siblings pretty much ran the winery now (Bersan et Fils). So I asked in my rusty French if he was the fille (girl) of the family. When he looked at me oddly, I repeated it. Twice, in case my accent was the problem. My partner in crime was also looking at me but she was trying not to burst out laughing and eventually let me off the hook by correcting me.

I think I bought a few extra bottles to make up for it...
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Old 28-10-2015, 13:17   #23
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

Oh dear, I have enough trouble just with english. I have a slight southern accent sometimes. Sort of like Pennsylvania dutch meets Gomer Pyle" Mom was from upstate New York and Dad was from backwoods Georgia. Ah gots the best of both worlds there, ya ya ya.

So when I'm at the hardware store and the helpful fellow asks me what I'm looking for I said I'm looking for a bolt. Alas in southern english bolt sounds an awful lot like boat. As in "Awwmm look'n four a boat". So many folks just don't understand southern english, least wise in California. Huh.

I'm pretty good with spanglish too, but lets not go there. So not pretty.
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Old 28-10-2015, 13:28   #24
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

"Caliente" I don't know about elsewhere, but in Puerto Rico it literally means "hot (as in temperature) in real life, however, it means sexual. I was telling everyone I had a sexual date that night.
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Old 28-10-2015, 20:30   #25
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobnlesley View Post
Travelling around Holland many years ago with barely a word of the language, but a friend with me was reasonably fluent - he'd lived with a Dutch girl for several years - so to save me any embarrasment he taught me the phrase 'Spigten, ich bin Ingles halafa zolle' (phonetically) to use in response to anyone who spoke to me, assuring me that it meant "Sorry, I am English and speak only that".

I used it regularly for four days before a local finally took pity on me and advised that I was actually saying: "Sorry, I am an English halfwit."
Funny. Are you still friends with him?
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Old 28-10-2015, 20:44   #26
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

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Oh dear, I have enough trouble just with english. I have a slight southern accent sometimes. Sort of like Pennsylvania dutch meets Gomer Pyle" Mom was from upstate New York and Dad was from backwoods Georgia. Ah gots the best of both worlds there, ya ya ya.

So when I'm at the hardware store and the helpful fellow asks me what I'm looking for I said I'm looking for a bolt. Alas in southern english bolt sounds an awful lot like boat. As in "Awwmm look'n four a boat". So many folks just don't understand southern english, least wise in California. Huh.

I'm pretty good with spanglish too, but lets not go there. So not pretty.
As you know, I'm also a southern boy with just a bit of an accent (at least compared to most of my cousins) but very good at understanding most of the various southern vernaculars. My wife on the other hand is from Florida and does not relate.

So years back we were living in a small town in north GA and she had a flat tire. Tire was destroyed so she drove to the local gas station and asked if she could buy one there..

The gentleman running the station replied something like "Naw, we don't sel'em hyer, you got to go down thar to the tar store" My wife thinking he's referring to a type of asphalt related product asked back "You mean they sell tires at a tar store?" Not sure if the guy thought she was poking fun at him or just kind of dim.
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Old 28-10-2015, 20:59   #27
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

So years back I'm living/working in S. Korea and fairly soon acquire a "Pillow Dictionary" - you know, a rather delightful young lady. (Ahem.) And we arranged to meet for dinner one eve.

In Korean, (phonetically), the word for sweetheart (or something like that) is "chagi" and the word for penis is "charggi".

Guess which word I happily blurted out across the restaurant foyer when she arrived?
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Old 29-10-2015, 05:48   #28
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

You guys did not disappoint!

Awesome stories!!!

Keep it up!
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Old 29-10-2015, 05:54   #29
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

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Originally Posted by sailorchic34 View Post
Oh dear, I have enough trouble just with english. I have a slight southern accent sometimes. Sort of like Pennsylvania dutch meets Gomer Pyle" Mom was from upstate New York and Dad was from backwoods Georgia. Ah gots the best of both worlds there, ya ya ya.
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As you know, I'm also a southern boy with just a bit of an accent (at least compared to most of my cousins) but very good at understanding most of the various southern vernaculars. My wife on the other hand is from Florida and does not relate.
I should have signed up for the crash course with your two... It took me better than a year to understand 50% of what I heard after moving to MS from CA...

Once in a great while, I still turn my head towards my girl which silently means "translation please"

I find traveling to NC the absolute hardest to decipher!
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Old 29-10-2015, 05:58   #30
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Re: Oooops! I said that??? What's your biggest foreign language Faux Pas?

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I should have signed up for the crash course with your two... It took me better than a year to understand 50% of what I heard after moving to MS from CA...

Once in a great while, I still turn my head towards my girl which silently means "translation please"

I find traveling to NC the absolute hardest to decipher!
Sounds like there might be a job opportunity here; offer language and translation services to new immigrants to the south from other parts of the US.
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