Living in a country with a different language to my own, I am sure that I have made many horrendous verbal errors. Unfortunately, speaking another language is like entering a minefield – you never know when you’re going to put your foot well and truly in the wrong place. Here are some hints to help you put when travelling.
You’re in Spain and you want to say you’re embarrassed. Ladies, do not say "Estoy embarazada." That means you’re pregnant. Fortunately I found this one out early enough to avoid the error.
Photo Credit: TeeRish
Still in Spain, if you’re feeling a bit on the warm side, the correct way to express it is "Tengo calor," and not "Estoy caliente" … or you will be expressing your desire to have a very close encounter with another person.
Photo Credit: ykyk&tara
Heading north to Sweden, do not be perturbed if, when travelling on the motorway, you see a sign saying Fartkontroll. It is telling you to reduce your speed, not your intestinal emissions. Fart also means ‘Good luck’ in Polish. The potential for confusion at weddings between English and Polish partners is thus immense.
Photo Credit: nico.cavallotto
Never offer Germans a free gift. Gift means poison.
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Swedes may get the wrong impression when a Dane or Norwegian refers to someone as "rolig." The latter mean that the person is calm, the Swede thinks they are fun.
Photo Credit: feelings*
And back to Spain … when using the written medium, do be careful when talking about years. The correct word is año. Miss that little squiggle, type an ordinary n, and you are referring to a body part that is not discussed in polite company. I dread to think how many times I made this mistake when using an English keyboard …
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In Italy, Portugal or Spain, do not say in a shop that you want food without "preservativos." This will confuse the assistant, and rightly so, since food does not contain condoms.
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Even those from different English-speaking countries are not safe. This is illustrated by a famous anecdote concerning Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. The American director instructed Burton to grab Taylor by the fanny. He meant the ass. To Welshman Burton, this was a different, but close part of the anatomy. Poor Taylor got a shock.
Photo Credit: AuSnap
There are probably not many Maltese resident in Spain, since there aren't that many Maltese anywhere. However, the hapless islander who chooses to move to the Iberian peninsula may feel insulted when his new friends address him with "Hola guapo." This is a standard greeting of "hi handsome." The Maltese however, thinks he is being told something rather less complimentary. Owing to the small size of Malta, diplomatic incidents will probably not result.
Photo Credit: *Cencula*
If your French friend mentions "une affaire" that their husband or wife is involved in, you would be wrong to think "well, the French are very accepting of these things." They are not talking about "l'amour," but a transaction of some kind.
Photo Credit: KY-Photography
Time to confess! What linguistic disasters have you been involved in? Are there any countries that you are too "embarazada" to ever visit again? Please share!
Top Photo Credit: LazyBones Photography
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