Hilarious Hijinks with English-Spanish False Friends!
Translation Follies and The Unforgettable Preservativo Mix-up...
Language lovers and linguistic explorers! Today, we're taking a side-splitting journey into the world of false friends (cognates) between English and Spanish. You know, those sneaky little words that look like they mean the same thing in both languages, but then—bam!—they throw you a curveball that leaves you scratching your head and reaching for a dictionary. So, grab your laughter goggles and join us for a comical cruise through the land of linguistic confusion!
Embarazada - So, there I was, at a posh Spanish gathering (I had just moved to sunny Andalusia and tried to use my Spanish whenever I could). My face flushed as I accidentally knocked over a glass of fruit juice, splashing the spotless tablecloth. Nervously, I exclaimed, "¡Estoy tan embarazada!" The room fell silent, forks hovering mid-air, as puzzled expressions swept across everyone's faces (maybe not quite as dramatic). Apparently, my announcement of being "so pregnant" wasn't exactly the conversation starter I had in mind.
Sensible - After the check up my dentist, Dr. Martín, said to me (with a smile on his face): "You are very sensible." I said: "thank you," and wondered to myself what he had meant by it. Was it a chat-up line? Dr. Martín uses any chance he gets to practice his English on me, as he knows I am an English teacher.
My next appointment was a few weeks later, and as always, Dr. Martín stuffed my mouth with dental cotton rolls and started a conversation?! All dentists do that, don´t they? Stuff your mouth and start a complex conversation? Chatting away with his assistant then me, he said the same again, this time with a slight difference: "Your teeth are very sensible". Then I understood what he had meant a few weeks back. As soon as the cotton rolls were removed, I exclaimed: -"No, doc, my teeth are sensitive!"
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Exit - Got lost in a bustling shopping center in Marbella, I approached a security guard, desperation in my eyes (as I hate shopping). I blurted out, "Disculpa, ¿dónde está la exit?" The guard bit back a smile before responding, "¿La exit? ¿Quieres decir la salida? Está por allá." As I followed his directions, I half-expected a confetti shower and applause, considering EXITO is a triumphant accomplishment in Spanish.
Actual - At a chic(ish) galería de arte, I was admiring a friend's exhibit when a Spanish art lover- overflowing with enthusiasm, declared in English, "Her art is so actual". I wondered if he meant that she was so...authentic...? A mix of bemusement and curiosity on his face, he continued: "Modern". It all seemed like an attempt on both sides (but more on mine) to sound cultured in a language I hadn´t mastered, and the attept had landed somewhere between quirky and nonsensical. We had a good laugh and realised that actuál in Spanish means either current or contemporary. My friend´s art sure is...contemporary
Constipado - This happened probably in the first few weeks of moving to Spain. My Spanish was non-existent, but I had a problem, pain. Probably new food, activities and climate had messed up my digestive system, I needed meds! I made my way to the nearest Farmacía where a nice young chemist approached me to assist. I asked her if she could speak English (as all this was well before we all had Google in our back pockets) she affirmed. I told her that I was terribly constipated and needed something rather natural to feel better. She looked reached to a shelf and handed me a nose spray. Apparently made from sea water and totally natural. Confused, I asked her how a nose spray would possibly help me in my situation. After a short moment, she asked me again about my symptoms... Perplexed, I realized she had thought I was experiencing a different kind of blockage. My symptoms cleared off and stomach felt better very soon after my visit to the farmacía.
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Enviar - A friend`s daughter, while on Erasmus programme studying abroad, decided to send a postcard back to her English boyfriend to boast about the breathtaking scenery in Tuscany. Jotting down her thoughts in Spanish, she wrote, "Estoy enviando el paisaje hermoso." A few days later he got the postcard and called her, jokingly-concerned, "¿Te sientes bien? Do you need me to send you some self-esteem in a parcel?" - Yes, envy and enviar are not even close in meanig, enviar means "to send", and her beautiful loving postcard read: "I am sending you a beautiful landscape".
Preservativo - Amid a lively fiesta, in a village called Coín in Andalusia, I struck up a conversation with a new conocido, a chef, Juanma. He learnt that I was interested in vegetarian cooking and all natural foods, he continued to tell me that food in Andalusia is as healthy as it could ever be. The Spanglish was getting tiring and eager to show off my budding language skills, I piped, "Yo nunca uso preservativos artificiales en mi cocina?" He nearly choked on his wine, suppressing laughter... he actually knew what I meant (as it is quite a common mistake), so he answered "Bueno, algunos platillos lo requieren, pero los ingredientes frescos suelen ser mejores." When I learnt about my mishap, "preservativo" is a condom in Spanish, food additives are "conservantes", we had a good lagugh and he assured me he used "no preservativos en la cocina."
And there you have it, authentic language mishaps that transformed into unforgettable tales of cultural confusion. Remember, these linguistic blunders are all part of the learning process, sprinkling a bit of humor into your journey to mastering Spanish. Remember, while these linguistic mix-ups might lead to some giggles and raised eyebrows, they're all part of the fun of language learning. Embrace the mishaps, learn from them, and get ready for your next adventure in cross-cultural communication. Until next time, keep those dictionaries close and those laughter goggles handy!
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