- Mistress or a teacher? Once when I didn’t remember something my husband was telling me we had done years earlier, I joked with him that it must have been with his mistress (yes, we joke like this). The word “maîtresse” in French means both mistress and teacher for younger kids. My daughter Sara, seven, looked at her dad wide-eyed and asked “What? Do you have a maîtresse too, like me?” Annika Bourgogne
- I’ll buy the intestines! I wanted to tell someone that I bought “used clothes” (mtumba) at this market here in Kenya, but instead I said I bought “intestines” (matumbo). She could barely stop laughing. Kim Siegal
- My grandmother, who was a diplomat’s wife, once said at an official, formal party, “Es ist kein Spass fuer mich, Ihnen Kaffee zu machen.” (It’s no fun making coffee for you) instead of “Es ist kein Problem, fuer Sie Kaffee zu machen.” (It’s no problem making coffee for you). Olga Mecking
- Sex or ice? In Welsh, the words for ice (rhew) and sex (rhyw) sound quite similar. When I’m in a bar and ordering a drink in Welsh, I generally take the risk-free option of not saying whether or not I want ice with it unless I’m asked. Jonathan Ervine
- I’ll take the animal’s feet. Once while I was living in Spain for my study abroad semester, I was in a little store that had candy. I saw what looked like chocolate covered raisins. The word for raisin in Spanish is “pasa” but when asking if they were chocolate covered raisins I accidentally said “pata” which is the word for an animal’s foot. So I was asking the clerk if they were chocolate covered animals’ feet. Kali Carollo
- Pass the co$k: The first time I visited my fiancé’s family in Morocco, I was trying to learn the new words for the food at the table in Arabic. I started to blurt out “Pass the cock” instead of “pass the butter” until my husband stopped me but everyone knew what I was about to say and the table grew quiet and awkward. Stephanie Meade
I would love to here about your language mistakes. Leave them in the comments! 🙂
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