Saturday, January 27, 2007

Language Bloopers

Our language teacher had a birthday, so I made cinnamon rolls. We were all very surprised to learn that all 3 of our teachers had never tasted cinnamon. They were very impressed with the flavor so they requested the recipe. My teacher right now doesn’t speak any English so I had to translate the recipe, which is harder than you think. I had to look up a few words like, knead, mix, rise, and pan and after it was all done I thought it was going to be understandable. So I proudly give my teacher this recipe I worked so hard to translate and she began to read it and then when she came to the step where you place the cinnamon rolls in the pan and let rise for 10-20 minutes, she stopped and looked at me with a puzzled face and said, “Erica what are you trying to say?” So I told her I didn’t know what the word was for pan and described it to her, using a few words and gestures. Then she started laughing and told me what I really said:

Lay cinnamon rolls in a glass toilet and let rise for 10-20 minutes. Oops!

After I told this story to a few our ex-pat friends they told me never to use the word preservatives when you refer to the stuff that keeps your food fresh for a long time. (Many times when it comes to technical words like this they are borrowed from English and sound very similar you just have to add the local accent.) Apparently this is not the case with the word preservative; it actually is the word for condom. After they told me this I just laughed because I remembered talking to a taxi cab driver about bread and how long it lasts in the States because it has lots of preservatives in it. After my comment he was silent for the rest of the trip, I thought it was kind of odd that he stopped talking. Now I know why!

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