Wordplay with languages

By simplissimus, in 'Other Languages', Mar 13, 2010.

  1. Arca Defectionis Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    On the way out of a Japanese discussion group I frequent, one of the members had a rather large umbrella, so he said 'mi casa es tu casa' and offered to let us stand under it with him. 傘 (kasa) means umbrella in Japanese. I thought that was pretty clever.

    Also, in both Chinese and Japanese chatspeak, '3Q' means "thank you." Both languages have the same word for three (三, san), so '3Q' reads "san-kyu." Japanese also has '39,' since the Japanese word for nine is 九 (kyuu).

    Finally, in protesting the proposed alphabetization of Chinese, an ingenious poet wrote a poem entirely composed of the syllable shi to illustrate the necessity of characters.

    The Lion-Eating Poet in the Stone Den (施氏食獅史, Shi Shi shi shi shi)

    You can read more about this here.
  2. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
  3. Arca Defectionis Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
  4. Aurifex Aedilis

    • Aedilis
    我懂。我学习了十 多 年 了。
  5. Agnellus New Member

    Mundus Novus
    I once wrote a silly song in Russian and English, with one stanza reflecting a disastrous little story involving wordplay.

    What happens is that an American and a Russian end up in a bar-fight. Upon realizing that he is no match for his opponent, the American attempts to surrender by yelling "truce! truce!". In reply, the Russian only fights back harder, believing that the American had called him a трус, which is a coward.

    Another more intentional bit of word play, but I must warn any Russian speakers that it is a bit vulgar: President Bush had once visited Latvia, which has a large Russian-speaking population. He was greeted with many signs such as this one that read "Welcome Peace Duke!"
    For the English-speaking president this didn't seem like anything slanderous, but quite complementary. However he didn't decipher the double meaning. Пиздюк is a Russian word that sounds exactly like Peace Duke, and it is far less flattering.)))
    Cinefactus and Callaina like this.
  6. Iohannes Aurum Technicus Auxiliarius

    • Technicus Auxiliarius
    In French, the current Russian president's surname is spelled the same way as Canada's unofficial national dish: Poutine.

    This led to the joke about whenever Putin visits Quebec, he would eat himself.
  7. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Johann Peter Hebel, actually.
  8. Lysandra Canis

    • Civis Illustris
    These two sentences have the same spelling and meaning in both English and Afrikaans:
    My pen was in my hand.
    My hand is in warm water.
    Callaina and Dantius like this.
  9. Speijker New Member

    The first quote is my French teacher, who in his younger years went on holidays to France. He met a lovely young girl there, and the evening was quite enjoyable. There was a pool near-by, so she asked him whether they would go and take a swim. Rather taken aback, he asked "Nu?". In Dutch, it means "Now?", but to the French ear it sounds like "Nude". Sadly, he never saw her again.

    The second is somehow still stuck in my mind (many, many mistakes like this between Dutch and German). Hope I can do it justice.
    There was a big symposium, and the speaker on stage wanted to ask the wife of an important German guest to join them on the stage; so he asked "Konnte ich versuchen um Ihre Frau auf das Podium zu kommen lassen?".
    Confusing the meaning of Dutch verzoeken, "to request" and German versuchen, "to try", which sounds the same, and combined with the double meaning of "kommen"... Turns out it's a rather indecent request indeed. Fortunately, the German guests had previous experience with Dutch people trying to speak German, so they could laugh about it.
    (It might make more sense if I phrased the German differently, but I think that's what he said; my German isn't good enough to mess it up properly).
  10. tim05000 Member

    Australian comedian Carl Baron gave an anecdote about a misunderstanding with an American. You can see it on Youtube if you type 'Carl Baron thong'.

    'Flip flops', that footwear found through the rest of the world sound awkwardly childish to an Australian, who wouldn't know what they are. Australians of all ages in all parts call that footwear 'thongs'. What the rest of the world call 'thongs' are called 'g-strings' in Australia.
  11. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    I grew up in NYC, and they were called thongs. 'Flip-flops' has always sounded awkwardly childish to me, along with 'pop' for a carbonated alcohol-free beverage.
  12. David Anderson New Member

    Enjoying this thread immensely. The power of our words can be a lot of fun.
    My mother has this gem for people she didn't like "You have a lot of class. Only trouble is, it's all third!"
  13. Imperfacundus Reprobatissimus

    • Civis Illustris
    The alternative would have been even funnier.
    Callaina and Etaoin Shrdlu like this.
  14. Adrian Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    Obtenir la prononciation voulue peut s'avérer parfois difficile...

    - À demain.
    - A deux pieds

    – Allô ?
    – Non, à l’huile !
  15. Cambrinus Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    This may have been true about 750 years ago, but the Friesian today is: Goede bûter en goede tsiis is goed Ingelsk en goed Frysk. Now, any reasonably well-educated English speaker could understand that, or work it out, but it is not, of course the same.

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