Your linguistic disasters

By Etaoin Shrdlu, in 'Other Languages', Feb 15, 2016.

  1. Fat before I know the word “constipation,” I had an incident which one of my friend was stuck in the restroom and the (American) teacher was looking for him. Since I did not know the word “constipation,” when the teacher asked me where he was, I simply told the American teacher that “He had trouble s**ting.”

    Result of the explanation was suboptimal.
  2. As a Chinese, I seldom use the term “Latin America,” but “Central America” and “Southern America” instead.

    Ironically, I was not cognizant of the usage of “Latin America” even after I first got in touch with Latin language, which was in my second year in the US (Hmmm, what had I been doing?)

    One day I was playing an online game, one of the player asked “Latino?” in the in-game chat.

    Finally seeing someone “speaking Latin,” I, still didn’t know the term “Latin America,” excitedly reply, “ITA VERO!”

    “??”
    “Lingua Latina!!”
    “??”
    We lost that game by the way.
    ......
  3. Last summer I traveled to Spain. On my way back, I transfer in Portugal. Knowing that Portuguese is similar to Spanish, I was ready to give it a shot.

    I looked up the conjugation of the verb “ter(to have)” when I was the second one in the line of a coffee shop.

    The Portuguese waitress: “Hi! What can I get for you?”

    I(peaking at my phone): “Mmm, vós...vós tendes espresso?” (Already deadly wrong for using vós which is obsolete)

    Waitress(barely understanding): Yes.

    I: “Mm, um espresso, por favor.” (Barely correct)

    Waitress: Yes.

    (I paid for the coffee.)

    I: Gracias! (Even more deadly “Portuñol”)

    Waitress(with abomination): “you are welcome!”

    I took my coffee, waking out of the coffee shop, feeling so proud of myself for speaking another language(or confusing another innocent Portuguese civilian).
  4. Even more story with me learning Portuguese

    After being unable to communicate with the Brazilians that I often meet in the game I play, I decided to put “some serious efforts” into Portuguese. With several YouTube videos of effort, I gained considerable courage to talk to the Portuguese Siri.

    I first try to let Siri to turn on the night shift. I looked up the work “to activate”, which is “ativar.” Assuming the 2nd person command is similar to Latin, I said

    “Siri, ativa Night Shift!”

    As my screen turned yellow, I was so happy. Then I said

    “Siri, desativa Night Shift!”

    When my screen was going back to normal, I realized that I should be pronouncing the -t- like a -ch-. “Not a big deal.” I thought. “Regional difference.”

    Then I tried to enable the Portuguese version of “Hey Siri,” which was “E aí Siri.”

    This time my accent had no mercy on me. I tried like six times before I realize that by pronouncing it like “e eye Siri,” there is no way of being recognized. So I decided to try something simple, I asked Siri, “quê horas são?”

    On the screen, I saw the word “coração” pop up. Then I decided that it’s time to turned off Siri and switched it back to English.
  5. Iohannes Aurum Technicus Auxiliarius

    • Technicus Auxiliarius
    A science teacher in high school once told a story about a student trying to say "organism" but ended up saying "orgasm."

    Hilarity ensued.
  6. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    I once typed "it buggered me" instead of "it bugged me" but I corrected it quickly. Hopefully before it got read by anyone... but I shall never know.
    Callaina likes this.
  7. Callaina Feles Curiosissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Canada
    :D
  8. Etaoin Shrdlu Civis Illustris

    • Civis Illustris
    If you did it on this site, I'd assume the first version would have been sent to anyone following your posts. I can't be sure, as this site has an extraordinary number of ways of notifying members of things, most of which I think I've turned off.
  9. Pacifica grammaticissima

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Belgium
    It wasn't on this site.
  10. K§H New Member

    I was on a student trip to York in England (organised by a Norwegian university), and two local girls walked up to a rather tipsy female fellow student of mine and asked her if she wanted to "bum a fag". This resulted in a hysterical scene that lasted at least for a full minute, where my fellow student tried to convince the two local girls that she wasn't gay at all, while being highly offended and very distraught at the same time.
  11. Lysandra Canis

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Tasmania
    I have this issue where after almost two years of Italian I still pronounce 'anno' as 'ano'. And it's really quite unavoidable since 'trentasei mesi' doesn't quite work the same as 'tre anni'!
    Terry S. and Pacifica like this.
  12. Terry S. flamen

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Hibernia
    Try shouting repeatedly at an imaginary brat called Ann.

    "Ann, no!" :naughty:
  13. smileyface New Member

    More a dialect disaster than a language one... Some years ago, I was in Accra, sitting around a table with company. I ask to use the toilet. Get directions, off I go, come back. Three hours later (I had been drinking beer), same again. And again a couple of hours later. A short while after this, someone asked me if I was unwell. Confused, I explained that I had drunk a lot of water in addition to the beer as it was a hot day. The person looked confused, but I didn't question it. It was only the next day that I found out that, in Ghana, "using the toilet" means a number two, and if you want to say you need a wee, you say "I need to urinate" (which still seems a strangely medical term to be using in common parlance).
    Terry S. likes this.
  14. Terry S. flamen

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Hibernia
    Maybe they just wondered why you kept forgetting where the toilet was. ;)
    Pacifica and Lysandra like this.
  15. smileyface New Member

    I may be new to this forum, but...

    ...pedant! ;)
    Terry S. likes this.
  16. Terry S. flamen

    • Civis Illustris
    Location:
    Hibernia

    :hat: at your service!
  17. interprete Member

    My Japanese is almost zero, but I know enough to type the characters and google translate just gives me « thank you for using the toilet cleanly » and there is nothing in there that could mean « precision » or « elegance ». Would have been really funny though.

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