It is difficult for everyone to explain everyday things in English. And when you are new to the language, and even if you already watch TV shows without subtitles with might and main. Funny stories that happened due to misunderstandings, tells Lifehacker.
We run into "false friends" of the translator
These are words that sound the same in different languages, but do not necessarily have the same meaning. For example, in Russian "sconce" means a wall lamp, and in English bra Is a bra. If you are used to replacing unfamiliar words with Russian, an awkward situation in the store is guaranteed.
Marmalade - this is not what you thought, but citrus jam. Cabinet means "kitchen cabinet" and aspirant translates to "challenger". An attempt to praise cleanliness in a home with the word accurate can also be perceived as strange. After all, this word means "exact", and to say "accurate", the English use neat.
“During a trip to India, my colleagues bought a lot of delicious tropical fruits. But in order for them to survive the flight, it was necessary to pack it all well. They caught a taxi and explained in broken English that they needed scotch tape. The driver nodded in understanding and brought them ... to the drinks store. Because in English, scotch is a Scottish drink. The adhesive tape they needed is called tape, ”says Artyom Chernyaev, IT specialist.
Ordering the wrong food in a cafe
Ask coffee in Italy and they will bring you a tiny cup with one sip of the strong drink. And all because there coffee without specifics is espresso. In other countries, there are many nuances with food and drink. Not all restaurants have a menu with pictures, so conversations with the waiter are rarely limited to a couple of names from the dish list. Asking clarifying questions about the ingredients is not bad. You can connect sign language and Google phrases. The answer is much more difficult to understand! It's usually convenient to ask again once or twice. If the words cannot be distinguished, most people simply say, "Okay, carry it!" As a result, you have to eat something strange or refuse the dish altogether, because you are allergic to one of the ingredients.
“I've been studying Russian for several years. Once, having completed only 40 hours of the course, I ended up in a town in the Moscow region. My knowledge then boiled down to the fact that I could read and knew basic words. None of my companions spoke Russian at all, so everything was on me. It's time to order food. I tried my best, even asked for advice on something from the local cuisine. Everything was going well. The waiter asked if we wanted bread and I decided that my friends should try traditional Russian pastries. Well, he asked to bring us red bread. The waiter was surprised and said that there was no such thing. I did not believe and insisted. How not! We're in Russia! The waiter looked more and more confused. And suddenly I realized that I had mixed up the words. What I want is called “black bread”. It was funny and embarrassing, ”recalls Yuri Monzani, an Italian football coach.
Giving false hope
If you are chatting with a foreigner, you are at least interested in this person. And there is not far from a romantic infatuation. Or far away. But to understand in a foreign language what they want from you is not always easy. For example, what to answer if you are asked if you are in the mood for first base? Maybe it's something about baseball? Not at all, this is an invitation to kiss.
A phrase let's make out Although it may sound like an offer to do something on the street, it actually carries a specific meaning - passionate hugs and kisses. Of course, no one will force you to do something that you do not like. But a moment of awkwardness is guaranteed.
“Once an excursion group from Poland came to our city. We studied Polish at the university, but knew it very superficially. In general, they knew Russian exactly the same way. And we, a group of philologists, were sent to entertain them in a cafe. At some point, something hit me in the eye, and I felt a burning sensation. Turning to my Polish neighbor, I asked: "Do I have a red eye?" He was embarrassed, smiled and held out: “Awesome. And the second too. " I was surprised! Well, I think he's a sadist. I went to the toilet, looked in the mirror and realized that my eyes were not red. And then it dawned on me: for the Polish ear, "red" is consonant with "beautiful"! The guest sincerely thought that I was so asking for a compliment, clarifying whether my eyes were beautiful. And then he looked at me languidly all evening, ”says Polina Nakrainikova, editor-in-chief.
We leave a strange impression of ourselves
There is a saying in English for a reason To speak another language is to have a second soul "Speaking another language is like having a second soul." Speaking freely in a foreign language, you may find yourself laughing at unfamiliar jokes, commenting on issues that you have not raised for yourself in your native language, and being witty in a new way.
Or vice versa - you answer unequivocally and give the impression of an uncommunicative person. Many of the excitement forget polite phrases and seem rude people, even if in their language they are absolute darlings. The wider your arsenal of knowledge, the more chances you have to show yourself exactly the way you want and reveal all the facets of your personality.
“I went to China to see a friend and talked a lot with her foreign friends there. We spoke English. And although I have a very good level of language proficiency (I write in it, watch films and TV shows), it is my speaking skill that I have been pumped poorly. I was ashamed of my pronunciation and spoke only if the question was addressed directly to me. After a week of my stay there, we were sitting in a bar - playing a board game, and then some interesting topic came up. I started talking mechanically, and sharply with complex grammatical structures and vocabulary. Everyone was shocked! It turns out that they thought that I didn't really understand anyone, and they tried not to touch me, so as not to create discomfort for me. This situation taught me that it's better to communicate as best you can, and not pretend to be a mushroom, ”said Daria Gromova, author, translator.
We don't understand what they want from us
It's embarrassing to smile in response to trying to engage in small talk with you. Make a helpless gesture when asked to tell the time. Run away from tourists with maps, even if you sincerely want to help them. The most embarrassing situations are when you basically don't understand what the other person is trying to get from you. They leave a total dissatisfaction with themselves and a sense of a missed opportunity. But in fact, for a small talk or solving typical travel problems, the most basic level is enough. And this further infuriates and reinforces the feeling of helplessness. But the good news is that when you set yourself the goal of mastering friendly conversation in a foreign language or learning how to discuss different situations on a trip, it doesn't take a lot of time or superpowers in the language.
“Once I was waiting for a friend at the subway and overheard a conversation between two elderly Italians with a Peter's map in their hands. At that moment, I went to Italian courses, so I realized that they were trying to figure out how to get to the Champ de Mars. And at the same time, they complained that they did not speak English. My inner superhero immediately activated and decided to come to the rescue. The seniors were terribly happy, asked me many more questions about the city, and gave me a postcard from Italy at parting. I was very glad and proud of myself that I did not hesitate to talk to them, ”recalls Tonya Rubtsova, journalist.
Trying to buy something strange
Abroad, tourists who do not speak the language at all are often tried to cheat. For example, to write down non-existent positions in the account in the hope that the person will not notice or will not be able to explain anything. Or hand over something as a gift, and then demand money and threaten with the police. But sometimes the person himself confuses the seller trying to explain what he needs. For example, when he is looking for Russian borsch in a cafe abroad with all his might or asks for a discount in a store with fixed prices.
“During my trip to Budapest, a funny story happened to me due to my lack of vocabulary. On one of my walks in this incredibly beautiful city, I felt thirsty. And I quench my thirst exclusively with water without gas. On the way I came across a street shop with groceries. Literally at the counter, I understand that I do not know how to ask for still water. I know "water" - water, but "without gas" - for the life of me I can't figure it out. Blurt out what comes to mind: Water without oxygen, please... The seller looks at me dumbfounded and replies with a smile: I don't think it's possible. It was very embarrassing. Of course, I understood that I was speaking with a mistake, but, alas, I could not correct myself on the spot. But now I know for sure that if I want to drink abroad, I will ask myself still water", - says Yana Skripichnikova, manager.