Interview of the Week: Ana Astri-O'Reilly

What are your personal top three tricks and tips when learning languages?
I try to read as much as I can in that language, Internet is a fantastic tool. I make lists of phrases I find useful. I generally don’t translate them into my mother language but write an explanation in the target language. Finally, I use online dictionaries a lot, like

What is your favorite word of all times and why?
Right now, my favourite word is persnickety. I think the sounds of this word match the meaning perfectly.

What was the funniest situation with a linguistic misunderstanding you ever encountered?
It isn’t a situation but I love the way some restaurant menus are translated literally into English from Spanish. In many cases, the English section doesn’t make any sense. Phrases like “ironed eggs” (eggs cooked on a griddle,) “filet grilled with garrison” (it means grilled filet of fish with a side dish, but side dish is guarnición in Spanish, so whoever was using the dictionary that day did not realize that there is a huge difference between a side dish and a garrison,) or “raw ham” (literally, “jamon crudo”, it should say Serrano ham or prosciutto) always put a smile on my face.

What is the worst translation error you have ever made?
I was supposed to meet an American, who was a friend of a friend, for drinks but he called to cancel saying he wasn’t feeling well. I wanted to know why so I asked “But what’s wrong with you?” As I was saying it, I realized it was a poor choice of words but it was too late.

In your opinion, what is the sexiest accent and what is the reason for it?
French, without the shadow of a doubt. I can’t think of a rational explanation, I just love the way it sounds.

About the author:
Ana Astri-O’Reilly (37) trained as a translator in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is a Pocket Cultures contributor and is trying to cut her teeth as a free-lance writer. She currently lives in Dallas, TX, with her British husband. Her blog about her travels and experiences can be found at

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