While I was travelling, and during conversations with foreigners, I stumbled upon translation and comprehension mistakes that made me smile. In most cases, I was puzzled and it took me time to understand what the person meant. I wanted to share these examples with you, and feel free to tell us about your own experience (I’m sure a lot of people who learn a foreign language have been in such situations 🙂 ) !
This happened very recently; an English friend who wants to improve her French sent me an email (in French). She almost made no mistakes, but ended the email with « Rates-tu » (Did you fail?)… I needed a moment to understand that she meant « Tu me manques » (I miss you)! Indeed, she tried to translate « Miss you » with a dictionary, and simply forgot about the context in which the word is used: « to miss » can also correspond to « rater, louper », which mean “to fail”…
Until the till
This one happened a few years ago. I was helping English-speaking students with their French homework. One of the students had to write a paragraph about her plans for the future. She showed me her paper, and I was surprised to read « je reste ici caisse l’année prochaine » (I am staying here checkout next year)… Why caisse (checkout) ??? And then I understood that she was trying to translate « till » (until) and should have said « jusqu’à ». And indeed, « till » (the noun) is « caisse » in French!
It’s a shame
When I was in high-school, we went on a school trip to Germany. We stayed with host families, and then the Germans were meant to come and see us in France a few weeks later. When we were saying goodbye, one of the Germans told a girl from my school that she would not be able to go to France – to which the French girl, upset, said « Scheide »… The whole German group stood open-mouthed… She actually meant « Schade » (it’s a shame), but mispronounced the word and referred to a private part of the female body!
How much for asparagus?
The following anecdote happened to a French friend when she went to visit her sister-in-law in Germany. The latter explained to my friend that she always kept a bit of money in a drawer, in caqse she didn’t have time to go to the bank. She used the word « Spargeld » (savings). But unfortunately, my friend misunderstood her and thought she had said « Spargel », and therefore thought her sister-in-law kept asparagus in her bedroom drawers!!