For a couple of months I now have a Chinese friend. We go on fun adventures with our kids. She’s lived in the US for many years, but most of the time she still doesn’t know what I am saying in English. And to be honest… I cannot always understand her either! She cannot pronounce certain letters, like D, L , or R… So when we are together it’s like a long game of “guess the words”. There is still a lot of nodding and smiles, but a lot of answers to our questions stay in the middle most of the time (unanswered). Because I am the foreigner here to, I just stick with our game it makes our adventures more exciting.
The “made up words” and “mistakes” I make with my English are sometimes hilarious for our American family and friends. At times I think I put them in awkward situations when we are in public. (So sorry for that).
It all started with my first ‘made up word’… “earshell”. Us Dutchies will know right away what that means, but my American friends are still laughing about it to this day. I was telling them once that my “earshell” hurt, because of my pillow. They looked at me weird and started laughing, because they had no idea what I was talking about. It turns out.. They just call it… an ear! (But if you think about it, it’s more logical when you say my word, because the human ear is the shape of a shell… and on top is not the same as in the middle or overall, so my word would make more sense…Just saying!
One of my most embarrassing mistakes… I was telling the big boss of my husband’s soccer club that I went to one of her employee’s ranch. I told her how beautiful it was and that they had so many different kinds of “erotic animals”… yeah… I’m pretty sure I will not be invited back there again… (I meant “exotic animals”)
Ohh and the worst one?… That would be when Sophia started to drool a lot. People would ask me “is a tooth coming”? And I would say, “Yes a mole this time”. Or… “she has a fever because her moles are coming out”. Or…”she cannot sleep because her moles are hurting”. So for many months nobody had the intention to correct me!! Maybe because they didn’t really hear it or they just didn’t understand me and that they thought Sophia really had something with her ‘moles’? (I go for the second one). Finally (and luckily for my own sake) one person saved me and corrected that specific word ‘mole’ in the right word ‘molar’!!!
Then I am also very good with ‘wrongly’ translated Dutch famous sayings to English… In SA we had a lot of dinners at our American family’s house. It was like coming home every time. The number of mistakes my husband and I both made there in the English language is definitely worth writing an ‘information book with the don’ts in English for Dutchies’. I think we opened a whole new world for them when they took us in like family. We always got the “Oh no Laura, you cannot say that in public” or “You Dutchies are weird”. The best example is still the one time we had a really nice steak at a BBQ. Afterwards I said “It was like if an angel pees on my tongue”…! Shall we just say that I know now that the translation in English is NOT the same as what it supposed to mean?! (In Dutch it’s a very big compliment to the chef) Their reaction was priceless!
Or one time my husband was telling our friends a story that I thought wasn’t necessary to bring it up. So I told my friend that he was “taking old cows out of the ditch”… Yeah… again that’s not English! She looked at me with a face if I was still feeling ok.
Lastly for now was a month ago, when Sophia was in the hospital. The doctor asked me if she wanted more crackers. I told her no with the explanation she’s had some everyday and thats it’s coming out of her nose. The doctor was in ‘shock’… with the answer, and asked why I didn’t tell her sooner that Sophia couldn’t hold down her food… Oops! (I meant to say… Sophia already ate so many crackers she doesn’t want those anymore). The doctor couldn’t laugh about it btw.
I have so many more examples but maybe I have to save them for a maybe “future book”.