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Jorge
Same words with extremely different meanings in different languages.

I made a post today and used the word "mate" that here in Argentina is a beverage, similar to coffee. It seems that some people misunderstood me and thought that I was talking about a friend or even a sexual partner, and it's not there fault! I should had clarify that in the first place.

The situation was a little funny for me and made me think in other examples. All that came to my mind was "terrible", that in English is incredibly bad and here in Argentina is incredibly good, haha. Do you know other funny examples?

Apr 12, 2019 5:19 PM
Comments · 8

A colleague of mine was teaching in an Arabic-speaking country and unintentionally caused some embarrassment.

He was teaching words to do with the body and clothing, and the word 'zip' came up. 'Zip' is the GB version of the US 'zipper'.  His students looked confused and uncomfortable, so he thought that he'd better explain this word.  As we all know, the easiest way to explain a word is often to simply show an example of the object in question, so he gestured towards the zip fastening of his jeans and made an up/down movement to suggest opening and closing.

His class became even more agitated and embarrassed and said 'Yes, yes, teacher. We understand!' and frantically gestured to him not to demonstrate this word in any more detail.

It was only after the class that he realised that 'zip' sounds very, very like the Arabic word for.... penis.


April 12, 2019

A 'gift' is a nice thing to give someone in English.

Not so in German, where same word means 'poison' !

April 12, 2019
The only one I can really think of from personal experience is when I was in college I took two years of French and learned not to ask French people if they have any “pets”... in EEUU pets are “mascotas”, but in France “pets” are something entirely different!!
April 12, 2019
The German word Manko means shortcoming. In Japanese it means c*nt. Once I read a text with a Japanese student and when this word appeared in the text she refused to read it aloud. That's when I learnt the Japanese meaning of this word. In German it's formal and elegant, in Japanese it's vulgar and slang.
April 12, 2019
As I expected, there are more funny examples. Keep them coming!!
April 12, 2019
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Jorge
Language Skills
English, Spanish
Learning Language
English