«Learning a language is fun», they say. Well, yeah, maybe, although it pains me to agree with an old university lecturer who we used to call Danger Mouse…
I’m a firm believer that, despite having survived a university education in one or more languages, you never truly learn a language, or feel confident in it for that matter, until you’ve been there; until you’ve lived with it, been immersed and surrounded by natives; until you’ve learned the slang – and that’s true for whether you want to be «down with the kids» or not. Language is ever evolving, and so some of the Spanish that your 60-year-old English professor taught you back in 2006 certainly may not be that relevant today – especially when you’re trying to impress your new Spanish mates with your top chat while huddled round a bottle of Negrita rum at 4am in a university car park*
With that in mind, now spare a thought for those who never received those vital grammar lectures. Being picked up and plonked right in the arse end of nowhere (read: a Valencian pueblo) might not appeal to everyone. But one of my friends did it, and in doing so has made all us «language graduates» appreciate the seminars of yesteryear that were once dubbed «yawnfests» and were not considered worthy enough of a 9am get-up.
I hereby present to you a compilation of misused Spanish words and phrases uttered by two 20-something anglophones – one of whom was plonked in Aldaia, Valencia a few years ago, while the other, embarrassingly, did attend those dreadful grammar lectures…
- Ordering pene (penis) pasta in a restaurant
- Confusing pollo (chicken) with polla (cock) in a restaurant
- «¿Eres listo?» «Pues, sí» (featuring the neverending battle between using ser and estar)
- Confusing polilla (moth) with pilila (willy) Example: “Hay un montón de pililas en la cocina!”
- «ESTOY EMBARAZADA» This does not mean «I am embarassed». One friend said this to her boyfriend’s mother – the first time they met.
- «Sepia de dientes» Ah, that well known sea creature that you use to brush your teeth with. Inky.
- «Este verano quiero una aventura» You might well want an adventure, but aventura also means affair. *tries desperately to make a gag about Girls Aloud’s popular single Long Hot Summer but fails miserably*
- «What is Asun short for? Asunto?» «Asunción!» #SpanishNameProblems
- To the builders: «¿Puedes mirar mis agujeros?» Can you LOOK AT MY HOLES? «Eeeh, sure, love»
- «Hay un montón de golosinas volando por ahí» – Alright, Willy Wonka. You didn’t by chance mean swallows aka. golondrinas, did you?
I feel I must make it known that the Spanish do not get off scot free. Behold some hilariously strange things that some Spanish friends have said in English:
- «Please don’t molest me» But it doesn’t really bother me that you translate molestar as molest.
- «Please can you rape my head?» Fortunately rapar = to shave
- «How’s your crack?» Nº1 in The Trials and Tribulations of having an Irish Girlfriend.
- «What is it called when you show your bum? Moonlighting?» Moonlighting! I have no explanation whatsoever. But HA
- «I’m going to throw the rubbish» – At whom?
- «I’d like to thank the cooker for this lovely meal» Well, the chef might be a bit pissed off at the lack of recognition…
As you can see, it’s not a one-way street. Learning any language has it’s ups and downs. But, let’s face it, if you let one of these babies rip, the last thing you should do is lose sleep over it. «¡A mí, plin!» And enjoy the laughs.
*What? Did they not teach you what a botellón was? Point. In. Case.
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