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Language Tongue Twisters 14 May 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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Speaking other languages often makes for funny situations. Some of them are just funny because you cannot get your meaning across. Others are funny because of what you say instead of what you meant to say.

This meant that while in France (learning French) I managed to proclaim that I am unable to swallow doctors, when in fact I tried to convey that I have trouble swallowing pills.

Or that time where (still in France) I told my class mate that I have a sore chicken, instead of a sore shoulder.

Pretty funny, but relatively tame. (I was also 15).

Except recently, when I went to the local store and asked for a can of coke. I always try to speak Vietnamese to the shop owners, and they totally love and encourage me.

So they have been very kind and flexible with my lack of language skills.

Not remembering the word for can, but remembering that any type of container has always been called box before, I ask for a box of coke. Not wrong, but not correct.

The guy smiles, and corrects me.

Next time, I cannot for the life of me remember what he said ‘can’ was in Vietnamese, so again, I ask for a box of coke. Sure, he says, and again corrects my Vietnamese.

Third time lucky, I think. However, I am a very visual person, and I normally need to have words spelt out to me am I to remember them. So I walk into the shop and ask for (what I believe to be) a CAN of coke. (Notice the slight tinge of pride in my voice as I manage to ask this).

The entire shop (shop keepers, customers, everyone) literally burst out laughing, and can nearly not keep themselves upright as they give me a can of coke. They are laughing so much, that they don’t even muster the straight face needed to correct me.

Back at HQ, I consult someone to find out what I had asked for and what was so funny about it.

Turns out I had asked for a vagina of coke.


Excuse me? 14 May 2010

Posted by uggclogs in Life.
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Today, while in a deep (albeit mundane) conversation with a friend, a Vietnamese colleague comes up to us and goes

“Sorry to interrupt.”

Me, assuming that this person wants to speak to either one of us, starts turning my head towards her, but seeing that I am mid sentence, I don’t make eye contact with her, and continue with my sentence to my friend, just to wrap the sentence up.


That certainly stopped me in my tracks and made me look at her (picture a stunned mullet here).

I am not entirely sure what happened. I think she has come to believe that in English, when you say “sorry to interrupt” you are in fact saying “I am interrupting now, please drop everything and give me your attention.”

Unfortunately, it worked, because I was so surprised. Yet another one of those trans-lingual moments that I keep finding myself in which I choose to believe are not meant to be rude, but which I am never entirely sure of.