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Up Your Bottom!, part of the hide this® series by APA Publications, collects funny stories about the misuse of language from around the world. The best stories posted on the blog will be published in Up Your Bottom!, the printed book. Post your story now to be considered for the book publication, and get a free copy of the book if your story is selected!
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I picked up this signoff from a local comedian, "Otto," who said it on a radio show -- Basically, he said, "Good bye - Guten Einkauf!" Because in English, the word "bye" sounds like the word, "buy" -- its homonym. Buy, of course, is synonymous with "shopping ." And "shopping " in German, is something like, "Einkauf." I always found it so funny, I never forgot it and continue to use it myself! -- Thomas Z., Germany Given Americans' rampant consumerism, I'll bet that most foreigners or non-native English speakers think Americans always sign off saying, "Good Buy!" Pretty soon,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 28, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
B&Bs...Breakfast in Bed? Continue reading
Posted Sep 26, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
One of the most common mistakes for any English speaker in Italy is unfortunately one that to this day, I continue to make (after 18 years!). You call someone you once met for business purposes. They tell you that he's not in ("non c'è). You want to understand if he's no longer with the company, or simply, not in. So, you ask, "Oh-ok, non c'è più?" The person at the other end never knows quite how to take this remark -- as you just inquired whether that person is no longer -- or not with us anymore -- as in,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 24, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Going out in Germany? Watch out for Zombies! Continue reading
Posted Sep 23, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
While working out in the local gym here in Rome, I overheard a rather large guy, half American and half French himself, derating the latter. "I hate the French. I really do! They are arrogant bastards!" He then went on, in Italian, to express why more fully. But the worst condemnation was about to follow: "And for breakfast they drink a coffee and eat a cuckold!!!" (In Italian, croissant is "cornetto" but he said, "cornuto" meaning cuckold) -- Was it a Freudian slip or just wishful thinking... -- Alison, Rome Italy Given what we know of the French and their... Continue reading
Posted Sep 20, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
This occurred while attending a recent - and very campy - off-Broadway play* in New York City... Picture a mother superior talking to a nun in distress. The nun from the Bronx moans and groans, overcome with difficulty facing her demons. The mother superior leans over and with her slight accent to portray gravity and convey her status, she asks, "What is it you cahnt face?" Of course, this is heard by all, including the nun as, "What is it you cunt face?" At which point, the nun in distress freaks out -- as does most of the audience...! --... Continue reading
Posted Sep 19, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
What kind of hotel do you think this is? Continue reading
Posted Sep 18, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
A modern-day update of Laurel&Hardy's 'Who's on First' debate...I can't count the number of strange looks you can get when talking about your 'pants' in polite company in England... A couple of years back, I was hiking with a friend of mine in Canada. One night, we spent sleeping in this huge dormitory with lots of other people. At about 11pm my friend was running around in the dormitory, half-dressed, screaming out loud, completely desperate, 'I can't find my sleeping trousers!!! ' Suddenly, the whole dormitory was laughing -- we explained that next time, it'd be better if she used,... Continue reading
Posted Sep 16, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Ever wonder about words? Continue reading
Posted Sep 15, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
And it's not about the course! Continue reading
Posted Sep 12, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
There is nothing better than when traveling around Europe than the fruit. It actually tastes like real fruit, unlike the gorgeous but tasteless fruit on offer in America. As a food lover, of course, I was gushing about it at the marketplace in Spain. But, instead of saying, 'I love peaches!' (duraznos), I mistakenly said that 'I love naked men!' (desnudos). An honest mistake, or your plain vanilla Freudian slip?!! -- Annabel, USA Continue reading
Posted Sep 11, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
This story happened years ago while seated around a friend's dinner table in Bolivia. A relaxed day of tanning and swiming led me and my friends to be hungry. Me, wishfully waiting for food and still in the early days of fluent Spanish, asked to pass around the potatoes – or "Me prestas las papas, porfa?" At least I thought I had asked to pass them to me, until my friends started laughing. What I indeed had been saying was whether someone would lend them to me. Since then I know: pasar algo (to pass something on) ≠ prestar algo... Continue reading
Posted Sep 10, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
What's in a word? An entire culture... Continue reading
Posted Sep 9, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
the multiple meanings of the word 'fix' Continue reading
Posted Sep 8, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Anyone who has ever traveled to Italy or pretty much ever drunk Italian wine will know that the Italians clink their glasses to 'cin cin' or cheers ! And although the expression has now traveled across Europe, and even to N.America, just don't try using this supposedly Chinese expression in Japan. Much to my embarrassment, I discovered the hard way it means 'small penis' in Japanese... I can just imagine the amount of smirks the Japanese who live in or travel to Italy hold in every night at dinner with their hosts... Prof T, Switzerland Continue reading
Posted Sep 7, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
We've heard of 'Head Counts', but 'Butt Counts"???!! Continue reading
Posted Sep 6, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
More English language problems for English speakers Continue reading
Posted Sep 1, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Dead tired from studying... Continue reading
Posted Aug 31, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Do you think Italians are cool? Continue reading
Posted Aug 30, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
A case of international fame & hunger... Continue reading
Posted Aug 26, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
Is that's no Mister, he's my husband! Continue reading
Posted Aug 24, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
In Germany, a typical way of saying "How is it going?" or "How are you doing today?" is "Wie geht's ?" Among Germans it is not very popular to use the direct translation, which would be something like "How goes it? " So one day in a class full of Germans but with an American professor, I was trying to make a joke in class by asking the professor, "How goes it ?" While the whole class started to laugh, the professor just answered, "Fine, thanks. How about yourself? " And at the same time he was pretty surprised why... Continue reading
Posted Aug 16, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
And they usually blame it on the dog ... Continue reading
Posted Aug 12, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!
A few years back a trip brought my wife and me to Spain and Portugal. Being a Californian, Spanish was not a totally foreign tongue, although I had never studied it formally. Study of Russian and Turkish aided my comprehension of grammatical declension and similar linguistic peculiarities not always obvious to speakers of English. At any rate, although I couldn't follow much of the spoken Portuguese I heard in Lisbon and its surroundings, I could read and comprehend 70 to 80% of the local newspapers. Plus, I always make it a point to be able to use the "please," "thank... Continue reading
Posted Aug 11, 2010 at Up Your Bottom!