Author Topic: Misuse of Foreigh Words.  (Read 5607 times)

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Thipu1

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Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« on: September 28, 2011, 10:56:56 AM »
The bad grammar in public thread reminded me of times when people think they're being sophisticated but wind up looking like idiots.

Some years ago there was a pretentious pseudo-French restaurant that offered a 'salaud Nicoise'.
My French isn't all that great but, even I would know that we wouldn't like a filthy, contemptible person from Nice joining us at the table. 

JFK's 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' is a classic of the genre.  To a German, it would sound exactly the same as, 'I am a Danish' would sound to an American. 

There must be other howlers out there. Let's enjoy them.

Onyx_TKD

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #1 on: September 28, 2011, 04:26:14 PM »
JFK's 'Ich bin ein Berliner.' is a classic of the genre.  To a German, it would sound exactly the same as, 'I am a Danish' would sound to an American.

I hate to disappoint you, but this one really isn't an example of misusing foreign words and making oneself look foolish (his pronunciation was a bit...let's say shaky, but I can hardly fault the poor man for that  ;)). Snopes covers it pretty well here: http://www.snopes.com/language/misxlate/berliner.asp That quote was written by a genuine "Berliner," and from what I heard while on an exchange program in Germany, it was extremely well-received by the crowd. (And there wasn't too much room for confusion, since he was speaking in Berlin, and the "Berliner" pastry is called "Pfannkuchen" in Berlin.)
[/party pooper]  >:D

However, I think the potential double-meaning has been embraced by at least some Germans; I saw a T-shirt in a shop window in Frankfurt that read: "Ich bin ein Frankfurter." I was tempted to design a T-shirt for myself that read: "Ich bin ein Amerikaner" (I am an American) because an "Amerikaner" is also a type of pastry (we're quite sweet and tasty  ;D)--the Germans just seem to love naming food after people from various places.

Twik

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #2 on: September 28, 2011, 04:50:05 PM »
Yes, the "Ich bin ein Berliner/I am a jelly donut" is actually pretty much an urban legend itself, particularly since the line was written by a native German-speaker.

Emotionally, it's the difference between saying,

"I am an American!" and
"I'm from the US".

One is a proclamation, the other a geographical comment. If you remember the situation, with the Soviet blocade of Berlin, I'd say the Berliners knew what Kennedy was saying, and appreciated it.

It's sort of like the legend about Spanish people reading that the Chevy Nova meant "no go". People react to context. It's no more likely than an English speaker hearing the name and thinking "this car will explode like an overheated star!"
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Thipu1

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2011, 05:46:25 PM »
My apologies, people.  I did probably make a major mistake on the JFK quote. 

Still, the 'salaud' citation is a valid one. 

Have you seen any odd usage of a word or phrase in your native language?

Paper Roses

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2011, 06:16:41 PM »
Just curious - is your mis spelling of "foreign" in the thread title intentional?
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purplemuse

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #5 on: September 28, 2011, 07:11:22 PM »
Mr. Muse (who does know better, he just wasn't thinking at the time) sent me an email about a "café olé"

My favorite though was when, for the benefit of English speakers, a French cafeteria translated "pudding chômeur*" as "unemployment cake."

*chômeur = unemployed person

SamiHami

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #6 on: September 28, 2011, 07:26:54 PM »
I used to have a friend who seemed to think that since her grandparents were German, she automatically knew the language. Also, since she knew a lot of Spanish speaking people while growing up, she thought that meant she automatically knew that language as well. Granted, she knew a few words of both languages, but that's all-a few words. (Think Peggy Hill on King of the Hill, except friend wasn't nearly as fluent as Peggy).

This led to much hilarity, especially when dining at a Mexican restaurant. She would sometimes insist on ordering in Spanish. That would have been fine, except the servers usually didn't know what she was talking about. They would keep asking her to repeat her order until she finally gave up and told them in English.

She wouldn't let that deter her, though. When things like that happened, she would explain to poor, stupid me that the server must speak a particularly odd dialect and not "traditional" Spanish.

She also had the annoying habit of adopting a fake accent whenever she was around anyone with a genuine foereign accent. She and I had been planning a trip to England at one point but I backed out when I realized she would have spent the entire trip trying to talk like the Queen.

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katycoo

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #7 on: September 28, 2011, 08:02:01 PM »
She also had the annoying habit of adopting a fake accent whenever she was around anyone with a genuine foereign accent. She and I had been planning a trip to England at one point but I backed out when I realized she would have spent the entire trip trying to talk like the Queen.

This might not be her fault.  It happens to me subconsciouly, mostly with American and British accents.  I literally don't hear it, and when its pointed out to me, I need an Australian nearby to remember how it sounds.

blue2000

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #8 on: September 28, 2011, 08:17:31 PM »
Yes, the "Ich bin ein Berliner/I am a jelly donut" is actually pretty much an urban legend itself, particularly since the line was written by a native German-speaker.

Emotionally, it's the difference between saying,

"I am an American!" and
"I'm from the US".

One is a proclamation, the other a geographical comment. If you remember the situation, with the Soviet blocade of Berlin, I'd say the Berliners knew what Kennedy was saying, and appreciated it.

It's sort of like the legend about Spanish people reading that the Chevy Nova meant "no go". People react to context. It's no more likely than an English speaker hearing the name and thinking "this car will explode like an overheated star!"

I heard the Chevy Nova commentary ("I don't want a No-va, I want a Va!") from a Spanish-speaking comedian (can't remember his name). Not sure if he was the first to latch on to the idea, or if this was a joke that all his friends were giggling about as well, but it isn't really an urban legend. Some people actually did notice, if only in a light-hearted way.
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SamiHami

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #9 on: September 28, 2011, 10:06:41 PM »
She also had the annoying habit of adopting a fake accent whenever she was around anyone with a genuine foereign accent. She and I had been planning a trip to England at one point but I backed out when I realized she would have spent the entire trip trying to talk like the Queen.

This might not be her fault.  It happens to me subconsciouly, mostly with American and British accents.  I literally don't hear it, and when its pointed out to me, I need an Australian nearby to remember how it sounds.

Knowing her as well as I do, I'm pretty confident that for her it is a deliberate affectation. She would do it and if then would go into a lengthy explanation that she just can't help it because she is just such a fantastic actress (she does community theater sometimes. She literally watches the Oscars every year and cries through it, because it's not "fair" that her genius has never been discovered) that she cannot help but "absorb the essence" of the people she was around.

She is a character, for sure!

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Thipu1

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #10 on: September 29, 2011, 04:56:06 PM »
Just curious - is your mis spelling of "foreign" in the thread title intentional?

My spelling of 'foreign' was not intentional.  Was your misspelling of 'mis spelling' intentional?

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #11 on: September 29, 2011, 04:59:32 PM »
Just curious - is your mis spelling of "foreign" in the thread title intentional?

My spelling of 'foreign' was not intentional.  Was your misspelling of 'mis spelling' intentional?

I cracked up at the thread title, I have to admit :)  "Misuse of Foreigh Words" *giggle*  very ironical.  ;)

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Ruelz

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #12 on: September 29, 2011, 05:06:08 PM »
This isn't a misuse, but a misprounciation...

I was trying to impress a 'hot' boy in high school...I mentioned that I was interested in watching the Grand Prix (and yes...I said Grand Pricks).

One day my husband was trying to get me to take more of an interest in cooking him new and wonderful foods, and asked me why I never made a sewfel.  It took me a while to figure out he meant souffle (add accent).

Neither his family, nor mine, had ever made one, or to the best of my knowledge, even eaten a piece at that point in time...dunno what he was thinking.
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lady_disdain

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #13 on: September 29, 2011, 06:32:40 PM »
Yes, the "Ich bin ein Berliner/I am a jelly donut" is actually pretty much an urban legend itself, particularly since the line was written by a native German-speaker.

Emotionally, it's the difference between saying,

"I am an American!" and
"I'm from the US".

One is a proclamation, the other a geographical comment. If you remember the situation, with the Soviet blocade of Berlin, I'd say the Berliners knew what Kennedy was saying, and appreciated it.

It's sort of like the legend about Spanish people reading that the Chevy Nova meant "no go". People react to context. It's no more likely than an English speaker hearing the name and thinking "this car will explode like an overheated star!"

I heard the Chevy Nova commentary ("I don't want a No-va, I want a Va!") from a Spanish-speaking comedian (can't remember his name). Not sure if he was the first to latch on to the idea, or if this was a joke that all his friends were giggling about as well, but it isn't really an urban legend. Some people actually did notice, if only in a light-hearted way.

While people won't believe that the Nova won't go, they will certainly joke and giggle about it. A Ford prototype developed in Brazil was originally named Tupi (one of the native tribes of the region), which was ditched after a few focus groups in the US. It seems like the guys thought it was too close to "to pee" to resist the jokes. (I have this story first hand, by the way, from the lady who conducted the market study).

Diane AKA Traska

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Re: Misuse of Foreigh Words.
« Reply #14 on: September 29, 2011, 07:18:46 PM »
Yes, the "Ich bin ein Berliner/I am a jelly donut" is actually pretty much an urban legend itself, particularly since the line was written by a native German-speaker.

Emotionally, it's the difference between saying,

"I am an American!" and
"I'm from the US".

One is a proclamation, the other a geographical comment. If you remember the situation, with the Soviet blocade of Berlin, I'd say the Berliners knew what Kennedy was saying, and appreciated it.

It's sort of like the legend about Spanish people reading that the Chevy Nova meant "no go". People react to context. It's no more likely than an English speaker hearing the name and thinking "this car will explode like an overheated star!"

I heard the Chevy Nova commentary ("I don't want a No-va, I want a Va!") from a Spanish-speaking comedian (can't remember his name). Not sure if he was the first to latch on to the idea, or if this was a joke that all his friends were giggling about as well, but it isn't really an urban legend. Some people actually did notice, if only in a light-hearted way.

While people won't believe that the Nova won't go, they will certainly joke and giggle about it. A Ford prototype developed in Brazil was originally named Tupi (one of the native tribes of the region), which was ditched after a few focus groups in the US. It seems like the guys thought it was too close to "to pee" to resist the jokes. (I have this story first hand, by the way, from the lady who conducted the market study).

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