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Don't try this abroad

Common mistakes which cause embarrassing situation in different countries and in different languages.

A Spanish girl in my office once asked me "Where do we keep the carpets?"... after a short but confusing conversation we worked out she meant "Where do we keep the folders?" (Carpeta being Spanish for folder). A few months later she went on holiday back home to Spain, and returned with some sweets that had been "made by ants"! Another confusing conversation later, it turned out she had meant "made by nuns" (I'm not even sure how you get from "nuns" to "ants"!)


When my husband and I were visiting Germany in 1979, we went to see a cave. When we got back to his uncle's house I was trying to say in German,that we had gone to the cave. However, I said that we went to hell!!! The German word for cave is Höhle and the German word for hell is Hölle.


I wanted to ask for my coat (cappotto) in Italy, but instead I asked for il Capone. The waiter sat down to laugh.


On my first Spanish lesson the teacher asked us to write about ourselves. I typed out my homework, Tengo cincuenta anos.


This is what happened in Germany. A friend of mine asked for 'ein Asbach', thinking of 'asbak' (an ashtray) in Dutch. The waiter brought him a German cognac, named 'Asbach uralt'!


We were having some guests over for dinner, when I triumphantly announced we'd be serving them "killing i oven" which translates into "kitten in the oven". The correct word in Danish for chicken is "kylling."


I once watched a TV broadcast where the interviewee tried to say in Spanish that she was embarrassed... unfortunately she used the word Embarazada, which means pregnant!

I was in the Dominican Republic in 1992. We went on a long journey to the capital Santo Domingo and on the way back at a truckstop I was trying to find the Gents. I boldly went in to a place where a few guys were playing pool to ask for directions but instead of saying, "Where's the Gents, please?", I said, "Can I have a man, please?" in Spanish. Needless to say, this caused a number of laughs.

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