Language Mishaps (or: How I turned my brother into a smurf)

Starting a new life in a strange country with a different language can be many things. It can be scary, exciting, intimidating, and: highly amusing when you apparently say the weirdest things and thus confuse everybody around you.

About a year ago, I already told you about my biggest language mishaps which I am still laughing about. Of course, and luckily so, my language skills have improved, but sometimes I miss those funny incidents. So when they do happen and I realize it, those just make my day!


May I introduce my brother. (Photo credit: momono)

Like the other day when I had a hairdresser appointment. After almost 2 years, my hair stylist Ixchel and I have developped kind of a friendship, and we share a lot of personal stuff with each other. Ixchel is very excited about the arrival of Mr. R. Jr. and doesn’t get tired of picturing what he might look like. That’s why she tends to ask me in detail about every single family member. We must be quite an exotic bunch to her, especially my redhead, fair-skinned grandmother fascinates her a great deal. Last time, I wanted to tell her about my brother who has a slightly darker skin which would be “piel morena”. However, instead of “morena” I said “morada” which almost FELT strange on my tongue, but I couldn’t figure out what went wrong. Ixchel started laughing, tears were streaming down her face, and she could hardly breathe. Once she caught her breath again, she pointed at my purple bag and gasped, “That’s morada”. So now my poor brother looks like a modern purple take on a smurf… Maybe I should get him a smurf hat for his birthday…

As a teacher of course, I have to get a better grip on myself when my students get things mixed up. Like one day when my student turned an “important man” into an “impotent man”. I really had to pinch myself not to burst out laughing! Or another student who constantly referred to the “English course” as “English curse” – well, at least, I hope he meant “course”!

Do you sometimes get confused by a new language? Any funny slip of tongue lately?


Pessimists rejoice!

Recently, I read an article about life expectancy of pessimists vs. optimists – maybe you read that, too? Surprisingly, pessimists tend to live longer than optimists. By the way, we are talking about a German study. It’s not hard to find plenty of pessimists in that country, but where did they dig up the optimists? (Just kidding, in fact I do know a few German optimists.)

So, ok, up to now I always strongly believed the opposite to be true. Why isn’t it? According to the studies, it might be due to the fact that pessimists live more carefully, in that they e.g. visit the doctor more frequently. I know this very cheerful type who runs to the doctor all the time hoping to be diagnosed with some terminal illness that would once and for all justify his / her constant grumpiness. And of course, it is most desirable to become 106 having spent years in a doctor’s waiting room.

On top of that, scientists found that people with good health and a stable income are prone to suffer a greater decline than people with low income and poor health. Oh, really? Well, isn’t that logical? If you are already struggling to survive, how much deeper can you fall?

So what are we supposed to do now? Should we all become pessimists and mope around for decades to come? And when are we then supposed to celebrate our grumpy victory? When we turn 100 or only when we turn 105?

I think scientists should be more careful about spreading the news. After all, what happens if all pessimists now jump with unexpected joy and as a consequence suffer a heart attack?

Are You Optimistic About The Future?

Are You Optimistic About The Future? (Photo credit: SomeDriftwood)

Thanks, Doc!

After postponing it for months, I finally went to a local dentist for a professional tooth cleaning last week. I always find there is something utterly humiliating to it when lying there with your mouth wide open, and 2 people poking around in it while you cannot do anything but stare at the ceiling. (Luckily for me, there was a cobweb swinging in the breeze so I could just focus on that.)

Dental hygienists are a rather chatty bunch, I find. And now while it is nice to listen to their little stories, I always feel compelled to let them know I am listening which leads to me making funny noises like “Uuuhuuh…” as a sign of agreement, or a simple “Uuh!” as a sign of astonishment, or “Urgh!” expressing indignation. Clearly, those people have not chosen their profession hoping for some meaningful conversations.

But why does anybody choose to become a dentist? It’s a mystery to me. Any dentists out there who would like to explain that to me? Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of dentists and more than glad that some people shoulder this burden, but I’d imagine it not very appetizing to stare in other people’s mouths all the time. (And I am not even thinking of the people with poor hygiene standards.) Of course, it is common knowledge that a lot of women fall for doctors, but could that be reason enough?

Not to mention other medical specializations. Somewhere along the line some medical student decides to become a proctologist and dedicate his career to this very unglamorous part of our bodies (as if there were any glamorous parts… but you know what I mean!) and deal with poop and haemorrhoids. Why would anybody want to do that? It is very admirable, no doubt, yet I don’t understand it.

But it makes me so grateful that some people don’t mind staring into other people’s orifices or dealing with really gross stuff! So, dear doctors (and medical staff in general), let me say thank you and give you a big smile with my newly cleaned and oh so shiny teeth!

Tooth Cleaning

Tooth Cleaning (Photo credit: pennuja)