Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Completely lost in translation

When the husband and I first met, he spoke about 5 words of English and my French was at best very basic. However, we somehow managed to communicate, though many of his jokes in French were completely lost on me (and they still are occasionally, or at least I wish they were!). After a couple of years of living in Australia, he started to pick up English and I discovered that he could be funny in both English and French, though sometimes not intentionally!

During our first 2 years in Australia, Pépé watched a lot of TV and therefore picked up many little slogans and catch phrases. One of his favourite phrases in English was “shalom suckers”. Yes, you read correctly, “shalom suckers”.

I have to admit, I never really realised that he was actually saying “shalom” until about 2 years into our relationship and asked him why he was saying “shalom” (we’re Asian not Jewish!). He mentioned that he had heard it often on TV…then I realised. He actually meant “so long suckers”! But he misheard the “so long” and thought it was “shalom”!

Then there was “I raise my case”. Hmmm, I wasn’t sure why he was raising his case and not resting it! This one took me a couple of years to work out as well!

And then, last week, I came home and found him on the PC typing out an email to a friend who was doing him a favour.

And at the end of the email, he signed off with, “I own you big one”.

Hmm….Pépé owns his friend’s big one?????

A split second later, I said, “wait, don’t send the email!”! But it was too late; he had already hit the Send button. I wanted to know what he meant by owning his friend’s big one! Several explanations later, what he really wanted to say was “I owe you a big one” as in a big favour.

Pépé wasn’t too bothered though. His email was headed for a Spanish ex-colleague who probably wouldn’t understand the phrase anyway! Or at least wouldn’t mind him owning his big one ;-)

To be fair, after 4 years in Australia and having had to work in English for the last few years, Pépé’s English is actually quite good now! (except for the rare cases where he owns his friend’s big one of course!)


Hor ny Ang Moh said...

To me English is a very difficult language! Untill now still using 'broken' english. Oh what the hack so long as my reader know what I am writting about I am happy! Have a nice day!

Froggy Woogie said...

Well, he might have mistakenly said "I owe you a big flavour" instead. So much for trouble.
That reminds me when I started to feel confident enough with my English and I would start joking, I was constantly said things like "you can't say that it means a willy" or "you can't say that, it means gay people".
Oh my everything is sexually orientated in English lol

avec amy said...

Shalom! That is hilarious. I've tried to start joking in French; usually people don't get that I'm trying to be funny, and then when I'm not trying, they laugh at me!

Cirnelle said...

Hree's an epxemrint. Can you raed tihs? If you can, tehn Hor Ny was rghit... as lnog as can raed, its euongh. So srroy for I tasrehd up tihs cenmomt. Sepillg is orevated.

The Late Bloomer said...

How hilarious! My boy has a funny way with English, too, and after working with anglophones all these years, he actually speaks it quite well -- but every once in a while he says something funny, or uses a faux-ami, and it makes me laugh out loud! He often asks me to tell him what a word means when he's reading in English, but overall he does fine on his own.

I should share more stories about our silly misunderstandings -- we have a good time together with those!

anigma said...

Ah.. this is so sweet. Despite "living near Babel and trying to build the tower" for sometime (Hehe!), I am glad things turn out ok for you.

I know I love you in French. Jet Aime? Hehe.

Anonymous said...

haha how funny! I love the "shalom suckers", I can see that being a line on Curb Your Enthusiasm or something. Maybe John Safran?

Christophe's pretty damn good in English actually, although sometimes strange words appeal to him. Like cranium. He uses cranium instead of head. Instead of "I have a headache" he will say "my cranium hurts". He refuses to stop saying it as he thinks the word is great!

Bee said...

hah that's funny. On the other way round, do you make mistake in French and your hubby has to correct and laugh at you? It happens to me all the times. And then hubby's English is better than me, so the only time I can laugh at him is when he speaks Chinese. hahaha

Samantha said...

Ha, those are so cute! And did you recently enable comments? Because I feel like there have been tons of posts I've wanted to comment on, but have never been able to!

Olivier said...

malheureusement mon anglais est un peu leger pour tout comprendre.

unfortunately my English is a little light for all to understand.

ColourMeCrazy said...

Hor Ny Ang Moh : Don’t worry –I’m still using broken French!

Froggy Woogie: Hehe – yeah, he could have! LOL. Yes, it’s true, quite a few swear words in English are sexually oriented while in Québec, the swear words are religion-oriented!

Avec Amy: Hehe – same here – I’m funny when I’m not trying to be ;-)

Cirnelle: Hehe – yes I can read that! I agree, sepillg is orevated.

LB: Hehe – definite share your stories! I’m looking forward to reading them!

Anigma: I think ‘je t’aime’ is very international! That and ‘voulez-vous coucher avec moi’ – everything knows at least these 2 phrases in French!

DestinationMetz: Heheh – his cranium hurts! That’s funny! I like the word too!

Bee: Yep – I do make mistakes in French but they’re not as funny! His mistakes are funnier…at least I think so ;-)

Sam: Hiya! You know, I think I misplaced my brain as it took me ages to realise that I didn’t have the comments enabled on my blog!

Olivier: Désolée! J’étais trop faignante pour écrire en français. Mais, en court, pendant des années, mon mari a dit ‘shalom suckers’ au lieu de ‘so long suckers’. ‘Shalom’ est une expression de salutation en en hébreu (plus ou moins l’équivalant de ‘Assalamu alaikum’). Et ‘suckers’ veut dire ‘idiot’. Donc, il disait, ‘shalom idiots’ au lieu de ‘adieu idiots’.

Et dans son email, il a écrit ‘I own you big one’ – qui veut dire ‘ton grand truc appartient à moi’. Il a voulu en fait dire ‘je te dois une grand faveur’ – ‘I owe you a big one’ ;-)

tongue in cheek said...

Too funny!

christina said...

Those are so funny! I've been planning on doing a post on the stuff my husband says as well.

ciara said...

came by way of dumdad's blog and all i could do after reading this post was lmao. to be honest, i'm not sure if there's one single solitary person on this planet who knows how to speak english correctly lol

ColourMeCrazy said...

TongueinCheek: Glad you liked it.

Christina: Can't wait to read your post!

Ciara: Thanks for stopping by!

Katia said...

This is brilliant :)