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Off topic: Similar sounding words in English and other languages
Thread poster: Cheekita
Cheekita
Local time: 22:52
English to Italian
Sep 7, 2003

HI! I'm crazy about England, its' language, its' people.
I know there are some weird combinations in English which sound very funny(but not senseless!)in other languages and viceversa.
I could give an example: "Bred safe cable"= "bred sivoi kabyly"(grey horse's delirium) in Russian or the most exciting "belly button"= "bely baton" (white bread in Russian.
I would be very thankful if you could help me to find more similar sounding words and expressions.
Cheekita.


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Juan Jacob  Identity Verified
Mexico
Local time: 15:52
French to Spanish
+ ...
I have one... Sep 7, 2003

Cheekita = little girl en spanish (Je, je.)

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Thank a fieldmouse Sep 8, 2003

This one cropped up in the German forum recently.
To the uninitiated English ear, the German "Danke vielmals" (Thank you very much) sounds like "Thank a fieldmouse".

And following Juan's example:

Cheekita sounds like cheeky tar = an impudent sailor.

And at BBC Monitoring, I once transcribed a talk by a Professor Bogorov - stress on last syllable, unstressed "o" in Russian pronounced like "a", so his name sounds like "Bugger off!"

When I was learning Russian in the RAF, on a course at London University, we had an instructor who was supposed to teach us military terms (his own vocabulary was about 40 years out of date, but that's another story). He came to the word "Kant", which means "piping" - a form of decoration applied to clothing, including military uniforms. He said (I'll transliterate to avoid encoding problems) "Mne govoryat, chto eto neprilichnoye slove po-angliyski - a po-russki, sovsem prilichnoye." (They tell me this is a rude word in English, but in Russian it's quite respectable). He was right, of course; it does sound like a vulgar term for part of the female anatomy.
And the strange thing was, no-one in our class had thought of it - though we were all young men in our early twenties.

By the way. Claudia, do you think this topic ought to be transferred to the "Lighter side" forum? It seems to me that it would be more appropriately located there.

[Edited at 2003-09-08 11:12]


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Lorenzo Lilli  Identity Verified
Local time: 23:52
German to Italian
+ ...
Tar?? Sep 8, 2003

Jack Doughty wrote:

And following Juan\'s example:

Cheekita sounds like cheeky tar = an impudent sailor.

[Edited at 2003-09-08 04:33]


Tar? I\'m translating a text about this black viscid substance, and I thought for a second that you meant this But maybe it would be a little bit senseless


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Anna Launay
France
Local time: 23:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Yes I do Sep 8, 2003

One American woman said she was surprised to hear an old babushka in a Moscow bus say without any accent "Yes, I do". "I'm getting off" (Ia soidu) sounds like "Yes, I do" in Russian.

In a restaurant, we ask for "shiot" (bill), which sounds like wc in French.

Flood is potop in Russian, pronounced like 'patop'. Pas top le deluge.


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Anna Launay
France
Local time: 23:52
English to Russian
+ ...
Box Sep 8, 2003

This seemingly innocent plant is 'samshit' in Russian.

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Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 22:52
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Tar Sep 8, 2003

Tar, in addition to the viscous black substance, also means "sailor" in English popular usage, often in the form "Jack Tar".
It comes from the fact that in the 18th century, sailors used to wear pigtails (plaits), which they would daub with tar to keep them in order.


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Andy Watkinson
Spain
Local time: 23:52
Member
Catalan to English
+ ...
Three? Sep 8, 2003

And the surely fictitious American who goes into a bar in Germany and says:
"Martini....dry"

And gets served three Martinis??

-----o-----

As any English teacher in Spain (and probably Latin America) knows, phrasal verbs in English can be a hazard.

No-one wants to teach the chapter describing how to use verbs connected with dressing because "put on" pronounced by a Spanish speaker comes out "putón", the augmentative of "puta", i.e. whore.

Students (especially women) prompted to say, for example,
"I put on my coat in the morning" rarely get past the first three words


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Rebekka Groß  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:52
English to German
Uranus censored!!! Sep 8, 2003

Here's another one that shows how alive and kicking censorship still is to this day on the BBC - remember the song "Who the **** is Alice" but that is another story...

We recently watched a programme on BBC2 where the presenter kept pronouncing the name of the planet Uranus with the emphasis on the first syllable. I (German by origin) thought that was really bizarre because I new it to be pronounced on the second syllable. Mentioning this, my partner said: "Just think a wee minute what else does Uranus (with emphasis on the 2nd syllable) sound like?" I was clueless - because I don't have a dirty mind - but it actually sounds like "your anus". And I noticed with glee that the presenter slipped towards the end of the programme and pronounced the word correctly. They couldn't edit this out because it was a live transmission


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budonthesly
Local time: 22:52
English
Vietnamese mistakes Mar 19, 2006

I am an English teacher in Vietnam, and thouroughly enjoy it. My job is constantly filled with laughter, from students and myself.

An example following the trend of the subject under discussion is a common occurence when teaching countries in English.

The mistake is forever being made of deciding to tech thye name of that small socialist island of the american coast known as Cuba. Sounds perfectly harmless, until..... suddenyl all your students have either gone very red, or are rolling on the floor laughing. yes, you have just asked them to say "old man's penis" in their mother tongue.

ba being old man, and cu.... the other bit.

Cubans beware when travelling south east asia!!!

(sorry to lower the tone)


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:52
Member
English to Turkish
Moved the topic... Mar 19, 2006

...to the Lighter Side of Trans/Interp forum.


Jack, I am not Claudia, though, but you are right, since it is related to languages, this thread should better continue in this forum. Thank you for pointing this out.

Jack Doughty wrote:
By the way. Claudia, do you think this topic ought to be transferred to the "Lighter side" forum? It seems to me that it would be more appropriately located there.


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Özden Arıkan  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 23:52
Member
English to Turkish
Odin the High One Mar 19, 2006

This had given me a good laughter when translating a short text on Norse mythology. A phonetic transcription of "high one" would be similar to the "hayvan" in Turkish, which means "animal" and is used as an insult. In fact, there are many variations of this made up by school kids just for fun; for example, "Why high one [or sometimes, "hi one"], why!" -> "Vay hayvan vay!", meaning, "Oh, what an animal!", again, quite rude and offensive to say to someone, but suggesting that that someone has done something very unacceptable or outrageous.

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