Lost in translation


Isaac Prilleltensky’s Nov. 2 Other Views column, Culturally clueless, linguistically lost?, reminded me of my own embarrassing language moments when abroad, especially with British English. Being American, I often say, “Excuse me” or “Pardon me.” In the United Kingdom, only children use those expressions after belching or passing gas. Stick with, sorry.

Worse was leading a game that required tossing a ball. But never, ever say toss in England, unless you are referring to a derogatory hand sign done with one finger or to a person who derives personal pleasure below the waist. That was embarrassing!

Here at home, an English-speaking friend told his date’s Spanish-speaking father how much he had embarazada the daughter in a restaurant only to see the father’s eyebrows rise in horror, until his realized that she had not been impregnated.

Leah Kinnaird, Miami

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