Language is such a wonderful thing. And I love it when it comes out a bit wrong and a new word is made, a new image created or an unintended moment of hilarity enjoyed.
I bought Mateo a t-shirt like this -
and I laugh every time I see it!
I remember a family dinner - must be about twelve years ago because it was summer and I was heavily pregnant with Ruy - he'll be twelve in a month's time. We ate outside with my parents and my sister and her family at our little terraced house. Knowing my mother spoke a little Spanish and having the habit of speaking it to my sister - who doesn't - after the plates had been cleaned the first time, FR asked 'Quieres mas?' - to which my mother with some enthusiasm answered 'Oh yes, please!' Judy's face was a picture of shock and horror for a moment before she started laughing. She had no idea what FR had said but presumed it wasn't what she'd heard - which was Kiss my ass? - and my mum had meant something completely different with her Yes please! No need to explain our sometime unusual offer of seconds!
Last night, we had a lovely evening with friends and we drank rather more than either FR or I are used to. Sam is English and Dave is from Glasgow originally and we'd been talking about making mistakes in Spanish - and we've all made some howlers! Around midnight, we saw a headlamp (and I mean a lamp on a headband) at the gate and recognised it as Sergio with his dogs and a nephew in tow, so FR jumped up and went to greet him, shouting in English - 'Would you like a drink?' A chorus followed him from the table in the garden that he was speaking in English...whereupon FR switched to Spanish but didn't quite get it right. 'Quieres un vaso' is what he meant to ask...and remember in Spanish, the 'v' is pronounced exactly like 'b'...and this means 'do you want a glass (of something)'.
However, this is not quite what he said. He asked Sergio if he'd like a 'beso' - which is a kiss! And Sergio, without missing a beat, wiped the back of both his hands across his mouth in an exaggerated gesture of preparation - for a kiss. Beautiful timing! We did laugh.
And then, later on, just before going to bed, I read a comment left by Janice (in Caunes or is she now somewhere else?) in which she'd made a simple typing error. But it was one that had me pondering for ages! Remember I had been drinking Cava and Oporto - rather than my usual cup of tea - before coming to this - and I quote:
The beetles, cigales, and toads have visited us in their hoards this year. We think it might be the same toad who keeps coming back to join us at dinner under the pergola....perhaps we should drop a bit of paintonto him to see if it really is him making return visits, after we carefully take him back to the far end of the garden.
It was the word 'paintonto' that confused me. I read it as some special sort of bread used for marking toads. Not so daft on my part as I know 'pain' is French for bread - and Janice is in France...and 'tonto' is a Spanish word for 'silly or daft' but could also be French or Italian... OK, silly pain, I am! It may be quite obvious to everyone else that there is a space missing between 'paint' and 'onto'.
Oh dear, and now it's got me started - thinking about other little mistakes and how a letter here or there can make all the difference. Possibly my very favourite one is absolutely true and a mistake that I made myself in a letter to all 191 Primary School secretaries back in the 1990s. We had just been putting computers into schools for administrative purposes and in those days, we had to send updates out on a floppy 'disk or disc' in an envelope though the snail mail. I remember typing a little note to go out with these things but being momentarily undecided whether to type 'disk' or 'disc'. I obviously couldn't properly decide but my unconscious 'solution' was quite outrageous... the letter eventually went out included the following line:
"Please find enclosed a 3" floppy dick with full instructions for use..."
I should have recorded some of the responses for posterity...especially as some of the secretaries at this time were the blue-rinse dragons of days gone by!
Any good howlers to share??