People always tell horror stories about saying the wrong word in a foreign language and either saying something offensive or sexual. They rally are trying to say something innocent, but the word is mispronounced or the phrase doesn’t mean what the speaker thought. Well, after a few years studying French, I have have finally made that, and I left laughing but embarrassed.
Many people start off making more understandable mistakes like saying “je suis chaud” or “je suis excité.” Both have sexual connotation, but to the person learning French, they mean “I am hot” and “I am excited.” (The correct way to say the first is “J’ai chaud.” For the second, one should continue the sentence and state why he is excited.) However, I seem to have generally skipped these and jumped to one many probably haven’t encountered.
At lunch last Friday, Jacob and I were eating the delicious creations of our incredibly animated and lovable cook Danielle when she asked what we were going to do for the rest of the day. Jacob simply said he would continue sleeping so that he could recover from falling ill, and I listed a couple work assignments before saying that I needed to knit. This led to a conversation about knitting and crocheting in which Danielle learned that I prefer to crochet instead of knit. As the conversation drew to a close, her interest was sparked, and she asked what I am knitting. I told her assuredly I am making a hood for my sister. Or at least that is what I thought I had said, but the wide-eyed expression crossing her face as she tilted her head and leaned slightly forward told me otherwise. “Comment? (What?)” she asked. “Une capote,” I responded without the assurance I had before. She asked again. ” I repeated while making the motion of putting a hood over my head. I was incredibly confused. I had thought she might ask what I was knitting and wanted to be able to tell her, so I had looked up the word earlier in the week using both a translator as well as a dictionary. I didn’t see how the word could be so wrong. Danielle waved her hands gently in front of her, saying “Non, non, non, ça, c’est pour les hommes. C’est un préservatif masculin. (No, no, no, that’s for men. That’s a condom.)”
Apparently it can also mean a cape or the roof of a convertible, but the first thing a French person will think of when they hear the word ” une capote” is a condom. The word I needed was “un capuchon.” You can take this as the embarrassing story it is or form one of many different lessons that can be found in it. I’ll largely just look back on this story and think of the time I learned the French version of “a rubber” after telling someone that I am making one for my sister.
If you have any embarrassing language stories, please tell them in the comments below.
For those of you interested:
I have officially raised 2575 for my trip! Thank you all so much for your help!
I do still have quite a bit to raise.
If you would like, please visit my fundraising page for more details about my stay in France and about how to donate to my internship funds.
My travel experiences have always been a little bizarre or planned last minute. I can’t say I like it, but it certainly keeps life interesting. When I found out my itinerary just one and a half weeks before coming to France, my nerves were wrecked. All the unexpected changes on flight day didn’t help. But even after a majorly delayed flight, a changed flight, and running through the airport like a maniac running from a herd of charging rhinos, I finally made my first connecting flight and met up with a friend from school afterward until our next flights.
Since then, my life has been a strange mixture of the familiar and the brand new, as the village I lived in two years ago has changed and the people I’m living with are no longer the twelve people I came to know as family, but instead three of them and four people completely new to me (as well as one visitor who left before I awoke this morning). I’ve already become incredibly attached to these fantastic people, but my heart is being pulled seven directions for John, Marshall, Cate, Dylan, Karrisa, Anna, and Michelle.
Because of all the groups who will come and stay at the house throughout the spring, I’m living with Claira in Elvira’s apartment, and it’s incredibly different from what I had known before. But it’s only a block from the house, and it’s nice to be forced to go outside every morning. The view from my window is gorgeous and will never fail to be so, especially just as the sun is peeking it’s first rays over the horizon in an attempt to grab onto our beach and stop blushing after its first sight. It’s still fairly shy most of the time, but the sun has made more of an appearance the last couple days.
I’m so excited to start working on a more set schedule this week, even if it means working at 7:15 in the morning. Because my week of ease and jet lag is over and the first group’s arrival today, I will be working on overload in the mornings and the evenings and then have a bit more time to work on my own projects and the language learning content (editing, creating, and artwork) in the late mornings and mid afternoons. I get to take part in helping several groups of American’s learn more about France, French, and the state of the church as well as make their stay as enjoyable as possible. I’m so excited to see how God uses my time here to impact the people I encounter and change my own life as well.
Starting this week, I’ll try posting more often about the details and funny/interesting stories and such. But here’s to my first week finished and to my second week beginning.
Feel free to comment below and ask questions about my stay, experiences, travels, and work.
I am still trying to raise the last $1600 for my stay, so if you would consider donating that would be wonderful. There are several ways to contribute, and they are all listed on this fundraising page: http://www.gofundme.com/faith_in_france
Stay faithful, and stay fantastic. I’ll write you later this week.