Expat Life, Lost in Translation

Double Entendre

I just read an article about a tourist who was removed from a cruise liner when he joked about ‘jumping ship’. It was misunderstood by the crew who spoke English as a second language that he had lost the will to live and was planning to end it all by flinging him self overboard in the middle of the sea.

I don’t quite know the context, but he was presumably joking about leaving the ship at the next port or quitting his job.  Had he been planning to go overboard he would have said he was planning to jump off the ship.

At some point I will tell you about some of the lost in translation confusion and miscommunications that we have encountered on our expat travels and their hilarious results. But that can wait, because we had a few on our home turf over the last few weeks and I’m going to share the funniest two with you.

The Chess Piece

We have a wooden chess set. At some point one of the pawns went missing. Arriving home in the UK, I took one of the other pieces to a local wood turner to have it copied.  I say wood turner, but this tiny company in fact mostly makes exquisite wooden furniture.  If you are ever in the Lake District, visit Peter Hall and Son to drool over and stroke their bespoke offerings. They matched the wood and happily took on this minuscule job that would be ready for collection in under an hour.

My parents and I then took the children to a nearby park while we waited. As the end of the hour approached we rounded up the children.

My mum (a.k.a. Wonder Woman) yelled:

“Come on children, hurry up. Mummy needs to go and collect her pawn”.

Of course, that’s not what all the other nice mummies and daddies heard, is it?

Can you spot my pawn?

The Minty Peas

You can’t visit the UK and not have fish and chips at least once. Yum.  I wanted ketchup with mine and asked Mr Incredible what the green mush was that he was dipping his chip in. “It’s minty mushy peas” he said, moving a green dipped chip towards my ketchup as he spoke. The combination of ketchup and minty peas turned my stomach and in a slightly tongue-tied and hungry panic I blurted out: “Please don’t dip your minty pea-ness in my ketchup.” Fellow diners jaws dropped before the penny did, but my cheeks were soon burning when I realised what they thought I’d said.

Our holiday is just about over, so once I have washed my mouth out with soap after all that talk of pawn and minty pea-ness, there will be more tales of expat life and load shedding solutions coming soon.

What sort of miscommunications, lost in translations and double entendres have you had at home or abroad?

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