It can be tricky living abroad. It can be especially tricky talking in a foreign language all day and living with native speakers. As we all know, even in our first language we’re prone to the odd slip-up now and then when we’re not quite concentrating fully on what we’re saying, or don’t have a dictionary on hand. So, as a consolation to anyone’s who has experienced a similarly embarrassing moment recently, here are a few things I said to my Italian flatmate during my 4 months in Italy that made her say ‘Ma che cosa stai dicendo?!’.
What I should have said: ‘Un amico mio viene a trovarmi’ (A friend of mine is coming to see/visit me)
What I actually said: ‘Un amico mio viene a vedermi’ – (A friend of mine is coming to look at me)
She had to clarify that I hadn’t invited a friend to come, stand and stare at me for the weekend.
What I should have said: ‘Il suo padre é felice, comunque’ (His Dad is happy, anyway)
What I said: ‘Il Papa é felice, comunque’ (The Pope is happy, anyway)
I said this a couple of minutes after we’d just had a conversation about someone’s family. Rather than adding a bit of extra information about the father of the family, I unwittingly made an unrelated comment on the Pope’s mental disposition. Note to self: use Madre and Padre when talking about parents!
What I should have said: ‘Vorrei vivere con una lavatore/con qualcuno che lavora) (I’d like to live with someone who works)
What I actually said: ‘Vorrei vivere con una lavatrice’ (I’d like to live with a washing machine)
Very simple case of word muddle here. Luckily my flatmate didn’t take me at my word and asked why my ideal candidate to live with in Spain was a washing machine.
I’m certain I made a fair few more blunders than the ones I’ve listed here, I just hope I didn’t offend any shopkeepers, lecturers or residents of my town while I was there. The lady downstairs did always looks a bit suspicious of me.