You may be feeling like like your sponge next to the kitchen sink, trying to absorb all the new words for the new language your are trying to learn. All praises to you for the effort and for being open minded.

Learning a language is like going through a cultural immersion or more aptly termed, adventure. You need to be brave enough to pronounce the new words and it can be quite a danger especially for beginners.

Here are some words that you might want to know. They are pretty much innocent for one language and spells trouble if you are in another country:

  • Bimbo – In Italian, this simply refers to a baby. Try using it in English and say “hey, bimbo!” and you will not be getting a giggly reaction but a slap on a face since it means a sexually liberated girl in English.

 

  • Cin cin – In Italy this would actually be so innocent as in “Cheers!”. In Japan, you will be referring to the sexual organ of a little boy.

 

  • Katso or Cazzo – In Finnish this simply means “Look!” while in Italy this refers to the male organ.

 

  • Slut – Talk in Sweden and you are safe since this just means “over or done or finish”. In English, this means a girl is very sexually liberated. How about “slut spurt”? Ah that just means a quick sprint.

 

  • Fart – In English this means letting air out or flatulence while in Danish it just means “fast”.

 

  • Curva or Kurva – It means “curve” in Italian but in Hungary this means “prostitute”. So it will really depend where you are how one will interpret “ Careful when you approach the curva.”

 

Similar sounding words

There are also words which can get you in trouble because of the slightest difference in pronunciation. One letter or one wrong emphasis can mean a lot of difference:

 

  • Beach vs Bitch – The first means sun, water, and sand. The other word in English means a female dog or more commonly it is used to refer to hostile women.

 

  • Anno vs Ano – The first word refers to “year” while the latter means “anus”.

 

  • Beaucoup vs Beau cul – In French the first word means “many” while the latter is a term for a “nice bum/ass”

 

  • Pollo vs Polla – Pollo is chicken in Spanish while polla points to the male genitalia.

 

Careful when you modify

A lot of words that we know off have Latin roots. And thinking that it might apply to a certain language we are learning, we get into big trouble:

 

  • Embarassed vs Embarazado – The first word just means one feels ashamed/shamed while the second word is in Spanish meaning “pregnant”.

 

  • Preservatives vs Preservatifs – Preservatives are ingredients you use so something will last while it means different when you ask your French host to pass the preservatifs which actually in French means “condoms”.
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