Some More Problems with the Language!
Here are a few more mistranslations that may make you smile.
This first one happened to me in Spain in 1961 or 1962 when I was staying with my sister, Maud. I was having trouble with my foot - couldn't put my weight on it. It seemed to be a recurrence of my flat foot problem - probably due to the shoes I was wearing. Anyway, my sister decided I needed to see the doctor. Now, when I was sixteen, I had been prescribed some leather arch supports and had a course of treatment which entailed putting my feet into a bowl of water on top of two metal electrodes which alternatively contracted and relaxed the foot muscle (a very odd feeling!). So, naturally, I wanted to tell the Spanish doctor about it and that I had worn supports in my shoes. I looked up 'support' in my little pocket dictionary. The most suitable word was 'sostén'. Well, I made the error of pluralizing it and explained to the doctor that I had worn 'sostenes' in my shoes. Well, did my sister laugh when I came home. I had actually told the doctor that I had worn a bra in my shoes!
My eldest sister, Marie-Claire, who is a nun in the religious order of the Sisters of Marie Auxiliatrice, told us this story about the Papal Nuncio to Paris (I think it was Archbishop Roncalli, the future Pope John XXIII]. He gave a speech to a group of Church Dignitaries on his arrival in France and inadvertently said "When I look at my behind..." [Quand je regarde mon derrière..."] when he meant to say, "When I look back on my past..."
There is another trap that English people abroad can fall into - using a foreign word that sounds like the English one you want to use. My sister made this bloomer when she first visited Spain. She is an inveterate chatterbox so, when she was introduced to a handsome young man at a party, she was not put off by her (at the time) limited ability with the language. She was recounting an embarrassing episode that had just happened to her so she said "Estoy muy embarazada". She didn't realise until later that what she had said was not, "I am very embarrassed", as she thought! What she actually told the young lad was, "I am very pregnant"!
Another extremely unfortunate incidence of this kind of mistranslation happened when an English speaking Army Chaplain wished to bless some French speaking soldiers on their way to the battle front. "Soyez blessé" he said. Whoops! Not "May you be blest" but much worse, "May you be wounded"!