Bird on a Bare Branch

Attempting to fling a frail song in my little corner of the world

Yummy?? February 9, 2009

Filed under: Language — Jen @ 1:05 pm

I once explained to my former assistant that pronunciation often doesn’t matter in English, but sometimes it really makes a difference. For example, it doesn’t matter if someone asks me, “Howah yoo?” or calls me Seestah Jen, but it does make a difference when he calls his exams ‘testes’.

On Saturday I was browsing the cakes at Clube Nautico and asked what a particular brownish tart-looking thing was. The server told me the name in Portuguese. I said (in Portuguese), “Yes, but what is it? What’s inside?” He said (in English), “Penis.” “Excuse me?!” I said. He repeated it very clearly in English, at which point my two English friends and I were giggling a little bit. Then he said, “Amendoim” (peanuts in Portuguese). “Aha,” I said, wondering what the Portuguese for ‘penis’ is so that I could correct him. But I’ve never needed to know that word. Realizing I couldn’t tell him what he was actually saying to us and why we were laughing, and realizing I didn’t really want to describe it to him, I simply leaned forward and said, “Pea-nuTS.” He repeated, “Penis. Chocolate penis.”

As tempting as it may have been, I did not order a slice.


2 Responses to “Yummy??”

  1. Rachel Says:

    That is really, really funny. I laughed out loud!

  2. Zach Says:

    Meant to comment on this a while back…but this reminded me a bit of an experience in Brazil (knowing how to say certain anatomical parts).

    About 6 months into my year in Brazil a sex ed professor from Missouri came to teach classes to various schools out in countryside. She didn’t speak Portuguese, so the local Rotary club volunteered my translation services.

    My problem was that my “vocab” was from the streets (what my classmates had taught me) and not, well, academic and proper.

    So I got out the old dictionary and crammed a bunch of medical terms into my head. Even still, had to be the most awkward class I’ve helped teach.

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