I have to say, while I am not good at speaking any language other than English (and perhaps even that is debatable) I always enjoy learning about languages. I find the little differences in accents and phrasing between regions fascinating.
Probably my favourite thing to happen while interacting with people who are speaking non-English languages are when their words happen to sound like unrelated English words through coincidence. I’ll tell you what I mean.
Not that long ago, I was in a room with someone speaking Romanian via Skype. I don’t speak Romanian barring some bare-bones utility, so I wasn’t really paying attention. Then, because brains are designed to register sounds that we understand, my ears perked up at the seemingly out of context repeated uses of “Farty beany” and “Poop poop”.
Now don’t get me wrong, I was pretty sure that these meant something, but sometimes toilet humour just catches you by surprise, and I found this hilarious. I mean, ‘farty beany’ couldn’t have been a coincidence right? Beans are notoriously connected to farting!
I investigated after the call was finished, and everything was explained.
My bean-based misunderstanding was actually “foarte bine” which means “very good”. Whatever the rest of the conversation was about, things had clearly been going well, since it was repeated often!
The worrying sounds of ‘poop’ were actually just how to pronounce “pup” (short for “pupici”) meaning “kisses”. It was seemingly difficult to end the conversation, so ‘pup’ was being liberally dropped into the conversation as a hint to say goodbye.
So it all made sense, but it tickled my sense of humour. Best of all, it made these words very memorable. I am unlikely to forget them, compared to the dozens of other words that fade away because I don’t use them. The only danger would be if I was to start speaking Romanian, and get my words mixed up back in Britain. That’s the kind of thing that gets you thrown out places.