Lost in translation…

Trying out a new language poses many perils for the beginning speaker. Pitfalls abound in one’s first attempts at communicating concepts in spoken form. Chinese seems especially difficult to us, where slight pronunciation shifts make all the difference in the outcomes. Here are just a few of the blunders we remember making in our first two months here in Nanjing, along with what we were trying to say, as the context wouldn’t even have been enough to get the meaning in some cases!

1. Leo, you’re extremely strange. (well-behaved.)
2. He’s a very greasy man. (friendly man.)
3. We big garlic to go. (We are planning..)
4. Leo is June. (six months old.)
5. That’s very swimming pool. (very useful.)
6. I want a bowl of vodka. (breakfast porridge.)
7. We want to hire a nanny that beats children. (raises children.)

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3 Responses to “Lost in translation…”


  1. 1 Julie Anderson April 8, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    The ‘we want a to hire a nanny that beats children’ is definitely my favorite. Who doesn’t want a child-beating nanny after all? I would have loved to sit in on those interviews!

  2. 2 Rachael April 9, 2008 at 1:13 am

    That last one made me laugh out loud as well!!!

  3. 3 Becca June 23, 2008 at 7:59 pm

    Why is number 6 wrong? ;o)


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