Stories from my 14-month study abroad in Buenos Aires, my 16-month post-college move to Miami, and my get-me-the-hell-out-of-Miami move to Denver

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Little Language Mix-Up!

This is a story for which everyone who has learned a foreign language can relate. False Cognates!

I don't like tomatoes in the United States. I've never liked them. Mom always forced me to try them, but everytime was the same. I didn't like them. I don't know what it is, but they just don't do it for me.

When I came to Buenos Aires, I told my host mom that I'm not a fan of tomatoes. Because of this, she never served me any when we had dinner. However, one night, Carlos cooked, and we had a salad with tomatoes. I was reluctant to eat them, but because I always finish my plate here, I ate them. To my surprise, they were great. There is something about tomatoes here that makes them amazing. They taste nothing like the tomatoes in the United States.

Well, on to the false cognates...words that look/sound similar, but don't mean the same thing at all. A good example is "actualmente," which doesn't mean "actually," but "currently." Another is...preservativo.

One would think this means preservative, like the things you put in food to make them last. Therefore, I told my host sister,

"I think the tomotoes are better in Argentina because they don't have preservativos in them."
"Pienso que los tomates estan mejor en Argentina porque no tienen preservativos."

Direct Translation:

"I think the tomatoes are better in Argentina because they don't have condoms in them."

That, my friends, is a false cognate.

Capital Federal, Buenos Aires, Argentina

1 comment:

Kirsten said...

hahahah I had one of those the other day...I was asking for something for my friend who just got a tattoo and I wanted healing creme so I said "crema curado" - which of course means cured creme. I expect to have many more of these...I won't make the preservativo mistake though!

To answer your question- no I don't drink mate here. It is not as popular. You can buy it though...oh and I must agree about the tomatoes. The traditional salad in Chile is just straight tomatoes and onions and it is so good!