The other week in class, in answer to one of my questions, one student started talking about the Mother Ship. I wondered what on earth she was talking about because I really hadn’t asked about extra terrestrial space crafts. I had an image of a giant spaceship hovering over us in the classroom, calling for our return and I was about to burst out laughing at the randomness of it all when it suddenly clicked what she meant. She was talking about a photo in the textbook which showed a woman holding new born twins and by Mother Ship, she meant motherhood. It’s an easy mistake to make; we do after all have friendships, relationships and memberships, so applying the suffix ‘ship’ to ‘mother’ was actually quite logical, though it changed the meaning entirely and almost took our lesson into another dimension.
It got me thinking how tricky it is to learn a language. I once very innocently said in a German class that I was hot, but because I translated directly from English I actually said I was feeling horny. So, just remember if you go on your jollies to Deutschland or over here, you can’t say “Ich bin heiss” but have to say “Mir ist heiss’ which roughly means ‘for me, it’s hot’. I believe the same direct translation from English to Spanish has the same meaning, so be warned!
Since the Mother Ship incident, I’ve been on the hunt for words that are funny to an English speaker, but innocent to a local. I must admit that most of them are a bit juvenile, but I find myself sniggering every time I see them all the same.