There are certain words I avoid while trying to learn Spanish. I might avoid them even after I finish learning the language (which will be never). Frankly, I can’t believe that native speakers don’t make these slip ups. But they don’t. Oh, no, they sure don’t. I base that on the fact that I have actually made someone have to use a wall to hold herself up from laughing so hard.
So, without, further ado... here they are.
1. La pareja/ el pajaro: I need this word all the time. It means couple. As in married couples. We have a married couples group at our church.
So, I say to Vivi, “¿Es el grupo de pajaros este noche? (Is the group of birds tonight?)
It’s easiest just to avoid it.
2. Pescado/ pecado: Yep, these two words are best to be avoided at all costs. Have I mixed them up? Yep! And my kids really love to laugh about the time I told my Sunday School class how Jesus died for all our fishes.
3. Hombre/ Hambre: I don’t suggest you ever walk into a kitchen, feeling very hungry, and wanting to express that hunger to a group of women and then announce “Tengo hombre!” You will NEVER be able to live it down. Apparently, saying that you “have a man” will be enough to tickle their funny bones for months to come.
4. Libro/ Libre/ Libra: One Year in, I still ask the market seller to give me three books worth of grapes. Only sometimes, because I am just running through them all, I ask her to give me free grapes. Not as in grapes that cost me nothing, but grapes that are not bound by slavery. Perhaps they have been saved from their fishes?
Now that you know what NOT to use, let me give you some guidance on how to make yourself understand with this lack of vocabulary. (Of course, I use spanish, but since all my readers speak English, I translated it for you.)
Couple: Instead use the spanish for “Two people”
Bird: That animal that flies. (I also gesture with my fingers by my mouth to indicate a tiny beak. Because this is sooooo much less humiliating that the language mistake)
Fish: (This one is easy because pescado is actually cooked fish. Fish still living is “pez” Just use pez. Everyone will forgive you. You will be able to live it down far easier than asking for a plate of sins.
Sin: You can either use “bad things” or “making wrong choices”.
Man: Adult boy. Haha.
Hunger: I have no work-around for this one. You will just have to be stuck making a fool of yourself.
Book: The thing for reading
Free: opposite of a slave (I use “opposite of...” a lot)
Pound: No work around. I just say it under my breath so they can’t hear me, and they ALWAYS repeat with the correct word used.
Me: I want 4 mumble mumble mumble of grapes.
Them: you want four POUNDS of grapes?
Me: YES! 4 pounds of grapes.