Who's on first? Misadventures in language-land

By Katherine Stanley

Who’s on First,” the famous dialogue by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello about baseball players with funny names, was first used in 1938 and is still recalled today. It is a perfect example of how language can get screwed up.

Language mixups are common, and even more so when it comes to working in two or more languages. Even big international companies can get into trouble, as did Rolls Royce: they tried to sell their Silver Mist in Germany, where the word mist means manure. And Chevrolet couldn’t push their Nova cars in Latin America because the words no va mean “it doesn’t go.”

In Spanish, the word molestar means to bother. Una molestia is a nuisance. These words are heard all the time. But you would never tell someone in English to stop molesting you because she is being annoying, or say you were molested because you lost your umbrella. Another example is the word van. In English, it’s a little bus. In Spanish it means ‘they are going.’ In Hungarian, it means ‘is,’ but that doesn’t concern us because only Hungarians speak Hungarian.

We also have to deal now with computer language and new words and expressions that are not … continue reading

Via:: Tico Times


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