Minor Differences in Language Can Lead to Big Mistakes


Warning: Adult Humor Ahead

It was bound to happen. I had to make a bad mistake eventually. It happens to everyone. I was just hoping it wouldn't happen to me! I've heard stories of similar mistakes happening to others. It's easy to do. Once you start getting comfortable with the language, you start getting adventurous with your words, which is a good thing, and sometimes a really funny mistake.

It happened when my cousin asked me how French food is different than American food. It was asked casually at the end of dinner, after his two boys had gotten down from the table to play soccer outside before going to bed. I began explaining that our taste in food is different and that French people tend to eat all the parts of the animal rather than just a few. I then explained that our food is not always as fresh as in France too and that it always has some sort of chemical or preservatives in it. And that's where it happened.

In French, preservatives can be called either conservateurs or preservateurs. Most usually use the first one, but the second can be used sometimes, and that was the word that I thought I was saying. Instead, I thought the correct word was preservatif, which did not have the same meaning as I intended. Instead, preservatif means condom.

Yes I announced to my aunt, my uncle, and my cousin that Americans put a lot of condoms in their food and that is how American and French food is different. So there you have it folks, my first big mistake and it probably won't be my last. Oh well, at least everyone got a good laugh!

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