Sometimes an innocent word in a language can sound really bad in another, and that's where the real fun is. Below are some words that are completely innocuous in their native language but sound downright inappropriate and rude to the ears of speakers of other languages.
This post is courtesy of The Language Nerds, a blog by Yacine Ahtaitay. If you also want to see your content in our website, click here to send a 400-word article and the chance to be read by our millions of followers.
Words are fun. They are what gets us, language nerds, turned on. When you speak more than one language, you realize that words mean different things in different languages. Sometimes an innocent word in a language can sound really bad in another, and that's where the real fun is. Below are some words that are completely innocuous in their native language, but sound downright inappropriate and rude to the ears of speakers of other languages.
If you don't speak Dutch, this advertisement may seem terrifying. For a Dutch speaker, it simply means "Mom, that one, that one, that one."
In Brazilian Portuguese, the word "bico" means a small or casual job. In Portugal, however, it has an unexpected meaning: "blowjob"! There is this Brazilian guy who recently came to Portugal and went to a job interview where he was asked about the kind of jobs he was doing in Brazil. His reply was something like "nothing special, just some bicos!"
那个 (nèi gè, NAY-ghe)
In Chinese Mandarin, this is a speech filler like 'um' and literally means 'that'. Just imagine how awkward it is going to get when you accidentally use this filler with your African-American professor!
"Szukać" is a Polish word that means "to look for something." In Czech, though, it means to have sex. This is awkward considering that Czech and Poland are neighbors.
"Cuca" is a traditional southern cake in Brazil. Interestingly, this word comes from the German "kuchen", which means, literally, cake. In some Spanish-speaking countries, you may not want to say that word because it refers to female genitalia. So, if you are in Mexico and want to say 'let's eat some cuca", you might want to hold off and think deeply about the trouble you will put yourself into.
In Finnish, Katso means "look!". But in Italian, it doesn't sound as elegant. It is used to refer to, well, a (tiny) penis.
"Fakt jó", pronounced "fuck yo", is a Czech expression meaning "for real" and I think it's self-explanatory. As you might have guessed, this word is used quite a lot by Czech speakers. If you are an English speaker who doesn't know Czech, you will feel offended at the sound of this expression.
Curva is the Spanish word for 'curve' but it doesn't sound so good in Serbian and other Slavic languages. Down there, it means "whore". If you are a Spanish speaker and want to say curve in Serbia, tread carefully.
Puss is an innocent and beautiful Swedish word that means a kiss on the cheek. But when you utter this word in English speaking countries, everybody turns their heads around. This is the case for many other Swedish words such as "fart" (speed), "prick" (small dot), and "Fack" (small compartment).
Deny in Spanish is written "Negar". No wonder why North Americans get nervous when they are asked to read it.
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