Tag Archives: that’s not what i meant

That’s not what I meant: course and curse

Just another day at the supermarket:

A – “I’ve heard there’s a great curse at the community center.”
B – “Sorry? A curse?”
A – “Yeah! A curse on Ikebana!”
B – “Oh, my God! What have the poor flowers done?!”

Did you get it? No? Ok, let’s analyze the sounds involved in this conversation and find out why speaker B seems so confused.

Speaker A said there is a /cãrs/ at the community center. What she meant was that there was a /córs/ at the community center. The sound /ã/ that she used instead of the sound /ó/ changed the word from course (which was what she intended to say) to curse (which is what she actually said).

Do you know the difference between course ande curse? Which one would you rather have?

Check it out here:

COURSE (check meaning number 9)

CURSE  (check meaning number 1)

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under That's not what I meant

That’s not what I meant: ballproof door

Student: “After September 11th, the cockpit of most airplanes in the United States is equipped with a ballproof door”.

Helpful teacher: “A ball proof door? Are you sure?”

Student (thinking the teacher may be deaf): “Yes, a BALLPROOF DOOR! For security reasons.”

Hopeful teacher: “Ok… a BALLproof door… what exactly do you mean by that?”

Student (thinking ‘gotcha! My teacher doesn’t know this word!’): “It’s a very strong door that you cannot open with a gunshot!”

Extremely patient teacher: “Oh, ok, because when you said BALLproof door, I thought you meant it couldn’t be opened by a BALL…”

Student (wishing the ground would swallow him whole): “Oh, no! That’s not what I meant! I meant BULLETproof door!! Teacher, why didn’t you correct me?”

Amused Teacher: “I’m not always going to be by your side when you make a mistake. You must learn how to deal with it! Plus, I was having fun…”

Student (smiling and shaking his head): “Yeah, that was pretty funny…”

Come back tomorrow for the Expression of the Week!

2 Comments

Filed under That's not what I meant

That’s not what I meant: ok

Pretty much everyone can agree that “ok” can mean a lot of different things. It depends on how you say it, when you say it, to whom you say it… Well, the other day I saw someone receive a message from someone else saying “sorry” (because they had made a silly mistake when playing an online game). As the reply was about to be sent, I pointed out that it should be changed or it could be misinterpreted. Here’s why:

“sorry”.
“ok”.

This probably means that I accept your apology, but it might be interpreted as ” I don’t care”, or even “I don’t believe you”, especially because it’s in writing and the other person can’t hear your tone or see your face.

“sorry”.
“that’s ok”.

Now the recipient of your message will understand what you meant in the first place: he shouldn’t be upset, his mistake wasn’t a big deal after all.

Even a very common – and short! – word like “ok” can send the wrong message… watch out!

===================================================================================================

Acho que todo mundo concorda que “ok” pode significar várias coisas diferentes. Depende de como você diz, quando você diz, para quem você diz… Bom, outro dia vi uma pessoa receber uma mensagem que dizia “sorry” (“desculpe”) (porque a pessoa havia cometido um errinho bobo num jogo online). Quando a resposta estava pronta para ser enviada, sugeri que a mensagem fosse modificada, ou poderia ser mal-interpretada. Eis o motivo:

“sorry”.
“ok”.

Isso provavelmente significa que aceito seu pedido de desculpas, porém pode ser interpretado como “não tô nem aí”, ou “sei – não acredito”, principalmente porque é por escrito, e a outra pessoa não pode ouvir seu tom de voz ou ver seu rosto.

“sorry”.
“that’s ok”. (tudo bem)

Agora a pessoa vai entender o que você queria dizer desde o começo: não se preocupe, seu erro não foi importante.

Mesmo uma palavra comum – e curtinha! – como “ok” pode causar um mal-entendido… cuidado!

Leave a comment

Filed under That's not what I meant

That’s not what I meant: used to

Who doesn’t have problems with false cognates or words what seem to mean one thing and actually mean another? I thought I could bring you examples of this kind of problem in this new section of the blog called “That’s not what I meant”, because that’s usually what happens: you say something and people just go “what?”. And then you realize that they understood something very different from what you thought you said; actually they understood exactly what you said, only it was not what you meant…

Our first example is a classic: used to. I can’t say whether this happens to speakers of other languages (please holler!), but Brazilians tend to use “used to” when they actually mean “usually”. This became very clear today, as I was working a booth in a very interesting event where I’m working as an interpreter.

The speaker decided to speak English, and her English was quite good, except she said “company A used to do things very well”. One of the members of the audience asked her “used to”? And she said, “yes, used to”. As a Brazilian listener I could easily tell she meant “company A usually does things very well”, but as I was not interpreting at the time, there was nothing I could do to avoid this miscommunication.

And that’s why, folks, it’s very important to learn and practice vocabulary, so you usually (at least) say what you mean to say!

==========================================================================

Quem não tem dificuldades com falsos cognatos ou palavras que parecem ser uma coisa quando na verdade querem dizer outra? Pensei em trazer exemplos desses problemas nesta nova seção do blog, chamada “That’s not what I meant” (“Não foi isso que eu quis dizer”), porque é isto que normalmente acontece: você diz algo e as pessoas ficam com cara de interrogação. Aí você percebe que elas entenderam algo muito diferente do que você pensou ter dito, só que você não queria ter dito aquilo…

Nosso primeiro exemplo é um clássico: used to. Não sei se isso acontece com falantes de outros idiomas (por favor, manifestem-se!), mas os brasileiros tendem a utilizar “used to” quando na verdade estão tentando dizer “usually”. Isso ficou muito claro hoje, quando eu estava na cabine de um evento muito interessante no qual estou trabalhando como intérprete.

A palestrante decidiu falar inglês, e o inglês dela era bastante bom, só que ela disse “company A used to do things very well” (a empresa A costumava fazer as coisas direito). Um dos ouvintes “used to”? (costumava?) e ela disse, “yes, used to” (sim, costumava). Como uma ouvinte brasileira, percebi claramente que ela queria dizer  “company A usually does things very well” (a empresa a costuma fazer as coisas direito), mas como eu não estava interpretando nesse momento, não pude fazer nada para esclarecer o mal-entendido.

E é por isso, pessoal, que é muito importante aprender e praticar vocabulário, para que você normalmente (pelo menos) diga o que quer dizer!

2 Comments

Filed under That's not what I meant