Lost in Translation

Brandon Osborne
2 min readSep 6, 2022

Today in Ecuador, I was speaking my usual Spanglish with a friend and asked her, “Tienes un penny (Do you have one cent)?” Everyone looked at me with a mixture of disgust and humor, and I couldn’t figure out why. Later, I realized it sounded like “Tienes pene” (do you have a penis)! 🤣 That got me thinking about the many other epic language fails I’ve made while traveling the world. The following are just a few of my favorites, but I could write a book on the subject.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash
  • In Romania, it took me almost five years to realize that instead of asking for mineral water with lemon, I was asking for apa minerala cu la muie (mineral water with a blowjob).
  • In Greece, malaka is a very versatile word meaning everything from dumbass to buddy. After six months in Greece, I would go to the store and ask for malaka instead of mylako (milk).
  • When I saw a pretty butterfly in Romania, I would call it a fu tu te instead of a fluture. Fu tu te is slang for “I will fuck her.” Then there was when I lived in Iasi and asked for some fast food “de mana,” which means handjob. In Transilvania, it simply means the much more docile by hand. I have no idea why every faux pas I make is related to sex! 😆
  • I buy fish all the time & the Ecuadorians laugh at me for the way that I say trucha (trout). They swear that I’m saying chucha (pussy). They made fun of me for so long that when I was staying next to a little hotel called Mamacucha (that means sweet old lady), I had Mama chucha in my head and would say that almost every time. 😮

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Brandon Osborne

I’m the Chief Software Architect of coderPro.net. I’ve been developing software on the Microsoft stack for 20 years & have been traveling the world for over 10!