Today my daughter, Soleil, experienced the other side of this type of miscommunication. We were at a French Honor Society fundraiser for Haiti. Along with the delicious breakfast, silent auction and live music by French students, was face painting. While Geo danced along to some holiday classics, Soleil was being painted with a Rudolph nose and a beautiful flower. She came to show me her artwork and said she’d also like to have a “papillon.” For those who don’t know French, this is the word for “butterfly” and it’s pronounced somewhat like the word “puppy” with a “yo” sound at the end. I told Soleil in French that she could go ask for “un papillon,” thinking it was a great opportunity for her to practice her French with members of the French Honor Society. The artist was listening in the wrong language, though. I don’t know how else to explain the fact that she came back with a puppy on her cheek! Soleil and I got a good laugh about how silly this was. She agreed that it was “très drôle” (very funny) and that “ça nous fait rire” (it makes us laugh) to think about it.
Do you have any silly stories to share about listening in the wrong language? I’d love to hear them! I’ll bet there are some really interesting ones out there!