In a bid to expand my Latvian language skills beyond murder, weapons and ‘Order! Order in the court!’, I’ve been watching ‘Two and a Half Men’ with subtitles. I was pretty pleased with myself for picking up a couple of phrases that could, potentially, come in handy in the real world.
The first was ‘alkstu pēc jums’ – I ache for you. I proudly told my Latvian friend about my new sentence and she practically fell over laughing. NO Latvian would ever use such flowery language! If, and this is a big if, I ever want to seduce a Latvian, all I need to know is ‘Es tevi gribu’ – I want you. No need for small talk or poetry; just get straight to the point.
The other expression was ‘laimīgi līdz mūža beigām’ – happily ever after – but on second thoughts, I guess I probably won’t need this one, as the concept doesn’t exist in Latvia.
But at least I’m not the only one who’s struggling with a new language. Here are some corkers my students have come out with over the last few weeks:
“Women wear make-up because they want to be nicey and honey.” Indeed. Indeed we do.
“Tonight I’m going to make an apple pay.” What on earth did the poor apple do to you?
“They really like each other. They get on like a horse on fire.” The visual part of my brain is a bit scarred from this one.
“I can’t remember the words but I can roar the tune.” I think you got ‘roar’ and ‘hum’ confused.
“…but it’s OK because I got back on him.” No. No, dear. You got back at him. You could only get back on him if you’d just got off him, but that wouldn’t really be an appropriate topic for the lesson…
“I feel myself good.” It works in Russian, but… again, not really appropriate for an English lesson.
Even if it isn’t strictly professional, it’s mistakes like these that make my day as an English teacher. However, other mistakes, the same ones I correct day after day after day, have brought me close to bashing my head off my whiteboard.
So, because I value my sanity and because I’m a kind soul really, here it is – a free English lesson.
- It depends ON – not for or from or anything else, ON – just ON
- ‘Normal’ is not the answer to ‘How are you?’
- It’s ‘Thank God’, not ‘Thanks God’.
- While we’re on the subject of random ‘s’s, advices, knowledges and trainings are not words.
- You don’t ‘must to do’ or ‘should to do’ anything.
- Starting every sentence with ‘No, yes’ is just confusing to an English speaker.
- It’s hoTEL, not HOtel
- The economic crisis was caused because we were not economical.
- ‘In general’ or ‘generally’, not ‘in generally’. The same goes for ‘as usual’ and ‘usually’.
- If my boyfriend gives me money, I will buy leopard-print stilettos; if my boyfriend gave me money, I would buy leopard-print stilettos; if my boyfriend had given me money, I would have bought leopard-print stilettos.
- ‘Jewish’ is not a nationality. ‘Jewdish’ is not even a word. ‘Jewland’ is not a country.
- The ‘g’ in ‘Nigeria’ is pronounced /dʒ/ – and no, it’s not funny when you pronounce it the other way.
- And finally, yes, articles are important.
Phew, I feel myself so much more better for getting that on my chest.