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    Waaay Lost In Translation

    | Aurora, CO, USA | Language & Words

    (It is a pretty mild day, and most everyone is buzzing about the new Ikea that has opened up the month prior. I am chatting with a particularly effervescent woman with a full cart to scan. She has asked about my studies.)

    Me: “I’m just going to school downtown. I’m studying Spanish and German.”

    Customer: “Wow! That’s impressive! Pretty and smart!”

    Me: “Oh, well thank you! I actually pick up languages easily. I’ve also studied Chinese and French, and for the past year my best friend has been teaching me Swedish.”

    Customer: *scoffs* “Swedish? Ha! Like you could speak Swedish!”

    Me: “Yes, actually I can. He actually was born and raised in Stockholm… he’s still living there, actually. He’s Swedish, teaching me Swedish, so I can go to Sweden.”

    Customer: “Well, I know people who work at Ikea, and they know Swedish. So, tell me, what’s ‘Hello,’ then?”

    Me: “‘Hej,’ or ‘Hallo.’ That can be followed up with ‘Hur mår du’ and other various phrases.”

    Customer: “Ha! I knew you didn’t speak Swedish. That’s not how you say ‘Hello!’”

    Me: “Yes, it is, actually.”

    Customer: “No, it’s not! My friends work at Ikea! They would know! You’re not speaking Swedish. That’s not Swedish!”

    Me: “Okay, then apparently my Swedish friend doesn’t know how to speak his native tongue. How do you say, ‘Hello’, in Swedish?”

    (The customer looks proud in her win and straightens herself.)

    Customer: “It’s f*******e.”

    (My jaw drops. The translation of this is roughly ‘c***face’.)

    Me: “Yes… yes sweetie, that’s exactly how you say that. You’re right. Have a nice day.”

    (She left looking incredibly satisfied. The moment I got off of work, I texted my friend. He and I still laugh about this over a year later.)