I wanted to put up some of the more ridiculous misunderstandings I've had due to my poor Spanish. I obviously translated these conversations from Spanish to English. Here they go:
What I meant: Let's hurry!
What I said: Let's go poop together!
My Counterpart: Have you ever been to the water park?
Me: How can you visit the wind?
My counterpart: No, like a park with slides and sprinklers. Have you ever been?
Me: Yeah, I've been there: I've heard of it but never been there.
Trying to explain falling out of my hammock and bruising my tailbone
Me: So, I was just sitting there in my hammock reading, and they shut me up.
Friend: Who made you shut up?
Me: Nobody, I was in there alone.
Friend: So what happened?
Me: They made me shut up and hit my butt on the concrete!
What I meant: Do you have eggs (for sale)?
What I said: Do you have testicles?
On my first day in country after getting dropped off in a car at my host family's.
Host Mother: So, how'd you get from the training center? Did you walk?
Me: No, I rode in on a pig.
Friend: So, where do you want to eat?
Me: Do you know if the f*ckers food is any good?
Me: You know, the guy who makes f*cking food -- like Chow Mein and fried rice.
Boss: Does Peace Corps let you ride a motorcycle?
Me: Yes, but I have to wear an orange peel on my head while I do it.
Boss: You mean a helmet?
Me: Exactly -- an orange peel.
While waiting to give a computer class...
Me: I want to start class. Have bulls arrived yet?
Co-worker: Sergio already left to work with the cattle.
Me: Okay, but I want to know if all the bulls have arrived yet.
Co-Worker: You should go start class. Everybody's arrived.
What I meant: Is your wife an indigenous Mayan?
What I said: Does your wife just use you for your money?
This one is actually a friend's lack of understanding of English. He called me one afternoon and we had this conversation.
Sergio: Hey, how's it going?
Me Fine. What's up?
Sergio: I need some help with some English. What's "Prayzin eekay" mean?
Me: Prazin eekay means nothing. Tell me word for word.
Sergio: Um, Praise---Eenay---Kay.
Me: Is this something religious?
Sergio: No, it came up on the office computer. Did I break the computer?
Me: No, it means press any key. Just hit a button and everything will be fine.
These aren't mine, but still fantastic anecdotes.
A common saying in Guatemala is "Thank God" One may say it such as "Thank God for the nice weather," "Yes, my family's fine, thank god," etc. The saying translates in Spanish as "gracias a Dios," or thanks to god. However, a Dios, as a single word, means goodbye. One volunteer, whenever anyone would say "Yes, I'm well, thanks to God," would simply say goodbye and walk away in the middle of the conversation, both of them walking away thinking the other is rude and doesn't want to talk.
This story may be a little bastardized, but it's mostly true.
One male volunteer still in training, lived with a host family, which included a very attractive 17-year old host sister.
Host sister: How are you doing?
Volunteer's intended response: I'm warm, but don't worry about it.
In the greatest mistranslation ever, he actually said:
"Well, I'm horny, but I don't have a penis."