I speak a little Spanish; a word here and there. If spoken very slowly I might understand enough to get the gist of a conversation. If I read Spanish I might be able to decipher enough words to figure out what is being conveyed. Typical conversational Spanish not only leaves me out in the cold, but often has me completely scratching my head.
I sometimes think, “How does anyone understand when it is spoken so fast?” Then I realize those of us fluent in English are guilty of the same confusing speech as are other language speaking peoples.
Some words or phrases are particularly easy to confuse.
Airline/hairline: “Dude I got an airline fracture and it really hurts!”
Hurts! You’re lucky to be alive.
Bruce/Bruise: “I get my hair done once a week by Mr. Bruise.”
Damn, that sounds painful.
Tidal surge/Title search: “The tidal surge on my house took three weeks.”
Well, at least you had plenty of time to clear out before the flood.
Hair weaves/Air waves: “Sometimes I just wish they would take Donald Trump off the hair weaves all together.”
Hey, I think it looks silly, but what he does with his head doesn’t bother me.
Hike/Kike: “He was so rude I told him to take a kike.”
That sounds not only rude, but a bit anti-Semitic!
Piss on/Piston: “It’s going to cost a lot to fix Mac; you’ve got a blown piss on!”
Actually I think I would remember if my piss on was blown!
Fired/Hired: “You are doing a great job, I am so glad you were fired.”
Gee, that hardly seems fair at all.
Fission/Fishing: “My brother is an expert in nuclear fishing.”
Hmmm…fortunately I am a meatatarian. (I know, but it sounds funnier to me than carnivore.)
Black ice/Black guys: “When the temperature drops in this storm you have to be careful driving on the black guys.
Careful? I think I’ll just drive around them, not on them!
Then there are those phrases peculiar to certain areas of the country. If you are in New York you may speak perfect English but might not understand this conversation:
“Hey, it is noon have you eaten yet?”
“No, did you?”
“No, let us go and eat.”
“Hey, how are you doing?”
At work we had a secretary answer the phone with this question,
“Mr. Brownsout, maskoozecallin?”
“Mr. Brown is out; may I ask who is calling?”
Speaking a language fluently is not always a good thing.