11 March 2013

More word fun!

There are words in the Croatian language that'll trip you up, no matter what. I don't even know what to call these language speedbumps...but they are sure to cause confusion whenever an English-speaking foreigner encounters them:

Smoking:  this is not a verb.  This is a noun.  It has nothing to do with lighting up and taking a puff.  A 'smoking' is the word for a tuxedo jacket.  Yup.  A guy wears a 'smoking' at his wedding.  Nobody can tell me where this word came from...but I am guessing that in lots of old British and American movies, the guys in tuxedos were usually smoking...and then somehow in a roundabout way, it made sense.  Somehow.

Keks:  sounds like cakes.  It refers to cookies (the kind you dunk in coffee, not the kind that live on your computer).  If someone asks you to bring keks to a party and you show up with a cake instead of a platter of cookies...there'll be raised eyebrows.

Torta:  no, it isn't a thin pie-like dessert item.  Torta is the word for cake.  If someone asks you to bring the torta for a birthday party...you'd better be bringing a birthday cake.  Otherwise, there'll be some really raised eyebrows.

Pita:  no, it isn't a type of Greek flat-bread that you fill with falafel and other yummies.  Pita is anything (sweet or salty) that involves a filling being rolled in a phyllo-type dough and then baked (sort of like apple strudel).  If someone asks you to bring pita to a party, and you show up with falafels....there's just going to be complete and utter silence.  And raised eyebrows.

Hulahopke:  okay, a while back, I told everyone how Croatians refer to the '@' sign as the monkey sign (for real).  And I mentioned how it always makes me laugh when I have to say it out loud when giving someone my email address.  Well, this next one is even funnier:  hulahopke is the Croatian word for that piece of ladies hosiery known as nylons or pantyhose.  I know, you are thinking to yourself:  so what, hulahopke, pantyhose, that ain't funny at all.  But wait, hulahopke is a Croatian word taken phonetically from the English word for hula-hoops!  Yup, nylons are known as hula-hoops!  So when you go to the ladies hosiery department and the saleslady asks how she can help you, you've got to tell her that you're looking for some hula-hoops!  And it cracks me up each and every time.  The best part, is that nobody can tell me WHY they are called hula-hoops.  I can only imagine that the motion one has to go through to get the things put on looks a lot like a woman doing the hula, or working a hula-hoop. 

That's all I got today.  I'll have more soon.


Alex said...

Actually, "smoking" is not as mysterious (or specific to Croatian) as you might think. :)


Gabriella said...

I understand what a smoking jacket is. In English we have smoking jackets, smoking rooms, smoking laws, etc. But the word smoking actually describes the noun sitting next to it.

In Croatian, they just say: smoking, as if it is a noun! If they said: hey, here's this smoking jakna, then that would make perfect sense.

But don't fret. The word smoking apparently is also used to describe a smoking jacket/tuxedo jacket in Dutch...and maybe a few other languages too.