By Chris Habash

I must say that my family’s lack of knowledge about the American culture and its lexicon has allowed for some funny incidents prior to moving to the U.S in 2002. The one I remember most fondly happened on my family vacation to Taba, Egypt.

I remember the beautiful scenery, the humungous swimming pool and the awesome villa-stylized hotel rooms. Apparently our room was charged with several bills for the drinks in the mini-fridge. Funny thing was, we never opened the fridge, probably because its contents were overcharged anyways.

So one day my mom found an American worker there whom we could complain to, and she told him: “Your service is on the face!” Now, in Hebrew (“השירות הוא על הפנים!”) that phrase makes perfect sense. It’s slang for the English equivalent of “your service sucks.”

You can imagine the look on the worker’s face. It’s probably the same look that we got later on for asking for “snickers” at the shoe store and for “doodoorunt” at the bathroom compartment. We basically came to learn that many of the words and phrases that exist in our language do not apply to English, and I’m sure that many other cultures and languages can attest to this.

It seemed strange that many people did not understand what we were saying, but we learned that the U.S has its own special vernacular that you just have to get accustomed to. The linguistic barrier between two different cultures can be a difficult, yet entertaining thing to come across.

For more posts on translation, click here.