You want me, you just don’t know it yet

“You want me, you just don’t know it yet.”

I did a double-take–why had I scribbled this phrase in my notebook?

It took me a minute before I remembered that I was starting a list of those oh-so-eloquent English T-shirt sayings I spy on a weekly basis. These walking billboards make me hope that their owners are oblivious to the cringe-worthy messages sprawled across their chests. Other examples include:

Life is a bubble bath

The leprechaun made off with my stash

Skulls with tits are cool

Just go to a foreign country

But that’s not where the funny file ends. Remember the planner I shared with you in early August? Well, it comes with a handy list of irregular English verbs. Hidden among the infinitives “spend” and “stand,” we’ve got the verb “spread.”  After seeing that the corresponding Spanish translation, “propogar,” refers to the meaning of “to spread out,” the question of Why the heck was this word included? still remains. There are only a few situations I can think of that would call for the use of that action word, and one of them is not planner-appropriate.

Next, let’s take a look at another look at why life in a tourist city can be filled with kicks and giggles: English translations. Below are two for you to ponder.

Exhibit A: “Don’t let anybody say and what they say it’s for your shame, that everything here was beautiful until you came here.”


Exhibit B: I’ve heard of new potatoes; are brave potatoes even more pioneering?

Menus often provide giggle-inducing translations, and I don’t have enough toes to keep track of how many times I’ve chuckled at English-language menus. The restaurant above serves “brave potatoes,” a translation from the Spanish “patatas bravas.” “Bravas” is a spicy tomato sauce–perhaps because one must be valiant enough to stand the spice. Considering that a) a restaurant catering to tourists often waters down the piquancy and b) native English speakers will be unfamiliar with a vegetable boldly going where no spud has ever gone before, this translation just doesn’t cut it.

Now, prepare yourself for this next photo:

Yes, you did read that correctly. The menu in the window of La Alpargatería, an Italian restaurant, aims to entice eaters with the phrase “come well.” While this is most likely a combination of the Spanish “come,” which commands “EAT!,” and the English “well,” the phrase won’t have typical English speakers dreaming of pizza.

So there you have it, boys and girls; this is one reason why being an English speaker in a foreign country can provide endless entertainment.

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  1. Where’s the LIKE button??!! Very amusing, indeed!

  2. Brave potatoes!! Do you remember that we saw that translation in Avila too?? and it was “Brave patotoes” hahahah…and “octupus to the galician” was on there too! I also remember you pointing out the “Come well” sign to me…awww i miss Madrid!

  3. bahahaha, these kind of giggles are what creates demand for English auxiliares!

    where the heck was the “don’t let anybody say” sign? even in Spanish it’s on the bizarre side.

  4. Love finding these, it really makes my day. I saw “patatas bravas” translated as “friend potatoes”.

    • Cassandra

      Mot – There’s no like button, but you can send this post to facebook if you feel like sharing!

      Elana – Of course I remember our encounter with Avila’s menu boards! They all seemed to offer the exact same thing, including, of course, the giggle-worthy “Octopus to the Galician.”

      Janel – We are vital to the future T-shirts of the world. One jaunt into a Zara’s will confirm this.

      Ely – I have never seen that translation for bravas before, but I’m definitely keeping my eyes peeled from now on!

  5. I loved this post! It has inspired me to take pictures of funny signs around here as well.

  6. Great post! I also love finding these little gems. The other day I saw a guy wearing a shirt that read “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.” I think his language problems are deeper than false cognates and lazy translation.

  7. Cassandra

    Alison – Start your visual journal ASAP!!

    Shawn – I had to let out a laugh when I read about the diamond T-shirt. What a riot! I saw a funny one yesterday along the lines of “Same shirt, different day,” but the guys was otherwise immaculately groomed.

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