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Old 09-15-2009, 04:42 PM
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English names that sound funny in other languages


In weird name threads, a good proportion of posts are foreign names (usually Asian) that happen to phonectically resemble dirty words or silly phrases in English. Phuoc Yu, Porn, Deepender- need I go on? I want to turn the tables. What are some English names that others would make fun of in the same way we giggle at Hung Wei Lo?


Peter is French for "fart", isn't it?
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Old 09-15-2009, 04:58 PM
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When I was in Japan, my Scottish friend has to make sure to pronounce his name, Gary, as "GAH-ree," because the typical pronunciation of it sounds like the Japanese word for diarrhea, 下痢 (geri).
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Old 09-15-2009, 05:17 PM
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I knew a woman whose first name was Hannah and last name was Hotchkiss. Her Japanese students thought this was hilarious, since "Hannah" sounds like "nose", and "Hotchkiss" is a generic word for stapler.
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Old 09-15-2009, 05:44 PM
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Well, I am still looking for another roll of gift wrap that has the word gift printed all over it, and cute little packages.

i want it to send presents to my german buddies
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Old 09-15-2009, 07:10 PM
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Improbably, "Zachary" translates into Fulfulde as "penis."

Actually, a good percent of English names mean something in Fulfulde, because their verb conjugation system often adds "a" or "i" to simple syllables. So my friend Maia became "in the process of dying", Bailey becomes "becoming angry", Timmy becomes "finished", etc.
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Old 09-15-2009, 08:03 PM
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My name is apparently a derogatory word for "Jew" in Amharic. I've met several Ethiopian Israelis, all of whom were horrified when I introduced myself.
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Old 09-15-2009, 08:05 PM
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Not a name, but the phrase 'delay no more' sounds remarkably similar to a common Cantonese phrase that means 'f*** you'.
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Old 09-15-2009, 11:00 PM
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Peter is French for "fart", isn't it?
"Péter" is French for "to fart", yes, but it doesn't sound anything like the English name Peter.
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Old 09-15-2009, 11:48 PM
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Sean Connery, in French.

"une connerie" = dumb act, bullshit.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:01 AM
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My name is apparently a derogatory word for "Jew" in Amharic. I've met several Ethiopian Israelis, all of whom were horrified when I introduced myself.
I had an Internet friend from Spain (fluent in English) who signed himself "Kike" -- a family nickname, short for his real name Enrique, and pronounced, roughly, kee-kay. He was intrigued to learn that his nickname, with a different prnunciation, was a derogatory term for "Jew" in English.
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Old 09-16-2009, 12:19 AM
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I had an Internet friend from Spain (fluent in English) who signed himself "Kike" -- a family nickname, short for his real name Enrique, and pronounced, roughly, kee-kay. He was intrigued to learn that his nickname, with a different prnunciation, was a derogatory term for "Jew" in English.
In the recent elections here in Panama there was a candidate by that name who was running for mayor of one of the towns along the highway. It was always a bit jarring to drive by a series of billboards proclaiming "Kike!" in huge red letters.
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Old 09-16-2009, 01:32 AM
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The word mark just happens to mean "worm" in Norwegian.
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Old 09-16-2009, 05:32 PM
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This business and similarly named ones sound a bit risky to a German ear as Tripper means gonorrhea in German.
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Old 09-16-2009, 06:42 PM
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'Bill' is butt cheek in Dutch (spelled 'bil', but pronounced roughly the same); Dick means 'fat' (spelled 'dik') - which is not half as bad as what it means in English, I guess.

Dutch names are worse, though - we had a PM whose name was Kok, for the longest time. It's not an uncommon name - nor is Kox. I knew a guy whose name was Tiny Kox (Tiny being short for Martinus or some such - it's pronounced more like 'teeny' but that made mr. Kox's deal no better, I'm afraid). Also, we had a long running detective show centered around a detective whose name was De Cock. I don't think it caught on anywhere outside The Netherlands.
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Old 09-16-2009, 09:21 PM
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I knew two guys with the last name "Horton" who were sensitive about how people in Argentina pronounced their name, since the h is silent. Orto is slang for asshole, and ortón would be "big asshole." Coincidentally, they both were.

Švejk, reading about Tiny Kox made my day.
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Old 09-16-2009, 09:55 PM
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Well, I am still looking for another roll of gift wrap that has the word gift printed all over it, and cute little packages.

i want it to send presents to my german buddies
Babelfish was no help. What's the joke?
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:12 PM
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Dutch names are worse, though - we had a PM whose name was Kok, for the longest time. It's not an uncommon name - nor is Kox.
"Cox" is often seen in American names, too. It probably wouldn't get a laugh all by itself, except from immature dweebs who laugh at anything remotely resembling anything naughty.
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:23 PM
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Babelfish was no help. What's the joke?
"gift" is German for "poison" (which I got from Yahoo Babel Fish).
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:28 PM
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Jim has some sort of vaginal connotation if pronounced with a certain tone, possibly involving female masturbation.

I knew an American girl surnamed Dawson who got snickered at a lot, because daw is vulgar slang for penis in certain subdialects, although this does not appear to be very common.

Also, not a name, but the English word "men" means "stinks" in Thai, something that always seems to please beginning female students of the Thai language.

Last edited by Siam Sam; 09-16-2009 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 09-16-2009, 10:29 PM
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Babelfish was no help. What's the joke?
It means "poison" or "toxin".
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Old 09-17-2009, 04:05 AM
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Pitt means dick in Swedish. There was an awesome TV ad a few years back for a weekend of Brad Pitt movies, with taglines like: "Are you insatiable for Pitt?" and "More Pitt than you can handle". Hur hur.
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Old 09-17-2009, 04:16 AM
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O'Connor sounds a bit like "Oh, connard" (Hey, asshole) in French
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Old 09-17-2009, 09:07 AM
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I knew a woman whose first name was Hannah and last name was Hotchkiss. Her Japanese students thought this was hilarious, since "Hannah" sounds like "nose", and "Hotchkiss" is a generic word for stapler.
Isn't "hana" = "flower" in Japanese? The way I've heard it pronounced sounds very much like the name "Hannah", so I would've thought her name became "Flower stapler".



Quote:
Pitt means dick in Swedish. There was an awesome TV ad a few years back for a weekend of Brad Pitt movies, with taglines like: "Are you insatiable for Pitt?" and "More Pitt than you can handle". Hur hur.
So Clive Cussler's hero Dirk Pitt sounds like One Tough Dude in Swedish, then?
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Old 09-17-2009, 10:04 AM
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This business and similarly named ones sound a bit risky to a German ear as Tripper means gonorrhea in German.
I would go see a band called Gonorrhea Bus.

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It probably wouldn't get a laugh all by itself, except from immature dweebs who laugh at anything remotely resembling anything naughty.
Hey! I resemble that remark.

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Originally Posted by CalMeacham View Post
Isn't "hana" = "flower" in Japanese?
花 (hana) is flower. 鼻 (hana) is nose. There are a lot of words in Japanese that use different kanji (and usually different pitch-accent) but are spelled the same in kana or romaji (roman letters).
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Old 09-17-2009, 11:46 AM
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So Clive Cussler's hero Dirk Pitt sounds like One Tough Dude in Swedish, then?
Yeah, or one horny dude at least. Speaking of tough names, I'll offer you this in exchange: a common name among Swedish women born in the 1940's is Gun.
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Old 09-17-2009, 04:09 PM
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The Indonesian word "babi" sounds like my childhood name, "Bobby". Unfortunately, "babi" means "pig". Approximately 5 minutes after moving to Indonesia, my dad forgot that I was supposed to be called, "Bob" and he hollered for me. The Indonesian kids thought it was quite amazing to hear a man calling his son a pig. And it was an overwhelmingly Muslim neighborhood, too.

Good times, good times.
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Old 09-17-2009, 05:55 PM
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Not a personal name, and not even English, but I just had to throw it out there: There is a winery in New Zealand called Te Mata -- it's Maori for something or other. In Spanish, this means "It kills you"!
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Old 09-17-2009, 06:07 PM
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Sean Connery, in French.

"une connerie" = dumb act, bullshit.
"Pepitone" supposedly entered the Japanese vernacular as meaning "goof off", due to Joe Pepitone's (lack of) performance for the Yakult Atoms.
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Old 09-18-2009, 12:24 AM
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When I was in Japan, my Scottish friend has to make sure to pronounce his name, Gary, as "GAH-ree," because the typical pronunciation of it sounds like the Japanese word for diarrhea, 下痢 (geri).
In most films I recall with Japanese subtitles, the name "Gary" is often transcribed as "ゲアリー" or "GEH-ah-ree." I haven't seen a "GAH-ree" in subtitles.
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Old 09-18-2009, 01:53 AM
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Not a personal name, and not even English, but I just had to throw it out there: There is a winery in New Zealand called Te Mata -- it's Maori for something or other. In Spanish, this means "It kills you"!
Which can actually be a good thing to say about something; we just like making things mean the opposite of what they theoretically should.

Cf. the official slogan "ˇMadrid me mata!" (Madrid kills me) from the 1980s, which is both an example of that and a continuation of the old sentence "de Madrid al Cielo" (from Madrid to Heaven), meaning once you've seen Madrid you're done, there's nothing else you need to do before you can say you've led a full life - conceited? Noooooooooo!



Direct translations of English names (Blizzard et al, I'm looking at you) tend to sound like shit in Spanish, but I can't come up with any English words that directly sound bad or funny in Spanish. We sort of have too many different phonemes for that to happen a lot.

Last edited by Nava; 09-18-2009 at 01:56 AM.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:38 AM
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In most films I recall with Japanese subtitles, the name "Gary" is often transcribed as "ゲアリー" or "GEH-ah-ree." I haven't seen a "GAH-ree" in subtitles.
I don't remember every seeing the name in subtitles, but ガリ (Gari) is what I recally Gary using, per the instruction of the first Japanese teacher. WWWJDIC gives ゲイリー (Geiri) for Gary by itself, and lists ゲーリー (Geerii) ギャリー (Gyarii) ゲイリー (Geirii) for the given names of various famous Garys.
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Old 09-18-2009, 11:54 AM
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Also, we had a long running detective show centered around a detective whose name was De Cock.
"De Cock: Private Dick"
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Old 10-07-2019, 10:19 AM
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If your name is Nick, be careful introducing yourself to Arabs.

Nik is Arabic for fuck.
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Old 10-07-2019, 12:07 PM
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This is not even in a foreign language, but another variety of English. I have friends named Ralph and Randi. When visiting Australia, they learned that these are not common names down there, and the primary meanings that immediately come to most people's minds are "Vomit" and "Horny".
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Old 10-07-2019, 02:55 PM
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^^^OMG!^^^
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Did you see Ralph and Randi?

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Old 10-07-2019, 03:05 PM
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In Urdu/Hindi Laura means penis. When my mother started teaching first grade English in Pakistan, she couldn’t figure out why the kids wouldn’t stop laughing, when the primer they used had Laura as the protagonist in every story.

My mother didn’t speak any Urdu at the time. Apparently neither did the Irish and Dutch priests who ran the school.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:22 PM
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This thread reminded me of a joke from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt that claimed that in Vietnamese Kimmy means penis (The joke comes from the fact that this was said by a Vietnamese man named Dong). I have never been sure if that's actually true, or if the writers just made that up for the sake of the joke.
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:38 PM
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This is not even in a foreign language, but another variety of English. I have friends named Ralph and Randi. When visiting Australia, they learned that these are not common names down there, and the primary meanings that immediately come to most people's minds are "Vomit" and "Horny".
Can confirm! Ralph is not so bad and is occasionally used (mostly in the over-70s) but there are zero Randy's and that name would always be good for a giggle
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Old 10-07-2019, 03:40 PM
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Not a name but the mathematically unimpeachable term coproduct has some meaning like shit in Spanish.
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Old 10-07-2019, 05:50 PM
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Can confirm! Ralph is not so bad and is occasionally used (mostly in the over-70s) but there are zero Randy's and that name would always be good for a giggle
Just curious -- is the male name Randall used in Australia? In the US it is commonly shortened to Randy; is Randall not used or is it just the nickname that doesn't occur?

My friend did quickly learn not to introduce herself to new people by saying "Hi, I'm Randi."
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Old 10-07-2019, 08:54 PM
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In Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, there will be problems with the nickname Pookie or Pooky; in those languages, "puki" is a 4 letter word for vagina.

Google Translate says that it has the same meaning in Maori, Malagasy and Hawaiian, so apparently it's a shared word in Austronesian and Polynesian languages: https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/puki

It seems that the nickname isn't as common these days (and I just googled and found a business with that name, Pookie & Sebastian: https://pookieandsebastian.com/)
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Old 10-07-2019, 09:30 PM
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花 (hana) is flower. 鼻 (hana) is nose. There are a lot of words in Japanese that use different kanji (and usually different pitch-accent) but are spelled the same in kana or romaji (roman letters).
The Flower version is a not-uncommon girl's name, too.
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Old 10-07-2019, 11:58 PM
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Bobby is a very popular name in Spain. For male dogs.





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Not a name but the mathematically unimpeachable term coproduct has some meaning like shit in Spanish.
No it doesn't. In industrial environments we refer to "stuff that you produce at the same time as something else" (for example, in a molding process where your mold has cavities in two different shapes) as a coproducto; your coproducers are our coproductores... and that's all Latin roots. There are some Spanish words which are related to shit and which begin by copro- but that's a Greek root and the words have English sisters: coprofilia, coprofagia. Someone has been pulling your leg or seriously needs to go back to The Roots Of Spanish (5th grade).

Last edited by Nava; 10-08-2019 at 12:00 AM.
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Old 10-08-2019, 11:08 AM
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If your name is Nick, be careful introducing yourself to Arabs.

Nik is Arabic for fuck.
I wonder if that's where they got "nik-nik," which meant the same thing in Latka's language on Taxi.
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Old 10-08-2019, 12:01 PM
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It is known in all Spaniish-speaking countries that Boston is the city that produces the biggest amount of fecal matter in the US, followed closely by Chicago.
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Old 10-08-2019, 09:30 PM
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Arabic combines the P & B sounds. As a result, "Paul" sounds like "Urine."
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:10 AM
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Jamie sounds pretty silly in Spanish. I'm told.
I don't speak any kind of the spanish language so if I'm wrong *Nava* you can set me straight.
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Old 10-09-2019, 12:30 AM
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Polycarp....sniff....
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Old 10-09-2019, 01:06 AM
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Jamie sounds pretty silly in Spanish. I'm told.
I don't speak any kind of the spanish language so if I'm wrong *Nava* you can set me straight.
Native Spanish speaker here. To me, “Jamie” (the name, I imagine) doesn’t sound like anything in particular...

The phenomenon discussed in this thread happens A LOT between Spanish and Japanese. Both languages have rather similar phonemic inventories, and there are quite a few words that sound the same in both... and, probably due to some kind of cosmic joke (or because God has a weird sense of humor), a perfectly normal word in one language will have an insulting, silly or straight-up obscene meaning in the other.

Some examples:

Japanese “Baka” (=“fool”) sounds exactly the same as Spanish “vaca” (=“cow”).

Japanese “chocho” (=“butterfly”) sounds like Spanish “chocho” (=“pussy” with the meaning of “vulva”).

Conversely, Spanish “manco” (=“guy who is missing a hand”) sounds like Japanese “manco” (=“pussy” with the meaning of “vulva”).

Then there is Japanese “aho” (=“idiot”) and similar-sounding Spanish “ajo” (=“garlic”).

Also, “todo” means “everything” in Spanish and “seal” (as in the animal) in Japanese, and Japanese “tomare” means “stop!” (as in a command to stop) whereas the identically pronounced Spanish “tomaré” means “I will take” or “I will drink (alcohol)”.

Then we have my real-life Japanese friend whose surname is “Kakita”, which is a perfectly standard surname in Japanese, but in Spanish that particular combination of sounds means “little shit”.

And, conversely, my real-life Spanish friend whose surname is “Quintana”, who went to study in Japan and who quickly discovered that his surname is pronounced not unlike “Kintama”, which in Japanese means “testicles”.

And there are more.........

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<about “coproduct”/“coproducto”>

No it doesn't. In industrial environments we refer to "stuff that you produce at the same time as something else" (for example, in a molding process where your mold has cavities in two different shapes) as a coproducto; your coproducers are our coproductores... and that's all Latin roots. There are some Spanish words which are related to shit and which begin by copro- but that's a Greek root and the words have English sisters: coprofilia, coprofagia. Someone has been pulling your leg or seriously needs to go back to The Roots Of Spanish (5th grade).
Maybe the person was parsing the word as ”copro” + “ducto” and, by comparison with “acueducto” (=“aquaduct”) thought that it meant some kind of structure to carry shit away (a sewer, perhaps?).
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Last edited by JoseB; 10-09-2019 at 01:10 AM.
  #50  
Old 10-09-2019, 01:17 AM
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Just curious -- is the male name Randall used in Australia? In the US it is commonly shortened to Randy; is Randall not used or is it just the nickname that doesn't occur?

My friend did quickly learn not to introduce herself to new people by saying "Hi, I'm Randi."
I've never met a Randall - it's just a surname here. I found a nice list of baby names going back to 1930, and that has no knowledge of the name either ('Ralph' made it to the dizzying heights of 90th in 1930)

Also: at your friend...
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