Sometimes people in China will hear me tell Y: “Go die, idiot!” What the hell? Who talks like that to her husband, you might wonder. Let me explain.
Actually, what people hear in Chinese is not what I tell Y in reality. So what do I say?
Ever since one of my colleagues asked me how to say good-bye in German, saying this German word has become a running gag in my company. Good-bye is Tschüss in German. It sounds just like the Mandarin Chinese equivalent of go die (去死, qù sǐ).
Y and I call each other Schatz (German endearment meaning treasure), which sounds like the Chinese word for idiot (傻子, shǎzi).
So every time I say goodbye, honey, people who speak Mandarin will think that I’m randomly insulting Y.
Are there any words in your native language that sound just like something completely different in Chinese? I’d love to read your comments.