Merched Nadolig

Last Saturday I was chatting with a Czech friend in Welsh and describing a recent trip to London. One of the things I mentioned was visiting the Christmas market in Hyde Park, although instead of saying marchnad Nadolig (Christmas market) I said merched Nadolig (Christmas girls/women), much to my friend’s amusement. I realised my mistake almost immediately, but we spent the rest of the day joking about merched Nadolig. There might possibly have been some interference from the Spanish word for market, mercado, in my head, though I haven’t been using much Spanish recently.

Do you sometimes get similar-sounding words mixed up like this?

3 thoughts on “Merched Nadolig

  1. I’ve been studying Lithuanian lately, and the word for “house”, namas, trips me up for at least a moment every time.

    That word should obviously mean “name”! Doesn’t help that Lithuanian is so conservative otherwise, so that my indo-european guesses are usually correct, and that in the kinds of phrases you get in textbooks, “house” and “name” turn up in the same sort of context.

    (“[First] name” is actually vardas.)

  2. I recently sent a text to my Welsh tutor, apologising for my absence from the class. What I meant to say was, “Maen’n ddrwg gen i, fydda i ddim yn y dosbarth heno – mae hen ffrind yn ymweld.” (“I’m sorry, I won’t be in class tonight – an old friend is visiting.”). However, the word ‘d(d)rwg’ sent my mind on a different course, equating it with the Russian homophone, друг (friend). So, what I wrote was, “…mae hen ddrwg yn ymweld” (“…an old bad is visiting”).

    The funny thing is
    i. I had the presence of mind to use the correct mutation after ‘hen’ (drwg > ddrwg);
    ii. I don’t really speak Russian – I picked up a little whilst in Latvia, but mainly concentrated on learning Latvian (which has a cognate draugs).

    A sadly departed friend told me a story from when he had just moved to Wales with his wife. They were living in a small, rural community and making every effort to integrate. One day, his wife was in the local shop and was enquiring about the local Women’s Institute. Instead of Merched y Wawr (for the benefit of non-Cambrophone readers, ‘Women/Girls of the Dawn’), however, she said “Merched Mawr” (‘Large Women’) – much to the mirth of all present.

  3. I was trying to tell my Japanese friend that her hair is pretty… “anata no kami wa KIREI” but what came out of my mouth was “anata no kami wa KIIRAI” which means hate…

    Yeah… that was probably the most awkward language mistake I’ve ever made.

    In French class someone was reading the sentence, “J’en ai pris seulement une quand j’avais faim.” which means “I only took one when i was hungry” but they mispronounced it as “J’en ai pris SOULEMENT une quand j’avais femme.” which means “I took one when I was drunk and had a woman.”

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