Cactus writing competition October 2011: runner-up Tobias Hoerl
Tuesday, 8th November 2011
In our competition themed 'language blunders and cultural faux pas', Tobias Hoerl tells us about an easy misunderstanding over a simple cup of tea...
Coffee with the Australians
My grandmother has relatives in Australia who were on a road trip through Europe. They had planned to stay at her place in Munich for one night in order to see the Bavarian capital.
However, they don’t speak German and my grandmother doesn’t speak English either. To have at least a small chance of communicating, they invited me for the afternoon in order to translate. This was a couple of years ago - I think I was 16 at the time and had never been to an English speaking country before. Everything went surprisingly well and they finally understood each other. But this harmony didn’t last for long. When the Australians suggested we have coffee I translated it into German. So my grandmother literally made litres of coffee only to find out that her relatives don’t even like coffee. They just wanted to have a piece of cake and a cup of tea. They just call the procedure of eating a cake in the afternoon “having coffee”. My grandmother was a bit upset so I decided to drink the coffee. It turned out that this was sort of a bad idea…
Tags: writing competition