Of the many misunderstandings, mispronunciations and mistakes that I have either been responsible for, or heard of through friends, the following short anecdote is one of my favourites.
An English friend of mine, recently arrived in Colombia, was writing a shopping list, which was being dictated by his wife, a Colombian woman with lovely, but heavily-accented English.
She was planning to make chicken-liver paté, and needed the ingredients from the supermarket, a block from their apartment. My English friend was writing his list: chicken livers, garlic, onions, bay leaves, thyme, brandy, and … peanut butter.
Yes, peanut butter. That´s what he wrote on his list, and that´s what he bought in the supermarket. Of course, when he got home with all the ingredients, his wife looked at him incredulously as he produced two tubs of peanut butter from the plastic bag. In order to protect the identities of my friends, I have changed their names to John and Marcela, which coincidentally, happen to be very similar to their real names! 😉 The dialogue went as follows:
Marcela: “Peanut butter? – Why did you buy peanut butter?”
Silly old John: “Because you told me to!”
Marcela: “Nooo John, … I asked you to buy “ALPINA butter!”
Good pronunciation: the key to an enduring marriage, … or is it, good listening comprehension?
Whatever. The basic message is that communication is key!
*(“Alpina”, pronounced Alpeena is a leading dairy brand in Colombia)