PARENTS

Achtung Baby Or Condoms In Your Food

07/04/2010 15:30 | Updated 22 May 2015

I'm not a "group" person. I don't believe that just because we have shared the experience that is having had someone kick us from the inside we have to like each other. I managed to dodge the pre and post-natal sessions and even bypassed Breastfeeding for Beginners (though with hindsight I probably should have attended that one).

Eventually I buckled under peer pressure and agreed to attend a meeting entitled "Your child's Developing Appetite". Finje had been on solids for a while (if that's what you can call food that has been mushed up to within an inch of its life). At this point I'd been in Germany for almost two years and was slowly gaining confidence speaking the language.

This was my contribution to the meeting:

"As an adult in this day and age, it is difficult to avoid preservatives. I do believe however, the least we can do as responsible parents is to put off, for as long as possible, the day when our babies will inevitably be exposed to them. In my opinion six months is far too young to be exposed to preservatives. I am doing my very best to ensure there are no preservatives in Finje's food."

I thought I'd done pretty well until I looked around to see my little speech being met with peculiar reactions. A rather substantial number of stifled giggles and more that one rather shocked expression left me somewhat perturbed.

Now consider this:

The German language is littered with what are appropriately named False Friends or to give them their official title False Cognates. Words that sound English but in fact have a completely different meaning in German. For example, German "Gift" is "poison" in English, "Slip" means knickers and "After means "rectum"!!! One has to take care. They are a kind of spoke in the wheel for the misguided soul who believes he will someday speak the language with the fluency of a native.

It's a veritable minefield of potential mortifying bloopers. The most important false friend, however, would be the German word Präservativ. The English meaning not being what you might understandably imagine, but in fact "condom". Yes really! For the linguists amongst you it will come as no surprise, coming originally from the French présevatif meaning protection. Wish I'd concentrated more in French now.

So, now read my statement again substituting the word preservative with condom. I thought they were all being rude until my husband, after having picked himself up off the floor, explained my mistake.

"As an adult in this day and age, it is difficult to avoid condoms. I do believe however, the least we can do as responsible parents is to put off, for as long as possible, the day when our babies will inevitably be exposed to them. In my opinion six months is far too young to be exposed to condoms. I am doing my very best to ensure there are no condoms in Finje's food."

I'll get my coat!

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