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Lost in Translation (Museum Sign: Molested Birds?)

Posted in: Everything Expat, Expats Everywhere, Language Learning

There are words that we understand in English to have a broad meaning, but have come to have just one specific meaning. Take, for example, the word: molested.

At a recent trip to the Museo Banco Central in Cuenca, my daughter snapped this picture of a sign that she thought looked funny. We were going through her pictures and it really makes me laugh – you know, in an elementary school kind of way.

The sign literally means: Don’t Molest the Birds

According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, the word molested means: to annoy, disturb, or persecute especially with hostile intent or injurious effect. But that’s not the definition that comes to mind when we hear it. In fact, that word is seldom heard in English – we often kind of recoil when we hear it used.

But in Spanish, it actually means: annoy or disturb – and its commonly used in daily conversation. When was the last time you were asked: “Did the taxi driver molest you?”

And with that understanding, its much easier to understand, not only the sign, but also general conversation in Spanish.


Meet the Author

Bryan Haines is co-editor of GringosAbroad - Ecuador's largest blog for expats and travelers. He is a travel blogger and content marketer. He is also co-founder of ClickLikeThis (GoPro tutorial blog) and Storyteller Media (content marketing for travel brands). Work with GringosAbroad.

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