Cognate Conundrum

2 Sep

the strawberry jam

A couple of weekends ago on that 7-Stop Trip of Paraguay I visited Areguá, home of the annual strawberry festival.

Producers sell fresh strawberries (of varying degrees of sweetness) and hawk their goods out along the ruta. There are strawberry cakes, parfaits with whipped cream, juice, liquor, jams, popsicles, etc. Everything frutilla.

I taste tested some strawberries, found the sweetest ones and bought a kilo. Moving on to another vender, I compliment her on the presentation of her product. It has a nice label, glass jar and that precious checked red and white fabric that denotes homemade.

I think of my parents, real jam lovers. I’ll be seeing them in January. I wonder if the jam will survive a few months unopened?

“Permiso señora. Tiene preservativos la mermalada?”

She looks back aghast. I have made a boo boo. Oh no. I remember. That is a false cognate. Perservativos in fact means condoms.

“Discuplame señora. Queria decir…” – Excuse me ma’am. I meant to say…

She helps me out, chuckling. “Conservante.”

“No, no tiene conservante,” she says. It doesn’t have preservatives.

“Jaja! Nunca me vas a olvidar, verdad?!” Haha! You’ll never forget me, right?!

She laughs. And I buy her jam, that contains neither preservatives nor condoms.

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2 Responses to “Cognate Conundrum”

  1. Mom September 3, 2011 at 12:51 pm #

    Oh Emmie! You must add this story to your English lesson on the t-shirt! Too funny.
    Love you,
    Mom

  2. Lauren Beversdorf September 7, 2011 at 11:35 pm #

    Hi Emily
    I am a Spanish Teacher in a suburb of Chicago. I have so enjoyed reading your blog. I am teaching my 6th-8th graders about Paraguay and have never been there myself…I know you are probably busy there, but I would LOVE to connect in some way so that my students can learn about the real world outside of their bubble in the Chicago area. Would you be willing to teach us some things? If so, email me or Skype us! lbeversdorf@bannockburnschool.org and Skype name weens11
    http://www.bannockburnschool.org

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