Understandable Mistakes

For me, vocabulary is the greatest challenge in learning a foreign language.  I can learn grammar (although I don’t necessarily speak very grammatically).  Knowing the words to say what I want to say — now, that’s the hard part.  I find myself looking up the same words over and over, until eventually, hopefully, they stick in my brain.

Sometimes, however, I think I know a word and it turns out I was wrong.  Recently, I’ve discovered that I was using the wrong Lithuanian word in several cases.  These are pretty basic words so it’s a bit embarrassing that I confused them because I know I was using the wrong word frequently in conversation.  It might also explain the blank stares I sometimes get when I am speaking Lithuanian.  As you can see, the words that I confused are fairly similar so the mistakes are at least a bit understandable.  However, it probably makes it a bit difficult for Lithuanians to understand what I am trying to say.

something = kažkas; I’ve been using kas nors, which means “anything”

several = keletas; I’ve been using kelinta, which means which “which”

finally = pagaliau; I’ve been using paskui, which means later or afterwards.

skelbimas (announcement) and skalbimas (laundry) — one little letter makes all the difference

I won’t even go into all the times that I mix up he (jis) and she (ji) — see how the s is masculine in Lithuanian and feminine in English?  Plus I have to get the gender and the case form correct — whew!


About amanda

Creating academic and public environments for the humanities to flourish Researching Soviet and Eastern European history Engaging people and ideas as a writer and interviewer Traveling as much as possible View all posts by amanda

One response to “Understandable Mistakes

  • Ken Virta

    I have fond memories of my grandmother’s near misses with words. My favorite was her calling the pastor’s home the parsnips, instead of parsonage. She was pretty much always wrong on genders, too.

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