Linguistics (n): the science of language, including phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, and historical linguistics.
I've carried this story with me for a few months, told by a family member who shared it at dinner table. Coming from an immigrant family, we often joke about the English Language and Polish Language and how they mix. Some of our direct translations are hilarious and simple misunderstandings of phrases can make for funny stories.
My kids favorite one is translating "butterfly" literally to make it sound like the butter is flying.
At home, me and the hubby mix both languages, so someone who speaks only English or only Polish would think we're crazy. We have our way of combining words into new ones and our conversation often becomes a language of its own. I bet it's confusing for the children. I speak very quickly (or so I'm told) trying to communicate everything at the same time. But, perhaps I should leave that for another story...
Now, for the second language story...
When we cross the border to the US (especially my parents and the generation older to us), paranoia sets in. Even if you're just going for a visit, crossing the border is a big deal. So, one of our "older" family members (and I'm referring to generation, not age) was going with her spouse to the US to visit friends for Thanksgiving.
Now, her English is very good. In fact, she used to teach English in Poland. When I have a question on grammar, that's who I call. So, being that she's well spoken, when asked at the border what you're bringing into the country, she'll be so honest and list everything and talk to the customs agent to make her sound like a suspect when she's not, and she'll get pulled over (although she has nothing to claim and is not bringing anything illegally).
So, instead of her driving this time, she asked her spouse to drive and talk to the customs himself. Now, he speaks English, but with a thicker accent. His experience with English is not as thorough and words, even sentences can mix up.
Before the border she tells him: "If they ask you what you're bringing into the country, say 'bread and cake'." (as requested by their friends in the US whom they were visiting)
Spouse: "No problem. I got it."
At the border:
Customs agent: "What brings you to the US?"
Spouse: "Bread and cake."
Let me tell you, as composed as she tried to be, she burst out laughing. And, as composed as the customs agent tried to be (as they're taught), he could hardly keep it together.
No, they did not get pulled over, but it made for a funny story.
Have you had experience with funny second language stories?