This particular mistranslation may be one of the very first that occurred between Marco and me. In fact, this it was probably the spark for one of our first arguments as well.

Original photo: Heeland Coo by Arran Moffat

It occurred early on in our relationship, when my German was quite poor, and Marco was not always able to express himself coherently in English.

Although I do not remember exactly what happened, I am positive that I did something stupid like miss a class or drop a sandwich on the ground. Whatever it was, it led to Marco calling me a blöde Kuh.

Since I only knew how to translate this expression literally at the time, I understood it as him calling me a “stupid cow.”

Calling anyone a cow in English is quite harsh, especially when that person is your girlfriend. I am sure anyone would agree that calling someone stupid is also quite mean. So, when I head Marco calling me a blöde Kuh, I immediately become very upset.

This was a reaction, of course, that my boyfriend was not expecting. You see, blöde Kuh can also be used in a light-hearted way much like Americans use the term “dork” with close friends and family members. But at that point, it really didn’t matter.

Let’s just say that he has since learned better than to call his American girlfriend a blöde Kuh.