After almost a month of internet silence, I am back with everyone’s favorite type of post: Mistranslation Monday! Today’s Mistranslation Monday is brought to you a single seemingly simple word, balls.

Mistranslation Monday: Balls

Over Christmas and New Year’s, we rented a big house in Germany where both Marco and my families would spend the holidays together. This included both of our parents, both of our brothers, my sister-in-law, and Marco’s practically-step-brother. It was a full house, and of the 8 residents…
1 was English/German bilingual
1 could speak German and very limited English
2 could only speak German
and
4 could only speak English.

With such a mix, conversations at the dinner table each evening were… interesting, to say the least. One of the best mistanslations that came out of this linguistic mess occurred on the second day of Christmas (that’s right – Germans call December 26th “second Christmas”).

On Second Christmas, Marco’s practically-step-mother made a traditional Fränkisch meal, including venison with lingonberries, red cabbage, and pretzel dumplings. This story is about those dumplings, which look like this:

Brezelknödel/Pretzel Dumplings

Since Marco’s step-mother speaks very limited English, the way she translated the various components of this meal to my family was as follows.

Reh = Bambi (yes, she kept telling us throughout the meal that we were eating Bambi)
Blaukraut = Blue cabbage
Brezelknödel = Balls

“Balls” as a translation of Knödel was acceptable at first. She was obviously always referring to the food, and my family was all thankful that she was was putting the effort into speaking English at all. The issue was that Marco’s father was picking up on the English that she used and would then repeat her peculiar word choices.

So during our Second Christmas meal, Marco’s father was telling us all about how where he comes from (Bodensee-Region), noodles are the standard side dish for meals. Now that he lives in Nuremberg with his Fränkisch partner, however, (and I quote):

“Only balls!”

His delivery of this sentence made me burst out laughing, much to his confusion. And as I kept laughing, poor Marco was left with the task of explaining to his father that “balls” can also refer to a particular male body part.