ENGLISCH/935: Questions to Mrs Gobbledygook (199) - Thick or fat? (SB)


199. Thick or fat?

Dear Mrs Gobbledygook

My American friend bought me a XXL-sized ice cream the other day. After we had finished the delicious treat, I groaned jokingly, "Oh, no, now I'm going to get really thick!" My friend laughed and asked, "Why? Is ice cream bad for your brain?" I couldn't work out whether I had said something funny or made a complete fool out of myself or if he was just impolite. Can you tell me what he might have been trying to say to me?

Daniela M. (Munic, Germany)


Hello Daniela

Thank you for your letter. Not many young people write to me. You find so much bad English these days printed on T-shirts, in magazines, in advertisements - everywhere. No wonder everyone starts to believe that as long as something sounds English it is English.

Well, in that case, you fell for a typical "false friend", by translating the German word "dick" with thick. This is quite right when you are talking about things - like a thick book. But if you say a person is thick, it means she or he is "stupid"! This is a commonly used and very rude expression in conversational everyday's English. And also this contributed to your friend's confusion, because he understood, that you were about to loose your intelligence by eating ice cream. You should have said "I'm going to get "fat"!"

Miranda Gobbledygook

15 November 2017

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