True Internationalization Incidents

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Reported in the September 27, 2001 UK Telegraph:

The Italian ambassador describes his first visit to an English pub; He was hungry and asked the barmaid: "Can I have a quickie?".

He was mortified when the man next to him explained: "The word is pronounced quiche."

News Article: Clinton At Pains To Explain Barak 'Toy' Remark

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Although he was "eager as a kid with a new toy" to meet Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, President Clinton said Thursday that he had not meant it literally.

As Clinton and Barak met at the White House, the president was at first flummoxed when an Israeli reporter suggested his remark at a Miami dinner Tuesday was patronizing and asked him: "What kind do you want to play with him?" A U.S. reporter then explained that Israeli newspapers had played up the remark, suggesting that it meant Clinton saw the newly elected Barak as a toy, and Clinton went to great pains to explain the idiom. "In English what that means is that you are very excited. It has no reference to the prime minister," Clinton said. "I would never do that." "If I were taking a trip to Hawaii, I might say I'm as excited as a kid with a new toy. Doesn't mean I think Hawaii's a toy, if you see what I mean," he added. Barak, who won a landslide victory in May largely because of his vow to revive peace talks with the Palestinians, said he saw Clinton's remark as an "innocent, favorable statement" and he reached for a different image. "I feel like someone who got the mission of defusing a time bomb," Barak said, before the two disappeared into the private residence upstairs at the White House for a three-hour meeting.

Thanks to Paul Steinberg who forwarded this to me.
The article is circa July 16, 1999.

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This page last updated 2003-05-31.