Yes, I did this. I feel like an awful person, even as I feel like laughing.
On Saturday morning, I was driving my 11 year old and his buddy to skateboarding, as usual, when I asked the buddy (whose native language is Spanish), “How do you say ‘Be quiet’ in Spanish?”
The friend, who is a lovely, sweet boy, said, “Callate.”
So on Tuesday, I told my nonstop chatterbox, “Callate.” I said it more than once, although I usually added “por favor,” and he did quiet down, right away, each time.
Then last night I was reading a YA novel with some rough teens in it, and a few of them were saying “Callate” to each other, and I started to think…..Hmmm, this sounds rude. What does this word actually mean?
So I looked it up, and yelled, “ARGH!””
My husband called from the other room, “What’s wrong?”
“I just told _____ to shut up! Several times! I had no idea that’s what it means!!!”
When ______ arrived at school, his older sister was with him. She speaks English beautifully, so I told her the whole sad, embarrassing, ridiculous tale. I could tell she was trying not to laugh. She did, however, at my request, apologize to her brother on my behalf.
Then, before she left for class, I asked, “How DO you say be quiet in Spanish, politely?”
“Silencio, por favor.”
Phew. Now I know.