I had a Portuguese lesson via Skype today and during a conversation about current events, tried to use the phrase “narwhal tusk”. My teacher had read about the idiot on London Bridge but hadn’t heard that specific detail so she couldn’t help. I checked Linguee for “tusk” and Linguee, which seems to base a lot of its natural language processing on the contents of translated EU policy documents and not so much on old Tarzan novels, thought I meant a kind of fish called a tusk, so it gave me the word “bolota” which is the word they use apparently. Sadly, bolota more commonly means acorn, so there I was, blathering on about a whale’s acorn. Yes, that’s it, this polish guy grabbed a whale’s acorn, you see, and went to attack the terrorist. What mental image must she have had?
I suppose it could have been worse. Donald Tusk features heavily in those same EU documents and pops up from time to time in the Linguee results, usually without translation, although in at least one “Prime Minister Tusk” is translated as “o Primeiro Ministro turco” which is a massive cock-up if ever I saw one.
In case you’re wondering, Narwhal is just “o narval” and tusk is “a presa”. So as Wikipedia says “Os navais machos são distinguidos por uma presa helicoidal longa e feta que, na verdade, é um canino esquerdo superior alongado” so now you know.