A different Kind of Heartburn


I studied hard to learn English when I came here, and I did it the old fashioned way. I listened to TV and radio and wrote down the words that I didn’t understand; I looked them up in the dictionary and scribbled the meaning and the translation in my notebook. 

I remember when I heard the word HEARTBURN for the first time. I didn’t even have to look it up; I understood instantly. HEART and BURN = HEARTBURN, what a beautiful word and so easy to understand. When your heart burns with desire for the one you love, that’s when you have heartburn.

Months later I felt sad; my husband was working out of town for two months, and I missed him terribly. We were newlyweds and so much in love; I was moping around like a lost puppy.

My new friend, the butcher in our grocery store, noticed it. “What’s wrong with you,” he asked and I told him that I had heartburn.

“Wait,” he said, “I have something that will help,” and he handed me two colorful, big pills.

“Take this; it helps I have heartburn all the time.” 

heartburn 3

What an amazing country, they even have medication for people who are lovesick. I was stunned. “Just let them dissolve in your mouth,” he added, “you will feel better instantly.”  I couldn’t wait to try them, but didn’t want to take the pills in the store, decided to take them at home instead. Who knows how I will react!

I went to the pharmacy, “Maybe I should buy more,” I thought, after all, my husband would still be gone for a few weeks. I showed the pills to the pharmacist and he handed me a bottle.

The medication was for an upset stomach, but also promised to help with heartburn and indigestion. Now that just didn’t make any sense at all.

I went home and read up on heartburn. I felt like a fool, and not for the first time.

English can be a tricky language.


heartburn 4





31 thoughts on “A different Kind of Heartburn

  1. I’m a native English speaker but when I was a kid, I thought that heartburn meant the same thing as you did because I heard a poem or a song that had the line, “my heart burns for you.”


  2. Wonderful! English is indeed the trickiest language because it is made up of so many others. We have four or more words for every thing, thought and feeling and every word does for several random items (e.g. trunk – elephant, boot of car, carriage for clothes, long distance phone call etc).

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  3. This really made me laugh – I apologise – I am learning Italian and would be very upset if someone laughed at my misinterpretations of the language 🙂 You are right – English is a funny language! What is your home language?

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  4. Loved it, had to have a chuckle. My other half was excellent at english, we spoke english together at the beginning until my autistic son was born and we gradually moved into Swiss German, but he still has a very good understanding of english and pronouces it very well – that was until he was confronted with my cockney relations. It was then that I had to do some explaining.

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      • When we moved to Ireland and I was 14, I was very nervous about going to school, and my mother said “stop worrying, they do speak English.” When I got home later that day, My mother asked how it went and I cried, I had believed my maths teacher had taught ‘as Gaeilge’. It was that I didn’t understand her particular accent. When I moved back to the UK, the phrases I’d picked up made it difficult for others to understand me. Your post made me laugh, and reminded me of a text I sent to my Parisienne friend that when I it was interpreted properly for me, still makes me turn red thinking about it! Learning Spanish at the moment, and wondering what faux pas I’ll be making when out there trying my new skills!? Thank you for the beautifully told story.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Oh, this is a WONDERFUL post! Thank you for sharing your learning with us! I admit, I laughed reading this and I’m sorry you had to learn the hard way about heart burn and what it really means. By the way, what is your native language? And what is the word in your native language for heart burn? xoxo

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      • Do you get a chance to speak in your native languages often? Maybe another link to your blog of English and German and Italian phrase comparisons/confusions! WE were fortunate enough to visit Prato three years ago. I want to go back and live there…it was such a wonderful town. We also travelled to several other areas: Lucca, San Gimenano, Pisa…I’m not Catholic, but I LOVED the churches in Italy. Just so beautiful. xoxo

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        • I learned other languages as well and worked as a translator and interpreter for 25 years. I don’t speak my native language anymore, I semi retired a few years back.
          I married Mr. America more than 30 years ago, English became my mother tongue. I curse in English when I hurt myself. 🙂

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          • We just had a mason here yesterday looking at our pizza oven to help with stonework on the front of it. He is a native Italian, and he was telling us a funny story about visiting his brothers, one of whom makes wine and how they got ‘bacalaud’! It was so funny to hear that word, since my husband has used that as well as other colorful ones from his Italian upbringing!

            Liked by 1 person

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