Learning a language can be quite comico at times.
I was at a meeting recently, struggling to understand what was being said. I had recently learned that unlike in the US where tamales is plural and tamale is singular, in Mexico, you have one tamal.
As I was listening to the speaker, I kept hearing the word tamal. “Tamal” here and “tamal” there, “tamal,” “tamal,” “tamal.” This was a serious discussion though and I could not figure out what tamales had to do with it. Finally I asked my companion, “Why is he talking about food?”
She looked at me quizzically and asked, “What?”
I replied, “He keeps saying ‘tamal.’ What does food have to do with the discussion?”
She had to stifle a laugh, then explained that he was saying, “esTA mal.” “It is bad.”
Sounded like tamal to me.