It’s funny (but not funny)… I read this article and immediately understood what the problem was.

Gwyneth Paltrow: I didn’t disparage America
December 5, 2006

LOS ANGELES, California (Reuters) — Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow insisted Monday that contrary to a recent article in a European newspaper, she feels “proud to be American” and would never compare her homeland unfavorably to Britain.

In a statement issued through People magazine’s Web site, Paltrow said she was “deeply upset” by remarks attributed to her by the Portuguese newspaper Diario de Noticias, which quoted the actress as saying: “The British are much more intelligent and civilized than the Americans.”

“I never, ever would have said that,” said Paltrow, 34, who is married to British rock star Chris Martin, the lead singer of Coldplay, and resides part time with him and their two children in London.

“I feel so lucky to be American,” she said. “I feel so proud to be American.”

Paltrow denies giving an interview to the Portuguese daily, though she did speak at a news conference in Spanish, according to People.

“This is what I said,” Paltrow explained. “I said that Europe is a much older culture, and there’s a difference. I always say in America, people live to work, and in Europe, people work to live. There are positives in both.”

She added: “Obviously, I need to go back to seventh-grade Spanish.”

Paltrow, who won an Academy Award in 1999 as best actress for her role in “Shakespeare in Love,” was most recently in theaters in the film “Running with Scissors.”

In Spanish, the word for “older” is mayor. The word for “better” is mejor. Poor Gwyneth… instead of saying that Europe was an older culture, she said it was a better culture. It’s a very easy mistake for a novice Spanish speaker to make, and she happened to make it in front of some unscrupulous journalists (who had to have known what she meant).

Moral of the story: Don’t try to impress journalists with your foreign language prowess. Let an expert translate for you.