Does anyone have any funny stories about a time when you were practicing a language and you said something funny? After a while, especially now, we can all laugh at ourselves for the mistakes we made, but at the time, it must’ve been embarrassing.
Most definitely! Fortunately I am able to look back fondly on them and laugh with my friends about it - still to this day.
I was role-playing about shopping with my tutor one day, where she was a salesperson in a toy store and I was looking to buy a gift. At the time, my adjectives weren’t the best and I asked for a “Slow doll”… She said, “What the hell is a ‘slow doll’?”. I meant soft doll (like a fabric one)… when I looked back over my vocab notes, they were written above each other so my mind saw the wrong one! Ha! Now, whenever I make a mistake, she always refers back to it and laughs. It’s still so funny!
Another time, I said koonet instead of KHoonet and she burst out laughing… I essentially said “Go to your butt”, not “Go to your house”. Oops!
Yes, a lot!
One time I accidentally said “Diarrea de Motocicleta”, trying to say “Diarios de Motocicleta” when I was talking about a movie I’d seen.
One of the first times I started to talk with a native English, I told him: "You´re not fart " instead of "You´re not fat "
And he just started to laugh a lot!!
My first time ordering at a local café in Spanish, I ordered “un sándwich de jabón y queso”. The lovely gentleman behind the counter didn’t say anything and just gave me the ham and cheese sandwich I had intended to order. I am glad I didn’t have to eat a soap sandwich.
Ha! How cute! It’s like washing your mouth out with soap for a mistake. I’m sure they get it all the time.
Uuuuh, I have a lot of them! For example, I remember one night in a Mundo Lingo meeting last year in Buenos Aires when I was talking with two Brazilian female friends who were almost monolingual in Portuguese. They didn’t speak Spanish well, so when I made an introduction of what Mundo Lingo consists (an NGO that organizes language exchange events in bars) those girls felt a little bit uncomfortable at first, but later they understood and could have some fun interacting with others. Although my accent in Spanish is very open, my accent in Portuguese is very closed as I use to speak European Portuguese. In both standards the word “a gente” means “the people”, but in most of the Brazilian accents it means also “we”, “us”. In the variety spoken in Portugal, we refer ourselves as “nós”, while in Brazil for describing an abstract group of people they also use to say “as pessoas” (the persons) for disambiguation. So it’s a very funny if you deal with Brazilians with a good command of Spanish, however, in very rare occasions like this it could be a little bit embarrassed.
These are very good, especially the first few posts. Y’all got likes for your efforts!
I had one mistake in French where I elongated the word “Americain” when I was talking about myself, saying “Americaine” instead. I didn’t know I was a female at the time
I heard of a funny, funny blooper by a world leader from a few years ago.
On one occasion, the president of Venezuela wanted to send a message to the president of the U.S. to try to open diplomatic relations between the 2 nations, and so he tries to translate what he feels into English, telling the American president to “open the listen.” He didn’t sound any better when he then said “open the hear”.
The phrase makes sense in Spanish, but one has to translate it carefully. Haha.
I’m sure I’ve had plenty, but one of the best wasn’t mine, but a friend’s. We were on holiday in Japan, and I was, of course, the “guide” of our group, but my friend had also taken the trouble to study some basics of Japanese, to the point that he could joke with us about having been given ticket number 55 at customs (“55” is pronounced “go-ju-go,” and he was in fact Jewish).
At one point on our trip, he went into a convenience store to buy a snack, and the rest of us waited outside. Through the window we could see him attempting to communicate with the staff for what seemed like a very long time, with much gesticulating and confused, but painfully polite reactions of the store employees. When he finally emerged with his onigiri (rice ball), he was good-natured enough to share his embarrassing experience with us.
He had been trying to figure out what the filling of the rice balls was, but couldn’t read the label, so he tried to ask for help. Lacking comprehensive vocabulary, he simply tried to say “what is this?” (nan desu-ka?) But instead, he had ended up repeatedly pointing at his rice ball while asking “nan-ji desu-ka?”
So he had been pointing at a rice ball while repeatedly asking the staff “what time is it?”
I remember trying to practice my German at a market stall and accidentally asking the stall-holder how much he cost, and not the item I was trying to buy. He amusedly told me that unfortunately, he was not for sale, but the gingerbread was €1.
Amazing! And it sounds like he had a sense of humour, too!
My Brazilian friend, talked about her time in shooting practice as a soldier in German, and confused “schießen” (to shoot) and “scheißen” (to shit) the whole conversation until I couldn’t stop laughing anymore.
When I didn’t know German too well, I had a conversation with a woman about her ‘Tochter’, which I thought meant ‘doctor’. I couldn’t figure out why she kept talking about her doctor, but I went along anyway. After a few minutes, maybe I asked a question about it, someone told me she was talking about her daughter, not her doctor. I thought the word for daughter was ‘Mädchen’, which means ‘girl’.
I was practicing Spanish with a friend and I asked him how his back was doing. Except I said “espada” not “espalda”… So I asked him how his sword was doing, he is still laughing about it. Now I will never forget how to say either of those words.
I was talking to my Czech teacher one time about vacations. He asked me what I might do at the beach, and in an attempt to say sunbathe (opalovat se) I said “apologize” (omlouvat se). He was pretty confused
When I first started learning Malay 9 years ago, I was very confused between ‘kelapa’ (coconut) and ‘kepala’ (head). One day when I was in Malaysia, I went to a store to get some coconut water. Instead of ‘air kelapa’, I said ‘air kepala’ which meant head water! The store owner laughed and I was so embarrassed.
Back in the day, being a student of foreign languages I was working as an interpreter for a group of Americans. We were in Kyiv in this place called St.Andrew’s Descent - a tourist attraction with many gift shops, small art galleries and souvenir stalls selling handicraft. One of the guys was looking at these bracelets, asking the vendor questions, and I was helping with the translation. What’s this one made of, he asked. This is boxwood, the vendor said. For a second I was at a loss, because I didn’t know the English word for that type of wood. But then I thought - maybe it sounds the same or close, like ‘bamboo’ or ‘palm’ sound similar in many languages… So, ‘What is this one made of?’, the American asked. ‘This is boxwood’, the vendor answered in Ukrainian. And in Ukrainian it’s ‘Це самшит’ (forgive me, respected moderators, but I have to give the phonetic script for this Cyrillic word: самшит /sʌmʃɪt/ ). ‘This is some shit’, translated I without hesitation. The American gave the vendor a weird look, put the bracelet down, muttered ‘That’s a derogatory remark…’, and we went on to the next stall. When I realized WHAT I had just sad and explained myself we all had a good laugh.
Never had an occasion to use or to see the words ‘boxwood/самшит’ ever since then, but it’s engraved in my memory now
I was in Kaliningrad as part of my Baltic coast trip between Klaipeda and Gdansk. I wanted to order a pancake at a food court in a local shopping centre. The pancake was named Наша Раша but I mistakenly read it as Наша Паша.
The waitress and I laughed but luckily she understand what I meant and the order went through.
On the subject of Czech and the subtle differences between slavic languages… I took my teacher to a restaurant with a wonderful smell of food and I exclaimed loudly “To je výborný zápach!”. I had naively assumed that zápach in Czech was like запах in Russian and zapach in Polish, which means smell (neutral) but my teacher informed me that I had just said “That’s an excellent stink!”