Miscellaneous Have You Ever Made An Embarrassing Mistake While Speaking A Foreign Language?

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pumpkinheart
Sunday 23rd of September 2007 05:27:10 AM
Have you ever made an embarrassing mistake while speaking a foreign language?: I haven't *really* made any mistakes, but when I got a row from an art curator in France for leaning on something I wasn't supposed to lean on, I said "Sorry" with a French accent instead of saying "Je suis desolée", which was slightly embarrassing and probably very offensive to the woman involved :S
My mum also went into a supermarket in a panic after seeing a dog shut in a car without the windows open in the car park (it was about 33C that day) in France, ran up to the nearest member of staff and shouted "Chienne! Chienne!" at her. I had to intervene before we were thrown out...
Please share your stories :)


gryphonastar
Sunday 23rd of September 2007 06:18:16 AM
I don't have a story about myself, but my spanish teacher told me a funny story. She was in Mexico and something embarrassing happened to her and so being very off guard she said, "Estoy embarrazada(spelling?)". After saying this her female friends then panicked and exclaimed, "Ay, no estas cansada!" (You're not married!" In Spanish embarrazada means pregnant. Ooops!!

I also heard another story from a friend, not really a language story as much as an accent story. Well, he was in Australia and was talking to a man who said the word "flaw" which when some Australians says it sounds almost like "floor". Then when my friend figured out his mistake he said in a really loud and American accent "Oh, FLAAAAAAAW." Many people in the restaraunt they were in laughed, he said.


Snoopy
Thursday 04th of October 2007 02:57:18 PM
Not exactly a mistake, but... Even speaking English, avoid the words "mist" and "gift" if you are speaking to people whose native language is German.


WickedArg
Friday 05th of October 2007 08:19:50 AM
Originally posted by gryphonastar


I don't have a story about myself, but my spanish teacher told me a funny story. She was in Mexico and something embarrassing happened to her and so being very off guard she said, "Estoy embarrazada(spelling?)". After saying this her female friends then panicked and exclaimed, "Ay, no estas cansada!" (You're not married!" In Spanish embarrazada means pregnant. Ooops!!

Sorry, just this:
[color=green]Estoy embarazada[/color]
and:
[color=green]¡Ay, no estás casada![/color]
Nice story, it happens a lot when English speakers learn Spanish, as well as the other way round.
"Fun" fact: an embarassing situation = una situación embarazosa



gryphonastar
Friday 05th of October 2007 11:35:34 AM
LOL, talk about irony. Language mistake on a post about making such an error. Thanks for correcting me!


Tiger
Sunday 07th of October 2007 10:43:24 AM
Originally posted by Snoopy


Not exactly a mistake, but... Even speaking English, avoid the words \"mist\" and \"gift\" if you are speaking to people whose native language is German.
Yes, Mist - horse manure, however this is not considered a bad word. ;) Gift - poison, this is always fun watching Americans fit it into their German when they forget the word Geschenk (present/gift) in English. :D

Well, once here on PB (the post has since been deleted), I accidentally asked the person below about their love life! lol Talk about embarrassing. :p

Let's see... Well, once last year at lunch time, I asked someone sitting at my table "So, what's for Essen today?" Essen being the German word for food.

Oh, I've also spoken Spanish with German word order. Now that's funny. :p I've mixed up German and Spanish lots of times. Also, I keep coming very close to speaking French in my German class, which comes immediately after my French class. (I'm in French I and German III)

Oh, and I used to always mix up Spanish and Italian at my Venezuelan friend's house.

I guess that's it...


Snoopy
Monday 08th of October 2007 01:06:24 PM
Russian-English blunders: the Russian word "?????????????"(intelligentsia) means intellectuals, educated people who make their living by non-physical labour. In the 1970s, a physicist from the USSR came to a conference in the US and wanted to tell foreign scientists about the thoughts and hopes of the ????????????? to which he said he belonged. But he thought that the English equivalent was "intelligence" and used this word throughout, not understanding why the foreign scientists suddenly started to feel uneasy...
Some Russian students of English also translate "public house" word by word or even confuse "publishing house" with "public house" (and "????????? ???" means a brothel in Russian...).


utomjording
Monday 08th of October 2007 10:08:21 PM
a popular joke in the english lessons at german schools:

a customer in a restaurant asks the waiter: "can i become a beefsteak?". the waiter answers: "hopefully not!"

become sounds very much like the german word bekommen, which however means 'to get' or 'to receive'.
that's the way we were taught at school :D


Dominick_Korshanyenko
Saturday 13th of October 2007 07:29:09 PM
Only once to my knowledge. I was in Spanish class and my Spanish teacher asked the class what they were wearing to practice clothing. When it was my turn to answer she looked at me and I said.

"Llevo una camisa, unos pantalones cortos, unos calcetines, y unos pies."

Which means: "I am wearing a shirt, some shorts, some socks, and some feet."

That was a little embarassing.



Snoopy
Friday 02nd of November 2007 02:59:07 PM
One of my favourite examples of automatic translation: "????? ????" (food chemistry) = "chemistry peep". Who could expect chemistry to make sounds... :)


Elindomiel
Saturday 03rd of November 2007 10:22:23 AM
"""Ay, no estas cansada!" (You're not married!" In Spanish embarrazada means pregnant. Ooops!!""

I know someone already corrected the spelling here, and I'm sure it was just a typo, but someone made this exact same mistake in my Spanish class and it was very funny in the context. He was talking about two people who were married to each other, but if I recall correctly he mixed up his pronouns a bit too, so he ended up saying, "They're tired of each other". Casada is married and Cansada is tired, so they're very similar.

The most embarrassing thing I've done in Spanish is when I was talking to someone in Mexico and listing the ages of several people, and when I got down to my fourteen year old sister I wasn't thinking straight, so instead of saying catorce, I said diecicuatro... There was this sort of long silence, and then I said, "CATORCE! CATORCE!" My Spanish teacher was right there so I told the lady not to tell her, but of course she did...

The worst mistake I've ever made in any language was in German... my German's really awful... The word order and cases always make me cry, but this was especially bad. I was walking around in Germany and I just loved the nice cool, damp air, and this guy came up to me and said something that I could just barely make out to be, "Oh, you're in such a good mood!"

I replied, "Ja, weil das Gewitter so gut ist!" Yeah, totally meant Wetter there.... (Wetter - Weather, Gewitter - Thunderstorm). Luckily what I said was more like Gewetter, and I kind of slurred it together... so... yeah... :P

He just said "Jawohl, jawohl..."


hamid18
Tuesday 06th of November 2007 12:19:15 AM
Not exactly. Sometimes I pause in the middle of a sentence because I realise I don't know how to say specific word, or I almost say it in another language by mistake


Robles
Tuesday 06th of November 2007 09:39:54 PM

While I have been to England with an English family for school-exchange, one day we were watching TV, a programme about Turkish food. My host family said: Here in England there are lots of Moroccans and Turks. Then I said: Yes, in Spain we have a lot of Turkish as well. They started laughing and then I thought... Turkish is the animal, no the people! :P


Osman
Wednesday 21st of November 2007 04:14:09 PM
LoL Robles!

This summer, when i was in US, i made an embarassing mistake by saying LUST instead of LOST in a sentence i made! :p


Mery
Wednesday 12th of December 2007 02:44:23 AM
Not a very embarrassing mistake, but I'll mention it...

Situation: I was with Jeff in an English pub in Florida. I wanted to know if he had children, so I asked the question, but since my spoken English sucks, he understood "ginger ale" instead of "children" :D It went like this:

M: do you have children?

J: no, I don't. Why? Do you like ginger ale?

M: (I thought he said children :D so I answered: ) well, no, not really

J: then, why do you ask me if I have ginger ale?

M: (at that moment I realized the misunderstanding: ) I didn't say ginger ale :D I said children

J: what???

M: children, children, children. You don't understand? KIDS. DO YOU HAVE KIDS?

That was funny lol.

I have another one. Did I explain when I mistook the verb "to chat up" with the verb "to get off" in an assignment at university? :D


Julianita
Wednesday 12th of December 2007 07:12:07 AM
LOL!!!! I loved it!!! :D


nena77
Saturday 26th of January 2008 06:54:58 AM
I think mine has to be when I confused "lamb" with "lamp" and had "lamp serum" written about thirty times total in one of my practical reports at uni. Of course, each time it was painfully crossed out with a red pen and had the word "LAMB, NOT LAMP" written in huge letters...

Also, from my student years, a Greek friend who was studying architecture was describing at an exam the waiting room of a clinic she had designed and said "Here we will have hook*rs for the coats of the people". She realised, too late, that she wanted to say "hooks"...
:p



thething912
Wednesday 05th of March 2008 12:31:50 AM
My spanish teacher once said that she was picking up her family from the airport in a Spanish contry. And because of thier slang she ended up saying strew my family.


Avaldi
Wednesday 05th of March 2008 12:55:33 AM
in a Spanish country

Oh my God! I thought it was just Kenny, but now I understand that every American say "Spanish" to people from Latin-America. Spaniards are just from Spain ;)


Dominick_Korshanyenko
Wednesday 05th of March 2008 08:32:10 AM
Told you Avaldi! :p


frogg018
Saturday 08th of March 2008 08:03:44 PM
ah, translation mistakes. Those are what makes it most interesting learning another language!
I've made so many I can't remember most of them, but here are some:

When I first started learning German, I confused the words for calculator (Rechner) and head (Kopf) and wrote in an essay that I had no head.
I've also accidently implied that I was in a sexual relationship with my grandmother over the summer instead of that I stayed with her for two weeks, although thankfully that was corrected by a friend before I handed in the essay for a grade...(bei vs. mit)
I asked my host mother if she had finished stroking the walls in the kitchen (streichen vs. streicheln) and also when she was planning on dirtying the Christmas tree (schmucken vs. verschmutzen) (in the same conversation, nonetheless)
and a recent string of mistakes that I seem to making in German is to confuse prefixes/suffixes, which of course can lead to some fairly confusing utterances of mine.


squeak
Saturday 24th of May 2008 03:26:04 AM
Not while speaking, but while trying to read the first Harry Potter book in Greek I came across the phrase:
"???? ??????" which means "he said softly" referring to something that Dumbledore had said. I later greatly amused some Greek friends by bringing this up as I was confused having never come across "??????" (softly) before, and instead only having heard "??????" (a "name" which I will not put here in English). My friends found it hilarious and for the rest of the day used the 2 words as often as possible, and used them the wrong way round (if that makes sense).


el_tigre
Saturday 24th of May 2008 05:21:05 PM
puta di mare : I remember the situation 2 years ago in Orebi?. A man was renting a boat to a group Italian turists. he did not spoke Italian so the conversation was in English. In order to "impress" them he wanted to say that he was "Seawolf" (a phrase-sailor with big experience) . But instad to say "luppo di mare" he said "puta di mare" (Seawhore) :D



el_tigre
Saturday 24th of May 2008 11:29:11 PM
Originally posted by Avaldiin a Spanish country

Oh my God! I thought it was just Kenny, but now I understand that every American say \"Spanish\" to people from Latin-America. Spaniards are just from Spain ;)

Yeah. :D


Also there is a confusion between German and Germanic!

That makes many non-Europeans believe that ex. in Sweden is spoken German(deutsch). :D


pumpkinheart
Thursday 23rd of October 2008 05:08:41 AM
I was speaking with the French assistant at school last year in preparation for my speaking exam. When I said "beaucoup" (lots), she burst out laughing. I asked her what I'd said, and it turned out I'd been pronouncing it "beau cul" (beautiful arse) for ages! I was really embarrassed!


Mery
Friday 24th of October 2008 11:22:53 PM
Haha pumpkinheart! That's a good one! I've been teaching French for 5 years and I've never heard that one :D

Do you have more to share?


pumpkinheart
Saturday 25th of October 2008 01:07:31 AM
Originally posted by frogg018ah, translation mistakes. Those are what makes it most interesting learning another language!
I've made so many I can't remember most of them, but here are some:

When I first started learning German, I confused the words for calculator (Rechner) and head (Kopf) and wrote in an essay that I had no head.
I've also accidently implied that I was in a sexual relationship with my grandmother over the summer instead of that I stayed with her for two weeks, although thankfully that was corrected by a friend before I handed in the essay for a grade...(bei vs. mit)
I asked my host mother if she had finished stroking the walls in the kitchen (streichen vs. streicheln) and also when she was planning on dirtying the Christmas tree (schmucken vs. verschmutzen) (in the same conversation, nonetheless)
and a recent string of mistakes that I seem to making in German is to confuse prefixes/suffixes, which of course can lead to some fairly confusing utterances of mine.
Oh dear! :S Never mind, it happens to the best of us :)

I'm afraid that one tops my embarrassing mistakes list, Mery! Although, when I'd only been learning French for about a year or two years, I wrote to my French penpal thinking I could translate everything word for word from English into French, and of course I didn't know the double meaning of the verb 'baiser', so at the end of the letter I put something along the lines of "Lots of 'f**ks, from..." after translating it exactly from English and not looking up vocab for letter writing, which I probably should have done!
Actually, that's probably more embarrassing than the 'beau cul' carry-on come to think of it! And, funnily enough, she ended our correspondance!


pumpkinheart
Saturday 25th of October 2008 01:08:00 AM
Originally posted by frogg018ah, translation mistakes. Those are what makes it most interesting learning another language!
I've made so many I can't remember most of them, but here are some:

When I first started learning German, I confused the words for calculator (Rechner) and head (Kopf) and wrote in an essay that I had no head.
I've also accidently implied that I was in a sexual relationship with my grandmother over the summer instead of that I stayed with her for two weeks, although thankfully that was corrected by a friend before I handed in the essay for a grade...(bei vs. mit)
I asked my host mother if she had finished stroking the walls in the kitchen (streichen vs. streicheln) and also when she was planning on dirtying the Christmas tree (schmucken vs. verschmutzen) (in the same conversation, nonetheless)
and a recent string of mistakes that I seem to making in German is to confuse prefixes/suffixes, which of course can lead to some fairly confusing utterances of mine.
Oh dear! :S Never mind, it happens to the best of us :)

I'm afraid that one tops my embarrassing mistakes list, Mery! Although, when I'd only been learning French for about a year or two years, I wrote to my French penpal thinking I could translate everything word for word from English into French, and of course I didn't know the double meaning of the verb 'baiser', so at the end of the letter I put something along the lines of "Lots of 'f**ks, from..." after translating it exactly from English and not looking up vocab for letter writing, which I probably should have done!
Actually, that's probably more embarrassing than the 'beau cul' carry-on come to think of it! And, funnily enough, she ended our correspondance!
I suppose I didn't know any better at the time...


Mery
Sunday 26th of October 2008 02:07:39 AM
"Beaucoup de baisers" is not really an embarrassing phrase. "Baisers" used as a plural noun has the same meaning as "bisous" (kisses). There's nothing wrong with what you wrote in your letter. It just sounds a bit too formal. Most people would use the word "bisous".

Your story makes me think of another true story, but this time with the verb "baiser" (which, contrary to the noun, is very rude). I met a Canadian guy on Phrasebase a few years ago. After a certain time he decided to come to Belgium to visit me. He had heard that people in Belgium kiss when they meet each other, so before leaving he told me "est-ce que je devrai te baiser quand je serai en Belgique?". (Will I have to f*ck you when I am in Belgium?). That was hilarious :D


pumpkinheart
Sunday 26th of October 2008 04:44:32 AM
Haha, thank goodness for that! I've been worried sick all these years about that letter! Thanks for telling me, you've taken a huge weight off my shoulders, Mery!
Oh dear! When did "baiser" actually become a rude verb?


jerome
Sunday 26th of October 2008 12:20:19 PM
The verb "baiser" meant "to kiss" in the ancient French; nowadays we say "embrasser". Another risk of "funny" misuderstanding in French is (again) with our Canadian friends. We in France call kids "les gosses", whereas in Quebec it has a real different meaning: this word is used there to refer to ... guess what? Men have two and women have none. Did you find out? There are some more false friends between both "languages" (sometimes we wonder whether there is one or two languages!)


pumpkinheart
Monday 27th of October 2008 02:29:46 AM
It's kind of like that with American English and Scottish/English/Irish/Welsh/Australian etc English sometimes. The Americans use the word "fanny" as a word for "bottom" which isn't rude at all to them, it's like saying "bum" in English English. But "fanny" in English English is the word for a lady's sex organ and is a very very rude thing to say, especially if you call someone it!


mattie
Monday 27th of October 2008 04:06:07 AM
Pumpkinheart, that reminds me of a funny situation that keeps popping up at school. Quite a lot of English people have moved to New Zealand and there is the one particular teacher from Northern England who continues to say the way 'root'. For example, she'll say "Oh, I'll just have a root around on my desk" and the entire class will start laughing. That's because in England, 'root around' just means to look for something, whereas in New Zealand it means to be promiscuous. :p 'Root' is also just another word meaning 'to have sex'. :D She should know by now not to use that word. ;)


pumpkinheart
Monday 27th of October 2008 05:10:39 AM
Haha, that's pretty weird, Mattie! How come they use the word "root" of all words? I'd never have thought that word had sexual connotations!


mattie
Monday 27th of October 2008 08:31:50 AM
I've no idea why we use the word 'root' to mean 'sex' out of all the words that could be used, but we just do. It's just one of those weird differences between New Zealand and British English. It's a very informal way to say it though....


cleomau
Monday 24th of November 2008 04:53:46 AM
It's not really an embarrasing story, so to speak, but it did make me feel pretty dumb. For one of my French oral examinations last year, I had to talk about a time when I had forgotten something important. I was talking about the time when I had gone skiing and forgotten my gloves. I had forgotten to think about the need to use degrees Celsius and was going on and on about the temperature being cold while it was 30 degrees (celsius). And then, for some reason, I mixed up "les gants" (gloves) and "manteau" (coat). I kept talking about my missing "mateaux" that I really needed since I wasn't used to 30 degree weather since I am from Florida. At the end of the examination, the graders gave me such pitying looks :(


djr33
Monday 24th of November 2008 05:13:51 AM
I'm working on a project for my Arabic class, and I volunteered to type up the script. I had a bit of trouble reading the handwriting of my partner who had translated it, and I came up with a few odd translations, mostly through typos, I think. Considering my Arabic is not good, I really had no idea what some of it said but my professor was helpful in letting me know:
1. I had somehow written, instead of "monkey," "sex", so the sentence read something like "Go the sex."
2. I mistyped "take" as "lick", which resulted in "Don't lick it!"

(It's nice to be clueless enough to just smile and have no idea what I've written so badly, though... haha.)


pumpkinheart
Monday 24th of November 2008 04:41:35 PM
If you want embarrassing stories in abundance, try the BBC languages website:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/yoursay/lost_for_words.shtml

English, Scottish, Welsh and Irish people aren't exactly renouned for their linguistical skills, so it makes for amusing reading!
My personal favourites are the stories about the woman with the devil in her washing machine and the other one about a woman asking for a kilo of chicken t*ts at a market...

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