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In trouble for speaking in a Foregn Language?


raytalks
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Has anybody here got into any trouble while speaking a foreign language, that you haven't completely mastered. There can be times when you pronounce a word with a slight difference, unknown to you, and it turns out to be another word altogether. I have fortunately never been in too much trouble, and had my friends correct me, when I tried my hand at Arabic when I was in the Middle East. Have you got yourself into in any trouble or an awkward situation?

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I've never gotten in trouble for speaking a foreign language. My English is good enough that I don't make silly mistakes like that, and I don't usually speak in Italian, so I haven't had the chance to mess something up just yet.

Not exactly what you asked for, but still. I used to think for a really long time that "hash browns" were hashish brownies. I was really surprised when I figured out it was just potatoes. Ooops. :)

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I have never gotten in trouble for speaking a foreign language. My parents would always encourage me to learn and apply foreign languages so that when I grow up, it will be much easier to find a job. They would take me to a private school just for learning a specific language, such as Chinese (Mandarin).

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It is definitely possible to mispronounce a word and make it similar to a different word, which is perhaps offensive to someone else. I don't think that can actually cause you trouble, though, or at least it is very rare. Context, intonation and paralinguistic cues do a wonderful job of communicating your intentions even when you might be misunderstood, so the listener would probably notice your mistake, and maybe chuckle, but he or she would understand that you meant the similar, more innocuous word.

A famous recent case of something like you described happened to no other than the Pope! He meant to say "in questo caso" (in this case) but he mispronounced it and said "in questo cazzo", which is a whole other thing!

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I got an experience to share, but isn't mine is from a friend who had just started learning English and decided to make use of it while in the states.  He went to one of those nice cafeterias, an African American waiter was supposed to take his order. Now, bear in mind my friend's English wasn't so good and he was still clueless about word order and stuff. 

My friend places his order: two eggs and a coffee black!  So, lol, the waiter got kinda mad!  My friend couldn't really get why, until later.

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I have never had one of those bad experiences but this does drag my memory back to a friend's experience back in high school. At the time we did both Spanish and French as foreign languages and my friend was quite fearless and determined to master Spanish. She would always drop in French words for Spanish, even whenever she was to give a response in class and so the whole class would have a big laugh about it. She however, was quite serious about it and today she is a Spanish teacher, thanks to her perseverance.

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  • 3 weeks later...

No, luckily, I haven't experienced that kind of situation yet, because over here English is quite mainstream, and I am fortunate to be able to speak it correctly with no wrong grammar, and of course, fluently, so speaking English has never been a source of embarrassment or trouble for me.

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I have not.  I think generally people understand that if it is not your first language you are still learning and mistakes happen sometimes.  I did have a situation at work though where a coworker was repeatedly told not to speak Spanish to another coworker in a different department.  I believe they were the only Spanish speakers currently on staff at the time and the supervisor did not like that she didn't understand much of what they were saying.

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Hahaha yes! I worked for a Korean company once, so that motivated me to start studying the language. One time, our company CEO visited our department for a regular inspection or something. I was just a beginner then and I greeted him "Annyeonghaseyo". He laughed and asked if I was studying Korean. So I said yes, and I was a beginner. He told me that if I am speaking to someone older, I should use the formal version which is "Annyeonghamnida".

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Yes I did. When I went to Rome for a vacation I never really had any formal training or lessons when it comes to Italian and most of the time when I check out from the hotel I'm staying people would always give that look when they don't understand what you're saying because your pronouncing it wrong.

It's not much that I got into trouble but it was really annoying and embarrassing at the same time.

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Never really got into trouble with language but more because of sign language and gestures. When I visited a friend who was from the Middle East I made the "Okay" sign with my thumb to his parents when I first arrived and they all stared at each other and laughed and explained to me what it meant for them

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