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Most embarrassing moment because of not knowing a language?


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I know italian decently well but whenever I used it in Italy people just stared at me. I think it's because in the mediterranean natives just make life easier for people by speaking to tourists in English, they just don't expect you to use their language.

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A hostel night watchman in Prague didn't speak a word of any other language besides Czech. No matter how hard we tried, there wasn't any way for us to communicate: he knew neither English nor German, Serbian, Italian, nothing the 3 people present could speak. We ended up sleeping outside since he wouldn't hear us out when we tried to explain we had a reservation.

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I grew up having my family make fun of my Americanized Vietnamese accent, which made me refuse to learn it as a child. I made honest effort yet my parents and my mother's side would mock me if I said some word oddly or if I didn't know how to pronounce a word. I'm not sure if my Vietnamese has gotten better or if they've gotten less hostile over the years. Growing up was really embarrassing for me because of my family.

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My entire weekend in Belgium.  :shy:  I'm from the U.S. and spent a semester studying aboard in Germany.  I knew enough German to get around (ask for the check, apologize profusely, etc.).  I spent most of my travels with friends who were great English, German, and French speakers.  I took a weekend trip to Belgium (alone) and barely managed to stumble through the weekend.

The worse part of it was when I arrived in Brussels and asked a cab driver to take me a hotel (in German and he gave me a funny look, because - in my ignorance - I guess they speak French?), laughed at me, and pointed across the street.

My hotel was across the street from the hotel station.  :confused:  I didn't realize that there were two train stations in Brussels.  I had been scheduled to arrive in Brussels the night before, but due to a worker's strike, I was unable to get there until the next morning, and the new train route, dropped me off at a different train station.

I had never been so mortified, embarrassed, and more like an ignorant American in my entire life.

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This story happened within the Philippines and it has more to do with dialects rather than languages but I think the idea is the same.

When I was younger, I served a religious mission in another part of the country where I had to learn a new dialect.  One day, we were visiting a family but the only one who came out was a little boy.  I asked the boy where his mother is, and he answered me in their local dialect.  The word he used sounded exactly similar to a word in my own dialect that means 'putting a baby to sleep'.  Assuming that the word has the same meaning in this dialect, I proceeded to ask more questions, like how long will his mother will be, how old is the child, etc.  It took me a few moments to process that my companion is grinning ear to ear and the little boy had a very puzzled look.  Finally, I asked my companion what is funny, and he told me that the word means 'using the bathroom to poop".  I turned red, feeling embarrassed. 

Now, every time I remember this story, I would laugh, thinking how silly our dialects differences can be.

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This happened when I went out with my friends who spoke malay, in KL. It wasn't embarrassing, but I felt unable to participate while they conversed with the locals, people in shops or restaurants. The best I could do was exchange smiles and ask my friends to translate for me.

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When I was in high school, a popular girl kept saying hello to me in her native language. She would smile when I replied every time. She would greet me every time we met even when she was with her friends. One time she greeted me when I was with a friend of mine. My friend told me that I was not answering the right way to the greeting. This girl was actually having fun at my expense.

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I have one. I had studied 6 years of French in high school and college, but then I left college for a few years and started new languages. When I went back to school, I was getting a degree in German. My French and Italian had basically disappeared despite having spent so many years learning and speaking them. My university was partnered with a local and successful music school so many classmates were music students, including opera singers. While in class one day, we had to read a passage that was written in French. When the professor asked if there was anybody who could speak French and wanted to read the passage aloud, I raised my hand. That was a mistake. I hadn't spoken French in several years, but I had always been a confident language student. Little did I know how true it was to "use it, or lose it."

I started reading the paragraph and there were several sniggers. Finally, a music student who spoke French and Italian and German, offered to read it when I was barely through the second sentence. It was a mortifying moment for me, especially because I had always, up to that point, excelled in foreign languages. I still remember it, and it's been 14 years.  :cry:

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My entire weekend in Belgium.  :shy:  I'm from the U.S. and spent a semester studying aboard in Germany.  I knew enough German to get around (ask for the check, apologize profusely, etc.).  I spent most of my travels with friends who were great English, German, and French speakers.  I took a weekend trip to Belgium (alone) and barely managed to stumble through the weekend.

The worse part of it was when I arrived in Brussels and asked a cab driver to take me a hotel (in German and he gave me a funny look, because - in my ignorance - I guess they speak French?), laughed at me, and pointed across the street.

My hotel was across the street from the hotel station.  :confused:  I didn't realize that there were two train stations in Brussels.  I had been scheduled to arrive in Brussels the night before, but due to a worker's strike, I was unable to get there until the next morning, and the new train route, dropped me off at a different train station.

I had never been so mortified, embarrassed, and more like an ignorant American in my entire life.

Actually, Brussels is full of a mix of different languages. Your driver understood you but didn't understand why you were speaking German. Many locals speak Dutch, so had you spoken French, there'd be a chance you'd have been less than appreciated there! Haha.

You shouldn't worry too much about that experience, though! You learned a little something and it didn't completely ruin your trip!

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Wow, the trend of this post has taken me waayyy back .

I remember when I was in high school, and a few members of my Spanish class, along with myself, got the opportunity to take a trip to a Spanish-speaking country as part of an immersion program that was centralized around us "really getting to know the language" by literally being part of the culture ; so, we were "forced" to get up and interact in Spanish with the locals and other persons that we met with in the country.

However, on our flight there, a friend of mine decided that she did not feel too comfortable, and wanted to take a nap, but we didn't get a pillow , although we spotted others around us who were given pillows. So, being the "smarty pants" that I thought I was, I decided to "summon" the assistance of one of the flight attendants, who happened to be walking down the aisle at the time.

I repeatedly asked her for an "almidón", to which she responded with the most bewildered facial expression I have ever seen on a human being .

But, she had a point...instead of asking for an "almidón", I really should have asked her for an "almohada"...

This whole time, I was asking the poor woman for some STARCH! , instead of an actual pillow!

When I realized my error, I blushed bright red.

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My bag of memories is filled with many embarrassing moments, so it is hard to choose just one. But the one that readily comes to my mind is when I walked up to a man with my husband by my side. I wanted to properly introduce ourselves. Instead of saying my name and then adding, 'and this is my husband'. I said my name and then added, 'and YOU are my husband!' It took me awhile to figure out why the man had such a look of wonder on his face.... :frozen:

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I don't have one specific memory. I do know I've been in an embarrassing situation regarding language problems more than once though. I've pretended to understand a word/phrase even though I didn't because I wanted the conversation to be over. Then the speaker would catch me and call me out on it. Yikes. My fault for faking it and getting caught though.  :wacky:

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I had plenty of awkward moments living in China. Usually minor things, and I would try but before too long I realized I didn't understand what the other person was saying. It led to some funny and strange interactions.

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Once, when I was very young, my family left me in a hotel room while I was sleeping and I woke up finding that they were all gone, so I went out and saw a cleaning lady and I tried to communicate with her in English but I don't think she spoke the language so we kind of just stared at each other for a while. I wouldn't say it was that embarrassing but it was definitely awkward.

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Title says it.

We once had a patient who up to now we do not know what language he spoke, we tried all kind of sign language , and we never understood what he was saying or what he wanted, he was in so much pain, we could only give him pain killers since we never got to know the source of his pain, because we did not understand his language.

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I think my most embarrassing moment because of not knowing a language hapened a few years ago. I was with some folks who happen to have an eastern language as their second language. A friend of theirs that spoke the second language but not much English then came along and they started a conversation in their second language. I felt so ackward during that time as every few seconds they would tell me a few words which I think didn't add up to their whole conversation. I just felt as though I was the topic of the conversation so I was happy when their friend left.

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Most embarrassing moment for me was during the first few months of my living in Thailand when I was scheduled to meet someone to go sightseeing.

  We were going to meet at a local restaurant where we had eaten previously. I was running late, I had to use the toilet, but I figured I could save time by using the one at the restaurant. I just didn't know how to ask for the toilet in Thai quite yet.

  By the time I had resigned myself to pantomime, I really had to go; but I still wasn't understood. Luckily, there was a Thai-English dictionary laying around. Everything worked out for me, I just became a bit of a celebrity at that restaurant.

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Probably just a couple of random moments of getting called out by my Spanish teacher in high school. I didn't really take the class seriously so there were times I didn't know the information as well as I should have. So I didn't know some answers when my teacher called on me. Found it to be pretty embarassing, honestly.

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I don't know, I am just so beyond embarrassing moments, I don't get worked up anymore about any wrong thing I say. Usually, I will warn the person or people I am talking to that I am not sure about a certain expression or word, and that I need a little help. I have made so many mistakes, said hilarious things and made everyone roll around laughing. So, no, I very rarely get embarrassed. And if I accidentally say something really out of place, I will naturally apologise and hope that the other party understands that it was never my intention to hurt anyone.

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I was working at a music store before that also offers music lessons, and most of our customers are half-chinese.  I'm not a Chinese citizen but for some reasons, I look like one (maybe because of my monolid eyes). Anyway, it happened once that a parent came up to me and talked to me in straight chinese, and then she smiled.  Of course, I didn't know what to say!  I was quiet for a while and then I politely said, "I'm sorry?"  She did not respond.  Later on, I learned that she can't understand English.  That was humiliating.

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