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Funny language mistakes / experiences


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One of the subjects I like most when discussing languages with friends is funny situations we've got ourselves into thanks to incorrect use of a foreign language (or not being able to speak a certain language).

I'm sure I've had a lot but I mostly remember these several occasions:

- When I was in France, I somehow forgot the word for "glass" and ordered "une glace, please" thinking I was ordering a glass of water. I was fairly surprised to get a portion of ice-cream :)

- When I was in the Netherlands, I bought some cheese that I wanted to give to my family as an eatable souvenir. There was no fridge in my hotel room, so I asked the receptionist and she put it inside the fridge somewhere on the outskirts of the hotel kitchen. When I was leaving next morning and wanted to retrieve my cheese, there was a different lady in the reception who did not speak English. She knew the word "cheese" I guess but not the word "fridge". And I managed to completely, totally forget the Dutch word for it. I tried to call my Dutch friend but, alas, the phone was switched off, probably because it was dreadfully early in the morning. I tried repeating "fridge, cheese, my cheese, fridge" several times but to no avail. I then tried to produce something with my hands which (I hoped) looked like a person putting food inside the fridge. The lady still stared at me with no comprehension. So much for my acting skills. Finally I resorted to drawing. I was not very good at drawing back then which just may be the reason why this also produced no results - just more puzzled looks from the receptionist. I was slowly giving up ever seeing my lovely cheese again when the owner of the hotel walked in, and the guy spoke English! What a relief! The cheese was safe and sound in my luggage again, so, a happy ending to that one :)

-  I've also had some hilarious misunderstandings when I only arrived to Poland and was not fluent in Polish yet. Certain words which sound the same in Polish and in Russian have absolutely different meaning. One good example is that the Russian "to remember" has the Polish-sounding twin which means "to forget". A newly met acquaintance was a bit shocked when, after giving me her email, I said: "Thanks, I'll try to forget it" :) My Polish partner had a fair amount of laugh-out-loud occasions, when I said things like "I'll sit on the carpet" meaning "I'll sit on the sofa" or "I'll just add some plums to my coffee" meaning "I'll just add some cream".

Have you made any funny mistakes or experienced a problem not remembering a word you needed? Please share!

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Hehehe, I loved your story about the cheese in the Netherlands :)    I could almost picture the face of that woman in my mind :P  Looking all confused and wondering what you were trying to say (it's so funny she didn't even get it despite you draw the whole thing for her).   To be honest I haven't had any fun experiences yet, but I am sure I will once I move to the Netherlands and I start speaking dutch.  My level is A1,  so you won't see me talking a lot dutch with the locals anytime soon.  I can imagine how you felt not knowing how to say your cheese was in the fridge, I still get that nowadays: not knowing how to say seemingly simple things in dutch D: 

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