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Your most embarrassing "language situation"


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There is already a thread up which is called: "funny language situations". I would like to expand upon this by asking all of you: what was your most embarrassing "language situation". I am willing to share my "best story".

When I was in China a few years ago, my Chinese was still terrible, so I did not now how I could order 2 bottles of water (in a very small street corner shop). Therefore I just showed them two fingers to make them understand that I will need two bottles. However, when the waiter(服务员)came back, she prepared eight bottles for me  :grin: Why did this happen? Have a look at the picture below and you might understand why this happened :=) The pictures are showing the numbers in sequence, so the first one (left) is 1, the next one in the middle 2 and the one to the right is 3, and so on.....you should have a look at the one for 2 and 8 (二 and 八). What you will also notice by looking at this picture is that counting from 1 to 10 is really easy in Chinese (talking about the characters!!!)

5_guestures.jpg

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Probably one of the most embarrassing language situation was when I assumed the word "Foto" was also used in Spanish for "Photo" but many of my in laws would pronounce it PO-TOW which basically means poo in Spanish. I ended up asking a lady if I could see her photo and pronounced it PO-TOW. She gave me a dirty look and hurried off. LOL

:amazed:

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Oh god this is too embarrassing to even tell anyone. So MacDonald is so popular anywhere including in Indo at same time, the reality tv show THE APPRENTICE started and it's something new .Indo doesn't quite have a reality tv show so that was a big hit for me and my siblings. and as you all know, the show host is Donald trump.

After I went to U.S , I was telling my husband how it feels weird the McDonald here doesn't come with rice and along with that,I said 'You would think Donald Trump will add some rice as a side'. He was confused and was like 'Wait.what'. I was like 'Well he is so rich now with all the branches of McDonald in the whole world,pretty sure adding rice on a side isn't so hard'

He was laughing so hard and I just found out after years later that DONALD trump does NOT own McDONALD. this whole time me and my siblings and some people I know in Indo thought he owns it because of the DONALD!

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Photo is Spanish is "foto" and is pronounced exactly the same. What makes a difference in grammar an pronounciation is photography and fotografía ;)

My most embarrassing moment was when I applied to my first job. I made a career in the tourism industry and was usually endorsed by my professors who were proud to say I was the best English student in all college.

When I went to my first interview I made the most elemental mistake with a phrase that I was taught since kindergarten.

It was supposed that I was a hotel clerk asking a guest how old she was so I came up with this absurd question

"What is your age?"  Perhaps used in some contexts by native English speakers, but not in a hospitality industry setting.

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My most embarrassing moment was when I tried to swear in French and no one understood what I meant.  What good are swear words if no one can understand them  :tongue:  I guess actually it wasn't that embarrassing though since no one did understand.

There was also the time in Belgium when no one believed I was a native English speaker for reasons unknown.

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In Japanese, the word for "shrimp" or "prawn" is pronounced "ebi" 海老 (this kanji should only be read in Japanese, it makes no sense when read in Chinese). The word for "snake" is "hebi" 蛇.

Notice how similar the pronunciations are? One of my friends, a Chinese gentleman on a trip to Japan, wanted to order some shrimp tempura donburi (a delicious dish of rice in a bowl topped with crispy tempura shrimp and a fantastic sweet-salty sauce). Instead of saying "ebi", he said "hebi" instead, prompting the waiter to exclaim, "We don't serve snakes here!".

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Probably one of the most embarrassing language situation was when I assumed the word "Foto" was also used in Spanish for "Photo" but many of my in laws would pronounce it PO-TOW which basically means poo in Spanish. I ended up asking a lady if I could see her photo and pronounced it PO-TOW. She gave me a dirty look and hurried off. LOL

:amazed:

Really lol? That must have been awkward for her.

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  • 1 year later...

Oh gosh I’m not sure if I’d be delighted to share this experience but I will anyway. I used to work as a technical support in a company, my job is to answer phones and assist callers with any issues they are encountering. The callers are mainly from the U.S. and our company is located in Asia so naturally the employees are Asians. I mispronounced “RAM” with “rhum” and the caller said something like “oh you mean RAM?” and I just answered “yes” but I really feel like melting on the spot.

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My most embarrassing language related situation happened to me a few months ago. I had walked up to my favorite sushi restaurant and ordered something in the bit of Japanese I know. This is a usual thing for me to do since most of the time, their nice and correct me if I say something wrong. However, this time it was a new guy and he just looked at me for about a minute, not sure what to say. After the long silence, finally he said "I don't speak Japanese". As you could probably imagine, I apologized immensely but it was still very embarrassing.

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Mine happened just recently. A colleague and I were talking about work. In just a matter of a few minutes, we moved from a fun chat to a more serious one. Everything was going well for us. As she was leaving (she was at the door), she spoke too fast I didn't quite get it. I laughed knowing it was something funny. But her facial expression changed so I realized it was a serious reaction about the last discussion we had. After she left, I was deep in thoughts of what she could have possibly said. It dawned on me that she said the word frustrating. OMG! I laughed at that! She felt bad yet I laughed instead of comforting her. But gracious as she is, she let it slipped and laughed along too. I can't forget though her initial reaction. Ohhh, totally embarrassing!

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I have so many bad ones in spanish.  First off,  my first week in central america I was working with a female doctor..and she kept referring to herself as ´doctora´...  not knowing about the f/m thing, I also started referring to myself as ´doctora´ despite being a male.  The other one was something in regards to my ´novio´ back in the USA... something like ´ yes, I have a novio back in the USA´..

My funniest one was when I confused the word for onion with the word for horse.  I went to a very small store because I had forgetten to buy onions at the supermarket.  At the store I said  ´I want to buy a horse´.. and the woman said ´a horse?´  and I said ´ yes, I need to buy a horse, I am making soup´..

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I have so many bad ones in spanish.  First off,  my first week in central america I was working with a female doctor..and she kept referring to herself as ´doctora´...  not knowing about the f/m thing, I also started referring to myself as ´doctora´ despite being a male.  The other one was something in regards to my ´novio´ back in the USA... something like ´ yes, I have a novio back in the USA´..

My funniest one was when I confused the word for onion with the word for horse.  I went to a very small store because I had forgetten to buy onions at the supermarket.  At the store I said  ´I want to buy a horse´.. and the woman said ´a horse?´  and I said ´ yes, I need to buy a horse, I am making soup´..

Aaaaaaaaaaaaargh!

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  • 4 weeks later...

I did not know about this difference in hand signals when it comes to numbers since I always just assumed that it was universally accepted that as long as you had two fingers up then it would be considered two. My own embarrassing story would be when I was very young and left temporarily in a hotel room in a foreign country because I fell asleep, and when I woke up everyone was gone. I went out and found a cleaning lady and asked her if she saw anyone pass by recently but she didn't understand me so we both kind of just stared at each other awkwardly.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Mine was more to do with a new friend, whose LinkedIn profile stated she spoke some French. We were hanging out with a few other people when I remembered and decided to have some practice with her. I delved right into it; when queue pregnant pause, all eyes on us, and one hell of an awkward moment ensued. My friend was scratching her head and squirming in her seat uncomfortably!

She couldn't respond to a simple "Salut, et comment Ca va?"! (Sorry, I don't have French letters on my keyboard) She then giggled and said it was a little white lie! I was thinking, more like a whopper, honey! I was really embarrassed on her behalf.

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One of the most embarrassing situation that I can think of is when there was a big meeting in school. This was the time I was learning English. So during the meeting, I had to pee really bad but I didn't know how to say "bathroom", "toilet" or "restroom". I thought I could  hold it in but I couldn't so while I ran out of the room I said really loudly, "YELLOW WATER". Good times.

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