30 Times People Shared Their Silly Language Mistakes In This Online Group
Language is a powerful tool that helps us connect with others, express our thoughts, and navigate the intricate tapestry of human communication. However, for those who venture into the realm of non-native languages, the journey is often fraught with pitfalls, leading to amusing and sometimes downright hilarious situations.
In an online thread dedicated to language mishaps, individuals from around the world share their unforgettable tales of linguistic blunders that have become the life of the party.
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I was in Dominican Republic with an ice cream cone and a local street boy was eyeing up my ice cream, I was calling him over to give it to him but he was getting close and running away over and over, my Dominican friends said I was mispronouncing the words to call him over and instead was shouting “I’ll cut you, I’ll cut you” so he thought I was saying I’ll cut you if you come near my ice cream while I was making gestures to hand it to him repeatedly? ?? he did end up grabbing the cone and running full top speed away, pretty risky to take ice cream from a foreign woman yelling she will cut you, he must have really wanted that ice cream ???
When my first son was a toddler I thought “맴매“ meant dirty in Korean. So we’d be at the park and I would caution him something was dirty. Finally when he was like 2.5 my Korean mom friend told me it actually meant spanking. I’d been threatening to spank my toddler in front of other mothers for years. ?
100% true story – upon arriving in the UK from Canada I started telling potential new friends about my family enjoying the Canadian pastime of “cottaging”, which for us means “going to your or a friend’s country home to swim and waterski and build bonfires and stuff”. They looked at me aghast because in the UK it means “having gay sex in a public bathroom”. We DID become friends anyway.
When I first moved to the Netherlands, I had a Dutch bf who spoke English very well, but some things got lost in translation. I didn’t speak Dutch at the time, and one day he said his hairdresser friend was quitting her job to become an undertaker. I was shocked and asked why she chose such a drastic career change, and he said, she wants to work for herself and loves making people look beautiful. I thought ok good for her I guess, and we never spoke about it again. It wasn’t until years later (long after we’d broken up) and I’d become fluent in Dutch when I realized, oh…the Dutch word for “entrepreneur” literally translates into “undertaker” (ondernemer). She didn’t want to embalm dead bodies, she wanted to open her own hair salon.
When I moved to the UK, whenever I got hungry I told people I was “ravishing” instead of “ravenous”. I guess they assumed I just had excellent self esteem ?
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Ooh I have a fun one. I studied abroad in France. Turns out “preservatif/preservative” in French does not mean preservatives like you find in foods, it means condoms. Have never been met with such confused silence in my life.
When I moved to Hawaii I worked at a bank telephone bill service. Japanese woman called in and every question I asked her she’d respond “HI”, to which I replied HELLO every single time. ? I hung up and told my Asian coworker how nice that woman was. I died when she told me she was responding YES in Japanese. ???
For years, I used the expression “up yours” as a congratulatory phrase, and nobody corrected me. Be nice to your foreigners. Correct them when they are wrong.
When I was learning English I thought having an affair meant to fight, because when I saw having an affair on TV the people were always fighting. Had to write an essay for my English class about a typical morning, and wrote how my mom was having an affair with my brother.
I was in Ecuador on a missionary trip with my church, I over dressed one day and was burning up but had nowhere to put my jacket and sweater. I asked over and over at every store I walked by, every street vendor, anywhere for a bag, but I called it “bolsa” (I’m Puerto Rican, thats how we say it). No one hooked me up, most times people waled away with a face of disgust. Again and again I kept asking for a big bag, because I only had a tiny bag at the time. The local pastor that we met heard me at one point and ran to me, told me to keep quiet and then asked me what I needed… my response, a bolsa… a bag. Apparently you have to ask for a “funda”, in that country I was pretty much asking for a sack of mens balls. Literal balls. So I walked around saying “do you have balls? My balls are too small and I need big balls”. Good times.
I am Canadian. My husband is Australian. Family friend flew over from Australia and offered to nurse a Canadian woman’s baby on the plane. The Canadian very firmly told her “no thanks”. She didn’t understand why the woman was so offended. In Australia when they say nurse a baby, it means to hold. In Canada when we say nurse a baby, it means to breastfeed. We still laugh about it.
So, my beautiful little German grandmother and wife of a minister… asked (in front of a whole group of people at church) a friend that had recently gotten married… if he enjoyed using his dads condom on his honeymoon. She meant condo… condominium.
My Dad is Norwegian and made a few blunders when he first moved to the US. 1. He was at a classical concert and said to the people he went with “see you after the intercourse” instead of intermission. He was so embarrassed he did not return. Which probably made it even more embarrassing ???. 2. Having a meal he said “my teeth are running in water”. Which is literally what we say in Norway for “my mouth is watering”. Not embarrassing but still funny ?
I have some similar doozies in my book. When we immigrated to America from the former USSR, we didn’t speak English and also didn’t understand that you just can’t abbreviate certain words. My mom was a microbiologist working in a lab and had to leave a note for her lab assistant. She started the note with Dear Lab A*s.., because she was in a rush. Next day she was very confused why that assistant wouldn’t speak with her ?
Told my dad that no nut November was cutting out nuts from your diet to raise awareness for nut allergies, he’s been telling everyone that he managed a whole month of no nut November!
I lived in Canada for few years now and at the tim hortons I always ordered bagel with ‘urban garlic cream cheese’ and they always got the order right but last week I bought a cream cheese that said ‘ herb and garlic’ no one ever corrected me and I just believed it might be some type of Garlic ?
Was ordering dinner in Danish in Denmark, the word for chicken is “kylling”, but as an American I pronounced it as “killing” which translates into “kitten” – so the waitress at the restaurant was a bit horrified at my request for BBQ baby cat ?
I was going to college in the US when I saw a sign “beware of the pedestrians” and I asked the people I was with what kind of animal a pedestrian is.
I was a high school exchange student in Germany and was eating dinner with my host family. I tried Liver for the first time. I explained it was “mushy”….l didn’t know that Muschi in German slang meant Pus*y. My host family stared at me in shock.
I went to Spain with my husband and kept saying “escuchame!” Thinking I was saying “excuse me” And he would die laughing every time. He finally told me I was saying “LISTEN TO ME!” To everyone.
In a business context I once asked a colleague for a favour and added « do I need to do doggy style » (instead of doggy eyes) the whole open space burst in laughter. I didn’t even know what it meant at the time so was very confused but I blushed really hard once the colleague explained in the coffee area ???
A little kid dressed as a dinosaur roared at me in Peru and I said ‘tengo mierda’ (I have [poop]) instead of ‘tengo miedo’ (I’m scared). Whoops.
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When living in China I raised my arms to adjust my hair and accidently smacked a little kid in the face. I told him “you’re welcome” instead of “I’m sorry.” Lol.
Join a few friends for lasertag when I moved to Germany. Random kids would come to me pointing their guns and they would shout Kartoffel (potato). I had no idea why, just assumed it was slang toall someone you just hit a potato ?. So I started doing the same. Bang bang and Kartoffel here and Kartoffel there. I was the queen of the potatos! During one of the breaks a friend ask: hey, why do you keep shouting Kartoffel (potato)? I explained, that was what the kids were saying. My friend first rolled his eyes than he laughed! Turns out the kids were saying ‘getroffen’ (Hit) ? But my German was still so basic all I heard was potatoes!
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Horrified look on cleaning lady’s face when I told her I wanted to whack her (pegar) instead of pay her (pagar). Did it with a big smile all proud of myself. When she recovered we had a big laugh.
A friend of a friend had moved to the UK from Sweden and had an English boyfriend. In the UK we’re quite liberal with curse words and the bf and his mates would liberally use a word beginning with c amongst themselves. The girlfriend thought it was just a cheeky bit of slang like ‘mate’. Found it wasn’t when having dinner with bf’s parents, the mother made a little joke at the girlfriend’s expense to which she responded “Ha, shut up you c**t!”
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A French-Canadian friend of ours told a great stories from when he was learning English. My favourites were his use of ‘skinny pig’ instead of ‘guinea pig’ and ‘spacegoat’ instead of ‘scapegoat’—both used in business meetings, btw. ?
I was still improving my French after moving to Tunisia and was at a friend’s house with a bunch of her relatives. They were asking me about my then boyfriend and asked “il est d’où ?” (Where is he from? I.e. which region). I understood “il est doux ?” (Is he gentle?). I thought it was a bit of a strange personal question, but answered “yes, sometimes”. They all had a good laugh.
On my second year here someone told me they’re having a hard day because they had to put the cat to sleep. I asked why couldn’t she sleep by herself?
oh yes I remember my first time in the US, I was 16. I was by myself in a mall, and had to pee. I looked everywhere, on every floor..Nothing. All I could find was signs for chill out room, “restroom”. when i finally found the Toilet, I had learned a New word :)
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