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what's your most embarassing language / culture fumblings?

Travel Forums General Talk what's your most embarassing language / culture fumblings?

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11. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 12y

Maybe he thought you told him you spoke Spanish like a little penis.

12. Posted by travelover (Respected Member 494 posts) 12y

Well, I have one, but it wouldn't be considered a fumbling on foreign territory since it happened in my hometown! See Quebecers have these slang terms that I don't know much about, so I speak french the way I was taught in elementary school. I told my ex-roommate I wanted to kiss someone (cause he was so nice), so I said "Je voulais lui baiser." Well the word baiser as a noun means a kiss, but used as a verb (like I did) means to sleep with someone... but it's vulgar... so yeah, she was all like You wanted to do what to a stranger cause he was nice to you??!?!? Umm yeah.... I don't think so!

13. Posted by summer910 (Respected Member 1342 posts) 12y

Well, I had problems with the very guttural Dutch "g". I spent ages trying to pronounce it the right way, only to have my Dutch friends burst out laughing. I just don't get it. I could pronounce "Den Haag" and "De Waag" quite nicely, but when it came to the name "Geert", I just couldn't get it right and it sounded terrible.

Oh, and I still don't understand this tipping business. I never know how much to tip and when. Awk.

14. Posted by gordonC (Full Member 17 posts) 12y

When I moved to France I ended up staying in an apartment with some french university students, which is where I learned to speak the language.

After a couple I months I was quite conversationally fluent, and made my way around without any problems. One day I stopped into a travel agency to book a ticket back home for christmas. I was greeted by the friendly agent who after a few minutes of discussing where I wanted to go, asked me 'Quand est-ce que vous voulez partir?(When would you like to leave)'

"Eh ben, je m'en fous - Hmm, it doesn't matter to me"

Immediately her demeanor changed and became cold - almost rude. I left a minute later shaking my head and thinking 'what a freak'.

About a week later I was walking close the travel agent's and thought about the incident and suddenly it struck me - I knew TWO ways of saying 'it doesn't matter to me' - ce m'est egal and je m'en fous.

I asked a friend later that evening and sure enough, there was rather a slight difference.

Je m'en fous can be loosely translated as 'I don't give a fuck'

After that I had to do a serious review of my french vocabulary, to avoid any more embarassing situations.

15. Posted by leahrb (Full Member 209 posts) 12y

Here are some "clean" ones ;)
I was an au pair in Spain this summer and I actually had less embarassing/awkward situations than I thought I would have. A couple things that I found funny was when the four year old boy said things (with hilarious facial expressions)(to his mother in Catalan a language i don't speak at all) about his impression of me.
First he thought it was really wierd that I walked around the house barefoot and also he described me as the "English girl who drinks water from the tap" he found these combinations quite unbelievable.

Another time I was eating dinner with a family and we were eating small fish that had been cooked whole. The grandma cut up the little girl's for her and got it all prepared. I tried to imitate becuase I had never done it before. It didn't work so well. She gave me one look and was like you destroyed it (woops) then she took put it on her plate and fixed some for me. And then said you're like a little girl. But she was so nice the way she said it that it didn't bother me at all.

16. Posted by tway (Travel Guru 7273 posts) 12y

Tam, that's a good one! That word sounds like so many others, sometimes it slips out unawares.

A colleague was telling me that, at a supper with her brother and his anglo wife, the wife was suddely chilly and asked them "Est-ce que je peut baiser la fenetre?" Um, go right ahead...

17. Posted by travelover (Respected Member 494 posts) 12y

Hilarious! Of course I think it's hilarious now... not when I allegedly wanted to sleep with a stranger!

18. Posted by abcdf (Full Member 557 posts) 12y

i love all these stories. mine are similiar. pepper in korean is similiar to penis. i could never say it because i wasnt sure which one it was---pepper. cus i love peppers, you can see where the emberassment ensues.

my mouth is always getting me into trouble. i love making people laugh when they shouldnt. for example, at the dentist office. my sisters and i were getting braces and you have to have foam fitted into your mouth and dried to get a molding of your teeth. its a gagging experience and i would do silly things to make them spit it out and have to go get it redone. after awhile its pretty painful. the dentist was not happy with me.

i was performing with a folk korean dancing team. we would perform various fairs and fund raisiers... i was the tallest dancer and we all wear mask. its the silliest and funniest experience ive ever had. we dance all around in circles and everytime one of us were near the other we would start giggling until hysteria erupted. no one can hear us because the music is loud but i was so exsausted from the dancing and laughing i slipped off the stage and landed on my butt.... and it was all caught on film.... you knew it was me because i was the tallest. pu hahaha. good times.

19. Posted by angela_ (Respected Member 1732 posts) 12y

English is my second language and although I think I'm rather good, my mother isn't. She was in the USA a few years ago and went to a restaurant (as you do). It was one of those places where you can bring your own wine, but my mum forgot a corkscrew. So she called the waiter over, and as she started the sentence "I need a .. " she realised that she didn't remember the english word for corkscrew. So my mother ended up saying to the poor waiter "I need a screw" and then realised what she said and wanted to melt into the ground.

20. Posted by LV (First Time Poster 1 posts) 11y

I was studying in France on a semester program during college, and, as for my faux pas, we had only been there a couple weeks, taking a language class as we became acclimated to the country. Well, we had to prepare presentations for our class, picking any topic relating to France that we could talk about for 10 minutes. So, I was talking about food, pretty nervous up there, and I say something about France's food that "il n'y a pas de preservatifs". The whole class burst out lauging, including the prof. I had to ask someone after class what had happened. I will never forget that preservatif in French means condom.