What are some of the language gaffes you've made while traveling?

(x2)  | By: Zaky | 2,899 Views | 4 Replies

Hi Everybody,
I'm gonna give here some funny examples of language disasters...
I'll start from my own experience and then give some of my friends horror sotries....

It probably happened to all of you at one time or another.You want to be a friendly tourist, so you try speaking the local language
only to find you've left the locals giggling at you or worse, completely offended.   

It probably happened to all of you.
You want to be friendly tourist,
So you try speaking the local language,
only ti find you've left the locals giggling at you
or worse, completely offended.

When I was in high school my Spanish class took a week-long trip to Spain. One afternoon, we went to Burger King for lunch, which several of us, for whatever reason, found incredibly funny. We were giggling away, playing with the paper crowns (yes, they still had the paper crowns). My friend Sue walked up to the counter to place her order. The embodiment of teen annoyance, she rolled her eyes in an exasperated way and informed the BK cashier, "Estoy TAN embarasada." The expression on the cashier was priceless. Sue had NOT expressed embarrassment, as she'd intended. Oh no. She had stated emphatically that she was SO pregnant.

Here are some cases of my friends that has confessed some common and hilarious language gaffes they made abroad. They're enough to leave lots of people red-faced and scrambling for their dictionaries!!!

A traveler trying to offer a polite greeting in Greece ended up calling an elderly woman a "squid," probably mixing up the Greek word for good morning, "kalimera" with "calamari" (squid).

Another tourist was trying to ask for a hair dryer in Italy, but ended up asking for her "head baked al forno." "Al forno" is Italian for food from the oven.

In France, be careful how you express contentment after a meal. A common mistake is to say "I am full (or "plein" in French)," which can be mispronounced as "pleine" -- indicating you're pregnant.

One of my girlfriend's friend also said she was extremely embarrassed when she mistakenly told the locals in Cantonese that she worked as a "prostitute."

Meanwhile, if you order fruit preserves for breakfast you can easily prompt lots of double takes in Portugal. If you say "preservativo," be aware you're asking for a condom.

So What are some of the language horrors you had while traveling? ... Let us Know ...

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4 Replies:

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United States United States
Silver Traveler0   Points

Posts: 10

I had made many gaffes while travelling in India. I always end up mixing up the words [I]chappati[/I] and [I]chaprasi[/I].  Chappati is a type of flat bread and chaprasi means a peon. Many a times, I've gone to a restaurant and ordered for a chaprasi. The expression is always priceless. 

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John Dennis

United States United States
Hero Member7   Points

Posts: 149

While you are traveling to any foreign country, its obvious that you should learn atleast somewhat basic communication to be familiar with local community.
In either case, same thing happens with everyone. I also experienced the same in some occasions.

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United States United States
Bronze Traveler0   Points

Posts: 2

I didn't do this while travelling per se, but I was waitressing at a restaurant and some French patrons were seated in my section. At the end of their meal, I tried to impress them by saying "Have a good vacation!". Well I accidentally said "nous" (we) instead of "vous" (you) so my actual statement was "we will have a good vacation!" They left thinking I wanted to join them on their travels!

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Malawi Malawi
Hero Member0   Points

Posts: 52

I asked for a hair dryer in Italy, but ended up asking for her "head baked al forno." "Al forno" is Italian for food from the oven.-P

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