Best Blunders In The Lands Of Other Languages
Published on February 05, 2010
When I was studying in France and out at a party with my host sister I accidentally told the whole group that I was ibred.
The host of the party asked me why I looked the way I did (they all thought I was Swedish or Norweigan and couldn't believe I was American) I tried to tell them "It's because I have Swedish and Norwegian ancestors in my family" but I actually said "It's because I have Swedish and Norwegian incest in my family." Needless to say, people became very quiet and looked a bit horrified until my host sister explained to them what I meant and cleared up my faux pas.
The french word for ancestor is ancetre but I said anceStre which sounds like the French word for incest because of the S I put in the word.
Ah mon dieu...
I taught English in Korea for a year. I'm trying to impress my nine-year-old students with my counting ability. I count to twenty. I'm thinking I'm saying the word "eighteen" and wondering why the whole class is breaking into peals of raucous laughter...
...and when I ask the Korean teachers about it, and repeat the word I used, eyes bug out and hands get clasped over mouths. My liaison, Charles, grins a mile wide and says, "That is the f-word you are saying."
Turns out the Korean word for the number 18 bears a distressingly close resemblance to the Korean f-bomb. It's just a matter of inflection and consonant stress. And I was, literally, effing it up. No wonder my students kept asking me to say it again and again and again and again...
Took me WEEKS to live that one down.
I recall telling many people in Argentina that I worked as an "avocado" -- that was until I learned the word I was looking for was "abogado."
I was in Mexico once, and I meant to ask the cab driver if he had a wife, nstead I asked him if he wanted my wife.