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Old 05-25-2018, 11:37 AM   #1
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Funny Foreign Language Faux Pas

What are the funniest foreign language faux Las you’ve either made or heard?

When I was living in Japan and still learning the language, one of my students was absent from the studio for a week or so. I found out that her uncle had passed away. Having already made the mistake of of saying “I’m so sorry” in a similar situation previously (“why are you sorry? Did you kill him?), I made it my business to learn the proper phrase to offer condolences, which is goshusousama deshita. I practiced this incessantly, determined to get it right.

I didn’t, of course. The phrase is remarkably similar to gochisousama deshita, which is what tumbled out of my mouth. It means “Thank you for the meal!”

Oh dear! Thank goodness, hilarity ensued!


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Old 06-23-2018, 01:49 PM   #2
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JJ - that is funny!

While living in Germany a friend of my mother's, who was struggling with the language, was shopping when she suddenly sneezed.

"Gesundheit!" was quickly expressed to her by another passing shopper.

Her reply - "Oh Thank You, it's so good to hear English!"

I believe that little funny ended up in Readers Digest humour section.

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Old 06-23-2018, 02:48 PM   #3
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In the movie 'The Way', one of my all time favorite movies this scene happened. A man from the US is in France, right on the border to Spain. So whether they talk English, French, or Spanish is questionable at any one time.

The man's son died and the man decided to walk 'The Way', a pilgrimage through France/but mostly Spain, to the Compostella de Santiago to commemorate his son.

He tells the police man, "We are walking The Way", meaning 'WE', us, me and my dead son, but since they are in France, 'we' might be 'oui', as in 'yes' in french. The french police man repeats it back to him and says 'We'/'oui'? wondering who the 'we' is if he means 'we' or 'oui'. Then if it had been french it would be 'oui are walking the way', or 'yes walking the way'. Who is we, his son is dead? You can see how clumsy that all is.

I was working in the US, for a large corporation. My boss chatted me a question and I answered 'oui'. He came out of his office and said, 'what?' I said 'oui', which means yes in french. He told in that I was completely wrong and 'oui' didn't mean yes in french. Hm. Ah-huh.
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Old 06-23-2018, 06:37 PM   #4
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I did 2 years of secondary school studying French and German. I wasn't that good at it, in fact I thought I never took part. When last in Paris I got by quite well really, greetings were good and I could understand the menu. And about 20 years ago I was away with work, in a flash restaurant where there were a group of German tourists. They didn't understand the menu, I heard them and stepped in to give them a translation. They were amazed at my grasp of the language. No more surprised than me. I guess things do sink in even years later.

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