10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction

Traveling in a distant nation might provide numerous obstacles. Some of these obstacles can be very enjoyable. Today, we’ll look at a collection of times language barriers shared by Redditors about humorous interactions they had when visiting various countries, which resulted from a typical lost-in-translation incident. Scroll down to read these humorous anecdotes from the gallery below.

#1 Went into a clothing store in Paris, explored the racks, and ignored the clerk’s offer of assistance. After I left, I discovered it was a dry cleaner.

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Arina Krasnikova, pexels


#2 I just came to France and began a new work; I haven’t spoken French in a long time and am quite rusty. I need to schedule a meeting with a coworker. She happens to be a lady.

Instead of saying ‘let’s meet at your office room’, I translate from Italian and say ‘on se voit dans ta chambre’, which means ‘let’s meet in your bedroom’. She had a good laugh.

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Image source: hyp_reddit, Brooke Cagle / unsplash (not the actual photo)

A few days later, another colleague, still a woman. I need a favor (work-related), and in Italian, one can say’mi fai un favore’ or ‘mi fai un piacere’. Of course, I translate the second phrase, ‘j’ai besoin d’un plaisir’, which basically translates to ‘can you please me’. She also had a nice chuckle, fortunately.

I am glad to inform that my French has substantially improved since then.

#3 My sister and I both worked at Target during college. She phoned me on the walkie-talkie one day while we were both on shift and said:

“Hey, I have some Spanish speakers and I have no idea what they’re asking me, can you translate?”

“Sure, what are they saying?”

“They’re looking for (heavy Spanish accent) a ‘eyes cram ma chin'”

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Image source: TheRealMrsNesbit

I was laughing so hard I said, “They’re speaking English, not Spanish, and they want an ice cream machine!”

It has been over ten years, and it still makes me laugh.

#4 During my work trip to Colombia, I presented my employer as my egg.

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Image source: Tiny_pufferfish, Klaus Nielsen / pexels (not the actual photo)

#5 My spouse has a peanut allergy, which we communicated about in Japan via Google Translate.

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Image source: llamaesunquadrupedo, Lucas Pezeta / pexels (not the actual photo)

It went fine except in one cafe, where the waiter returned with a Google Translate screen indicating that the poodle may contain peanuts.


#6 My favorite was when I was at a small town in the Pyrenees, France, shortly after arriving.

10 Times Language Barriers Led To A Funny Interaction
Image source: pharmdoll, Nejc Soklič / unsplash (not the actual photo)

I was hurrying to catch a train and could hear it approaching but couldn’t figure out where the station was (pre-Smartphones), so I became panicked. I noticed an older couple approaching toward me, but all of the French I knew went out of my head since I was in such a tizzy.

So basically, I raced up to this kind couple and exclaimed “Ooh ay el choo-choo” while doing the “pull the cord” motion. This wonderful pair showed me in the right route, but they couldn’t stop giggling the whole time. I couldn’t blame them, honestly. Made my train

#7. I was in Milan recently. I speak a little Italian. I am not confident enough to hold a conversation.

Image source: NJAKBSH, Andrea Piacquadio / pexels (not the actual photo)

I was caught off guard when someone asked me a question in Italian. I replied, “No hablo inglese,” indicating that I do not speak English but rather Spanish. I will blame it on jet lag. I’m sure I puzzled that person completely.

#8 I spent several years living and working in Italy, and I worked hard to master the language. My Italian isn’t horrible anymore, although it was tough at first.

During that early era, I stopped by a cafe to have a sandwich and a drink. I noticed they had peach tea in bottles in the cooler, so I requested for “tè alla pesce”. The woman behind the counter gave me the weirdest expression. I assumed I had spoken it incorrectly, so I repeated it as clearly as possible, “Vorrei un tè alla pesce, per favore.” She then broke into laughter.

I was ordering fish tea. I should have requested “tè alla pesca”. That’s a mistake I will never make again!

#9 I visited Spain for the first time 16 years ago. I didn’t know a word of Spanish when I went there, but I had to learn because few people knew English.

You always talk about the weather, right? And it was scorching during the end of July and beginning of August. I had this tiny English-Spanish wordbook; there was no Google Translate at the time.

Just stating, there’s a huge difference between “hace calor” and “estoy caliente”. I just assumed that meant I was feeling overheated because it was so sunny and hot.

It turned out that what I was saying had a completely different connotation. A nice Spanish girl advised me not to say it that way since, yes, it means I am hot – but seductive, not because of the weather.

I wished the dirt could swallow me. I’d been using that phrase for at least two weeks. I felt really humiliated. Today, it’s a funny story.

#11 I used to live in Japan, and when I first moved there, my slogan was “I’m okay with making 10,000 mistakes per day.” This was my first big one.

Image source: trivial_sublime, Ryan Franco / unsplash (not the actual photo)

On one of my first nights, a very kind couple in my apartment complex welcomed me over for dinner. They had a baby.

When I entered the house, I wanted to show off my newly acquired Japanese skills from my paper dictionary. I wanted to say “ie ga kirei,” which means “your home is beautiful.” I said, “ie ga kirai” – “your home is disgusting.” They maintained their smiles, but I could tell they were uneasy.

It became worse. During supper, I said “akachan ga sugoi kawaii” – “your baby is very cute,” but actually said “akachan ga sugoi kowaii” – “your baby is terrifying.”

This time, they were less stoic, and the father choked on his food. When I questioned what was wrong, they explained that they were not used to people being so forthright. I told them what I was trying to convey each time, and they seemed relieved, and we all laughed so hard it ached. I worked with the spouse, and everyone at work the following day thought it was hilarious.

That was the first of many similar scenarios.

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