Tuesday Topic: The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Said

Last week at a woman’s outreach I mistakenly replaced the word “marriage” with the word “enemy.” Yikes! Definitely NOT what I was trying to say! Also, this past Christmas I informed a friend of mine that I had decorated a small hedgehog for Christmas (instead of a Christmas tree)! What is the funniest language mistake that you’ve ever made? If you speak English where you are, do you have any other funny cultural mishap stories?

(If you would like to pose a “Tuesday Topic” question, please email it to formissionarymoms@gmail.com . Provide your blog address if you would like to be linked to, and specify also if you would like to remain anonymous. Thanks!)

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6 Responses to “Tuesday Topic: The Funniest Thing I’ve Ever Said”


  1. 1 Becka February 22, 2011 at 8:34 pm

    I have the most humiliating answer to this possible. A couple of months after I arrived here a young boy in my church needed a blood transfusion and so I went to the local red Cross to donate.

    I felt confident enough in my Spanish to fill out the form on my own.

    My confidence was shattered when the nurse (seemingly very upset) began to talk with my translator who then fell on the floor laughing.

    Because, it seems that the question I *THOUGHT* was “Have you recently had sex?” was *ACTUALLY* “Have you recently PAID for sex. Well… Ahheemmm… I AM a married woman, and I answered the question with a yes.

    To fix it, I had to sign a separate form stating that I had lied on the first form and that I had not, in fact, paid for sex.

    I have never been able to live it down. Especially when coupled with the next day’s error.
    In Spanish, to say one is hungry you say, “tengo hambre.” Unfortunately, I said “Tengo hombre”. Which means… “I have a man.” And according to my Red Cross form: I paid for him.

  2. 2 Ashley L. February 23, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Becka, that is HILARIOUS!!! I laughed out loud!

    I thought of a funny one from a friend of mine. I may have shared it here before, but I can’t remember. She intended to ask, “Did you boil the water?” in Russian, but instead asked her friend, “Were you sunburned in hell?” Ha ha ha! =)

  3. 3 Sarah February 23, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    Wow! These are funny! Ashley, yours made me laugh outloud… for a long time! I’m trying to remember the Russian words for those phrases…

    I definitely have had my share of very laughable mistakes in Spanish the last 3 years. I remember taking my sleeping baby to our language school’s nursery and telling the teacher “Voy a regresar pronto para comerlo” (“I’m going to come back soon to eat him” – instead of FEED him). I cringed as I walked away realizing what I’d said! Around the same time, I told my teacher that the baby was born the day before his expiration date (rather than his due date). It didn’t take me long to learn that language learning, especially with a young mom’s scattered brain, was going to be a good lesson in humility!

    My husband finds the Spanish words “to bake”, “to ordain” and “to urinate” easy to mix up, which obviously can result in some pretty awkward moments!

  4. 4 Corinne February 23, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    I can’t think of any of MY mishaps off the top of my head, but my husband has one that he enjoys telling people. We live in Hungary…and are studying Hungarian, a very difficult language. One particularly hot day, my husband tried to make small talk with one of our youth from our church. Knowing how to say “I am” and the word for “hot” he attempted the phrase “I am hot” in Hungarian. The teenagers all burst out laughing. Little did he know that in Hungarian you should say the phrase “I have heat” to correctly translate it. Instead he told the entire youth group “I am gay” and after their laughter, inquired “What? Aren’t you gay, too?”

  5. 5 richelle February 24, 2011 at 8:25 am

    one of my husband’s favorite stories is one that was told him: a sweet, older southern lady was visiting patients in a hospital somewhere in french speaking west africa. although she spoke very little french, she’d sit with the patients and pray over them, and then would say “que Dieu vous blesse,” thinking she was closing her time with each patient, “may God bless you.” she was horrified when patients would start crying, yelling or having someone chase her out of the room each time she made the pronouncement. in french, “blesse” means to injur or hurt. she correct phrase is “que Dieu vous benisse.”

    one of my own most embarrassing moments? we’d been in quebec, studying french for all of 3 weeks and i had to go see the ob doctor as i was pregnant. i’m laying there on the table and he’s examining me and asks me a question, which i understood to be: “what are your plans for this summer?” so i proceeded, in very halting, stumbling and mostly incomprehensible french to tell him what our family was planning to do while in quebec for the summer – the look on his face becoming more and more confused all the time until all of the sudden, he started to laugh. then, in english, he informed me, “madame, i can now why you are telling me about your summer. but all i really wanted to know was if you are planning to breastfeed this baby or not.”
    arrrgggghhhh!

    and yet, even with the many embarrassments, i’m thankful for the humbling experience of learning another language!


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