Embarrassing Language Errors: Tell-All Tales From The People Of The Internet

Sometimes the only thing to do when you make a language snafu is have a good, hard laugh at yourself.
Embarrassing Language Errors: Tell-All Tales From The People Of The Internet

It’s a feeling most foreign language learners have suffered through at some point — the crippling embarrassment that follows the unfortunate event of making a laughable language error to a native speaker. Nothing will give you foreign-language anxiety faster than committing an accidental linguistic faux pas and hearing the snickers or witnessing the cringe reaction of your conversational partner.

Learning a new language is more than just understanding syntactic rules and vocabulary. If you don’t use these elements in the right cultural or grammatical contexts, you can find yourself in hot water, breaking eggshells you didn’t even know you weren’t supposed to be walking on in the first place. Luckily, you’re not alone. The internet is replete with stories of misused vocab words, botched grammar and cross-cultural nuances lost in translation.

These sorts of snafus happen to the best of us, no matter how much you’ve been practicing. We rounded up some of the most stand-out stories about awkward and embarrassing foreign language errors that users on Quora could muster up the courage to re-tell.

Laugh-Inducing Language Errors

When you’re among the first foreigners to ever visit a small Japanese village, you’re destined to stand out — especially if you inadvertently refer to yourself as a pregnant root vegetable:

Wishing a Chinese visitor in a Russian hotel a pleasant morning turns positively mortifying:

Embarrassment ensues when a community gathering for worship gets misinterpreted from Polish as something a little less, uh, holy:

Even when you’re speaking the same language, knowing culturally specific vocab about the digestive system makes a big difference:

It might just be one squiggly line, but the tilde over the Spanish ñ is a force to be reckoned with:

And then there are those rare times when a French language error turns out better than expected:

Be sure to check out and follow the Everything Language space on Quora for more linguistic tidbits and stories!

Ready to risk making a few mistakes in a foreign language?
Author Headshot
David Doochin
David is a content producer for Babbel USA, where he writes for Babbel Magazine and oversees Babbel's presence on Quora. He’s a native of Nashville and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied linguistics and history. Before Babbel he worked at Quizlet and Atlas Obscura. A geek for grammar and an editorial enthusiast, he speaks Spanish (and dabbles in German, Dutch, Afrikaans and Italian). When he’s not curating his Instagram meme collection, you can find him spending too much money on food and exploring new cities around the world.
David is a content producer for Babbel USA, where he writes for Babbel Magazine and oversees Babbel's presence on Quora. He’s a native of Nashville and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he studied linguistics and history. Before Babbel he worked at Quizlet and Atlas Obscura. A geek for grammar and an editorial enthusiast, he speaks Spanish (and dabbles in German, Dutch, Afrikaans and Italian). When he’s not curating his Instagram meme collection, you can find him spending too much money on food and exploring new cities around the world.

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