Monday, February 20, 2012

Say What? : Language Blunders

Momma?  WHAT are you sayin'?

Learning a foreign language is quite a humbling experience.  Almost every day brings some new situation or word that you simply do not know how to communicate well.  Not knowing how to communicate is so humbling.  Especially for me.

I was thinking tonight about a few of my language blunders.  I have made so many more than these, but I am guessing that I have repressed those memories into the depths of my subconscious.  (BTW: did you know that for years I substituted the word subconscious for unconscious.  Say what? My friends had lots of laughs on the inside, I'm sure.  No body ever pointed it out till high school.  Sheesh.)

Blunders I have made while attempting to speak proper Thai:

The word for "spicy" and the formal word for "sex" are similar, but with very different tones.  More than once, I have called a food I was eating something truly inappropriate, or, at best, out of place.  Score - 1 for the weird white girl at the table.

I have substituted the word "cross" (as in, the cross Jesus died on), for "wooden pants."  That makes for a confusing message, don't ya think?

In the Thai Bible, sometimes the word Jesus uses for "we" (when He refers to the Trinity) is used in the place that I would expect to hear an "I" said instead.  So, I mistakenly thought that I could interchangeably use the Thai word for "we" whenever I wanted to refer to myself in a formal way.  No one corrected me for two months.  I would get odd stares, though.  Finally, my language teacher told me that I was saying it incorrectly. I know now that the odd stares I got were for my schizophrenic-sounding blunder.  Great.

Instead of telling kids to come, I have called them dogs.  The joys of a tonal language.

The words for "faith" and "evil" are sooo similar that I couldn't keep them straight for a while.  When admonishing others to trust in God, I was, instead telling them to have evil in their hearts instead.  Yikes.  Now I, painstakingly have to pronounce these rightly and still have to correct myself sometimes.  Grace, grace.

Once, while dining at the home of an important Thai couple we were involved with, I thought my husband proclaiming to everyone else of how good of a cook I was.  I emphatically disagreed, saying that I wasn't, really!  Everyone at the table stopped eating and their eyes grew wide.  Then, my husband started to apologize to the hostess who had made dinner for us.  Apparently, he was complimenting her cooking, not mine...which meant I was openly disagreeing with him about her cooking being so good.  I am thankful she is a sweet, forgiving woman.

And, to this day, I still can't remember the difference between the word for "Basil" and for "bag."  I am glad that I can give the restaurant lady a little giggle every time I order Basil Chicken over rice.  Silly foreigner.

Have any funny language blunders stories?  I am learning that it is healthy not to take myself so seriously!  Feel free to share yours in the comments below:


  1. Hilarious!!! made me laugh so much!!! the subconscious/unconscious part- I did it too..hahaha

  2. Thanks, Deena! Glad you stopped by to read and laugh.
    And, i'm glad to know i'm not the only one who always talked about her "unconscious" all the time.


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