There are so many ways we can make a complete fool of ourselves. It’s almost as if awkward situations are a quintessential part of the human existence. However, there are things we can do to limit the amount of embarrassment we go through. For example, stop assuming nobody speaks our language abroad.
For starters, bilinguals are a thing. Not to mention you could bump into another tourist from your country. Or an ex-pat. Sure, yelling insulting or vulgar stuff in public might give you the impression that you are all mighty and can say anything, but it’s only a mirage.
Bored Panda collected another list of “They Didn’t Realize I Spoke Their Language” stories, and it’s just as good as the first one. From racist old ladies telling black people to wash their skin off to obnoxious train passengers screaming that all Germans are Nazis. While in Germany. We’ve included it all, so scroll down, enjoy and upvote your faves!
I started dating a girl and decided I’d learn her language (Punjabi) but I obviously didn’t tell her because I wanted to keep it a surprise. Anyways, that’s how I found out she was cheating on me because I overheard her conversation with her friend. 8 months of effort gone in vain.
I’m French. I was in NYC, on top of the Empire State Building and a young couple was standing next to me admiring the view, the guy turns to his gf and says in French “ahh I need to s**t so bad”. I couldn’t not laugh.
At 17, just after I got my driver’s license, my dad allowed me to take his car. I was on my way to pick up my friend so we could go see a movie.
I had a green light, was moving through the intersection, and was hit by a car running a red light. I hit my head, was confused and scared, and was incapable of moving. The accident took place less then five minutes from a hospital so I was packed up in an ambulance before I could think straight.
I was in the same ambulance as the woman who hit me that was screaming about the pain in her knee. In the hospital we are wheeled into the same room and separated by a curtain. She called her family, speaking in Spanish, and told them to come to the hospital. A nurse gave me my phone and told me to call a parent. So I called my dad to come.
Her family arrived first. I only took one year of Spanish and, while I couldn’t follow the conversation, I could tell they were talking about me. My dad arrived then. He’s completely fluent in Spanish though you wouldn’t know it from looking at him. And, after hearing the other family’s conversation he became enraged and began recording it on his phone.
The gist of the conversation was this. The woman that ran the red light knew she was in the wrong but didn’t have insurance. I was a young white girl “rich enough” to have a car. The police would believe her, the middle aged woman, if she claimed I ran the red light.
When the police arrived to take statements they went to the woman first as the medical staff had already finished with her. (Inbetween the plan hatching she’d been screaming about how her knee hurt and the pain pills the nurses tried to give her were too big to swallow. I’d just been quiet and undemanding and simply answered questions asked of me and complied with any requests.)
Then they came to talk to me. My dad asked if either officer could speak spanish. One did, so my dad played the recording.
She got the ticket. The report stated she was at fault and I was not. And yet she still tried to sue me for her medical bills and the damage to her car. My mom was a secretary at a law office and her boss was kind enough to write her a letter full of legalese saying I’d countersue if she continued to harass me and I had the police reports stating she was at fault.
It was an interesting few months.
American who works abroad- it always baffles me how some American tourists seem to think that nobody else in the world speaks English.
The one that comes to mind was at a train stop where some tourists who were clearly American were talking about how smelly everyone in the country was. Tourist A mentioned that Tourist B should keep her voice down, and Tourist B replied, “Why? None of them know what I’m saying.” A guy standing behind them piped up with something like “Pretty much all of us speak English.” The tourists faces dropped and they were silent until the train came.
It was excellent.
Used to teach in Korea in a fairly small town. Some kids I taught told me about their grandma. She saw a black man at the train station and muttered at him, in Korean, to go wash his skin. She, of course, assumed there was no way he spoke Korean but he immediately answered back, in Korean, “Don’t hate, grandmother.”
She was so shocked and embarrassed she just stood up and left the station. Took the afternoon train instead.
On the tram in Munich I heard some drunk American tourist talking about how she didn’t realize some guy had left a condom inside her for a few days. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that like 90% of the people there could understand her.
I’m german, but also speak english. Like almost everyone in Germany.
Once I was at a suburban train where I live and there were two Americans who were screaming, that all germans are nazis and that they are way better than every german and that the language is horrible… You get the point. Someone stood up and said “Do you really think you are the only people in the train who speak English?” They literally looked completely shocked and totally embarassed, while the whole train started laughing at them.
So not me but a friend of mine.
So he is a manager in a kitchen and when he got this sweet gig in a new kitchen it was like 90% Cuban women. Now my friend is straight up Irish, red hair, pale skin with freckles, green eyes, totally a white boy. His mother though was a Spanish teacher and raised him to speak fluent Castilian Spanish. Well for his first two weeks the ladies talked a lot of smack about him in Spanish to each other and totally dissed him non stop. He decided to let it roll and when the two weeks was up he held a big meeting with them all to go over the changes he was gonna make. He held the whole meeting in Spanish and he said every women’s face just dropped and went bright red lol needless to say they stopped talking smack in Spanish.
Sometimes my students forget I speak Russian, and start saying stuff that is way inappropriate for English class. The best was when this one boy, who always finishes his work early and fidgets around with things, was pretending to swallow a pencil. Another boy, who thinks he’s very funny, said in Russian, “I always knew you could deep-throat.”
That kid turned a beautiful color when I reminded him I could understand.
Am ethnically Chinese but grew up learning German.
I was in Germany for student exchange and attended a dorm party one night. Two German guys at the party started flirting with me and openly discussed who would be able to sleep with me that night.
Played dumb and rejected both their advances. A week later at another party I conversed with other friends in fluent German in front of them. Their expressions were priceless.
French, English, German and Spanish.
Have had some fun ones with the latter two. Once, German tourists were in town, talking about how North Americans are rude and dumb. I politely responded to them that generalizing all North Americans is dumb, and saying things like that was very rude. That shut them up.
In Spanish, I was out with my partner, and a group of Spanish speaking boys started saying things about my partner that while I understand why they’d think them, you shouldn’t say out loud, and what they’d do to her. I responded that this is what I thought of their mothers as I was having them the night before. Once again: triumphant silence and indignant shock was their reaction.
The best polyglot story ever was my Godmother, who is this White-ass French Canadian who was raised in India, and speaks fluent Hindi and Marathi. So these two guys in an elevator start talking about her physique, berating her for being on the plumper side. As she exits the elevator, she says in fluent Hindi how their mums would not approve of how they were talking and treating women.
I’m Dutch and my GF is Hungarian.
I went to meet her parents for the first time af Christmass a couple of years back and my GF suggested that I should learn a couple words like: Hello, how are you. Those kind of things.
I took it a step further and got a lot of help from 2 workmates, just to suprise my girlfriend and parents.
When we got there, her father was not so keen of me being not Hungarian.
He was saying some things to my girlfriend like “How will we ever communicate?” and “It’s such a shame that you couldn’t find someone who is Hungarian or at least speaks it”.
I look at my GF, then camly responded to her dad that although my Hungarian isn’t the best, I will learn it for them because now they are my family too. I also thanked then for having me over and asked my GF’s dad that I hope that one day he can accept me for who I am as a “Outsider” as how he likes to call it.
The moment I did say that, he teared up and said that no one ever did some much for his daughter and his family in this way and he appreciates it very much.
After that, A bottle of Palinka appeard on the table and from that moment on I don’t remember much from that night.
Now several years later, me and my GF’s dad are really close although we live at the other side of Europe.
Soon I will go again to Hungary for Christmas, And now I am planning to ask him for his daughter’s hand.
I hope I will pronouce it correctly
American tourists being totally oblivious that a heck lot of people in Europe are fluent in English. I’m Swiss, which means I’ve learned 2-3 languages in school before the age of 18. It’s always great fun to see peoples faces turn white or bright red when I respond to what they’re saying in their language.
But American tourists seem to forget the fact that English is being widely spoken a lot. When I was working in retail I once had a family of 6 (parents, children, granddad) coming into my store, touching everything and making snide comments about the prizes along the lines of “it looks so cheap” and “how do these people even live here, they must all be crazy rich” . Then they’d side-eye me and comment on my clothes like “nah, look at her” and “maybe her boyfriend is rich and she isn’t even Swiss”.
You’d bet I had the nicest smile on my face when I went over and asked them if they needed some help finding a product in my best American English. The dad ushered the kids out of the store while the mom and granddad asked me with horrified expressions if I heard what they had said. That day was very satisfying.
When I was 13 my family moved to Switzerland. At first I didn’t understand french at all, but slowly i began to learn. My classmates didn’t realize I was learning though, so I got to hear them “discreetly” argue about who had to sit next to me, or who had to put me on their team in gym 🙁
“That guy is a f**kin idiot”
I was washing my hands
All the Mexicans at work insult my white ass every. F**king. Day. They still don’t know I can understand them.
I am half English and half French. When I was 19 I used to run a football class for a summer school in my hometown in England. My dad was the modern language teacher of the private school which lead me to be pretty knowledgeable about how things worked. When walking through the street at the end of school term some French exchange students asked me for a cigarette. I don’t smoke so I told them as much and I carried on. I got 5 meters down the street before one said “eh merci fils de pute”. This means oh thanks son of a b*tch. I turned back and asked them to repeat themselves. They apologised and were really suprised and also extremely embarrassed. Not nearly as shocked as when they turned up to gym class for their first summer class and I was their teacher…
I’ve heard my 2 aunts gossiping about me, for 2 hours in a car ride.
I learned Farsi (which is what they spoke) by myself, so they had no idea I can suddenly understand them.
From the moment I picked them up, to the moment we arrived to destination, they never stopped gossiping about me (in Farsi).
They were sure I didn’t understand them and they talked about EVERYTHING!
My romantic life, my job, my studies….
At the end of the car ride I told them to have a good day, in Farsi. It was worth it all just to see the look of horror on their faces.
My wife’s family asked her ” I thought you didn’t date white guys” She says “He’s Mexican and he understood you.” I smiled and nodded. After that, I was repeatedly asked If I’m sure I’m not white.
I was sitting in my grandmother’s living room. I hadn’t been there since I was 7(I’m 19 in this story) and had said nothing as at that time I was a quiet introvert. My two aunts were talking about how I was “A stupid American” and “How I never could understand the language of my family”. I then smiled and said “You know I understood everything you just said, right?” They didn’t talk to me for a while after that.
One flight attendant to another in an elevator: “I’m farting now”.
My boyfriend and I just giving each other the WTF- look
This will get buried but oh well. About a year ago, I was in a café, just eating lunch when I overhear 2 French girls sitting next to me, talking about boys and stuff like that, nothing out of the ordinary.
Then, one of them looks at me and says in French “That guy [me] is really cute. I want his number.”
5 minutes later I go to leave and say (in French) “Thanks, I think you’re cute too, I can give you my number if you still want it.” She gets so embarrased while her friend is laughing her ass off. I gave her my number, and the girl is my girlfriend now.
Had a customer speaking korean and I heard them say the coffee was good and I said thank you in korean. They were super nice and tipped more than I thought they should have.
It happens to me all the time because I look middle-eastern when I’m really hispanic. I was working at a coffee shop and two hispanic men came in talking mad s**t about our food and confused about the menu. Right in front of me the guy’s like “Lets ask this guy” “This guy? What’s this camel gonna know about anything here” (I guess camel is a slur for middle eastern or something?) I responded in Spanish and it was back-peddle o’clock.
Employees at the Asian market dont think I know Mandarin, they talk some mad shit about everyone shopping there, and they some racists MF’s. I hear “watch the black ones they steal” quite often and they comment on people’s weight a lot.
i was sitting in an uber pool. two korean guys from a music school were in the back seat while i was in the front. they were discussing sex at first, but then they started talking about women in a super disparaging way. things like “you have to try a white girl at least once, they’re different,” “if you just play music for them they’ll take their clothes off,” except the rated R version.
the uber algorithm decided i should be dropped off first. the one asked his friend, “where are we going?” in korean. i answered in english, “he’s dropping me off first.”
they said “oh,” in unison then quickly changed the subject to “hey have you eaten yet” lmao
I used to be the manager at a hostel in Kingston, Jamaica about 3 years ago. I speak English, Spanish and understand German, Portuguese, Italian and French some what well enough to get the context. They would often talk negatively around the front desk before checking in about the locals and would say extremely disgusting racist things and would generalize about my fellow compatriots (I’m a local, but due to my Hispanic background I look Latino). “Jamaicans are so lazy”, “These n-words are always trying to charge us more because we are tourists”, “This country is a complete s**t hole and backward, no one here is educated”. Since I had the right to refuse admission even if they had a booking, I would cancel their reservation and explain to them that it was due to the racist things they were saying, I was kind enough to issue a refund to these atrocious persons. The owner of the hostel would back me up and say “People like that shouldn’t stay here anyway”.
ASL for many years. Had a deaf best friend and learned for him. Downtown PDX one afternoon, waiting on the MAX, guy walks up and starts talking in what I assumed was the most broken English I’d ever heard. After a few “I’m sorry, man, can’t help”, he signs… The sign… For “sign?”. Phone goes in my pocket, water bottle set down, I’m ready to help. Motherf**ker asked me if I knew where to get heroin.
People in the PRC used to kill me, because they ALWAYS assume that the white girl does not understand Chinese….*even if they have just interacted with the very white girl, in Chinese, about two seconds ago*.
My favorite instance was when I walked into a convenience store, asked the clerks where something was, went to buy it, and had the clerk turn to the other clerk, and laugh about how he was going to short change the dumb laowai (foreigner). The dumb laowai was not pleased.
English and Italian. I am fluent in Italian and find it the most beautiful language. I like the culture and history. Anyway, was young and chose as a starting point for two week trip across the Europe Italy. My friends speak only English. So we are at the bar, and talking with some locals. One of them is a girl so cute that , at the time, I would never had courage to approach. We all speak English, but she turns to her friend to tell her silently that she wonders if I am good kisser and she plans to find out. I stayed in Milan for few days longer than planned.
So I worked in Italy for 1,5 years and took Italian classes at our local library 2 times a week for the first day I moved there. When I was filing a complaint about a dirty and poorly maintained hotel room whilest checking in, I started off in English because I was tired and could communicate better in English. The guy working at the front desk then turned to his colleague and starting bitching about me in Italian. He said something among the line of “OMG this stupid tourist thinks she can come down here and tell me what to do, just tell her we’re fully booked. Maybe if she was prettier, I would’ve helped her. Nice tits tho.” I was startled to say the least. So I replied, without skipping a word: “Well boys, maybe if your Mom would’ve raised you better, you would know not to treat women like that. Now if you can cancel my reservation, that would be lovely. I don’t think I will be staying in this hotel tonight, thank you.”
So yeah, I got my money back…
Hard to describe but I thought it was adorable. I was at a weekend retreat for people studying Sign Language. It was held at a residential school for the deaf and the children were away at home but a few teenagers were hanging around. A couple of the teen boys were trying to flirt with a girl. I wasn’t paying close attention, and I’m not fluent anyway, but I could tell one boy was asking the other boy to talk to the girl for him, probably because he was too shy to talk to her himself. Finally I “overheard” (oversaw?) the boy ask her “What is your weight?” The girl looked confused and a little disgusted. He repeated the question. The first boy slapped the second boy’s hands away and emphatically signed “What is your NAME?” The girl was happy enough to answer that and I was glad none of them could hear me laugh out loud.
I grew up in Thailand and can speak fluent Thai but I’m mixed race so I look pretty white. This happened when I was about 14 and wearing red lipstick for the first time. I was coming home on the sky train. This older lady turned to her husband and basically said that foreigners always dress like sluts and that she feels sorry for my parents for raising such a degenerate. Luckily my Thai mom called to ask which station I had gotten to so I was just talking to her in perfect Thai. The woman’s face was priceless. I kinda wish I had some witty retort before I got off the train but I was really shy and didn’t really stand up for myself at that age.
My great grandmother.
Great grandma and grandma were in an elevator. Two women started speaking in Yiddish, “Oh look at the poor washer woman”.
As my great grandmother got off, she turned and said “I can understand everything you said. Be nice.”
I was working downtown (in the US) in a part of the city that is mainly tourists and waited on a Chinese family one day. The restaurant is the equivalent of a sit down chain like Olive Garden. I greeted them in English and they responded in English, so I figured that this would be the best method of communication since they did not ask if I spoke Cantonese. Once I moved onto my next table I heard the mother tell the father that it is such a shame that my parents worked so hard for me to not speak Cantonese and work at a restaurant. I went through the whole meal speaking in English and at the end as I was handing them the bill, I said in Cantonese that “it was a pleasure serving you and I hope you come again soon”. The mother’s face dropped and she thanked me profusely and left a decent tip. I might speak English well, but I also know how to work the Chinese guilt.
Very innocent comment towards my Dad, but regardless they clearly didn’t think I could understand them. I once overheard some middle aged guys say that my Dad looks like “the oldest kid from The Brady Bunch if he grew up” in Spanish. My dad was down the aisle getting something and I was manning the cart and they were semi near me. I just start laughing because my mom had a crush on Greg from The Brady Brunch as a kid,so it was perfect! Even my Dad’s name is Greg!
No one was offended, but the guys did look scared for a minute.
In high school I spoke Spanish fairly well. It was not common for that time and for my area.
A family was buying groceries, and as I was ringing up the items the father said “he has not seen the stuff on the bottom, dont get it.”
I rank up what was on the belt, and sat there, after a few moments I asked about the stuff on the bottom. They would not look at me for the next 2 mins or so of the transaction.
I took a youth group to Six Flags. We had extra tickets from a couple of no-shows, so I decided to scalp them.
A Korean family walked up and I made my pitch. They conferred together in Korean. I’m a white guy, but I lived in rural Korea for a year and bargained with a lot of shopkeepers, so I knew their counter-offer and what they were willing to pay before they announced it in English.
I’m half korean, and can understand fluent Korean and can only respond in simple Korean or I just respond in English. But I was eating by myself in a korean restaurant and the servers were speaking korean, literally shit talking me. I just looked up at them as soon as they were talking among themselves about me, and they noticed and just dispersed / went separate ways. I’ve talked to other half korean folks I know and we’ve all talked about similar experiences of full korean folks talking shit, all the while them not realizing we understand what they’re saying. It’s embarrassing.
Edit: I didn’t think this was going to blow up! I in no way am saying that all full Koreans are racist, or treat half Koreans like crap or anything. I have been told that I look more white than korean. I have blue hair, some nostril piercings and I don’t remember what I wore that day but that’s what they were talking about! They were talking about my appearance. Unfortunately this was just a recent example, i used to hear more comments when I was younger. I think people are more open minded now, interracial couples werent as accepting back then like it is now imo! But this was purely people not realizing I can understand them when they’re speaking their native tongue.
I was eating at a restaurant in Quebec — where seriously everyone speaks at least some English who isn’t super old — and a couple who only spoke English sat there and bitched about everyone around them as if no one could understand a word they were saying. It was crazy because we were speaking English (albeit, not so obnoxiously loud as to draw everyone’s attention, as they were) a couple of tables over. Anyways, it was embarrassing for them at first. Then downright terrible as they even made fun of their waitress right in front of her. Eventually a manager came out and basically told them to f**k off. But as they went people were commenting loudly in english, and I’m surprised people didn’t actually clap.
Not me, but a teacher of mine
Teacher, who spoke both fluent French and fluent German, was on a horse drawn tour of a city, sitting in the center row of the carriage.
A French couple sat in the rear row, and a German couple with small children sat in the front.
The children were tired and cold and making a small fuss, but nothing outrageous.
The French couple started insulting the parents and children in French, snidely. The German family didn’t speak French and had no idea what was going on, trying to soothe their children and enjoy the ride.
Teacher scolds the French couple in French, saying something along the lines of “if you two bitter people ever manage to hold this relationship together, you’ll likely be in the same situation one day. Show some decorum.”
Teacher then turned to German couple and, in German, reiterated what the French were saying about them and what he said in return.
The German couple asked him to convey their apologies, their hotel room wasnt ready and the children hadn’t eaten yet, and they were killing time until they could check in. That they were sorry for disrupting their evening.
Teacher did. French couple looked embarrassed. Teacher spent the rest of the evening visiting with the German family in German.
I work in the utility industry. I had a guy I was working with trying to get new service to his residence. During one of our meetings he was on his cell phone when I got there. He continued talking for a few minutes then said something along the lines of “I’ve got to go, that stupid ass white boy is here”. He was laughing on the phone then looked at me. The look on my face must have told him I understood everything he said, because he got stone sober professional.
ill just say as someone that knows sign language i can eavesdrop from across the room.
the other thing is deaf people dont have the same social political correctness if they want to say that they saw someone undo their pants, they WILL undo their pants to show what they want to convey even in public.
so i see a guy telling some others, in sign language, about someone commenting on his button fly jeans. he is standing in the corner of a coffee shop when he grabs his button fly and pulls it open. people around the room gasp in shock with WTF type comments. i was able to get the lead up to the fly show and he was talking about how someone asked how he undid all those buttons so quick.
I’m a white blonde female, but I grew up learning Spanish and ended up living in Chile and Mexico for a time. I am pretty fluent in Spanish. I was 18 and getting my car fixed after an accident and I had to walk around back with one of the guys past the garage where all the mechanics were. This was in Arizona so almost everyone working there was Mexican or Hispanic. They started saying some really rude things about me in Spanish loudly and they were laughing. I understood them but was too embarrassed to say anything. With me being white they probably assumed I didn’t understand them. After my car was done I walked back around past the guys again. This time one of them said something along the lines of “I want to kill her with my di*k/ choke her”…. something like that. At that point I decided to turn and tell him off in Spanish and say that yes, I understood him, and I let him know how rude, offensive, and uncalled for that was. My Spanish isn’t perfect, and I probably didn’t get the exact point across that I wanted to because I was nervous and angry, but he and the coworkers clearly understood that I had heard them and knew exactly what they were saying. On my way home I called the car place and told the manager what happened and he said he would handle it. Idk what happened after that but I was young and shy and was proud of myself for how I handled it in the moment.
So once when I used to work at GameStop and this lady and her older mother walked in and they started to speak Spanish to each other looking for a game that the lady’s son wanted for Christmas. They eventually find it and then they come to the register and this is where the fun begins. (Now I do speak fluent Spanish but because of a recent work incident I didn’t speak Spanish to people unless they asked me to). So this lady and her mother are trying to gather their dollars together and while they’re gathering the money I asked them if they wanted to add insurance on to their game for $3 and the lady looks up and says yes and then resumes to look for more money and then they finally get together the original $11 that it cost to buy the game but we’re surprised to when it said $14 on the screen. The mother of the child asked why it went up to $14 and I said because of the insurance for the game, the lady then says I don’t want the insurance. The lady’s mother then asked why it jumped up and the her daughter said “He added insurance without telling me” in Spanish then her mother proceeds to say “Wow, he’s just trying to take advantage of people for not speaking his language”. This ladies and gentleman is where I lost and went full Spanish speaking mode and explained to both of them what was going on and they both apologized and they paid for the insurance and didn’t say a word for the rest of the transaction.
I used to work at a name brand retail store. This attracts a lot of Chinese clients as Chinese people are really big on name brand products. Most of our Chinese clients are tourists or people who’ve moved to the US later in life and don’t speak that well and prefer to speak in Chinese. I hate dealing with actual Chinese clients because their manners are usually not the best and once they know you speak Chinese they start demanding lots of stuff from you. So at work, I avoided speaking Chinese as much as possible, leading to me to insulted many times by them thinking I don’t understand. I’ve been called all kinds of profanities and blamed for cheaping them out and not giving them better prices or free stuff(this is a retail store not the street market). I usually don’t confront these people but one time this older lady in her 70s yelled “HURRY UP” to my face in Chinese. He daughter turns to her and told her even if you tell her to hurry up she can’t understand you. Only reason why it was taking longer than usual was because she wanted me to individually wrap everything she bought. So I decided to take my time, give her the shopping bag and said “慢走” which is a formal greeting Chinese people use when people are leaving their house/store. I’ll never forget the old lady’s face when I said that.
I’m bilingual (going tri-lingual) and I have a full traditional Japanese sleeve.
Day before thanksgiving was at a Korean/Chinese jjajangmyeon restaurant. My family and I sat down and behind me, there was a kid…maybe 10/11 and saw my sleeve. His eyes got BIG and told his mom “im going to get tattoos” in his native tongue (which I speak as well). Mom was shocked and stated “if you get tattoos, you’ll end up homeless, nobody will like you, you wont have a job, and you’ll be a criminal.” I turned around and said “I have a career, have a BIG house, and am not a criminal” She turned very red with embarrassment, got her order, asked them to pack it for her and they left. My family and I had a good laugh
Am from the US. Was visiting a friend in Germany. Her friend didn’t know I could speak the language. When she walked up to us at a restaurant she said, “Where is your friend staying? He is sexy. I’ll take him home with me.”
I responded with “Sounds good, I’ll cancel my hotel.”
I was at a ferry once and there was a Swedish couple sitting next to me for a solid 30 min talking about sex and talking shit about their friends and the other passenger’s when it was time to leave I said: “excuse me can you move?” in Swedish and the look on their faces was pretty priceless.
So I speak like 1.2 languages English and Japanese. My Japanese is poor but gets me around town, let’s me be pleasant in the most basic conversation, order food and beer, and try to pick up girls.
I was on a bus in Australia one time and overheard the two girls on the bus say something along the lines of “those guys are cute/cool”. I responded with something of along the lines” Thanks! You’re cute too. Would you like to drink beer with us?” In Japanese. They were shocked! They did not get a beer with us be I did get her phone number. Fortunately for me, her English is much better than my Japnesee and we did meet up after!
I speak French and English but people wouldn’t think it because I’m Asian. I also wrestle. I was at a tournament and a group of French wrestlers showed up. They assumed that o my their team knew French. I won my weight class and completely annihilated the French kid. Later, I’m in the change room getting dressed, when in walks the French kid and his teammates. They are speaking in French and his teammates are like “that’s the kid you lost to? How? He doesn’t even look tough.” And some racist/derogatory comments. Before leaving, I turn to the kid, and in perfect French say “that was a great match. I had a lot of fun wrestling you. Have a great day.” The three of them stood their, jaw to the ground as I walked out.
A friend and I (both male) were sitting at a restaurant. Two girls next to us were speaking spanish, arguing with each other about which one of us was more attractive. Eventually they both agreed on my friend so as we walked out he thanked them in Spanish and they both went beet red.
“That guy is so pretty! Look at his hair” a teenage girl said to her mother.
I responded in their language with “thank you” and a wink. The mother died of laughter while the daughter died of embarrassment.
Once some people were speaking in my native language. One of the dudes said in my native language. I bet he f**ks his mom (a common insult to Muslims in the country idk why but it is). I answered “yeah I do, and your mothers too. Say hello to your daddy”. Almost ended in a fist fight. Luckily police were right there. This happened in Dubai. Once I explained what happened, the police officer told me they’ll be deported. I felt happy.
English-French Walking around in New York with my gay cousin who lives there, some french tourist points out my cousins nails and says to his family:
“Regarde moi ça, ya vraiment des mecs bizarres ici” “Get à load of this guy’s nails, there’s really some weird people here”
We both turned and starting bombarding the dude with “ya un problem?” And asked him why are his nails a problem to your life (in French)
His baffled face was worth it.
I‘m from Switzerland and I can speak German and English.
One summer my friend invited me to a vacation to Florida. Pretty much at the beginnning of that vacation her family and I went to a McDonalds for quick bite. We had to wait a little but there was this really cute cashier there. My friend and I were openly talking about how cute he was in Swiss-German, which is basically just an dialect even some Germans don‘t understand. So we did that a lot in Florida.
Well the line moved eventually and we were in front of that cashier. He smiled at us and asked us if were from Switzerland. We nodded and then he told us how his family used to have mainly Au-Pairs from Switzerland and he knew some German. We went red and he thought it was very funny and was flattered. At least I hope so lol.
I was stationed in Germany and out processing to get out of the Army. I had been there for almost 4 years so I was pretty fluent by then. At one office worked a Germany lady and a German guy. The lady gave me a paper to sign and as I am reading it she turns to her co-worker and says hella snarkily, “die sind meine lieblings Kunden, die die Alles lesen müssen” or “they are my favorite customers, the ones that have to read everything.”
I grew up in a border city in Texas. My immigrant parents taught us Spanish, and although they knew English they weren’t confident enough to teach me and my brother. So, in elementary school I went to “bilingual classes” taught in Spanish in which we would learn the same thing as monolingual normal classes, but in Spanish. We would be taught English slowly through the years, supposedly. But, the thing about public schools is, they suck. Needless to say, most of us did not learn English at all, and by the time we moved on to middle school me and my old classmates would form our own clique. We didn’t understand the other students, and would just keep to ourselves. I, on the other hand watched TV every day, I watched it religiously. So, at some point I started watching TV shows in English (with subtitles) and naturally picked up the language after a while, I could read it and understand it but could not really speak it. It was during this point in middle school that I realized a bunch of the other students loved talking s*it about us. They would approach my friends and under the guise of teaching them English, they would try to goad then into saying shit like “I am a retard.” because they knew my friends didn’t understand. So one day I had enough, and I snitched on them to my homeroom teacher. I told her what was happening to a few of the students (in broken English) and she assured me she would pay more attention and stop them from continuing to do it. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that some of the kids got caught and punished for doing that sort of stuff. After this I realized the importance of learning other languages. Now I speak English and Spanish and I can read and understand French, and read a little bit of Chinese and German. I hope to one day travel abroad and be able to speak the languages spoken in those countries, to get a more fulfilling experience.
I speak Russian, I have for a while now but I keep that a secret from most people, even my wife doesn’t know much about me speaking Russian, she just knows I say something every once in a while.
I traveled to Russia because I for one wanted to see the Red Square and I wanted to buy a Russian Nesting Doll. As I was in line waiting for my turn at a small convenient store outside Moscow a lady behind me knew I was American from my 5.11 American backpack, she then proceeded to tell her boyfriend or husband “Americans always try to ware military clothes to hide the fact that they are weak.” Once she said that I first greeted her and then told her that I am a Military veteran and that no just because I’m wearing military clothes doesn’t mean I’m pretending to be military. Meanwhile her SO was trying his hardest not to laugh and just plain walk out. After that I bought what I needed and left for Moscow, I ended up getting my Nesting Doll and see the Square but that moment was by far the best.
Actually I was the one who embarassed myself here.
My brother and me went to this huge concert in Stockholm. Even though we both speak Swedish, we communicated in German as usual – expecting few to no people to understand what we’re saying. Big mistake.
So then there’s this girl making her way through the crowd past us shortly before the concert begins. She’s using the good ole “I-bought-2-beers-so-I-can-sneak-closer-to-the-stage-pretending-to-have-a-friend-there-trick”.
In an animated voice, my brother says something along the lines of: “Hey honey, why don’t you stay here?”, mimicking some creepy 50-year old with a thick German accent.
The girl isn’t reacting.
I then continue telling my brother: “How about I just grab this girls second beer and chug it right in front of her?”. Of course, I had no intentions of doing that as we we’re just making up funny scenarios.
The second I said it the girl turns around, looks us dead in the eye and proceeds to tell us that she also is from Germany.
Needless to say our faces turned red as tomatoes instantly.
Not me, but my dad and uncle.
So, we live in Wales, and my dad and uncle were in a store, and they were looking for something (a light bulb, I think), and so they asked these two guys for assistance, and because they don’t have very thick accents, these guys assumed they were English, and then proceeded to take the piss out of my dad and uncle in welsh. Anyway, they found what they were looking for, and they went to pay, and it was the one who was taking the piss out of then most, and my dad, being the absolute legend that he is, only spoke Welsh whilst paying for the item. My dad told me that he had never seen someone’s face drop harder
Worked in the food industry (German here) as a cashier. Had a group of 5 American girls come in a couple nights in a row because their hotel was right next to us. They were obnoxiously loud but clearly living their very best life so we didn’t mind. However they were also dressed very scarcely and in heels (this was in winter) and started talking shit about our appereance and clearly felt superior. I was wearing a plain uniform. To this day I did not understand how stupid one can be – I was ringing everything up while talking to them. In English. Fluently. I just cleared my throat and asked them if they needed anything else, then proceeded to talk to my coworker, in German, making it very obvious that we are talking about them. She started laughing at the sheer absurdity of the situation and the girls clearly felt insecure right away. Just don’t visit another country “foR the eXpeRienCe” and be rude to the people that live there and help you along.
On a transatlantic flight I had a row to myself. In the air the flight attendant asked me to switch with a couple who didn’t have an extra seat for their baby. No problem. Then they moved me again for some reason. After I sat down the lady across the aisle asked me to switch with her boyfriend, who was one row ahead of me. I let out a deep sigh and she told me not to worry about it.
The food service came and on reflection I realized it wasn’t a huge deal to move again so I decided I’d offer after the flight attended cleared the trays. Then they started talking to each other in French and called me fat and lazy. So I stayed in my seat.
The weird thing is this was an Air Canada flight. Most Canadians aren’t bilingual but know enough to understand the insults. They weren’t being very secretive.
I speak Spanish and had just recently moved to Peru from the USA. No one in my school knew I spoke Spanish and so they started talking bad about me being a gringo, still laugh at their surprised faces when I yelled at them in Spanish.
I am an asian international student at the University of Alabama and during this year’s LSU vs. Crimson Tide game I walked past a few white girls who saw me and said to themselves, “Wow it’s crazy that people from all over the world are flying in to come watch the game!”. Not sure if they assumed if I could understand them or not though.
I was on my way to a job interview in North America, 2001. Didn’t have a car so I had called a cab. I overheard the 35 year old driver speaking to dispatch on the radio. I couldn’t tell if it was Polish, Ukrainian, or Russian so I asked “do you speak Russian”, in Russian.
It was literally the only thing I knew how to say, because it was on the Pimsleur brand language tapes I had just started a few days earlier.
He sat up straight like he was hit with lightning and began asking me questions one after another in his language. Despite explaining that I was just learning and couldn’t really understand, he insisted the ride was free. Wouldn’t even accept a tip.
The meter said “$46.50”!
Strangers in my city. They were German and I am half German half Italian (I live in Italy guys) and they asked me in english where they had to go to reach the city center. I told them where (in english again) and than put my headphones on,but I could hear them say: “look,I told you,not every Young person is bad. For example this girl:she could have ignored us but she helped us” (in German) they were an old couple. I love these two.
I speak mandarin, heard some weird s*it, “I wouldn’t marry you if you owned all the kittens in the world” overheard in a restaurant was great. But I also speak some French, and while in Baltimore airport, I overheard a little girl, who was pointing at a huge ass preying mantis on the window and say “it’s not going to come on the airplane is it?” Adorable.
In high school, I spent a month in Germany as an exchange student. The family had a son my age. Everyone I met commented on the fact that they had never met an American who could speak German. Until they met me.
One night I shortly after I arrived, I was at a party. Two girls about my age sat down close to me and started talking. I tried to look oblivious.
Girl1 (In German): Isn’t that the American boy staying with Peter?
Girl2 (German): Yes. He’s rather cute, yes?
Girl1 (German): Yes! I’m going to say something!
Girl1 (English): Hey! Aren’t you the American staying with Peter? I’m Birgitte, and this is Hilde.
Me (In German): Yes, I am! It’s nice to meet you both!
They both turned bright red. It was one one of the funnest trips I’ve ever had.
I’m from Hungary and I lived in Germany for a few years as an au pair. I was honestly surprised how many times I heard random Hungarians. They never said anything offensive or rude about others, just…swore a lot, really loudly. Always made my day when I heard a random “f**king f**k” in my native language in Aldi. I almost never swear in English (a sad lack of variety) but when my friend visited after 6 months, and I could finally talk with someone from home, I did the exact same thing! Maybe it’s a cultural thing.
I’m Polish and live in England. I don’t know why Poles never realise that there are so many of us there that they can’t just speak about everyone in Polish because someone will understand. It happens quite often.
Well, as an Italian I overheard many American tourists diss my town, the service workers and many other things.
But the most fun I had was abroad when two thugs talked shit about me and my father in our face (even with sporadic eye contact) in a bastardized second-generation-immigrant-esque version of Italian while we were touring NYC.
Boy did they look surprised…
A polish guy at work started swearing at me profusely in his tongue , I learned a little polish from a friend , I told him I understood everything he just swore at me whilst I stared him dead in the eye . He didn’t say another word
I remember hearing two Chinese tourists, both males in their late teen/early twenties, in the United States talking about a woman they thought was attractive. Nothing overly inappropriate or rude, it was just kind of funny they were discussing it so loudly.
Kind of the reverse situation.
My best friend lives in America with me, but was born and raised in China. When he first came to America, he went to NYC for a few days with a tourist group.
For background, the mandarin word for “that” is “那个” which happens to sound quite a bit like the N word.
Well at one point, my friend was walking down n the street with one of his friends from China speaking mandarin and was pointing some things out and, rather loudly, said “that, that, that, and that!” Luckily the people who were about to punch him realized pretty quickly how poor his English was at that point