Thursday, August 29, 2013

Language flubs

Here's a short and silly list of some of the dumb things I've said in German:

In general conversation
What I meant to say: I'm impressed!
What I said: I'm impressive!  

At work when speaking to customers
What I meant to say: Serve yourself!
What I said: Behave yourself!  

What I meant to say: It's spicy.
What I said: It's bland.  (Fortunately, that mistake was rectified before purchase.)

What I meant to say: One can sit at the window (gestures to window seating).
What I said: One can sit in the window (gestures to window seating).  I then imagined those poor customers trapped in the glass like a bug in amber. Oopsie!

Any of you out there in ex-pat land have any verbal gaffs that you'd like to contribute?


  1. In Chinese, there are two different words used to describe a short person and something that is short in length, and they are not interchangeable.

    I've heard of an incident where a person was meaning to say: He is a short person.
    In actuality, he or she had said: He is short in length. (Think of measuring the length of the person using a 30cm long ruler...)

    1. If I understood correctly, then the Chinese language makes an interesting distinction between 'short'(height) and 'short'(length). I could well see many non-native speakers messing that one up!


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