Frightening Foreign Language Faux Pas

You know in every language, when you change one or two letters, the words can turn into something completely different. If you are learning a second or third language, this happens a lot! 🙂 Here is a quite funny infographic about language mistakes. I like it a lot, hope you also do! 🙂



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7 responses to this post.

  1. These are rather funny mistakes that no translator would ever made.
    However, there are far more serious and tricky possible errors in for instance technical or user manuals. For instance, when it says in English: “You cannot use a scissor to do sth” and you write in Dutch “U mag een schaar gebruiken om iets te doen” instead of “U mag geen schaar gebruiken om iets te doen” (note the difference “een” vs “geen), then you may be doing the complete opposite and thus damage the device or inflict damage to yourself. The same goes for German, “ein” vs. “kein”.
    Incidentally, try explaing to Japanese customers that adding one single letter can totally mean the opposite than the same word without that letter! 😉


  2. These are all very funny. There are some good ones I have seen for Italian and Hebrew and Polish


  3. Posted by Lee Eisenberg on November 26, 2012 at 20:33

    And now, one of the more toe-curling ones. In Spanish, “¿Cuántos años tienes?” means “How old are you?”. If you ask the same question but omit the tilde from the N, you’ve asked someone something that might not be appropriate to write here.


    • Posted by Christine Thomson Soltero on December 4, 2012 at 00:07

      LOL…Lee, that is a very common error made when students are new to reading and writing Spanish, and I use it constantly to show how scary it can be when we are not precise with our spelling and use of accents, etc. I don’t think it’s all that inappropriate to convey the meaning of “ano” without the tilde. It means, not year, but anus.If you are a medical interpreter, as I am, body terms are not considered inappropriate. Hope I haven’t offended anyone.


  4. Posted by Davor Kalinic on December 2, 2012 at 16:06

    I don’t know how you can mix up durak with sorok in Russian. No such thing.


  5. […] A Missed Opportunity Is Sometime For The Best People who rock the industry – Kevin Lossner Frightening Foreign Language Faux Pas 1 Linguist, 3 Questions with Jayne Fox From Louboutin to lawyer-linguists 100 Free Foreign Language […]


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