19 Funny Cultural Misunderstandings

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19 Funny Cultural Misunderstandings

Thanks to reasons both good (Epcot) and evil (colonialism), pockets of the world have become enriched with many different cultures. And while the menacing aura of the Duolingo owl can bully you through learning multiple languages, there are times when he cannot save you and one minor slipup results in a hilarious misunderstanding. Take, for example, the person who wondered who the hell Ped Xing was when they visited America for the first time. Surely all of the signs indicate that he’s a widely revered Chinese man, right? 

To that end, Redditors have recounted the funniest times they got lost in translation, and here’s a word of caution: Don’t give the thumbs up to an Iranian person.

Jenwrr . 11y Spent a while in the US, originally from UK. You know that thing you use to rub out pencil? That's a rubber in the UK. Apparently it means something else in the states. ... 958

TurksDelight . 1 11y In Turkish, the word for birthday cake is pasta. When my husband was flying to the US for the first time he saw 'pasta' on the airline menu and he was so excited at the thought of having birthday cake on the flight that he ordered it. Не was sorely disappointed. ... 1.3k

CuresLightWounds . 10y While in Tokyo, I tried to order orange juice at a small fast-food place. I spoke no Japanese, and the young man behind the counter spoke no English. After about a minute of failed attempts at communication, he quietly put his arms at his sides and bowed to me, ashamed because he was not able to help me. I felt like such a stupid American. ... 63

awesomerthanu . 12y I gave a thumbs-up sign to my friend's Iranian dad - apparently it's equivalent to giving him the finger. ... 262  . 12y Interesting fact: It means sit on it and swivel ... 83

 . 1 12y At dinner in France and my american friend asks pouvez vous passer les beets? Because he didn't know the word for beets, les betteraves, it sounded like Can you pass the dicks? Не learned the word for beets as everyone repeated les betteraves, a couple of times. ... 80

ladeemadonna . 12y Not me, but my friend: Не moved here from France when he was fifteen. His cousin told him that a polite American greeting was to say, Up yours! For a while he went around enthusiastically shaking peoples' hands and saying, Up yours! ... 334

mastry0da 12y Was trying to explain to my Italian cousins the significance of natural peanut butter as opposed to skippy/jif, since i did not know the italian word for preservatives I merely did what i normally did in that circumstance... took an english word and made italian by adding o to the end of it... So i said that it was peanut butter sensa preservativos... at which point they were totally confused and laughing right in my face. Apparently preservativos is the italian word for condoms, so i told them that the peanut butter I was eating didn't contain any

nomorerae 12y I learned Spanish at a break neck pace, too, when I moved to Mexico (I was 13 or so, ended up fluent but at this point I certainly wasn't.) I was going to a birthday part for my friends brother (who I of course had a crush on)... I fell in the street walking down the hill towards their house and banged up my knee pretty bad. I walk in the door of the house, and announce to a living room full of people who I didn't know, including the boy I like and all of his friends,

afcagroo 11y I have a very Jewish sounding last name, but I was raised Catholic and know very little about Judaism. I don't ever think of myself as Jewish, but most people probably assume I am. This has led to a few funny situations. Probably the best one was when I was at a party in Houston and mentioned to some people that my wife and I had just moved to Austin. Someone asked Have you been to temple yet? I thought they meant the town named Temple, TX. They were talking about a synagogue. This led to a bit

KennyMcDaid 11y Im Irish and when I went to America no one had a fucking clue what I was saying.also said any craic? to a guy in a shop and said he was calling the police. ... 558

mi3476 . . 12y I asked my American friend who 'Ped Xing' was. I was pretty new to the US, and kept seeing this name on streets everywhere. I figured he was some famous Chinese guy widely revered in America, and decided to confirm the reason for his popularity. ... 497

Carl262 . 12y I spent time in Kenya, where people freely picked their nose. They'd look you right in the eye while having a conversation, digging for nose gold. Initially I was offended, but I quickly learned to love the freedom of it, and did it without regard. When I got back to the States, I learned quickly that job interviews are not the location to pull bats out of the cave. ... 500

hobofats 11y When I was in high school, a student in my class told us the story of his family's first night in America. They were from China, and moved into a house on October 31st, more commonly known as Halloween. They had never heard of this American holiday. The entire evening there were people dressed up in crazy costumes coming to their door and ringing the door bell, and the family had no idea why. Не said they spent much of the night huddled together under a table with all the lights off in the house, completely terrified. ...

icai . 12y Freshly arrived in the US to study and my English was none too good. I go to the University's cafeteria and, translating straight from my native language, I ask the guy at the pizza counter How is it going?, by which I meant How does this work? (what can I say, not very familiar with ordering at a counter). The guy starts telling me about his personal life, and after 30 seconds, I turned around and left the cafeteria, panicked that my English was so bad, I could not even order pizza. ... 85

wait_huh . 12y American here. I was studying in Vienna, Austria during college. Halloween rolled around and a bunch of us decided to get dressed up for the night. I lived quite a bit away from downtown to had to take public transportation to get to where my friends were. That night I learned 2 things: 1) Austrians don't dress up for Halloween. 2) A 6'3 werewolf complete with fangs and fake blood scares the shit out of most everyone taking public transportation in Vienna. ... 632

natty_boom_boom . 11y My Chinese parents found out about a special needs school in our area, and tried to enrol me. When the principal attempted to explain that I wasn't eligible to attend, they were outraged and thought he was being racist. ... 725

crispycrunchy 12y Not exactly cultural, but... When I was teaching in Tanzania I studied Swahili pretty hardcore. Studying so fast, I was bound to confuse some verbs. Tembea means to walk in Swahili, while tombea means to fuck. Making conversation with dozens of villagers in a day (in the villages you are expected to socialize with almost everyone), I repeatedly told several groups of people that I was tired from fucking all day in the intense heat. People laughed uncomfortably, but then I thought I was just making a grammar mistake. I told my entire host family, including their four

mijo_sq . 12y Child protection services was called on my aunt because my cousin came in with red marks all over her body. It turned out that they did a procedure called gua sha, because the daughter was sick. CPS almost put my aunt and uncle in jail at the time too for child abuse. Presently most teachers/schools know this procedure now.

iswear 12y I met a French girl and when she approached me to salut she kissed me in the cheek, I quickly retreated to talk normally but she moved forward approaching my other cheek which she kissed as well. At that point I was a little bit unaware of what was going on and backed a little more to try to talk normally but she kept moving forward to kiss me again in the other cheek... I was kinda confused but smiling and then since I saw her smiling and looking me straight I kinda though she wanted to make
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