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    Category: Language & Words

    This category features customers whose mishandling of vocabulary and grammar are so bad that we literally have no words to describe them!

    Lost In No Translation

    | The Hague, Netherlands | Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (A lost-looking tourist enters the shop.)

    Tourist: “Do any of y’all speak American?”

    Me: *joking* “I’m sorry, but we can only speak English.”

    Tourist: “Okay, sorry to bother you.” *leaves*

    Take It Away, Uncle Sam

    | New Zealand | Food & Drink, Language & Words, Tourists/Travel

    (Fast food places are often referred to as takeaway stores in New Zealand.)

    Me: “Hello and welcome to [fast food]. May I take your order?”

    Customer: “So, what is a tar… key… ah… way…?”

    Me: “Um, takeaways. As in food you can take away.”

    Customer: “Oh, is it a Maori word?”

    Me: “No sir. It’s an English word. May I ask, are you from out of New Zealand?”

    Customer: “Yes, I’m from America, but you’re lying about takeaways being an English word. I’ve been to Canada and they don’t use it there!”

    In Soviet Russia, Language Speaks You

    | Langley, BC, Canada | Books & Reading, Language & Words

    (I am the customer in this story. I am looking for a certain book on WWII, but am having trouble finding the section.)

    Employee: “Hey, could I help you find something?”

    Me: “Ah, yes! I’m trying to find [book]. Could you help me?”

    (The employee has a very wide-eyed surprised look. She slowly nods and motions for me to follow.)

    Employee: *speaking loudly and slowly* “Sir, these help?”

    Me: “No, I’m looking for History.”

    Employee: “Umm…” *looks down the books and hands me a Russian-English dictionary.*

    Me: “Ah, I wasn’t speaking English was I?” (She shakes her head and I laugh.) “Sorry about that, I was looking for [book].”

    (The employee laughs and takes me to where I had wanted to go, the rest of our conversation thankfully in English.)

    Watashi Whaaa

    | United Kingdom | Language & Words, Musical Mayhem, Top

    (I really like Japanese animation and am learning Japanese as a second language so I listen to a lot of Japanese songs.)

    Customer: “Excuse me, what kind of music would you recommend? I want to know what CD I should buy.”

    Me: “Oh, I don’t think I listen to the kind of music you’d be interested in.”

    Customer: “That’s not very helpful. Just tell me what kind of music you like.”

    Me: “Well, I listen to a lot of Japanese songs.”

    Customer: “I love that song!”

    Me: “It’s not just one song. There are a lot of songs in Japanese.”

    Customer: “Really? How many.”

    Me: “Oh, far too many to count. There are thousands!”

    Customer: “Well that’s a bit silly, isn’t it, what’s the point in making songs in a language that no one can understand?”

    Me: “A lot of people understand Japanese.”

    Customer: “Like who?”

    Me: “The people who live in Japan?”

    Customer: “You mean Japan’s a real place?! Well, you learn something new every day!”

    In A Tsary State

    | Queens, NY, USA | Language & Words, Top

    (Two women come into my grandpa’s locksmith shop and are saying really obnoxious things in Russian.)

    Woman 1: “Careful, I think he may speak Russian.”

    Woman 2: “That oaf? No way.”

    Woman 1: “Maybe he does.”

    Woman 2: “He doesn’t.”

    Grandpa: *in Russian* “He does.”


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