Embarrassing mistakes made when speaking German

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When I first moved here, my bf introduced me to his friend's (very pregnant) wife. I saw that she had recently had blood drawn and was sporting a nasty looking bruise. I told here, "Maria, das ist ein grosser blaue speck!" to which she quickly responded "ICH HABE KEIN SPECK AM ARM!" Apparently she was going through a phase where she felt really big...and of course, I made things worse! :wacko:

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I was at a party once where there were two dogs playing rather aggressively (one was ours). A girl that hadn't a clue about dogs was concerned until we informed her that you could tell by their body language that they were having fun. She said "Ach so, schwanz wedelnd heist spielen".

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In my first few weeks of learning the language I felt that I was making great strides. When a German came to my office with a question I proudly cautioned that, "ich spreche sehr wichtig Deutsch" instead of wenig.

 

Dan

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if you know someone who has an allergy to preservatives, and you want to ask the waitress if a food has preservatives... do not point to the menu item and say "Gibt's Präservativ drin?"

 

Luckily, someone knew the right way to ask before I opened my dumb mouth.

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Number 1 most embarrassing faux pas for me here happened at work, after having been home with a cold, standing in a room with several colleagues chatting. A colleague asked if I was feeling better, to which I replied yes I was and that my husband had kindly rubbed my back with Wicks. Dead silence and all heads turned to me - Wicks is called Wick here. :unsure:

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Wicks is called Wick here.

hmmm, ... seems you still dont know what is called Wicks (Wichs) here? :lol:

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Someone came into my office while I was really busy, and apparently asked Store ich? (there's an umlaut involved somewhere but I'm on my commie pinko leftie keyboard).

 

I didn't hear him but assumed he'd asked if now was a good time, because that's how he always asks. So I said yes, yes, and proceeded to completely ignore him for the next minute or so.

 

I didn't figure it out till he'd left in a huff.

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I simply cannot compete with all these hilarious examples but when I first came here I used to refer to my Bauchnabel as a Bauchschnabel. However my German husband often confuses bagels and Beagles so we're even.

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Even Germans get it wrong, it seems.

 

Just had a leaflet through my door for a fast food joint.

 

Apparently, if I spend 25 Euro or more they'll give me a "Falsche Wein" for free!

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Even Germans get it wrong, it seems.

Apparently, if I spend 25 Euro or more they'll give me a "Falsche Wein" for free!

Without wanting to appear zenophobic I doubt that leaflet was from a German, but even so no, the Germans can't speak German either.

 

In Franconia the hilarity is heightened by the fact that we have this whole hard/soft D/T B/P thang going down.

 

My favourite example remains a large and official sign on the production floor of a large German electronics company (them with the corruption problems) saying: "ACHTUNG! GAPELSTABLER" (go and look it up)

 

andy M

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When we purchased our house we did a deal whereby we could choose, furniture wise, what we wanted the owner to leave. Amongst the furniture were a lot of stuffed birds (hunting trophys) that I liked. He agreed to leave them and I decided to try my German and ask the owner if he had shot them himself.

 

I pointed at the trophies and asked; "Haben sie geschissen?"

 

The owner and the markler looked confused and then could not stop laughing, especially as my German wife was bright red and apologising whilst chastising me (whom was totally baffled by the mirth)

 

My wife pointed out that I should have asked; "Haben sie geschossen?" Needless to say I was truly embarrassed when my wife told me that instead of asking the "Have you shot?" I had just asked "Have you shit?"

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While talking to a Polish female friend I said "Ich bin geil" meaning "I am nice". Sometimes direct translations just do not work.

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hmmm, ... seems you still dont know what is called Wicks (Wichs) here?

hey, I've been married to a German for 10 years now, I know all about the word (and never had a cold since) :)

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Amongst other clangers in the early days of being in Germany, I remember being struck mute when a middle aged gay friend announced, seemingly out of the blue, that he was a perfectionist because he was a virgin.

"Ja, weil ich bin eine Jungfrau"

I translated madly in my head, but it just didn't make sense - I didn't know whether to look at him with sympathy or be freaked out that he felt he had to tell me this. He couldn't work out why I was standing there looking awkward - it took us a while to clarify that his starsign was Jungfrau (Virgo), which is why he was a perfectionist.

 

I also remember being completely confused the first time someone did the "Ich drücke die Daumen!" hand gesture - I had no idea what it meant, whether it was an insult or not...

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So, when the daughter of the owner of the company is being introduced to everyone in the office where she will start working next week, is it a big faux pas not to stand up during the conversation after she and the boss walk into the office for introductions?

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probably. Were you the only one who didn't stand up? And you didn't excuse yourself politely by explaining you were still hungover from the Wies'n, did you? :D

Too late now anyway. Ms. O. will live with it.

EDIT: ah, NOT Ms. O. He's not the owner, is he. Whatever.

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I was the only one in my office (HA!) though when she complemented me on my lack of accent (HA!) I did mention that visiting the Wiesn was good for developing the local dialect. :ph34r:

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