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The Traveller's Magazine
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Have you ever been caught while abroad where you couldn’t get your point across because of language barriers or found yourself embarrassed to the ends of the earth because of a language mis-understanding? It happens to everyone, even the most seasoned travellers.

These “lost in translation” moments happen to everyone. Some are silly and other can be downright embarrassing! Here are some stories shared by travellers on Twitter in this week’s Travel Talk on Twitter session. What’s #TTOT? Find more about it at the end of the post!

Language taboos


Q1 via @trevormorrow: From experience, what have you learned not to do or say in certain countries or cities?

@kelaussie29: Don’t argue with how a country is run/its laws whilst travelling/living in it. You might not agree but you don’t have to be there.

@MalloryOnTravel: Unfortunately it is extremely rude to turn down vodka in Russia…. oh well “na zda-rov’-ye”!

@foodieintl: Never talk religion, always talk #food!

‏@iamfrafuga: Not to show the bottom of my feet in #Thailand.

@kampunggirl: Never tell an Italian your son plays the cello. ‘Cello’ is a local slang for a certain male body part.

@TinyTravelLady: In Seville & Granada do not accept the rosemary or other posies offered by the gypsies as a blessing, or let them take your hand.

@jouljet: Even learning couple of key phases in new country/language can get you a long way, people appreciate effort!

‏@JauntingKerrs: Don’t say “ok” or “no” in Greece to answer questions, sounds like “Ne” which means yes & “OH-kee” which means no. Confusing.

@journeytom: Even the English language can confuse people ‘pissed’ in the USA is something totally different in the UK.

Say what?

Czech phrasebook

Q2 via @megamondotravel: What’s the funniest “lost in translation” communication meltdown you’ve experienced?

@kitwhelan: Once @nschneble tried to order beer in Japan while the waitress looked at him like he was from Mars. He finally just said “beer.”

@HotelPRGuy: ‘Braces and suspenders’ mean very different things in US/UK. 😉

@hjortur: Trying to pronounce Xoshua (toilet) in Chinese – and then drawing it – just to realize I was drawing a Western toilet.

@JauntingKerrs: Nick tried on a medium coat in Paris, & the French store keeper got upset. A guy translated: “Big Germans can’t wear medium coats.”

@trevormorrow: While at a celebration in Kathmandu I sat in the women’s section. Lots of laughs from the ladies.

@chacha2787: Telling people I was pregnant in Mexico. Embarazada does not mean embarrassed, turns out.

@kitwhelan: I tried for a good 2 minutes to comminucate with a taxi driver in Norwegian, then she just started speaking English.

@lizenespana: Trying to say my roommate Amy and I were related, but ended up saying we “had relations”.

@HW_Travel: Well my name is Bobbi, but it sounds like Barbie with my accent I guess. So I’m constantly being asked, “Like the doll?”

Have your own “lost in translation” stories? Let us hear’em!

Travel Talk on Twitter takes place weekly on Tuesdays at 9:30 GMT and 21:30 GMT, why don’t you join in? Follow the #TTOT hashtag on Twitter and answer the travel questions that pop up every 10 minutes for an hour. Next week’s topic: Special travel moments.

Imgs: st3f4n, nick farnhill, swimparallel / Flickr cc.

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