Sunday, December 14, 2008

Any time you learn a language, there are bound to be some unfortunate misspeaks. When I was learning English in Canada, I had a hard time learning which words were swear words because the kids just swore so casually. I confused asshole with fossil, and didn't realize that "fuck you" was a really bad thing to say. Once a kid said the latter in front of me in class, though I didn't even notice it. Someone told the teacher and I got dragged in front of the teacher, unsure of what was going on.

"Tell Ms. Craft what Kyle said," I was asked. "Fuck you," I said. "Gee Adeel, you didn't have to actually say it," she said. As a result, I wasn't all that concerned at first about my 8-year-old students debating which finger corresponded with the strongest epithet in the English language, until they started saying it over and over, at which point I had to make them stop.

There were other curious moments. Another time, Ms. Craft told me to "apologize" to another teacher. I knew I was in trouble and that I should probably say I was sorry, but I didn't want to embarrass myself by saying the wrong thing, and I had no idea what apologize meant. As a result, I just stood there, not impressing anyone. As the poster in the classroom admonished, you'll miss 100% of the shots you don't take.

Given my enthusiasm for practising my Korean, I've made more than my share of unfortunate statements. Some of them, I'm not even sure about, but I think I'm wrong.

I'm starting to think that when I ask people to not put ham in my food, I'm actually telling them to sit down.

I once asked a friend about his makeup artist. I was actually wondering about his boss, however.

More than a few times, I've said "spinach?" instead of "now?".

I invited a friend for dinner by telling him that me and my friends had already eaten chicken for dinner.

I told a few waiters and waitresses that Riyaad was a desk. I was telling them about his vegetarianism.

I once told a friend that I couldn't meet him because I was Seoul.

I confused the word for dinosaur with the word for advertisement.

When the girl at the coffee shop told me to wait a little bit while she made my latte, I said sure, but I thought I was responding to the question of whether I had eaten lunch. When she said "here's your receipt", I said "no, can I get it to go, actually?"

When I say goodbye, I'm actually saying hello.

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