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most embarrassing moment while learning Chinese


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She would also presumably want to maintain a healthy personal buffer from the strange foreign bunny fetishist!



While I was getting an unforgettable lesson on how to say "allergy", another one of my new language exchange partners happened to see us talking. I had only met with her twice (and always with her friends present), but she did not like seeing me talking to another woman. When I got back to the dorm my Nokia was full of texts like "WHO IS SHE?" and "YOU ARE A BAD MAN".



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I can't remember any Chinese ones (although I'm sure there were many), by to this day I'm a little haunted by one mistake I made when learning Thai:


I was living in a small town in Thailand. I had hired a room in a house, and downstairs there lived a family with 2 young kids, a boy of around 9 or 10 plus his younger sister. The little girl always called her brother "pee pee" (no sniggering!), so I naturally called him the same. Well, in Thai "pee" means older brother, and his name just so happened to be "pee" too, so the girl was saying "older brother pee". For her that's fine and normal, but for me... I remember her dad (so was around the same age as me) trying to explain something about his son's name to me one night while I was drinking with him and his friends (no doubt trying to explain my mistake), but my Thai wasn't good enough to understand. It wasn't until I had already left that place and had moved to Bangkok that it just randomly clicked one day.


I spent around a year in that town, and pretty much every day I (a grown adult) was calling this little boy "Pee哥". They must have thought I was a right idiot!

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No Chinese ones yet. At least ones I'm aware of, but I was once having dinner with my wife and some of her business acquaintances and tried to say that she was more afraid of earthquakes than I was. I had some kind of a short circuit in my brain and ended up saying that she was scarier than an earthquake instead. That cracked everybody up!

It was very embarrassing though because the two sentences aren't anything alike and I had already been using Japanese daily for years at that point.

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This ones both a bit of cultural ignorance as well as a Chinese mistake. When I had only been studying Chinese for a year, I studied abroad at a university for minorities (西南民族大学 in Chengdu). So, when I joined the American football team at the university, the form I had to fill out had a question asking which 民族 I am a part of. I had no idea how to answer this properly for myself, but since it was a spreadsheet, I could see my teammate's responses... 彝族,藏族,维族 etc.


Me being a white dude with no idea how to say this in Chinese, and no example to copy from, I wrote in 白族. Only a year later did I find out that 白族 is a real ethnic group, and I am certainly not one of them...

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