What if a Language Barrier Led to a Major Misunderstanding During a Study Abroad Event?

4 minute read
Study Abroad Event

Coming across a few phrases, made us thank the IELTS, TOEFL and other such exams even more. You must be thinking why is that, but some words or phrases in English are so close to something that means something completely different in another language. Nonetheless, there could still be some misinterpretations of words due to the influence of your mother tongue. Hold your horses, for we have already thought out the scenario with some amazing misinterpretations. So let’s see, ‘What if a Language Barrier Led to a Major Misunderstanding During a Study Abroad Event?’

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Congratulations! You Are Embarrassed.

Study Abroad Event

We know, we know, being embarrassed is nothing to be congratulated for, but that is in regard to what it means in English. If someone misinterprets it in Spanish, they might come congratulating you for a similar word Embarazad in Spanish means, well ‘Pregnant’. No need to flaunt your IELTS coaching here, just use a simpler word like ‘ashamed’ in a multicultural gathering. 

English: Ashamed

Spanish: (Embarazad) Pregnant

Your Gift Might Just Get Someone Killed

Study Abroad Event

We suppose we should eat our words for suggesting to use simpler words. Now what can be as simple as a Gift? Such a nice, pleasant and peaceful gesture, unless some German student could not hold back on their roots and misinterpret it as ‘Poison’. Yes, a gift in the German language means poison. So, if you are at a study abroad event, and have got some ‘gifts’ for your friends, make sure your friend is not a German before declaring you have got ‘gifts’. Or else just be ready to get into a legal battle, especially if you are in Germany. Well, that’s an exaggeration, you will have enough time to explain things. 

English: A present 

German: Poison

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Fart Up To Win the Race 

Study Abroad Event

On this one, I dearly remember our Chatur Ramalingam from 3 idiots, going above and beyond to please the director. But not far enough to research his translation before delivering a speech. In our scenario, let’s imagine a Norwegian student up on the stage. He or she is talking about achievement, and wonderfully blending their ethnic language with English to establish a connection and authenticity in his/her reference. And then, there it is, suddenly he/she proclaims, ‘Fart up to your goals, for if you won’t, someone else definitely will’. The ringing of laughter across the hall is going to shake the whole town. Fart, in Norwegian culture, means ‘Speed’. So while taking references from your regional language is a wonderful idea, it is better to also check the other dictionaries before using them in your speech. Otherwise, it will lead to ‘embarrassment’, in ENGLISH. 

English: Release of gastric pressure from the human body

Norwegian: Speed

How Would You Like Some Challa?

When spoken in a manner, Chal Aa in Hindi means, come on, let’s go. But if an American student walks up to you over a tea break and asks you ‘Chal aa’ don’t just stand up and walk along, they aren’t asking you for a smoke break. They are probably asking for Challah a popular teatime snack in America. Aww, did you feel they had gone through the pain of learning a bit of Hindi for you? Well, better luck next time. 

English: a Teatime snack 

Hindi: Walk 

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I Bought This From a Library

You and your friend have been searching for the same course book in the library for a long time. It was out of stock back then, until one day you see your friend with the same book and rush to question. The only answer they give you is, ‘I bought this…, from a Library’. As baffled as you might be at the moment, don’t let this delusion trick you. Library in French is used for Bookstores and Bookshops as well, so if your friend is still stuck in a French world, just ask them which library and buy one for yourself as well. 

French: (librairie) Bookstore

English: A place to borrow or read books

Well, these were some small scenarios of What if a Language Barrier Led to a Major Misunderstanding During a Study Abroad Event. If you need more of such mind-boggling content, drop by our Infotainment page

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