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26 Multilinguals Share The Cringeworthy Times They Understood A Conversation They Weren't Meant To

These are like our typical funny, overheards lists on steroids! It's gotta be the best feeling, as a multilingual, to pick up on someone's potentially rude conversation concerning you, that you were NOT meant to understand. From there, you have the victorious opportunity to call that sly, unknowing person out for showing their cards without even realizing it!

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  • 1
    Text - eureka123 23h Well my great aunt told a story of how she once went into a butcher shop. When she walked in the butcher was talking with a customer in Russian (which she spoke) The butcher saw my great aunt walk in and told the costumer (in Russian) that he'd take care of this "old hag," and then continue the conversation So my great aunt (in English) asked for pounds and pounds of cold cuts, all sliced and wrapped. When it was all ready, she told him (in Russian), to "shove it up your ass
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  • 2
    Text - P35-HiPower 1d My late best friend, who was big tall and blond, was in Tim Hortons....he speaks fairly fluent Arabic, having spent 7 years working in Saudi Arabia. Three Arabic men were sitting at a table making very lewd comments about the women in the shop. My buddy turned to them and said in Arabic; "You need to shut up before someone kicks your ass... .you never know who is listening" They got very confused, and left soon after.
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  • 3
    Text - kosmor 1d I've said this before. It happened a while ago. I went to a psychiatric emergency ward once and asked for help and if they were comfortable to speak English. understand Danish but have a hard time making myself understandable in it and didn't really feel like an idiot at a crucial time of my life. I stayed there for 4 days without anyone realising I knew what they were saying about me right in front of me 2 of the nurses thought I was cute. 1 doctor thought I was lying all the t
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  • 4
    Text - coffee-coffee_coffee 2 I was on the subway in NYC a few months ago when a family sitting across from me was playing I Spy in Hebrew with their kids. The parents went around describing each person they saw on the train, so when they got to me I decided to play along. I looked up from my book, made a funny face, and covered my face with the book before the kids could find me. The parents started laughing and said to their kids: " spy someone who understands us!" 1d The parents and I shared
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  • 5
    Text - GodsGift420 ld My dad grew up in Egypt and now travels the world for Dole (the fruit company). Once he was in Morocco at a plant who were possible suppliers and they tried to deceive him. They showed him the safety guidelines that were written in Arabic, but were describing different standards in English. My dad doesn't look like a typical middle easterner and has a very non- descript accent, so they thought they could fleece him. After the dude was done talk my dad says "that's not what
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  • 6
    Text - MountainLizard 1d Some workers at an airport restaurant were saying VERY inappropriate things about my sister in spanish. The women were criticizing her appearance (arguing with the men) who were saying VERY inappropriate observations about what she was wearing and what they would do to her. I ordered in Spanish, workers all went silent and looked stunned. I asked detailed questions about the food/menu in spanish, so that they understood I knew everything they were saying. I gave her my c
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  • 7
    Text - Booper3 1d My neighbors went on holiday with her sister's family in Spain. The sister can speak fluent Spanish (they're Irish). Apparently a tour guide in Spain started talking about them refering to them as "those English sluts". They were never ones to let anything slide so an argument broke out very quickly
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  • 8
    Text - arlondiluthel ld I'm an extremely white American man. I was stationed in Korea, and a buddy and I went into a store that was slightly "off the beaten path". My buddy was in a different section of the store and found something he liked. He asked the shop keep how much it was, the shop keep said, in Korean "well, you're an American, so $65" (translation and currency exchange provided for ease of reference). I looked over, and saw a sign on the wall that said the exact item he wanted was $40
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  • 9
    Text - Doogie34 1d Ionly speak one language but was training this guy on a till a few years ago and their were two french girls chatting in french and suddenly he got a huge smile and said Merci to the girls, one burst out laughing and the other one turned bright red. turned out she was talking about how hot she found him
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  • 10
    Text - veekay45 1d When I was doing my exchange studies in China (native Russian), I was riding a subway in Shanghai. At one of the stops a mother and her daughter sat beside me. The daughter was maybe 4 or 5 and she wouldn't stop looking at me, then without turning her head she started asking her mom "Mommy why is mister so strange? Why is his hair strange?" and so on. I didn't react as if I didn't speak Chinese, and the mother patiently told her daughter "Mister isn't strange, he's just a fore
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  • 11
    Text - theonlydidymus 1d I have found if ever want to defuse a situation with someone lassume is a native Spanish speaker, I switch languages and ask if they want to speak Spanish. 9/10 times everyone's stress goes down and the other person is relieved that they can express themselves better in a more comfortable language and I'll still understand.
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  • 12
    Text - FireShepherd29.ld I live in Austria, but my Dad is from Brazil, all my Austrian aunts and uncles married a brazilian. My grandparents from my mothers side opened and lead a factory of our family company in Brazil, that's why everyone was there, but some eventually came back to Austria, just like my mom with my dad. Me and my siblings were raised multilingual but lived most of our live in Austria So once when I was around 10 my Mom and me were on a tram in Vienna with my little brother, wh
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  • 13
    Text - candiice_xo 1d I've posted this before but I'll post it again My husband is the bilingual one, not me. He's from Colombia so he speaks Spanish fluently, but grew up in the U.S and has been here most of his life. He also has a really fair complexion. Most people think he's just Caucasian. Anyway, we were in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico looking for a place to eat. We get to a restaurant and he asks in English how much it would cost for all you can eat tacos. The guy at the door said it's $15. His
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  • 14
    Text - portuguese: "Leave him, it is too dangerous to take him out of the stroller while we are standing here and the tram is moving" You could see the womens face go from red, to white and back to red, get up and get out so fast at the next exit that we just started laughing and my brother ultimately calmed down. Not really exciting, but I find it funny when I think back.
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  • 15
    Text - I am Greek but study in Belgium. Greeks are notorious for talking about people loudly when abroad. The language is rare enough that most people including myself usually feel comfortable doing that. Only problem with that logic is, there are so many of us around the world, it's generally not a good idea. So I get on the tram one day and there's this woman (30s) sitting across from me who says to her friend very loudly and in greek: "What is that supposed to be, a boy or a girl?" (Context f
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  • 16
    Text - orionova89 ld My former in-laws speak Italian. I went into the marriage not knowing Italian, but I picked it up pretty well. My MIL had a bad habit of talking to her family in Italian while I was sitting right there. Every one of them spoke English, so it wasn't as if she had to speak it to be understood. I put up with it, and it became interesting to hear what she had to say about me to the family while I was there. I got out of the marriage due mostly to her son's treatment of me, but h
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  • 17
    Text - rekipsj 1d My wife is Indian and her family speaks Gujarati. I've spent many years trying to pick it up and have found it to be very difficult as there are no great resources that I am aware of to learn it. You just have to listen and try to guess the context. Anyway, over the years I've gotten pretty good, and when my wife's aunt was visiting from Indian she went right in to my wife about how much weight I'd gained and how bad my diet must be. I understood every word and stopped her abou
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  • 18
    Text - Prettylnteraction62 1d I'm Irish and I'm studying in Spain at the moment. I was in a restaurant the other day with my friend and there was a group of 3 or 4 English guys beside us. My friend and I were speaking in French, so they must have assumed we were French or didn't understand English. They started shouting about how sexy my friend and I were and how I have better tits and she has a better ass. I think they were deliberately using a lot of slang in the hopes that even if we did spea
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  • 19
    Text - Zbignich 1d I was in New York, and entered one of those electronic stores. I asked the price of an item in English. The guy at the counter turns to another guy who on a ladder stocking items and asks in Hebrew how much he should charge. I speak Hebrew, so I'm following their dialogue. The guy on the ladder looks and me and notices that I am following them with my eyes, then he switches to Arabic. I don't speak Arabic. The counter guy tells me the price in English. I say "too expensive" in
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  • 20
    Text - FJBRRT 1d Happened to my wife when she worked at McDonald's. She looks a little on the Asian side but is from Guatemala. Group of Spanish speaking people pay at the drive through and try short changing her. Driver says "esa maldita China no save contar" (that damn Asian lady can't count). Wife takes the money and very politely says they are short in Spanish. Driver turns red while passengers couldn't stop laughing
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  • 21
    Text - iknowthisischeesy 1d Imust have been about 8-9, and we were returning from a vacation in Agra. We were traveling by train and there was this lovely family seated in front of us (they were British, I think) My mom was asleep and I was reading Champak (A kids story magazine in India used to be very popular in the 90s). They were talking amongst themselves and suddenly one of the girls looked at me and said "She's so adorable." So instead of doing the proper thing i.e. say thank you, I blush
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  • 22
    Text - academiclady S 2 1d My husband grew up in multiple countries and, though his English is pretty heaily accented, it's a sort of unidentifiable hybrid of all the countries where he learned it in school (he didn't move to the US until he was in his late 20s) When we went for our wedding rings and in walks super-white me and my very Latino looking (then) finacé. It's a tiny little shop and the two proprietors begin to talk amongst themselves in Hebrew (one of my husband's "first" languages) a
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  • 23
    Text - DanielYankee710 1d This was durning the Christmas season. I was walking with my friend to a local bar. There were a few Russians standing outside there home smoking and one or two had a drink in their hand. As we walk passed a gentleman says, " what are you looking at handsome guys," in Russian. It's meant to come off like what are you looking at. I turn around and say, " I completely understand Russian." Suddenly they get cheerful. The gentleman gives me a hug/handshake. I was then offer
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  • 24
    Text - mizerybiscuits S My family is Italian, I don't speak the language but have a pretty good understanding after listening to my Dad and Nonna over the years. 1d We went to Italy to visit family and my great aunt was talking about how she was so happy to meet us and she asked her son if we could understand her and when I said yes she broke into a huge smile and gave me a hug it was so sweet.
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  • 25
    Text - crawtators 1d Moved to Thailand and took extenaive language training. Was drinking coffee in a quiet shop and the barista and the waitress started guessing my age... Where I was from... Why I came there three days in a row (lived close by). And I was thinking "cool... They think I'm cute... How flattering" and then the barista said "but he is a little fat..." so when I left I told her my age and home town. When she brought the change back I told her that yes.. I am a little fat"
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  • 26
    Text - kdoyle29 1d Not me, but my dad (very white guy with equally white Irish last name) was born and raised in India. He speaks a variety of languages (Gujarati, Hindi, Konkani, English, Portuguese etc.). He was at an airport and sitting across from two young Indian women. One was saying to the other in Hindi, "Look at that fat old white guy over there" My dad got up, walked over to them and greeted them in Hindi, proceeding to make small talk about their flights and days. From his telling, th
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