No matter how good you are, or think you are, mistakes are inevitable. Most mistakes are harmless to whatever situation you are in… usually. There are some mistakes though (the legendary foreigner bloopers), that cause all kinds of surprise, laughter, and possibly anger.
What could you possibly do that would cause so many problems? Well…
9. 怖い(こわい-scary) vs 可愛い(かわいい-cute)
There is no better compliment than to call someone scary!
8. 可愛い (かわいい – cute) vs 可哀相 (かわいそう – sad, pathetic, someone unfortunate to sympathize with)
While we’re on the topic of “cute,” in the beginning when people learn the grammar 〜そう to mean “looks ___,” they think it is okay to combine that with かわいい (it’s not).
The result “かわいそう” or thinking incorrectly “looks cute,” when かわいそう actually means “how sad” or “how pathetic.”
7. 芸 (げい – art, performance, [magic] trick) vs. ゲイ (gay, homosexual)
What makes this so funny is that it can make you think that everyone in the Japanese entertainment world is gay. I was once asked what I interpreted to be “how do you like his gay?”
My response: “Umm sure, it’s just fine.”
6. 起こす(おこす – wake up) vs 犯す(おかす molest, sexually ravage)
Words can be dangerous…
5. いっぱい (a lot) vs. おっぱい(breasts)
Worst blunder: combine with (ほしい – want)
4. 人参 – (にんじん – carrot) vs. 人間 (にんげん – person, human)
What do you want to eat again?
3. 給料(きゅうりょう – salary) vs 恐竜(きょうりゅう – dinosaur)
Everyone wants and needs a bigger dinosaur.
2. 運行(うんこう – [bus, train] service) vs うんこ(poop)
Add a 中(ちゅう) at the end and either a train is in service or you are in the middle of pooping. Excellent.
1. 座る(すわる – sit) vs 触る(さわる – touch)
The best situation arises when you use the “please” form or “please let me” form.
Have you made any of these mistakes?
Tell your story of what happened. Or do you have your own different mistake that resulted in an amusing predicament?
Just to add my own, a long time ago I once ordered a hamburger and said “レタスとピックルスだけ – only lettuce and pickles.” I was quite surprised when I took a bite into that hamburger and found something was missing… the meat. There were only lettuce and pickles wedged between the bun. I learned quickly to use 抜き (ぬき-without) instead!
Founder of Jalup. iOS Software Engineer. Former attorney, translator, and interpreter. Still watching 月曜から夜ふかし weekly since 2013.