Bilingual People Share Stories Of People Talking About Them In A Language They Understood

Bilingual People Share Stories Of People Talking About Them In A Language They Understood

When you're standing near someone who is speaking in a language you don't understand, do you ever wonder if they might be talking about you? I used to tell myself that I was just being a bit paranoid but it turns out that I wasn't so paranoid after all. From intimate confessions to rude comments to thinly-veiled threats, bilingual people have overheard plenty of things that others assumed no one else could understand. If it's really something you shouldn't be saying, it's best not to say it, whether or not you think the people around you don't understand.

Like the saying goes, if you don't have anything nice to say, don't try to hide it by speaking another language. I think that's the saying.

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50. It's Too Early For This

I speak English and French and I live in Quebec. Everyone knows how some french Quebeckers don't take too kindly to the English. So I'm at a café ordering in English because I'm in between classes, it's 7:30 a.m. and latte is pretty much the same in both languages. The cashier looks at me like I had spillage all over myself and walks over to her manager and says in French, "Take care of that Anglo, when will they understand that it's French in this province?," at which point I turned bright red and I said in French, "Pardon? Can I not order a coffee without having to have a political debate? Would you not serve travelers or immigrants?"

Free coffee for a year.

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49. Calling Them Out

I'm Asian and I live in France, so my French is pretty fluent (spoken, at least). I was visiting some friends in London last summer and on the tube, there were a group of 5 French tourists standing around and pretty much complaining about EVERYONE else in the tube, saying that Brits are so ugly, dissing how they dress, really petty stuff. I was already side-eyeing this group but pretty much kept to myself and my friends.

Then the tube started getting really crowded, and we had to move in nearer to said French group. I accidentally bumped shoulders with one of the guys in the group and he proceeded to groan loudly then turn to his friends and say "All these horrid Asians, they're everywhere... Go back to China, what a jerk." His group started laughing and looking at me. At that point I saw white and COMPLETELY LOST IT.

I turned around and addressed his whole group calling them out on their ignorance and racism, telling them off for being the exact stereotype of French tourists that ruin the reputations of the decent French people out there, and assuming that no one else can speak their language while traveling around in Europe, for Pete's sake. Ended by saying if you don't want to see any other races or ethnicities you should probably stay in that hole you call a home and not travel abroad if you're gonna act like a massive jerk.

Everyone was looking at me at this point. My friends were like "what the heck" and trying to get me to stop. I just said loudly in English to everyone else that this group of French people were making racist statements and deserved to be called out. They all pretty much turned red and one of the other people in the group mumbled a quick apology and they got off the tube at the next stop.

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48. Good Looking Out

One time a friend was over in my dorm. His friend phoned him and he answered his phone in Chinese. I didn't think much of it; he was fluent and I figured it was one of his close friends. I was playing a video game and on Ventrilo, so while he was speaking a few feet away, I was cueing in to laugh at a joke or call out a boss pull.

Well, a few minutes later, someone whispers to me in-game and is like, "just so you know, that guy is telling his friend he's about to score with you in Chinese."

Yeaaaaah. We never hung out much after that.


47. An Astute Observation

I was at the airport last week when there was a huge queue at the customs part of the airport, where we all have to verify passports/all that other jazz. There was a line specifically for people with disabilities, and it was practically empty. My two muscly jerk friends (I think it was a joke) walked into the disabled queue, and an attendant hurriedly rushed over and said "you're not disabled," and this little old Chinese lady behind me in the queue, bless her, muttered "yeah they are, in the head," in Chinese.

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46. Caught Red Handed

I was on the subway in Korea and these 4 high school boys were standing behind me, talking to each other like, "look at her, foreigners are so pretty. She has really nice hair! You should talk to her, NO WAY DUDE, my English is awful, you first." I turned around and just smiled and they freaked out and kept whispering like "Oh god, did she understand? No way, she couldn't have. Did she?!"

It was really funny, made my day.

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45. Serves Him Right

I used to go to lunch with my assistant manager to a Mexican restaurant next door to where we worked. My assistant manager is Cuban and would usually have small talk, in Spanish, with the waiters. One day, he tells them about how he is the manager and I'm his assistant. This conversation gets more interesting when he tells the waiter about what a lousy worker I am. This is when I interrupted to say, in Spanish, that he, my assistant, is full of it and I let them know that I speak Spanish. The waiter laughed his butt off and my assistant manager was very embarrassed. Ah, good times.

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44. Your Ignorance Is Showing

I was in Brussels on the tram one morning when these two American girls with heavy southern accents began to talk really loudly about the city, how European guys are like in bed, how they think Belgium is ugly and small and crowded and whatnot and generally trash talking Europe. After a while they went, "hey, do you think anyone here speaks English?," and a guy who's getting off the tram said "we all speak English here," and left.

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43. I'll Take That Offer

In high school, my dad and I went backpacking through the Sierra Nevada mountain range in California. We were in this small town named Lone Pine, which is about 4 hours north of L.A. There were tons of German and French tourists there who had been visiting the redwood forests. I speak both English and French fluently and I overheard these two French girls talk about me in a convenience store.

One of them nodded in my direction and said, "what about that one?," to which the other one replied, "he seems kind of dumb, but he's cute, so yeah I'd probably go for him." I thought I would try my luck and approach them about it. In French, I said, "so, I'd like to take you up on that offer if you're up to it." They were clearly pretty embarrassed, and just walked away giggling.

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42. Learn To Appreciate Her

I was on an Amtrak with my boyfriend who was watching West Wing, and as it was 8 AM, I just didn't have it in me to really enjoy it, so I opted to read my book instead. We were sitting at one of the tables with two benches opposite one another, and there were two French ladies in their mid-60s sitting across from us. They were having a great conversation in French, and then I heard one of them go (essentially): "Oh! The boys in every country, they are all the same. You put a pretty girl next to them, a girl they think will stay there, and they'd rather watch a screen. You take the pretty girl away and they go chasing after her, saying they never want to look at anything else."

I just started cracking up and they were really embarrassed and started apologizing profusely, but I thought it was hilarious. Boyfriend sat there looking confused, smiled awkwardly, and kept watching West Wing. I spent much of the rest of the train ride chatting it up with the French ladies.


41. It Was Priceless

So I went into a Russian store with my friend. We both know Russian but are Americans, and he's married to an American woman. As we walk in, he's talking to his wife in English. There's a Russian couple already in there shopping (it's a small store) and as we walk around she starts complaining to her husband about "those horrible Americans, why are they even in here." She threw out a few swear words and just wouldn't be quiet. Then, right as we walk past them, my friend says to his wife, in flawless Russian, "I've got to go honey, this horrible woman in the store won't stop talking and I'm starting to get mad." The look on her face... Priceless.



40. A Wild Ride

I speak French and Portuguese and live in Brazil. One day I was walking home and this car stops next to me and this guy asks some directions in Portuguese but in a heavy French accent. I try to tell him where the place he wanted to go is, but it's kinda complicated, he doesn't understand. The place was near my home, so I ask him if he wants me to get in the car and take them there and he accepts.

Now I know this is awkward (and dangerous) but, hey, I trusted him and he trusted me. There is kindness, after all. Thing is, besides him, there is this old couple in the car, and as soon I get in, the old guy (not the one who asked directions) started screaming, in French, something like this: "HOW DO YOU LET THIS THIEF GET IN OUR CAR? THIS IS DANGEROUS, YOU DON'T KNOW WHO HE IS, WE ARE IN BRAZIL, YOU ARE INSANE!"

Nevertheless, the guy started his engine and followed my directions, and all the way the old guy keeps yelling in French: "YOU ARE PUTTING US ALL AT RISK, THIS GUY (looking at me) CAN BE A HOMELESS ADDICT" and so on... There is this one point when I say for the guy driving the car to turn left, but he doesn't understand it because the other one is screaming, so I repeat and he doesn't understand again. Then I say in French: "tournez à gauche" (turn left).

Then a few seconds pass and the nice guy, the one who's driving, asks me in French if I speak French, I say, "yes, a little." The other guy, the one who's complaining, turns white and stops yelling immediately. I tell him to stop the car (in French), because the place (hotel) they want to go was right there and my house was the other way.

That was a fun day.

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39. Never Assume

I overheard a bunch of French tourists in Nepal discussing, in graphic detail, the loose bowel syndromes they'd been having for a few days (i.e. "I CAN'T TELL WHAT IT IS THAT COMES OUT OF ME"). After a while, they turned to me and my friends and asked, in English, where we are from. My friends answered, in French, "we're from the same place you are, and he (me)'s from Quebec." Their look of embarrassment was just delectable; the awkwardness was palpable (more so than their loose bowels).

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38. The Cow Says...

One of my Israeli women friends told me that when she was pregnant riding a subway in New York, she asked (in English) to squeeze in on a bench seat next to two women. One of the women said to the other (in Hebrew) "Let the cow sit down." After she sat down, my friend then said in Hebrew "The cow says 'thanks'."

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37. Give Me The Discount

I'm Pakistani, but I look white/Arab. I have very pale skin, light-colored eyes, etc.

Most other brown people (those who speak Urdu, Hindi or Punjabi) assume I don't understand. I was in a mobile shop looking for a charger. I overheard one of the brown guys working say in Punjabi, "just charge her £10 extra. She won't know."

I told him quite calmly in Punjabi that I'd like it for £10 off, thank you.


36. Move Along

About 10 years ago I was on a night train going from Rome to Naples. These 2 criminals were discussing robbing me while I was sitting in the same cabin with them. I told them I spoke Italian and that if they wanted to rob me, I wasn't going to make it easy for them. They actually apologized, told me they thought I was German, and moved on down the car.

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35. Smart Tourists

My brother (we're white guys) speaks Mandarin Chinese fluently. He had already lived in Taiwan for seven years when this little episode happened. This was many years ago, when it was very unusual for a Westerner to speak Chinese.

He and I were in a taxi in Beijing one night. We gave our instructions to the driver in English and chatted together only in English, so the driver of course naturally assumed neither of us spoke Chinese.

A few minutes into the ride the driver offered us a cigarette. We waved him off politely. He then said, according to my brother, "only weaklings and women don't smoke."

Along the way the driver would point out places, saying, in a mock-friendly voice, things like, "that's where foreign idiots are given the bad and spoiled food they deserve." My brother would report all of this to me with bemusement. At the end of the ride, the driver tried to overcharge us. My brother for the first time spoke Mandarin, pointing out the correct amount on the meter and telling the driver he was making note of his name and taxi license number. The driver's eyes got huge with fear, he literally jumped out of the taxi and ran to open my brother's door, apologizing in a desperate voice and bowing over and over, trembling (no, bowing is not part of Chinese culture).

My brother said the driver probably figured any white guy who spoke Mandarin would have the connections to make his life misery. We just shrugged it off, had a good laugh.



34. I'll Distract Them

I'm Indian, but living in California most people think I am Mexican. Getting ready to board a plane to Hawaii, and TSA is checking bags again at the gate for "random searches." My dad jokingly exclaims in Hindi that we are all going to get "randomly" searched to get ready to run. The white guy in front of us starts chuckling, and then gets stopped instead of us. He turns around and says in Hindi, "you guys go on without me, I'll distract them!"

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33. This Guy Speaks Spanish

I was at a Mexican restaurant with a bunch of my girlfriends and one guy friend. We were at the bar and my guy friend overheard the bartender joking with another worker saying, "let's get this white guy and steal his women." He looked at them and responded, "this guy speaks Spanish, but if you're paying..."

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32. A Near-Scam Situation

I'm American, but can read and speak Russian on an intermediate level. A few years ago while visiting St. Petersburg, I was buying tickets for the hydrofoil to Peterhof. All the signs at the ticket booth were in Russian, and I could read the ticket prices. The ticket agent assumed I didn't know Russian and tried to tell me the ticket cost three times more than the stated price. I looked her right in the eye and said in Russian, "I see on the board here that the ticket I want is (x) rubles." Her jaw dropped, and the ticket agent sitting next to her started laughing her rear end off.


31. A Heartwarming Exchange In Lithuanian

My family is Lithuanian and at the time had recently moved to the States. My great-grandmother was riding a bus with her friend in Chicago when a young African-American man walked on the bus and took a seat nearby my great-grandmother. To her friend in Lithuanian, she mentioned that the man was very, very handsome and had a really well-tailored suit on. (I like to imagine it was more like "that guy is hot" but this is how I was told the story). They continued to chit-chat in Lithuanian until the man stood to leave. He turned to my great-grandmother and in fluent Lithuanian thanked her for the compliment and said she was quite lovely herself and turned to leave.


30. A Wild Flemish Coincidence In South Africa

I'm Flemish. Working as a safari guide in Kruger area, South Africa.

One time, my boss asks me to go pick a family of 4 up at the Klaserie reserve gate, do an afternoon game drive with them, and drop them off again afterward. This was very uncommon; normally we only do game drives with people that book a room in our own lodge on the reserve.

So I pick them up, introduce myself and go over the rules, all in English. They reply in English, or at least: the dad does, and normally I can pick up straight away if it's someone from France, Belgium, Holland or Germany. But his English was Oxford English. So I thought; English people. Off we went!

Ten minutes into the game drive I hear them speak in Flemish, and not only that, IN MY OWN DIALECT. Side note; every Flemish town has a dialect, we can hear what region/province other Flemish people are from and if they are from the same region, we can often even pinpoint the exact little town or community they are from.

Oooh, I was going to have fun with these folks! I found a few nice animal sightings, I spoke English the whole time, but then one sentence to the next, switched to their exact dialect. I thought; now they're going to be surprised! But nope... we all kept chatting in Flemish now. Only 20 minutes later, the daughter, maybe 10 years old, goes "wait a minute; he speaks Flemish!"

We all had a good laugh. I asked them where they were from. They literally lived one street away from me. It's a small world, folks!

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29. Getting Perfect Revenge On Cruel Co-Workers

I lived in South Korea for three years, but I never learned too much of the language. A friend of mine is 100% Korean but is very tall and was educated in America and New Zealand so she has an American accent. Her co-teachers at her school all assumed she couldn’t speak Korean so they would talk bad about her constantly while she would listen on and feel terrible.

She said nothing for a whole year until she had to speak at the end of year ceremony. The school offered her someone to translate but she refused and in front of 800 or so students and faculty members she delivered her address in perfect Korean. She subtly called out the coworkers that had spent an entire year calling her a foreign pig. Apparently one started crying from the shame of it. I wish I had got to see that.

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28. Sneakily Satisfying Japanese Clients

My cousin is a big white guy who studied for 2 years in Japan during college. He worked for one of the heads of Honda America for a few years. When the head guy learned that he spoke Japanese, he would make sure my cousin was in all the meetings and phone conferences with the Japanese branch.

My cousin would listen to everything the Japanese would be saying to each other and report it to his boss during breaks. As such the boss looked like a psychic to the Japanese because after a break he would address their concerns without being prompted. The boss made mad bonuses every quarter and always funnelled a bunch of that to my cousin.


27. A Helpful Linguist To Germans In Distress

My mom's a linguist and speaks about 15 languages fluently and as such, I picked up a couple along the way. Most of my childhood was spent in Germany so I have a firm grasp of the language... which doesn't really seem to match my appearance. I'm a 6'3, 220lbs, black man, who speaks German. Now, this isn't too uncommon a sight in Germany, but in North America, I'm a unicorn.

So I was standing at the bus stop one day in the heart of downtown Toronto and there were these two 60-something-year-old German ladies who were not having a good time. They were trying to find the Art Gallery and were fed up with the fact that they were having such a terrible time navigating because their English-speaking children had left them alone for the day.

I didn't have anything particularly important planned for that day, so I turned to them and said something to the effect of "You know, our city has a lot to offer if you know where to look. Would you two like me to show you where the Gallery is, and a couple places you can get lunch along the way."

They nearly fainted. They were sooooo happy that they found someone who spoke German and couldn't stop taking pictures with me to show their family 'the guy that saved their day.' I walked them to the Gallery and gave them a bit of an impromptu walking/bus tour along the way. That was the day I gained two Omas.


26. Hilariously Intercepting A Dental Scam

I was working at a dental clinic in Germany, and these 2 guys walk in and start speaking in Arabic, not knowing that both I and my supervisor can understand it. The first guy (actual patient) is nervously telling his friend that this would never work, and his friend is telling him to just play along. So the supervisor and I try to figure out what kind of game they're trying to play. Apparently, they were trying to lie about the patient's age to get his dental treatment done for free; (I don't know how that worked, I was just an intern) unlucky for him, his teeth told the truth (you cant fake being 16 when your wisdom teeth are ALL THE WAY out).

So me and my supervisor shut up about it, and I'm in actual pain trying to hold back from laughing as the friend is convincing the patient that we're idiots who don't speak Arabic and cant understand their trick. Of course, until I cant anymore and decide to discuss the case with my supervisor. Right there in front of them. In Arabic.

I have never seen someone turn so many different colors so fast.


25. Smacking Rude Manager With A Trilingual Truth

When I started working at McDonald's at 16, none of the other employees realized I could speak a fair amount of Spanish. A few of my coworkers would talk about me in Spanish and I pretended for a few weeks that I didn't know what they were saying.

Then one day a manager told me she was worth more than me because she was bilingual. So I told her (in Spanish) that I was actually trilingual. The looks on their faces when they realized I spoke Spanish all along was priceless.

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24. Hilarious Dutch Commentary Over A Game Of Water Polo

My family and I went to Sri Lanka for two weeks to see where my mom grew up and general beach stuff. For some reason, we were like the only people in the hotel we were staying at aside from a wedding party that left a day after we got there.

A few days in there was another family staying there, I believe from Suriname and we were all hanging at the pool and decided to play a game of water polo against each other. Things got exciting and one of the daughters yelled out something in Dutch like "go for the big fat guy!" my Dutch dad replied "what big fat guy?" and everybody laughed.


23. Avoiding Getting Swindled And Snapping At A Handicap-Hater

My friend and I were sharing a cab with two girls we didn't know. We just decided to share a taxi with them, because it was a long way and we wanted to save some money. They started speaking Swedish not knowing my friend is also a Finnish Swede (her mother language is Swedish, she has been in Swedish school, but is Finn and speaks Finnish fluently). I understand Swedish but I was too under the influence to care. Suddenly she texts me:

"They are planning to leave us with the bill."

I texted that we should tell the driver so my friend just said:

"These girls will pay half of this before they leave."

He got the hint and didn't open the doors before they paid.

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22. Calling Out Cruelty And Scoring Free Rice

The people at the Chinese food place on my campus spoke Chinese to the exchange students. But even though I spoke Chinese I just always spoke English to them since I have an accent when I speak Chinese. But one day I got all meat no rice since I had a rice maker at home. And when I was paying the lady says to the person beside her "fat guy wants meat no rice." And I responded in Chinese, "actually I have rice at home." They didn't charge me for the order and started giving me a bit extra whenever I go there.


21. Poking Fun At Sneaky Negotiators

I don't speak Spanish fluently, but I understand it just fine. I used to sell cars in Houston and as you can imagine, we had a lot of bilingual Spanish speakers come to buy cars from us. They never asked if my super clean cut white guy self spoke Spanish, so I never told them I did.

It was fun to have a couple that would speak English to me and Spanish to each other. They would literally tell each other everything like how much they wanted to pay and their negotiating tactics... They would say things like, "if he offers to take $500 off let's do it, but I'm going to ask for $1,000."

So once they said yes, inevitability one would ask the other a product question in Spanish and I'd jump in and answer in English. The looks on their faces when they have that "a-ha" moment were priceless.

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20. Withholding Fluent German To Tease Fellow Tourists

A friend of mine was visiting my country for a few days from Italy. He was staying in a hostel dorm that happened to have a group of German tourists sharing it. He said anytime he was back in the dorm he would hear them laughing and making fun of him in German.

Little did they know he speaks fluent German.

He stayed quiet for the few days he was there and remained perfectly pleasant, speaking English to them when they had conversations but otherwise keeping to himself. On the last day as he was leaving the dorm he turned to the group to say goodbye and added: "I hope you all enjoy the rest of your trip" in German to them. He said the look on their faces was priceless when they realized he'd understood everything they'd been saying about him.


19. Firing Back At Salon's "Princess" Standard

My step-mother grew up in Japan and speaks fluent Japanese. She looks Italian and white. She has an olive skin tone, and since she is only a quarter Japanese, she doesn't look like she is from any east Asian-speaking country.

One day she and some friends went to get their nails (both hands and feet) done at a salon for some "girl time." The lady's who were doing the work were speaking fluent Japanese and were mostly gossiping about men and other things until they got to the feet part of the said procedure.

My step mother's friend is a little overweight, and she doesn't have runway model style feet. Well, the ladies who work at the salon are just starting to make fun of her in Japanese. Laughing and giggling; enjoying themselves in someone's else's misfortune and looks.

My stepmother said she let this go on for too long. It was about 5 minutes of them talking about her friend before my stepmother replied In Japanese. Her comment to them:

"I didn't realize that we needed to look like princesses to get service here." (Something along those lines).

The ladies stopped and looked at my stepmother with extreme guilt. They apologized in English and were silent the remainder of the time my stepmother and her friends were there.


18. Mocking A Silly "Baby Face" Comment

When I was stationed in Korea, I was getting a haircut and the hairdresser had like an assistant or a new person helping her get me seated and prepared. She says to the main girl "He looks like a baby!" (I have a baby face and was like 22 at the time). I responded in Korean with, "I look like a baby?"

She was really startled and embarrassed and noped out of there for the rest of the haircut. The main hairdresser took advantage of being able to talk with me in Korean, though.

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17. Die-Hard Mexican Sports Fan Stunning Rude Spectators

I'm a Mexican who speaks Hebrew fluently.

I was actually in the United States in a deli around the time when the World Cup was going on in 2014. I was wearing a National team jersey and had been watching with family. We usually paint the colors of our flag on our cheeks (tradition). The game was over and we were getting food.

So my parents, brother and I walk into a booth. We sit and the people behind us (three middle-aged women) start speaking in Hebrew saying: "look at these stupid Mexicans (which should have been a giveaway since the word for Mexicans in Hebrew is "mexicanim") being loud and thinking they own the place. Typical."

Well, I turn around, look at them and answer in Hebrew: "yes we are very proud of our country and the great job they are doing at the World Cup. If it bothers you, you can move."

The look on their faces was priceless. I've never felt so empowered.

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16. A Friendship Formed Over Sweet Swiss Gossip

I'm Swiss and Peruvian and live in Peru, so I don't look at all like a Swiss guy.

There were two Swiss girls sitting behind me on a bus talking about latino guys. Then one of them asked the other if she found me attractive. I turned around and said that I would love to know that too. The look of confusion and shame was priceless. Then we just all laughed. Now I've got two new friends!

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15. A Brilliant Manager Calling Out A Fake Deaf Customer

We had a large family reunion dinner at a restaurant and we were all sharing stories. My funny Uncle was telling us how he used to pretend he was deaf and his sister would translate. To prove it, he asked the waitress to get the manager. When he came over, my uncle started signing to him... with made up and exaggerated gestures.

My aunt told him that the food was good and the server was excellent... all the while the manager just smiled and nodded. When they were done “talking,” the manager said in sign language, he spoke ASL and knew it was a lie. We blew up laughing and my uncles face turned beet red.

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14. Hysterical Mistaken Flirting On An Airplane

I’m Brazilian and was flying to Rio from Atlanta. There were these two very attractive girls with their mother speaking English very fluently and one of them had their seat right next to mine. We exchanged some courtesy in English as I just assumed they were American and so did they. They were Brazilian-Americans and so did not have an accent and I started speaking English from a young age so as long as I don’t talk too much I can go unnoticed.

So they start putting their carry on luggage in the bin overhead and the mother says to her daughters, in Portuguese:

“Coitado, tá achando que vou deixar uma de vocês sentar do lado dele.”

Which means

“Poor thing, he thinks I’ll let one of you sit next to him.”

So I just turn to her and say, in Portuguese:

“Don’t worry, ma’am, I’m just being polite. I do have a girlfriend and it’ll be a pleasure to share this flight with you.”

She just went: “oh”

And then she sat there in silence for the whole flight.


13. Cracking A "What Did You Say?" To Hungarian Bullies

My sister and I are Hungarian but grew up in England and speak fluent Hungarian and English with natural accents. We'd also spend most of our summers growing up in Hungary where since we speak English perfectly people assumed in public we were from England and would occasionally say something mean or negative not expecting us to understand. There are few things more satisfying than replying in perfect Hungarian 'What did you say?' and watching people's eyes widen in panic and profusely apologize.

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12. Snapping At Cute Boys In Russian

When I was living in China, I used to run in this giant park. One morning on one of my runs, I see these three young men hanging out by the path. Not too many foreigners in the area, not too many joggers either, so they immediately notice and start talking about me.

One guy says, "Is she Russian?" There was a small but significant Russian population in the city, so, not a bad guess.

Another guy: "Talk to her!"

First guy: "Nah, she wouldn't understand."

By this time I'm right next to these guys, and I yelled over my shoulder "Yes, I do!" as I ran past.

They absolutely lost their mind. I could still hear them laughing after I went around the bend.

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11. Blowing Away A Disrespectful Employer

I once interviewed for a part-time school holiday job, together with a good friend of mine. My friend is Chinese, the majority race of the country I live in. I, however, am quite clearly not.

The first thing the Human Resources manager says when he sees me is "We need someone who speaks Mandarin," a criterion not stated anywhere in the employment ad, and which subtly translates to "Chinese candidates preferred."

My friend, while ethnically Chinese, speaks little to no Mandarin. I, on the other hand, speak it rather fluently.

Probably as a test, the Human Resource manager decides to field us questions in Mandarin, clearly intent on cutting me out of the interview.

My friend turns pale, as he stumbles along to answer the question posed in whatever halting Mandarin he can scrape together.

The manager then turns to me, rather arrogantly, waiting for my reply.

It gave me great joy to tell him straight to his face "Thank you for the opportunity, but clearly I am not the right candidate you are looking for to fill this position since I am not Chinese" in crisp fluent Mandarin.

The look of bewilderment on his face was priceless.

30-Legendary-Jackie-Chan-Quotes-300x199.jpgWealthy Gorilla

10. Manager Incredibly Gracious For Japanese Language Bridge

I recently went to Japan for my first ever international trip and was totally prepared to have to struggle through all my day-to-day interactions in Japanese but was surprised at how widespread even a basic understanding of English is over there. Everyone assumes you won’t speak any Japanese at all so they stick to as much English as they’re comfortable with or you basically just play charades.

At a restaurant in Kobe, the waitress was practically fluent in English so we chatted a while and it came up that I’m studying Japanese so we had a little small talk and she was impressed. Then the owner came over to talk but wasn’t as confident in his English so he had the waitress translate. He was asking all these questions about where we’d been so far, where we were staying, how we liked everything, if we’d been down to Kobe Port yet, etc. It was simple enough that I understood 100% without her translation, and the waitress could tell. Finally, she says to him, in Japanese “By the way, he understands what you’re saying.” His eyes practically bugged out of his head and he got SUPER excited and asked if we wouldn’t mind waiting 30 minutes for him to close up and send everyone home.

So, I wait, he closes everything up and we all end up hanging out that night. He drove us around the city, bought us drinks, even drove back to the Airbnb. Japan is amazing.

3-1527916944808.jpgGyu Kaku

9. Accepting A Camouflaged Compliment And Uncovering Language Secrets

I am 100% white and look very European and was traveling to South Korea with my also very European looking Spanish friend but we both speak conversational level Korean. As we were walking around a park in Daegu (a fairly large city south of Seoul), a bunch of seniors in the park were talking about how pretty we were. We turned around and thanked them in Korean, and they were very taken aback and then asked us where we were from. After telling them they said: "If everyone is as pretty as you two, I want to go there." It made our day as they were so sweet.

I went to an Asian dollar store in Jeju, South Korea. All my friends checked out first, but they were all East Asian looking. The cashiers dealt with them as normal. When I get to the cashier, the guy noticeably pales and then turns to his coworker in panic. "Dude, I don't speak English, What do I do?" Coworker: "Just deal with it." Guy: "I don't speak English, but I can speak Chinese" Coworker: "You speak Chinese?! I didn't know that" Guy: "hey (3rd person opposite the cashier) do you speak English, help me!!" Guy 3: "Dude just deal with it!" Me: "'s okay... I speak Korean" The look on his face was hilarious.

2-1527917169782.jpgApril Maura

8. Child's Hysterical Opinion On "Fat And Stupid" America

I was in Germany, and a middle school teacher asked me to come in as a guest for one of her English classes. The teacher introduced me, I said hello and that I was from the U.S. and happy to be in their class.

The teacher said "So do you have any questions in English for an American? What do you think an American is like?"

One of the kids near the front says in German, kind of under his breath but definitely loud enough that most of the class can hear, "fat and stupid!"

The kids laugh, the teacher turns bright red. I don't know what to do, so I just say "Of course, many Americans can speak German" in German.

The kid almost wet himself. He looked like a baby deer that had wandered onstage at a Beyonce concert.

I thought he was just being a jerk and had intended me to understand what he was saying. Apparently, though he actually hadn't thought through that an American in Germany in their language class might actually speak their language.

1-1527916469946.jpgTodays Parent

7. Watch The Trash Talk

I was standing in line at a Subway on my university campus when I see these two Arab guys standing in the same line and generally just trash talking about everyone in the line thinking no one spoke Arabic. Little did they know that I have lived in the Middle East for about 10 years and learned fluent Arabic while I was there. When the time came to trash talk me, luckily for them, they just commented on how nice and spiky my hair is. Turned to them and thanked them for the compliment. Needless to say, they were shocked and were quiet for the whole rest of their wait in line.


6. Where's McDonald's?

When we were 19, my two best friends and I were studying in Spain and decided to take a side trip to France. We were traveling light and trying to save money, as poor college students tend to do, and had stuffed our carry-on bags with lots of granola bars and snack foods to sustain us for the weekend. Apparently, we were also obviously American. At the security check, the conversation between the workers went something like this: "Look at this bag! Americans, always eating! Can they not even make a flight without food? I think if Americans stop eating, they die! Why else would they be so fat?"

The best part was the looks on their faces when my friend looked at them and said, in perfect Spanish, "thank you, can you tell us where our gate is? And where we can find a McDonald's? I'm so hungry!"

5-1527372820811.jpgLandini Associates

5. No Pool For You

I worked at a pool a while back and I'm extremely white-looking but also very fluent in Spanish. A family came in at one point asking about memberships/if we had day passes. I could tell that English wasn't their first language, but I always feel awkward jumping into Spanish in these situations because of my appearance and I don't want to come across as presumptuous. Anyway, I explained to them very nicely how membership works and that no, sorry, we didn't have day passes but I could recommend some pools that do.

At this point, the wife turns and says to the husband, "this whitey's just trying to make it more difficult," (presumably because she thinks I'm racist), "let's try another pool." Incredibly uncomfortable for me, but not as uncomfortable as it was for them when I gave them directions to the pool with day passes and wished them a nice day and good luck in Spanish.


4. She Likes Me Fine

My wife and I have adopted two kids from China on two separate occasions. We had some time to wait before the first one so we learned some basic Mandarin to help with our trip and connect a bit with our daughter's birth culture.

While there, a day or so after we got her, we were in the Walmart (yes, Walmart) in Zhengzhou, when a younger woman walks by, sees a large American guy with a pale redheaded wife carrying a Chinese toddler in a sling, doubles back and with a fake smile says, "ni bu xihuan ni de mama, ma?" which works out to "you don't like your mom, do you?"

My wife spins around and, in Mandarin, basically says, "oh yes she does." The look on that woman's face carried me through the day.


3. Y'all Got Detention

When I was in middle school, there was a group of kids (like 3 or 4 of them) who would sit in the back of the class and speak in Creole. Chatting and laughing, but nobody could understand what they said. The teacher would tell them to stop speaking in Creole since she couldn't know if they were saying something offensive, which was usually met with them saying something to each other in an obviously mocking manner and then the whole group breaking out in laughter.

So one day, this guy shows up in the class. He says that he's training to be a teacher and he's gonna be shadowing the class that day. So he's sitting in a chair in the corner of the room, jotting things down in a notebook. Of course, the Creole-speaking kids were chatting away as usual.

So the guy gets up out of the chair and walks over to this group of Creole-speaking kids, who all sat nearby me so I could hear them pretty clearly.

The guy leans over to them and very calmly says, in plain English, "yes, my private part is huge, and no, your teacher ain't gonna touch yours. By the way, I'm your new English teacher, and y'all got detention."

2-1527372934482.jpgThe Odyssey Online

2. Not That Effective

I was on holiday in Moscow, and in the subway I heard another tourist tell his mate, in my native tongue, "you know, when we speak Dutch, nobody here will understand a word of it. It's kind of a code language here!"

To which I replied, "yeah, about that. It's not as effective as you might think."

21-1527370031641.jpgStudy International

1. Changing Colors

I had gone over to a friend's house to play cards. I knew a few of the people there, but not everyone. So we are all sitting on the floor, I'm getting ready to deal, and one of the guys playing says (in Hindi) to my friend, basically, "so where did you pick up the white chick from?," with a wink-wink, nudge-nudge in his voice.

I'm not even good with witty comebacks in English, so I just snapped my head up and looked right into the guy's eyes with a "shut up" look (by the way, this works better than witty comebacks or badly-pronounced expletives in a foreign language). My friend told him, "she speaks Hindi. And we work together." I have never seen a brown guy turn that bright red.