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Category: Language & Words

Losing A Sale In Translation

| Owatonna, MN, USA | Employees, Language & Words

(My best friend and I are at the county fair, and are deep in conversation as we walk among the stalls. Note: I can speak German, and she moved to the US from Pakistan when she was four.)

Seller: “Don’t you ladies want to check out the cute purses I have? I can give you two a special discount because you’re so pretty! They’re totally unique, and on sale today!”

(He continues, being very persistent.)

Friend: *whispering* “What do we do?”

Me: “Don’t worry, I have an idea.” *to seller* “Es tut mir leid. Ich kann kein Englisch sprechen.”

(He sighs, but turns to my friend.)

Seller: “What about you, then? Do you want a purse?”

Friend: *shakes her head and speaks very rapidly in Urdu*

Seller: “I give up! How do you even talk to each other?”

(We smiled at each other, then gave a high-five as soon as we were out of sight.)

Having A Ball With It

| Doylestown, PA, USA | Coworkers, Language & Words, Rude & Risque

Coworker #1: “Hey, did anyone see my blue stress ball? It’s missing. Someone must have gone through my drawers and taken it.”

Coworker #2: “Nobody should be going in your drawers except your wife.”

Coworker #1: “That hasn’t happened for 16 years. Man, I can’t believe someone took that!”

Me: “So what you’re saying is, when you find out who reached in your drawers and grabbed your blue ball you’re gonna be pretty upset?”

Vocab Confab

| Germany | Bosses & Owners, Language & Words, Lazy/Unhelpful

(At my school, we have to do ten weeks of internship, the places for which are chosen by the school. I am placed in the city’s registry office. The boss is a rather unfriendly person. I’m quite literate, which of course shows in the weekly reports I have to write and give the boss to read and sign. One day, the following happens.)

Boss: “Hey, [My Name], here are your reports back. Can we talk about them for a second?”

Me: “Sure.”

(I follow him into his office. There is a copy of my report laying on the desk. I can see he typed a sentence I wrote into Google.)

Boss: “How do you do this?”

Me: “Pardon?”

Boss: “How are you able to copy reports from the Internet without it showing up if I Google them?”

Me: “I… write them by myself?”

Boss: “No! You don’t. Your vocabulary is far too big for a 17-year-old girl.”

Me: “Wait. If I really copy my reports from the Internet, I would have to find reports written by people who do the same tasks as I do, every week. That’s not very likely, is it?”

Boss: “Uhm… you can go back to work now.”

(By the end of the tenth week, I receive my grade together with a list showing how many points I got for the individual tasks. I received full points for my written reports.)

Hungering For A Change

| USA | Coworkers, Geeks Rule, Language & Words

(I’m emailing a client about edits to a letter I’ve typeset for her.)

Client: “Take out the whole sentence ‘May you use it in good health.’”

Me: “How about changing it to ‘And may the odds be ever in your favor!’?”

Client: *facepalm*

Phasing Phrasing

| AK, USA | At The Checkout, Employees, Language & Words

(It’s the last hour in my shift, and a customer comes into my lane.)

Me: “Hi there! Have a good day!”

(There’s a short pause as we realize what I said.)

Me: “I’m so sorry! I meant to say: ‘Hello. Find everything you needed?’”

Customer: *smiling* “Yes, miss. Thank you.”

(The transaction goes by without a hitch as we engage in small talk, until I finish ringing them up and they pay.)

Me: “All right, did you find everything you— I mean, hello— I mean, no, GOODBYE. HAVE A NICE DAY! I’m so sorry, sir, it’s been a long day and when you say the same phrases over and over…”

Customer: *laughs* “Don’t worry, honey. I’ve worked retail. The phrases can sometimes get mixed up. I know how it is!”


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