What not to say while travelling

What not to say while travelling

Before we travel to a different country, we like to get on top of the basics of our destinations mother tongue.

We usually try to learn the important ones like ‘hello’, ‘goodbye’, ‘how much is this cake?’, ‘Where is the food?’ and ‘can I pet your dog?’.

You know, the essentials.

But did you know that some English words mean VERY different things in other languages?

The team at language learning app, Babbel have put together some common English words which have different meanings overseas, so you don’t accidentally commit any embarrassing faux pas on your overseas adventures. 



The derogatory term sometimes used by English speakers means ‘End’ or ‘Final’ in Swedish, so don’t be surprised if you venture to a cinema in Sweden while on holiday and see SLUT appear on the final screen!

Actual translation

English: Slut

Swedish: Slampa



If you happen to refer to someone as an angel in a complementary way or in terms of a spiritual being with wings and a long robe in Germany or the Netherlands, maybe think again. In German, Angel translates to ‘fishing rod’ and in Dutch, it translates to ‘sting’.

Actual translation

English: Angel

German: Engel

Dutch: Engel



You might think you’re being kind by offering some a gift in Norway, but watch out! Gift in Norwegian means married, so this seems like an easy way to get yourself in a bind!

Actual translation:

English: gift

Norwegian: give

German: Poison



If you find yourself in Spain or the Czech Republic and you’re looking for sushi – be careful not to ask for a tuna roll. The fishy favourite means cactus in Spanish or a tonne in Czech.

Actual translation:

English: Tuna

Spanish: atún

Czech: tunák



Let’s face it – whether you’d like to admit it or not, you might need to use this one! The vulgar word commonly used in English for intestinal gas means ‘good luck’ in Polish or ‘speed’ in Swedish. Oddly, in French fart translates to pet in English.

Actual translation:

English: Fart

Polish: pierdnięcie

Swedish: Fisa



The English word commonly used when referring to foodstuffs have a completely different meaning in France. Preservatif means condom in French!

Actual translation:

English: Preservative

French: conservateur



While some governments are trying to make smoking a thing of the past, the French definition of the word is totally different meaning tuxedo.

Actual translation:

English: Smoking

French: Fumeur



Watch out Gary’s of the world, if you introduce yourself and say ‘I’m Gary’ in Japan, it sounds like ‘I have diarrhoea’ in Japanese.

Actual translation:

English: Gary

Japanese: ゲイリー

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