A Reddit user who recently spent some time in Japan made the mixup of a lifetime when shopping for groceries.
The user, who goes by the name xeiron2, went to the store for some bread crumbs (panko, in Japanese) and ended up asking for something significantly more vulgar.
They posted their story to the “tifu: Today I F’d Up” subReddit to let others revel in their embarrassment, and maybe prevent someone else from making the same mistake.
“For context, I’m on a vacation to Japan and has been staying at my friend’s apartment for 3 days. To show a bit of gratitude, I wanted to cook for her so I decided to go for something simple like a Chicken katsu.”
A noble goal, but, unfortunately, things only went downhill from there.
“I’ve already marinated the chicken yesterday so the final part is just the batter which is flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. This is the moment I realized that I was out of breadcrumbs so I have to go to the convenience store to get some.”
“I am somewhat decent in Japanese so it should be a smooth trip to the convenience store, right? No.”
Everything was going fairly well until xeiron2 couldn’t find the breadcrumbs.
Asking for help from store staff was their downfall.
“As I walked in the store, I couldn’t find the breadcrumbs I was looking for so I decided to ask the staff there, the conversation goes a bit like this:”
“Me: ‘Sumimasen, manko wa doko desu ka?’ which literally translates to ‘excuse me, where is da p*ssy?'”
The universe tried to give them a break here, but it’s hard to correct a mistake you haven’t yet realized you’ve made.
“At this point I didn’t realize that I mixed ‘m*nko(p*ssy)’ and ‘panko(breadcrumbs)’. The staff just looks at me, confused, he might be thinking I was trolling and asked me to repeat the question.”
It just keeps getting worse.
It should be emphasized that in Japan the word is considered so incredibly vulgar that it is nearly always censored or completely avoided.
Think screaming the f-bomb in the middle of a church service while sitting next to your very religious grandmother level of inappropriate.
So it’s definitely not a word that the poor convenience store clerk was used to hearing at work.
Or anywhere in polite conversation.
“I repeated the question 3 times, the staff’s face switched from being confused to disgusted.”
And then it hit them.
“After the change of the staff’s expression, I realized that I f*cked up horribly and felt the embarrassment of a lifetime. I then explained that I mistakenly mixed those 2 words then apologized and thankfully the staff understood me this time.”
All’s well that ends well, right?
Though that embarrassment will probably still be clear and biting for a long time to come.
It seems this sort of mistake is surprisingly common.
Other users had similarly embarrassing language mix-ups.
“Did that in a German bike shop, asked for a Schlampe (slut) instead of a Schlauch (in this context, inner tube). The shop attendant was bemused by my mistake, switched to English, clarified the misunderstanding and then proceeded to jokingly inform me that prostitution is legal in Germany and there’s an establishment at the edge of the town.” –tenmonkeysinacircle
“It happens man. I was living in Viet Nam and there is this restaurant called 3 little sheep. I mispronounced it and asked my whole family if they want to eat three d*cks.” –egglan
“I had friend, when we studied abroad in japan, who needed to get his hanko (name stamp) and was in the store and asked for manko to the poor lady behind the desk.”
“She was so insulted and our guide assigned to us by the school was incredibly embarrassed. It didnt help that I was laughing the entire time.” –pnlhotelier
“My middle school French teacher told our class a similar story. Her (if I remember right) friend was visiting France with a stay-home family, and was eating breakfast, but they couldn’t remember the word for jam, so they tried to think of the word for preservatives, and asked for a ‘préservatif’.”
“‘Préservatif’ in French is ‘condom’.” –aidand5
“I was on study abroad, learning the language and staying with a host family. I was riding the train with my host mom (who was younger and cuter than a host mom had any right to be, which compounded my eventual embarrassment) and she was wearing a skirt and complaining that the heating panel below the seat was uncomfortable on her calves. Making dumb small talk, I said something like, ‘Oh, I guess that would be a problem since you’re not wearing pants.'”
“Except the word that I used for ‘pants’ was the loan-word ‘pantsu,’ which my textbook had told me was an informal way of referring to trousers, but which actual Japanese people apparently use to refer to underwear.”
“So I essentially accused this nice lady of going commando under her skirt in the middle of a crowded train.” –ISureHateMyCat
It’s not always the language newbie’s fault, though.
Pick your friends carefully.
“I spent two months in China. Did not speak any dialect of Chinese at all. For two months I thought I was saying thank you, but I was saying “breastfeed me”. Moral of story, don’t ask your friends for language help when they’re a**holes.” –ergotronomatic
It is easy to mix up similar sounding words when first learning a language, especially one with as few individual sounds as Japanese. There’s no shame in double checking a word in a dictionary if you’re not 100% sure of it.
It could save you a world of headache and embarrassment later.
Accidental profanity is an unfortunately common occurrence when learning a new language, so it’s probably best to study the right words and phrases to apologize profusely just in case.
Have you listened to the first season of George Takei’s podcast, ‘Oh Myyy Pod!‘?
In season one we explored the racially charged videos that have taken the internet by storm.
We’re hard at work on season two so be sure to subscribe here so you don’t miss it when it goes live.
Here’s one of our favorite episodes from season one. Enjoy!