Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Avoid Molesting

PhotobucketMy brother served a Spanish-speaking religious mission in San Diego, then moved to Utah. Shortly afterward he was working late one night, and his female manager offered him a ride home since he didn't have a car. He said, "Are you sure? I don't want to molest you." He was mortified and explained about the use of "molestar" as soon as he realized the mistake, but they were very uncomfortable around each other for a few days.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Evil Chinese Dumplings

Once when the missionaries were speaking in church, one talked about the "wanton evilness of the world," except he pronounced it WONTON. Luckily we were sitting in the foyer because I started laughing so hard I ended up coughing and choking thinking about evil Chinese dumplings.

-Jennifer Sauls

Friday, June 22, 2012

Masseuse Missionaries

Dagny in Brazil
Getting ready to give a massage.
As a missionary teaching in Portugese:

Me: Temos uma massagem para voce. (We have a massage for you.)
Other missionary: Quer dizer mensagem? (Do you mean message?)
Me: Oh, yeah.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chubby with a Good Constitution

Mixing languages can make for some pretty humorous situations, such as the following from Love Actually (sorry for the bad language in the first clip and the horrible quality of the second):

Thanks to Michael Tsai for the submission.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Singing in Pain

Is Diverticulitis what you get from eating Korean food?
My father speaks Korean, and he taught me to say "baega parumnidah" (내 배가 부르고있다), a cute, folksy expression to say that the food was very good (literally, it means, "My stomach is singing"). One time I was eating at a Korean restaurant with my father. The food was very good, so when the Korean owner asked how I liked the food, I confidently said my phrase. The owner frowned and had a sincere look of concern on her face. Turns out, what came out of my mouth was a lot closer to "baega apahabnidah" (배가 큰 고통입니다), which means, "My stomach is in great pain."

To help with our Korean, (Google Translate isn't always the best), email us at blabbergastedblog AT gmail DOT com. Also, sorry for the delay in posts. Hopefully we'll be back up and posting regularly. Please send us your stories or ask your friends for stories to share with us!

Monday, May 28, 2012


Did you say what I think you just said?
While serving a Mormon mission in the Philippines, I was transferred to another of 80 islands that spoke a different dialect. When I tried to explain that I did not understand their dialect with the one that I roughly knew, I actually said (in a very crude and broken up way) that I had very little pubic hair.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Show Me Your Fleas

Not a flea.
One day while walking with someone, I decided to do a thumbs up and say, "pulgas arriba." My friend proceeded to laugh and hold up his hands, pinching his index finger and thumb together as if holding an extremely small object while saying, "pulgas arriba." Turns out, the word for thumb is "pulgar," and "pulgas" means "fleas."

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Proper Care and Feeding of Old Women

http://www.ctkelc.org/thisweek/2012/tw120122.htmlWhile teaching in Spanish about Peter's conversation with Christ, I accurately said, "Feed my sheep" the first two times, but the third time, "sheep" ("ovejas") came out as "viejas." According to my words, Peter was told to feed "my old women."

-Elder Douglas Higham (thanks to Alyson Morris and Lawrence Severson for clearing up sources)

Monday, May 14, 2012

Only One Way Out of This Mess

Start Looking.
Two missionaries parked their car on a street in Germany before going to a meeting. Upon leaving the meeting, they could no longer find their car and called a local church member in hopes that he could look up the name of the street where they parked and direct them to it. Proud that they had at least taken note of the name of the street, they announced to the local member, "It was on Einbahnstraße." Little did they know that "Einbahnstraße" means "one-way street."

-Michelle Glauser

And a Blabbergasted personal side note: co-founder Autumn is having surgery today. Please keep her in your thoughts and prayers.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wives Are People, Too

http://www.ontheredcarpet.com/photos/The-Bachelor-Brad-Womack----Meet-the-30-women-contestants/7857271One missionary was talking to someone about the Mormon church and he wanted to say, "We have a lot of people in the church." Instead of saying, "Žmonių" ("people"), he said, "Žmonų," so his claim turned into, "We have a lot of wives."

Difficult Child

Either a little devil or a child star . . . 
This girl I knew had a less-than-spectacular grasp of French. Someone asked her a question. She didn’t understand the whole sentence but got that she was being asked what she liked to do, so she answered, "Oh you know, shopping, tanning, going to night clubs and getting drunk.”

“You did that when you were a kid?”

“Ohhhh. no.”

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Schedule Your Arguments

http://hsdboardmember.wordpress.com/category/board-meeting-news/During my first week as a missionary in northern Argentina, I discovered that the Spanish I learned in five years of Spanish class didn't necessarily line up with colloquial usage. I found this out when I approached a man sitting in front of his house, and asked if my companion and I could share a message with his family. He protested that he didn't have time, and I asked, "¿Podríamos pasar por su casa para discutir el tema más adelante?" I thought I had asked if we could stop by to discuss our message later, but after we left, my companion informed me that the word I thought meant "discuss" meant "argue" instead.      

Monday, May 7, 2012

Beware of Big Spoons

A companion and I were held up at knifepoint one night in Spain.  My very frightened companion called our district leader (a native Spaniard) to tell him what happened.

What she meant to say was, "Un hombre nos atacó con un cuchillo muy grande!" ("A man attacked us with a big knife!")

What she actually said was, "Un hombre nos atacó con una cuchara muy grande!" ("A man attacked us with a big spoon!")

His response: "So? What's the problem?"

Friday, May 4, 2012

Nursing Embarrassment Joke

Test results.
A male patient is in a bed in the hospital with an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose and is still heavily sedated from an operation. A young nurse appears in his room to check up on him. "Nurse," he mumbles from behind his mask, "are my testicles black?" Embarrassed, the young nurse replies," I don't know, I'm only here to check your stats." He struggles again to ask, "Nurse, are my testicles black?" Finally, she pulls back the covers, raises his gown, takes a close look, and says, "There's nothing wrong with them!" The man removes his oxygen mask and says very slowly, "Are--my--test--results--back?"

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Barf: For Fresh-Smelling Clothes

Barf: for fresh-smelling clothes.
Apparently, Armenian laundry detergent has a Farsi name that is funny in English.

"Barf" means "snow" in Farsi.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Hot Peanuts

The recipe.
The French word for chocolate is chocolat, which basically amounts to saying chocolate in a French accent. This girl in my class had a brain fart and instead of saying "chocolat," said "cacahuette," which led to this interesting exchange:

“I’ll get you something. What do you like to drink?”
“I like to drink hot peanuts.”

Friday, April 20, 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Language of Love

When I was about 17, we had a French exchange student come to live with us. During our first conversation, he asked me if I knew any French. I began singing my one French line, "Voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir?" I was so proud of myself until he burst out laughing. He proceeded to ask me if I knew what it meant, which I obviously didn't. So he said, "Do you want to sleep with me tonight?" After that, I was creeped out when he would ever so quietly hang out in my room before bedtime each night and just smile and look at me.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Group Nap Time

Missionary Napping, http://timandjeanniefry.blogspot.com/2010/06/missionaries-leave-june-2010.html
Directed to the couch.
Missionaries in Germany were invited to join a family for dinner after church one Sunday.

Upon completion of the meal, the mother of the family pushed back her chair and said, "I'm going to go take a nap in my room."

A newer missionary responded: "I'll come with."

The father of the family immediately responded with, "No, you won't!"

Friday, April 13, 2012

Sacrament and Defilement

PhotobucketOne Sunday during church in Italy, a newer American missionary was blessing the bread for the sacrament. In Italian, the sacramental blessing on the bread should be said:

"Ti chiediamo . . . di benedire e santificare questo pane . . ."
(We ask thee . . . to bless and sanctify this bread . . .)  

However, as new missionaries tend to do, he struggled with the pronunciation of "pane," thus saying:

"Ti chiediamo . . . di benedire e santificare questo pene . . ." 
(We ask thee . . . to bless and sanctify this penis . . .)

Needless to say, he was asked to start over.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

For Sale: Baptisms

PhotobucketI knew a missionary in Taiwan who meant to ask if he could use the restroom (xǐshǒujiān or 洗手間), but mixed up the two similar sounding words and said "baptism store" (shòuxǐ diàn or 受洗) instead.

-Delores DeVictoria

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Laugh for the Landlord (Submitter Mystery Solved!)

The never-solved problem.
My (female) missionary companion in Spain called our landlord to let him know there was a problem with our mattresses. What she meant to say was, "Hay un problema con nuestros colchones" ("There is a problem with our mattresses"). What she actually said was, "Hay un problema con nuestros cojones" ("There is a problem with our balls"). The landlord laughed so hard and long that my companion finally had to hang up the phone.  The mattress problem was never solved.

-Melissa Stringham (mystery solved!)

Friday, April 6, 2012

What About the Weather?

To help you describe what weather.
One day, a Spanish-speaking friend and I decided to meet with a group of friends to hike a nearby peak. You would think three entire semesters of university-level Spanish would have helped me, but such was not the case. While we were finalizing details of when and where to meet, I utilized my super-awesome Spanish skills and asked "¿Que tiempo?" There was a pause, then he went on to correct me: "You mean '¿A que hora?'--'at what time?' not, 'what weather?'" Incidentally, if you'd like to ask what the weather is like, be sure to say "Que tiempo hace?"

-Crystal from A Heaven on Earth

Monday, April 2, 2012

Flying Putin

Just as likely to see Putin riding a shark.
When I was still very new to the Latvian language, I pointed out a flying bird to my husband. Unfortunately, I mixed up "Putins lido" and "Putns lido." He laughed because I'd told him that Vladimir Putin was flying.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Your Girlfriend's Hot

PhotobucketWhile on a Spanish-speaking Mormon mission, my companion and I began making small talk with a twenty-something Hispanic man we didn't know. While we were talking, a woman came out of the house. The man said something to her, and my companion asked who she was. When the man said it was his girlfriend, my companion, intending a platitude equivalent to "Oh, cool!" said "Que buena!" which is more like, "Wow, she's hot!" The man then glowered and asked what that was supposed to mean. After a quick explanation, we ended the encounter quickly and left.

-Ryan Farnsworth

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Say Hello to My Little Friend

Little friends.
While giving the Holy Ghost to a young boy as a missionary, I added the words "my little friend," which would be just fine in English. However, since I was speaking French, my "petit ami" didn't hold the same meaning. I was told later that I had called the boy my boyfriend.

-Anonymous (you know who you are)

Monday, March 26, 2012

A Missionary Walks Into a Nude Bar

A missionary told his new companion to pronounce the "nacht" in "Nachtbar" (neighbor) with a strong K, which made it into "naked bar." The new companion asked everyone to refer any naked bars they knew of. Even though the members kept correcting him, the word had been reenforced enough that he just continued saying it that way. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Preaching in the Nude

PhotobucketThere was a brand new missionary to Quebec and as is often the custom he was asked to introduce himself to the congregation at church. He said 'Bonjour, je m'appelle Elder Smith et je suis 'new'." In his nervousness he had forgotten the French word for new, which is "nouveau" and had unfortunately substituted it with the English word "new." The entire congregation erupted into a tremendous laugh at hearing the Elder say he was "naked."

-David Jarvis

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


Are you choking or can I offer some other kind of support?
I cannot vouch that this actually happened; it may be one of those mission field urban legends, But just in case:
It is reported that an experienced missionary in the French missions sometimes picked up a brand new junior companion at the train station, pretending to have such a raspy voice and sore throat that he needed the new man to request cough drops from the pharmacist. The new guy, not yet having a vocabulary that included medicinal terms, carefully practiced what he was told was the French word for cough drops: "soutien-gorge" (literally: "support-throat"). The newcomer would approach the counter and announce that he was in need of some very strong, very powerful soutiens-gorges, while the senior missionary would watch from a distance . . . where he could laugh at the red-faced younger missionary who had to endure the pharmacist's sign-language explanation that a soutien-gorge was a woman's brassiere.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Human Sacrifice

Get away as fast as you can!
While talking about the law of Moses during a lesson in Germany, my friend said that the Israelites had to sacrifice "Lahme" (lame people) instead of "Lämmer" (lambs). Everyone seemed a little surprised by that statement.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Do, Destroy . . . You Know

On my mission to Germany I heard one elder bear testimony on fast Sunday that he was so grateful to be able to "destroy" the work of the Lord. He had meant to say to "do" the work of the Lord. The German words "verrichten" and "vernichten" are very similar indeed.

-Micheline Jarvis

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Employ that Ticket!

A lecturing German caught in bronze.
Once when planning to board a train in Germany early in the morning, I discovered to my horror that my ticket needed to be validated before being used. Unfortunately, at that time of the morning, there weren't any employees at the information desk or elsewhere. The only person I could find who might be able to help me was the driver of the train. He saw me motioning to him and stepped out. What I should have asked was, "Am I allowed to use this ticket?" "Darf ich dieses Ticket benutzen?" but the only thing I could think to ask was, "Arbeitet dieses Ticket?": literally, "Does this ticket labor?" (At that time, I didn't know the word "funktionieren," which might have worked better.) I knew my words weren't conducive to my meaning, so I tried some simple English when I saw the man was confused and probably also upset that I had disturbed him. He scared me off by gruffly saying, "Wir sind in Deutschland! Wir sprechen Deutsch!" (We're in Germany! We speak German!)

Luckily I liked Germany so much anyway that I moved there later.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Special Experiences

What kind of experience is Japanese food?
The worst I've heard of is a common mistake in Japanese. In the MTC they were quick to warn me not to mix up the words "reiteki" (spiritual) and "seiteki" (sexual). Very awkward if you want to tell others about a spiritual experience you had with your companion.

Friday, March 9, 2012

A True Banana

A true banana.
I heard of a Mormon missionary who mixed up the Chinese words for "banana" (xiāngjiāo or 香蕉) and "prophet" (xiānzhī or 先知). She told the investigator that she knew that Joseph Smith was a true banana.

-Delores DeVictoria

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

No Beating Around the Bush Here

"Nurse" in German.
A German nurse friend of mine remarked to me that she'd recently had an English-speaking patient. "I wasn't sure how to give him instructions, but it turned out just fine," she said. "We had to do a urine test."

"What did you say to him?" I asked.

"Piss in the bucket!" she said proudly.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Some Balls Need More Dodging Than Others

Dodge Ball Night.
While I was studying in America for one semester, I was able to participate in activities with other students every Monday night. One night, we played dodge ball. There was one boy, Ian, who always threw the ball extremely hard. I was really scared to get hit by him, but someone else ended up hitting me. As I left the field, I said to a friend, "I'm so scared of Ian's balls!"

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Kiss of Sleep

Good night kiss/pillow.
As a young missionary in Germany, I needed a new pillow. However, while asking the young, cute, 18-year-old salesgirl, I accidentally said I needed a "Küssen" (a "kiss") to sleep instead of a "Kissen." 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

"Que Hora Es?" Video

For all the people out there who never got very far in Spanish and/or who have a sense of humor:

(Thanks to Elizabeth Pinborough for making us aware of this video.)

Monday, February 27, 2012

Design Mom Story

Vintage family photos in France.
Design Mom, who is currently living in France, asked her kids for a Blabbergasting story and Ralph reported this one:

I was in French class (which is basically language arts). We were reading a story out loud, and it was my turn to read. Everything was going fine until I pronounced "baiser" like "baisser." This wouldn't have been too big a deal, except the fact that "baiser" can be the F-bomb in French. Oops!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Hot Diggety Dog

Hot dog.
When my husband was posted in Germany, I was walking down the street one day when I decided to buy a bratwurst from a street vendor. Approaching the stand, I asked for a "heißen Hund." The smile on the vendor's face told me that the American term "hot dog" doesn't mean the same thing in German.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Set the Table with Bananas

Which do you want: plate or banana?
My sister and I were visiting family in Peru for the first time a few years ago and we both could practice some Spanish. My sister wanted to ask our aunt for an extra plate ("plato") as we were having dinner, but instead she asked for bananas ("platano"). I started to laugh and really didn't want to correct her.

Monday, February 20, 2012

There's Only One Way Out of Salidas

PhotobucketDuring a layover in Madrid, I decided to take my suitcase with me on a quick walking tour of the city. I successfully boarded the right train going in the direction of the city center, but when I got off the train, I couldn't find an exit anywhere. The only signs I could see had an arrow and "Salidas." Muttering to myself, I said, "I don't want to go to Salidas! I want to get out of here!" Only after quite a bit of wandering did I realize that "Salidas" means "exits."

Friday, February 17, 2012

A Party Pooper and a Happy Clam Walk Into a Bar

A German expounds on the confusion that is English.

(Thanks to Heather for the heads up on these YouTube videos.)

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Dangerously Gross

While serving as a missionary, another missionary was telling a story about a guy in a speedo. She was trying to say he was really gross (asqueroso). In Spanish she said, "el fue muy peligroso," which sounds similar to gross but what she really said was, "he was really dangerous"

-Heidi Broadbent

Monday, February 13, 2012

Republished: Mistaken in Peru

Still hiding from the sexy woman.
A few years back, some friends and I found cheap tickets to Peru and booked a night at Loki Hostel, a hostel with a wild reputation that isn’t unfounded. For four bucks a night, we were willing to put up with quite a bit. On the way to Loki, our cab driver asked us what we were going to be doing. We told him about the hike and the three unplanned days before it. “You want to see sexy woman?” he asked in his stilted English. Obviously he knew about Loki’s reputation and assumed we shared the promiscuous disposition of its usual boarders. Over our vigorous protests, he told us he’d get us tickets. “You see sexy woman. You see sexy woman," he said. A knot formed in my stomach. As it turned out, Sacsayhuamán—not “sexy woman”—is the ruin of a massive Incan temple just outside Cusco. The complex was the site of the last stand between Incan warriors and their European invaders in the 15th century. Guess we didn’t seem that wild after all.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Horsey Hair

Quite the horsey hair.
My mission president's wife, who did not usually pretend to speak French, took me souvenir-shopping on the last day of my mission in Geneva, Switzerland. I understood the parking lot attendant's confusion, but I didn't want to get involved when Sister President kept trying to tell the attendant that her hair ("cheveux") was nice.

She was actually using the word "chevaux": "Your horses--your horses--so pretty, your horses!"

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Cute Little What?

Didn't think teddy bears would embarrass you.
Teaching your kids proper pronunciation can be more important than you think. We were at the store and my daughter yelled: "Dad, check out these titties!"
Me: "What?"
My daughter: "These little titties! Aren't they cute?"
Me (I notice she's pointing at little teddy bears): "Oh . . . those teddies? [Pronouncing it loud and slow as I try to shuffle her away]. Yeah, they're cute."
My daughter (walking away and SUPER loud): "Yeah Dad, those titties are way cute."
  -Sita Ripley

Monday, February 6, 2012

Little Shirts (Be Forewarned)

Little shirt.
While a missionary in Brazil, a new American missionary got tricked into telling members that we all need to go buy "camisinhas" (camisa=shirt, inha=little) to give to kids at church. Little did he know that "camisinha" is slang for condom. 

Friday, February 3, 2012

Learning Spanish from Dora the Explorer

Dora: Expanding your children's vocabulary since 2000.
My three-year-old daughter Patcy was spending the afternoon over at my family's house when Patcy said what they thought was, "a butt hole." At the time, she had been talking about being in a car, so we assumed that what she really meant to say was "a pot hole." Patcy typically has great enunciation, so we were all confused when she refused to say "a pot hole" and continued to say "a butt hole." After a few hours of this, Patcy finally cried out "arriba!" which is Spanish for "up!" All of a sudden I understood what she had been saying the whole time . . . "abajo," the Spanish word for "down." I then explained to my family that Patcy is learning Spanish from "Dora the Explorer" and she likes to say "arriba" and "abajo" when we are going up and down hills in the car.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Long Tongue

Was his tongue this long?
When I made my first visit to the U.K., I wanted to tell one of my colleagues that he had a big mouth after he told others a secret I had confided in him. Unfortunately, I literally translated a Polish expression--"masz długi język" became "you've got a long tongue." He looked at me weird and I had no idea of the mistake I had made for quite some time.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Poop and Scoop (or Carry)

Scoop that poop.
A few unfortunate pronunciation mistakes I have made are with the word "cargar" which means to carry or haul, but for some reason with my American accent it sounds more like "cagar" (to sh!t) to Spanish speakers. I also have had trouble with "cancha" (field), because sometimes it sounds like "concha"--which literally means "conch shell," but is also a very vulgar term for a part of the female anatomy.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Matters of Life and Death

Answer: Death Valley.
Learning to speak Portuguese can be especially frustrating when you sit next to a know-it-all native Spanish speaker. I couldn't help but smile when my classmate, intending to ask a native Brazilian where she lived ("de onde você mora?"), instead asked, "de onde você morre?" ("Where did you die?").

-Tracy Thorsen

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Compliment the Chicken

Knit your own poulet.
I had a teacher tell me a funny story about a time in France--she was trying to compliment a friend's sweater ("pull") and with a mispronunciation complimented her chicken ("poulet"). "Hey, I love your chicken. Looks soft. Is it new?"

Monday, January 23, 2012

Beano Might Help

More beano!
 In Italian the word "scoraggiare" (to discourage or to dishearten) differs by only one letter from the verb "to fart": "scoreggiare." One time during a church meeting I tried to encourage the members to not be discouraged during the week, however, amidst a few smiles from the elderly, and raucous laughter from the children, I quickly realized that I had encouraged the entire congregation to try not to fart during the week.