Tell me your latest blunder

A new school year has just started, it’s the last day of the 「玄鳥去」 microseason, and the autumnal equinox was yesterday. As my students all tell me one after another that they’re not “naturally” good at math, I feel like this is a good time to consciously re-embrace sucking.

Just as walking is a series of controlled falls, learning is a series of mistakes that we learn and grow from. We all feel tempted to compare ourselves to others, so maybe it’ll make us all feel better if we take time to commiserate on the ways we’ve screwed up in Japanese.

Just so you feel a little more comfortable confessing, here’s my highlight reel…

  • I’m that person who addressed a group of girls as あんたたち that one time.
  • On the first day of Japanese 301, I thanked the professor—a notorious hardass who delighted in humiliating students—with どうも. No ありがとう, no ございます, nothing else.
  • When a speaker at a conference told me he was Japanese, I thought, 「そうですか」 but blurted out 「そうですよ」.
  • Nothing specific but the reason I started hitting Japanese hard again two years ago was that my Japanese student tutor complained to his classmates about how god-awful my Japanese was. He eventually asked me not to even try around him. At the end of the school year, he wrote me a card in Japanese that basically said that if I keep studying, someday I might not suck. (He’s one of those people who’s a jerk, but a fun jerk?)
  • Just last night, I tried to tell my Japanese tutor that I’m l trying to find patterns in word meanings, but I kept using 模様 to mean “pattern.” We were both confused for a good five minutes before I finally realized 模様 means a pattern on things like wrapping paper. The word I wanted was actually パターン.

If we embrace the blunder, we embrace the growth that comes from it. Let’s do this! 頑張りましょう、 people!


I think about this every once in a while and have a quiet chuckle.


once in a japanese university when I was an exchange student,

I used おまえらたち (my head tha day was not good), to a group of students trying to get their attention that the class would be held in a different classroom, everybody was looking at me with the pikachu surprised face :sweat_smile:


I used おまえらたち

Well, that’s one way to avoid calling them あんたたち. おまえらたち is a good one though… between the condescending sound of it and the double pluralizing suffixes, there’s something for everyone. :slight_smile:


I remember a good one back when I was still year 1 living in Japan and trying to recall my Japanese lessons from university 3 years before. I relied on listening and recreating what I heard, and though I made a lot of mistakes, I learned a lot of useful vocab that way.

Anyway, I remember this scene like it was yesterday because I was struggling to recall 苦手 which I heard often but was using for the first time in a conversation. Instead, I said the only word I knew 新潟 which was close in pronunciation but obviously completely out of place in that context.

That teacher didn’t correct me so I assume she understood what I was trying to say. But I felt really stupid later when I realized the correct word.

Another one I learned in Tochigi was ムシムシ暑い which my husband is 100% certain is wrong. Apparently everyone says 蒸し暑い which is correct but a quick search shows the former also being possible (maybe used as an exaggeration if you want to say it’s super humid), so I don’t know about that one. It could be a regional thing or a generational thing. I just know not to use it in front of my husband. :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t remember too many things but a couple recent typos. I wrote up a worksheet for my 3rd year JHS students a couple years ago on what they want their significant other to do for them. The problem was I didn’t double check and made the classic あんた mistake. Everyone had a good laugh out of it. Those kids were good and the JTE was great so no harm no foul. I can’t imagine making the same mistake with my current 3rd years. :sweat_smile:

When I ordered something from Mercari and left a review, I usually write この度はありがとうございました but accidentally deleted the last character before sending it. The worst part is I properly punctuated it so it looks more like a mistake than a typo.


That one time I told my friend he has a もぐら (mole) on his cheek when the correct word is actually ほくろ (mole). Yay English homonyms :smile:

Oh and that one time my premade Anki deck had the reading きじ for 生地 (dough or fabric), but the English gloss was „birthplace“, which would be read せいち (it’s also rarely used). I told someone that [city name] was my きじ… (謎)

When I asked a friend to pass me the soy sauce and the only word I could think of was よこす. She did a double take on me like „Did you just say よこしてくれる?笑“. You’d use 取る or 渡す instead :slight_smile:


I was mortified in class one day when talking about the weather and they all started laughing. I had said San Diego’s weather 屁です。:astonished:


Ah, I think I’m just going to stick with input now.


That’s fine if you’re not comfortable with output, but you see, making those mistakes is what helps you improve.

It might feel embarrassing at the time but just think when you were a toddler learning your native language for the first time. We all said silly things as we struggled to pick up what we were hearing and understand the context it’s used in! It’s just we were too young at the time to realize it or feel embarrassed.


Of course I’m not serious about quitting output. That was just me commenting on how this thread is basically just an output trauma compilation. I can already see myself waking up in a cold sweat tonight thinking about some of these scenarios lol


I feel like I need more context here. They really laughed at you for months over this one thing? Seems extreme lol.


I thought I’d refresh my fledgling high school Japanese before a conference. When we climbed down from the bus that took us to the conference location, we were greeted by a Japanese woman bowing and saying keiko desu. I was puzzled, thinking she was saying kekkou desu- it’s fine, and figured maybe she was a greeter person like they have in department stores, so gave her a confused smile and walked straight past. Yeah, she was the head of the conference.


Haha I guess my biggest blunder was when I tried to explain to my Japanese friend that in Germany saunas are usually mixed-gender, which is called 混浴 (こんよく). I could only remember the よくpart of that word but I figured that it might have something to do with gender (性) so I said せいよく (which is generally understood as 性欲 :flushed:). When my friend looked at me with this friendly and slightly confused face, it started to dawn on me that I might have said something that was rather off… :sweat_smile:


I can’t remember the exact phrase I used, but it boiled down to me knowing から could be used temporally (after 〜て form), but not knowing it is used logically (I.e. “so” or “because). I was trying to explain to my teacher I was tired and was excited to go to sleep after class, but instead, I think I told her I was going to sleep because of her class :smiley:

She acted hurt, but continued on in full Japanese politeness leaving me to wonder what on earth I could’ve said wrong,


Since nobody is talking about their “latest” I’ll bring up one I never forgot even though it was 30 years ago. It wasn’t me but a friend of mine told me how he’d been introduced to a girl who said her name was うみこ but he didn’t hear her well and when he repeated back what he thought he’d heard to confirm, he called her うんこ.


Sadly, my memory is pretty blurry. I was 20 and cycling through various fashion/hair ideas that ultimately didn’t work, so they probably had plenty of unrelated material to laugh at. Maybe it was just that あんたたち was all I could pick out at the time!

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Oh yeah lets gooo

So one that haunts me is the difference between 雨 and 飴 in my early years of studying abroad for a summer. I got strep throat and was taken to the nurses office. The nurse told me to take the medicine like あめ and my fever riddled brain was thinking “oh like with water? drink it?” and she said no take it like 飴 and I was so confused we went back and forth with her eventually saying the entire sentence in english EXCEPT for the part of あめ because she didn’t know what it was. I was on the verge of tears because sick brain fog, and then a passerby with better English came by and said, " oh like candy" and I was so relieved I passed out and got escorted back to my dorm

Also for most recent, I work with a bunch of elementary schoolers. They’re little scamps. Yesterday my 5th grade was having a rough day, and I swear, I swear I saw one of them throw their homework out the window in the hallway right after class. I raised my voice and then, knowing I get 投げる and 殴る mixed up a lot, my brain misfired and said 窓から何を落としたか and the group all laughed and refused to answer me leading me to walk around outside looking for nothing for about 30 mins later because I was embarrassed. (Turns out he has been throwing things out the window every now and again, but every period he makes the movement to throw something, but doesn’t actually throw something, just to keep teachers on their toes).

I have many more, every day, but the ones being involved with kids laughing at you are very… intense memory recall


The one that haunts me most was back during my study abroad. I had had a penpal while studying Japanese in college in the States, and when I went to Japan I got to finally meet her. We were at a restaurant with these crazy light fixtures and I was looking for a topic because I’m bad at small talk, so I pointed them out and casually mentioned I wanted to touch one, but instead of 触りたい I said 座りたい…

Also most recently in pitch-accent adventures, turns out when I say 気味が悪い, it sounds more like 君が悪い, so that’s fun. (the 味 sound goes up in the first one, so you don’t make my mistake)


I don’t get this one, how is “what did you drop out of the window” a blunder? Isn’t it pretty much what you wanted to say?

I mean yeah but it still sounded weird because they all laughed. They knew that kid was throwing stuff so the fact that I deliberately didn’t use throw they specifically repeated "落とすww先生が「何を落としたか」と言ったww” so while I thought it was fine I am going to relive the moment for a while (note the ww is shorthand japanese for laughter) I honestly didn’t think it was weird till they started making fun of me so :frowning:

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