However, there are some mistakes that you should rather avoid unless you are eager to find yourself in an embarrassing situation. Here are some of the most dangerous mistakes that Gaikokujin often get confused with.
1. Imagine yourself in a restaurant ordering a 痴漢バーガー(chikan ba-ga-) instead of a チキンバーガー(chikin ba-ga-). If that has ever happened to you and you have been wondering what that weird smile on the waiter’s face was about, let us enlighten you:
痴漢 (chikan) = pervert; チキン (chikin) = chicken.
2. A lot of foreigners might have accidentally asked a rather corpulent woman whether she was a carrot, ニンジン (ninjin), simply because they understood that she might be pregnant, 妊娠 (ninshin). However, we strongly advise to ask neither of the two unless you are 100% sure that she really is a carrot, ehhh… pregnant.
3. At least once in your life, you might come to a point when you see fit to go to your superior and ask for a big 恐竜 (kyoryu). In that case, you will most probably be highly disappointed as asking for a dinosaur rarely meets with success. Yet, had you actually been referring to a higher 給料 (kyuryo), salary, you might actually be able to achieve your aim. (But let us be honest: Who would wish for a raise when they can have their own dinosaur?)
4. Have you ever tried to compliment a young mother by saying to her child 「怖い赤ちゃんですね。」(“Kowai akachan desu ne.”)? We suggest you don’t start doing so now. No woman appreciates her child being called a “scary” or “creepy baby”. Instead you should rather smile at the little boy or girl saying 「可愛い赤ちゃんですね。」(“Kawaii akachan desu ne.”) referring to it as “cute”. (Even though it might really not be as cute as its parents think.)
5. Another awkward situation will arise should you mix up 座る (suwaru), to sit down, and 触る (sawaru), to touch. Just imagine a poor foreigner pointing at the nearest chair asking 「触ってもいいですか。」(“May I touch this?”).
Have we made you nervous about talking Japanese now? In that case, there are plenty, plenty more expressions to worry about, so you better study hard, or else!
Just kidding. It is okay to make mistakes, so don’t be too hard on yourself. The only way to memorize all these is to remember all the funny and awkward situations your errors have let you to and learn from your mistakes. Your Japanese friends will totally understand. 🙂