How little language mistakes can cause you big embarrassment!

How little language mistakes can cause you  big embarrassment!

Don’t YOU appreciate when people point out your  wrong word mistakes? – discreetly of course!

 french 60s

I am eternally grateful to a French waiter who corrected me about my French pronunciation and choosing a similar-sounding word – but the WRONG word!

I was working as a piano-vocalist  in an elegant fine dining restaurant.

I was singing songs in French and  I thought I was so  classy and cool and cosmopolitan .

In reality  – I was embarrassing myself to anyone who spoke French.

And it all came down to how I pronounced a vowel sound.

I was supposed to be singing “pourtant” (however or still)  but they way I pronounced it sounded like a  less formal French word that means “prostitute”. So in this elegant restaurant I am proudly singing “PROSTITUTE”.

I am very grateful to that waiter – and that’s why I am very understanding when people from different backgrounds choose the wrong word or mispronounce words in English.

It can be dangerous when you know a little about a language – but you get “the little things” wrong – like choosing a similar word (but the WRONG word) or using it in the wrong context!

These days I help  business people choose the right words – especially people from non-English backgrounds trying to speak effective business English.


Many speakers or writers  think they are doing a great job (as I did when I was singing in French).

I was blissfully unaware of the “danger” and embarrassment – until someone pointed it out to me.

Often just a little mispronunciation mistake  or word choice mistake  can make a big and sometimes very embarrassing difference!

Do YOU have any similar miscommunication examples?

Please feel free to share in the comments below.

Let’s help others from embarrassing themselves! English can be such a confusing language!


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