Created By: Quatic on September 30, 2012 Last Edited By: Quatic on October 26, 2012
Nuked

Easily mispronounced as an insult

In some strange foreign language, an inoffensive phrase is easily mispronounced as a grevious insult.

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Bob is going to meet the high mucketymuck of some foreign land; he's been told that the proper way to greet the high mucketymuck is, "klapoot pirgamagoo" -- but he mispronounces it "kaploot pirmagamoo" -- and is quickly told by a native speaker that he has just insulted the high mucketymuck's mother.

In most languages, mispronouncing words would be more likely to be gibberish than something comprehensible, and the chances that it would be both comprehensible and an especially insulting phrase are highly remote. Common greetings and salutations, especially, would be unlikely to be pronounced similarly to vulgar terms and phrases. This is the opposite of Calling Me a Logarithm, wherein the word really is innocent, and the person hearing it thinks it is insulting only because they don't know the actual meaning.

  • Played with in Psych, where Sean introduces Gus as a veterinarian from Africa, arguing with Gus in a series of clicks and whistles. When the target of this phony introduction tries to pronounce the name Sean provided for Gus, Sean tells her that she has instead made an insulting comment.
  • Inverted in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Twi'lek intentionally mispronounce Wedge Antilles' name, because if it's pronounced right, in means "you make a rancor sick" in their language.
  • In Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy, Arthur Dent's remark "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle,", plunged a distant galaxy back into war for centuries. (In the Vl'hurg tongue this sounded just like the most dreadful insult imaginable, and each side thought the other had said it.)
  • In one episode of The Big Bang Theory Sheldon learns Mandarin so that he can confront a Chinese restaurant owner about the quality of the food; at one point, while practicing, he tells Leonard that his mother has syphilis.
Community Feedback Replies: 13
  • September 30, 2012
    aurora369
    Inverted in the Star Wars Expanded Universe. The Twi'lek intentionally mispronounce Wedge Antilles' name, because if it's pronounced right, in means "you make a rancor sick" in their language.
  • October 1, 2012
    CaveCat
    I think this is Calling Me A Logarithm.
  • October 1, 2012
    JohnnyCache
    • The Tick never could pronounce the name of his foe Thrakkorzog. Once, after several failed attempts, he tried calling him "Susan", which prompted Thrakkorzog to complain, "Hah! Now you're doing it on purpose! How juvenile..."
  • October 1, 2012
    Andygal
    @caveCat Calling Me A Logarithm is when somebody thinks an innocent word was an insult because they don't know what it means, this is when somebody accidentally insults somebody by mispronouncing a word, they are kind of opposites.

    Also I'm pretty sure something like this happened in Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy
  • October 1, 2012
    JohnnyCache
    ^ It was Arthur Dent, whose remark "I seem to be having tremendous difficulty with my lifestyle,", plunged a distant galaxy back into war for centuries. (In the Vl'hurg tongue this sounded just like the most dreadful insult imaginable, and each side thought the other had said it.)
  • October 1, 2012
    captainsandwich
    Futurama episode 2
  • October 1, 2012
    Quatic
    @captainsandwich can you expand on that?
  • October 2, 2012
    dvorak
    Real Life example, in Japan, mispronouncing a word automatically makes it vulgar. Some people intentionally mispronounce insults and cusswords because of this.

    One episode of Star Trek Enterprise had an alien race whose words for eating and having sex were so similar they were both private activities, and Trip mentioned that one would have to be careful when suggesting a snack.
  • October 2, 2012
    Chabal2
    Apparently the name Kamina is a Your Mom insult in some parts of Japan.
  • October 26, 2012
    AgProv
    Real life: the name of Russian president Putin is pretty close to the French word "putain", meaning whore, bitch, prostitute, et c...
  • October 26, 2012
    DracMonster
    Needs a better title. Accent On Unintended Insult? (Ptitle with "Unintended Insult" in quotes.)
  • October 26, 2012
    StarSword
  • October 26, 2012
    DracMonster
    Oops, it does look like My Hovercraft Is Full Of Eels has this covered, but that could probably use a rename.
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