Common foreign language mistakes

Calling Greek locals a “squid”, asking for a “condom” at the breakfast table, and declaring yourself “pregnant” to a French waiter are among the most common mistakes made by Britons attempting to speak a foreign language while abroad.

The mistakes were revealed in a survey of British holidaymakers carried out by Owners Direct, the self-catering operator.

The Greek word for “good morning” is “kalimera” which bears a resemblance to “calimari”, while “Je suis plein” means “I am full” in French, but when mispronounced as “pleine”, translates as “I am pregnant”.

In Portugal and France, the word for “condom” is “preservativo” and “preservatif” and is sometimes mistakenly used when asking for jam.

Other mistakes include one holidaymaker who asked for her “head baked Al Forno” when trying to obtain a hairdryer, and a traveller in Hong Kong who accidentally told locals she worked as a “prostitute”.

The study also revealed that 95% of Britons would attempt to speak the local language on holiday, particularly those travelling to Spain or France. The most commonly used words and phrases were “hello”, “please”, thank you”, “goodnight”, “where are the toilets?” and “a bottle of house red”.

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* Premium £4.14 includes Insurance Premium Tax based on an adult aged under 55 taking out a “Standard” Single Trip 24/7 travel insurance policy for 3-days in Europe excluding personal possessions cover and purchased within 14 days of departure date. Cover details and prices are correct at time of going to press (November 2010) and are subject to change.