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Bilingual People Share Their 'They Didn't Know I Spoke Their Language' Stories

Bilingual People Share Their 'They Didn't Know I Spoke Their Language' Stories

Speaking a second language is a super valuable skill, and can bring about some great opportunities. Some of those opportunities are in educating folks who assume you only know one language and that they can talk about you in another without you understanding.

These confrontations can either be learning experiences for them, or just become hilarious memories for you.

Reddit user RedDevil2048 asked:

"Bilinguals of Reddit, what's your funniest story of people not knowing you speak their language?"


I was at a musical festival in Germany, and there was this group of 5 Japanese guys looking kind of oddly at me and snickering. I had taken a few classes in Japanese by then so I understood WHAT they were talking about, but not exactly what they said. (Turned out they were one of the bands playing the next evening)

But it was something along the lines of "Why is that foreigner wearing a mask like that? Thought only we did it." And then some general remarks about how weird and odd my getup was, in their defense I WAS wearing a face mask with filters and a pair of welding goggles.

And as I walked past them I just remarked that I could understand them and that they were being really rude. They bowed and apologized and offered me a drink to make up for it.

Long story short, I got backstage and they were really cool guys after all.



Old Japanese lady here in Brazil was selling yakisoba at the farmer's market and talking in very broken Portuguese with a heavy Japanese accent, I start talking in Japanese and she suddenly is super impressed. I got so much extra stuff on top of my yakisoba.



The staff at a Korean restaurant I frequented always used to yell "your white girlfriend is here!" (in Korean) to the head waiter when I walked in, because he was the only person on staff who had some English and always served my table.

One time he good-naturedly told the other staff after they said it that I couldn't be his girlfriend because he was too short compared to me.

I took a leap and told him in Korean that I was was wearing heels right now, but would be happy to wear flats on a date.

We ended up dating for over a year before he had to go back to Korea to take care of his dad. He was the loveliest guy.



I am mixed ethnicity and apparently I can pass for a japanese person. While living in Japan, I was helping a caucasian friend teach an english class. a couple of students entered the classroom and I greeted them by saying "Good evening, welcome to class" or something brief and simple like that.

Despite being a single sentence, their jaws almost dropped and they both said "wow, your english is good". I laughed and had to explain to them that I was a 4th generation japanese-american, born and raised in hawaii. english was my native language.



Negotiating with vendors in Turkey. As they babbled amongst each other trying to rip me off, I'd make a super lowball offer in Turkish. the look on their faces was gold, and this happened often. Usually i got the deal as they were super embarrassed. (American who lived there 2 years, took Turkish 101 & 102 classes when i arrived.)



Mine is more wholesome. I worked at a department store and this one shift I encountered a sweet but confused old man with a strong french accent trying to ask me a question in English. I just asked if it would be easier for me to speak French, in French of course, and he smiled very wide. Most people in our area only speak English, so he was glad someone was able to help him in his native language.



I was in a bus, and a tourist couple was pretty much next to me talking about finding a hotel to have sex that night. The girl told him to stop saying that because someone might hear it, the guy replied "they don't understand English babe".

Well, I sure did.



I mean, I live in Canada and I'm half French Canadian so lots but the best was kinda the reverse - my dad yelled out to me in the middle of a crowded grocery store that he was "bleeding from my a**hole and have to go to the bathroom" in french, thinking no one would understand. Like, three people turned around with horrified wtf faces as he walked away. I just shrugged. What can you do, guy has hemorrhoids and no sense of shame, not MY fault. Now we all have to live with this image.



I was shopping and two people approached me and asked if the store had ice cream packages in English. I guided them to it (as I was heading there myself).

Once they got it, they instantly started talking Swedish (extremely poorly - Swedish is my native language) and said "how impolite I had been for not simply telling them and had felt like I was forced to lead them there."

I replied (in Swedish) "I was heading here myself, so why the hell would I simply tell you where it is?"

Both turned pale, grabbed the ice cream and hurried off.

And yes. This was in Sweden. There's literally no reason for them to assume I'd NOT speak Swedish.



Some japanese cashiers had a conversation deciding if my wife's red hair was natural. As we walked away I told them it was dyed but not to tell my wife that I know.



Most people don't realize that I speak Spanish fluently. I was in Mexico with my husband on vacation. We went to a restaurant. They gave us a menu with the side in English facing up. I flipped it over and the exact same menu was printed on the back in Spanish except the prices were about half that of the English version. I ordered our meals in Spanish just in case it counted towards the discount.



I, an Englishman, work in a bar in the south of France. We get a lot of tourists who naturally can't speak a word of French so a lot speak English as their go-to language (regardless of their country of origin).

Maybe 2 months ago I had an English lady order at the bar - which was quiet at the time - for a big bottle of water. Pretty standard request, except we only sell bottles of water up to 50cl (or alternativley offer tap water for free).

After offering her either of these options in perfect English because y'know, I'm English, she proceeded with the stereotypical 'raise of voice, slow talking and speaking with her hands' charade.

Her: "BIG...." gestures with her hands the size of 'big' "BOT-TLE" proceeds to pretend to unscrew a cap off a bottle "WARRRTEEER" air-drinks through her imaginary bottle of water.

So I gave her a shot of gin instead.

Her husband found it hilarious. He also recognised immeditley I was from the UK but let her play it out.

Maybe not ha-ha funny, more of a "OMG we are so freaking dumb sometimes" moment.



Kind of the other way. When I was younger my family and I (German) went to Greece and in a store. My grandpa started talking about how expensive that stuff there was and how cheap it looked. Then my mom found something she liked and the store owner came over to help her - in German.



I understand quite a bit of Spanish, and speak a limited amount. I was at a quinceañera with a friend and was having a really bad anxiety day. One of the middle aged men sitting at the same table as us was outright talking about me in Spanish, saying I had crazy eyes and how there was something wrong with me. My friend told him I could understand him and he just went quiet.




My wife (Norwegian) speaks 6-7 11 languages at varying levels of proficiency, and have a few good stories. Best one's from her time studying in Prague.

She went out with some Czech friends, all girls. They ended up in a bar, at a table next to a group of Norwegian guys that were on a weekend party trip. The guys were somewhat drunk, and of course immediately started flirting with my wife and her friends, in the typical heavily accented English spoken by Norwegians. While flirting, they discussed among themselves the various physical attributes of each girl, how slutty they were, how they'd perform in bed, what they'd do to them later that night in graphical detail, "I'm so getting laid" comments, and so on.

My wife translated everything into Czech for her friends. A lot of fun was had at both tables, the Czechs got more and more flirty as the Norwegians bought drinks, got bolder and became more and more certain they'd all actually get laid. After several hours, when the girls decided trather abruptly to end the evening, the Norwegian guys were a bit confused, as the girls all got so cold so quickly. Then my wife said, in Norwegian: "Nice meeting you guys, good luck", watched them all turn blood red, and left.



My friend's son knows fluent Spanish, but is white so when he brought his wife's mini van in to get it detailed the people cleaning it were all going on and on about how stupid and dirty this guy is and how he should make his kids clean the van instead. Then they went on about how cheap Americans are and they probably wouldn't even get a tip for all the hard work. When they were done he went right over to thank them, and let them know how much he appreciated the job they did and gave them a tip...all in Spanish so they knew he had heard every word they said. Edit: I probably should have mentioned that this was in Mexico right near the US border, so being white and a Spanish speaker was more unusual.



Was at a market in Thailand. Just as the stall owner is handing me my purchase, a tourist walks up and starts randomly educating me on bartering. I'd never met this person before, but they insist on showing me how it's done. So he's bargaining away and drives the owner down to about half price. With a smug look, he says "and that's how it's done."

I didn't have the heart to tell him I paid a tenth of what he did just by speaking politely using rudimentary Thai.



My family is Greek, however I have an aunt that lives in Germany. She was visiting Greece one time, and she went to the jewellery store with her husband, where they both spoke to the staff in English. They were looking at rings when my aunt wiped her nose in a tissue. One of the girls working there, thought she was trying to steal a ring and tells the other girl working there : I think she just put a ring in her tissue, keep an eye on her. My aunt turns to her and goes: I blew my nose, would you want me to show you my boogers??



My boyfriend and I went to Japan and stood out like the pair of hugely tall white folk we are. Literally no one expects foreigners to speak Japanese here btw. When just hanging out waiting to cross a street, a kid holding his mum's hand just stared at my 6 foot + boyfriend and said to his mum; "wow, foreigners are amazing aren't they?" We nearly died of laughter later, but there are tons of encounters like this. I only scare the pants off some of them though! Great fun! :)




I'm norwegian, but was in vacation in London, was on the way out the subway and waiting for a lift. Standing with my girlfriend, we overhear two girls behind me talking about me in Swedish (that I understood) and how hot I was and that they would definitely be down to bang if I asked. And how my girlfriend was not in my league and that I did not know how hot I was.

When the lift arrived, I turned around and thanked them (in norwegian) for the compliments, but that my girlfriend was far better looking than both of them.

They decide to not get on the lift with us.


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People Reveal The Weirdest Thing About Themselves

Reddit user Isitjustmedownhere asked: 'Give an example; how weird are you really?'

Let's get one thing straight: no one is normal. We're all weird in our own ways, and that is actually normal.

Of course, that doesn't mean we don't all have that one strange trait or quirk that outweighs all the other weirdness we possess.

For me, it's the fact that I'm almost 30 years old, and I still have an imaginary friend. Her name is Sarah, she has red hair and green eyes, and I strongly believe that, since I lived in India when I created her and there were no actual people with red hair around, she was based on Daphne Blake from Scooby-Doo.

I also didn't know the name Sarah when I created her, so that came later. I know she's not really there, hence the term 'imaginary friend,' but she's kind of always been around. We all have conversations in our heads; mine are with Sarah. She keeps me on task and efficient.

My mom thinks I'm crazy that I still have an imaginary friend, and writing about her like this makes me think I may actually be crazy, but I don't mind. As I said, we're all weird, and we all have that one trait that outweighs all the other weirdness.

Redditors know this all too well and are eager to share their weird traits.

It all started when Redditor Isitjustmedownhere asked:

"Give an example; how weird are you really?"

Monsters Under My Bed

"My bed doesn't touch any wall."

"Edit: I guess i should clarify im not rich."

– Practical_Eye_3600

"Gosh the monsters can get you from any angle then."

– bikergirlr7

"At first I thought this was a flex on how big your bedroom is, but then I realized you're just a psycho 😁"

– zenOFiniquity8

Can You See Why?

"I bought one of those super-powerful fans to dry a basement carpet. Afterwards, I realized that it can point straight up and that it would be amazing to use on myself post-shower. Now I squeegee my body with my hands, step out of the shower and get blasted by a wide jet of room-temp air. I barely use my towel at all. Wife thinks I'm weird."

– KingBooRadley


"In 1990 when I was 8 years old and bored on a field trip, I saw a black Oldsmobile Cutlass driving down the street on a hot day to where you could see that mirage like distortion from the heat on the road. I took a “snapshot” by blinking my eyes and told myself “I wonder how long I can remember this image” ….well."

– AquamarineCheetah

"Even before smartphones, I always take "snapshots" by blinking my eyes hoping I'll remember every detail so I can draw it when I get home. Unfortunately, I may have taken so much snapshots that I can no longer remember every detail I want to draw."

"Makes me think my "memory is full.""

– Reasonable-Pirate902

Same, Same

"I have eaten the same lunch every day for the past 4 years and I'm not bored yet."

– OhhGoood

"How f**king big was this lunch when you started?"

– notmyrealnam3

Not Sure Who Was Weirder

"Had a line cook that worked for us for 6 months never said much. My sous chef once told him with no context, "Baw wit da baw daw bang daw bang diggy diggy." The guy smiled, left, and never came back."

– Frostygrunt


"I pace around my house for hours listening to music imagining that I have done all the things I simply lack the brain capacity to do, or in some really bizarre scenarios, I can really get immersed in these imaginations sometimes I don't know if this is some form of schizophrenia or what."

– RandomSharinganUser

"I do the same exact thing, sometimes for hours. When I was young it would be a ridiculous amount of time and many years later it’s sort of trickled off into almost nothing (almost). It’s weird but I just thought it’s how my brain processes sh*t."

– Kolkeia

If Only

"Even as an adult I still think that if you are in a car that goes over a cliff; and right as you are about to hit the ground if you jump up you can avoid the damage and will land safely. I know I'm wrong. You shut up. I'm not crying."

– ShotCompetition2593

Pet Food

"As a kid I would snack on my dog's Milkbones."

– drummerskillit

"Haha, I have a clear memory of myself doing this as well. I was around 3 y/o. Needless to say no one was supervising me."

– Isitjustmedownhere

"When I was younger, one of my responsibilities was to feed the pet fish every day. Instead, I would hide under the futon in the spare bedroom and eat the fish food."

– -GateKeep-

My Favorite Subject

"I'm autistic and have always had a thing for insects. My neurotypical best friend and I used to hang out at this local bar to talk to girls, back in the late 90s. One time he claimed that my tendency to circle conversations back to insects was hurting my game. The next time we went to that bar (with a few other friends), he turned and said sternly "No talking about bugs. Or space, or statistics or other bullsh*t but mainly no bugs." I felt like he was losing his mind over nothing."

"It was summer, the bar had its windows open. Our group hit it off with a group of young ladies, We were all chatting and having a good time. I was talking to one of these girls, my buddy was behind her facing away from me talking to a few other people."

"A cloudless sulphur flies in and lands on little thing that holds coasters."

"Cue Jordan Peele sweating gif."

"The girl notices my tension, and asks if I am looking at the leaf. "Actually, that's a lepidoptera called..." I looked at the back of my friend's head, he wasn't looking, "I mean a butterfly..." I poked it and it spread its wings the girl says "oh that's a BUG?!" and I still remember my friend turning around slowly to look at me with chastisement. The ONE thing he told me not to do."

"I was 21, and was completely not aware that I already had a rep for being an oddball. It got worse from there."

– Phormicidae

*Teeth Chatter*

"I bite ice cream sometimes."


"That's how I am with popsicles. My wife shudders every single time."


Never Speak Of This

"I put ice in my milk."


"You should keep that kind of thing to yourself. Even when asked."

– We-R-Doomed

"There's some disturbing sh*t in this thread, but this one takes the cake."

– RatonaMuffin

More Than Super Hearing

"I can hear the television while it's on mute."

– Tira13e

"What does it say to you, child?"

– Mama_Skip


"I put mustard on my omelettes."

– Deleted User


– NotCrustOr-filling

Evened Up

"Whenever I say a word and feel like I used a half of my mouth more than the other half, I have to even it out by saying the word again using the other half of my mouth more. If I don't do it correctly, that can go on forever until I feel it's ok."

"I do it silently so I don't creep people out."

– LesPaltaX

"That sounds like a symptom of OCD (I have it myself). Some people with OCD feel like certain actions have to be balanced (like counting or making sure physical movements are even). You should find a therapist who specializes in OCD, because they can help you."

– MoonlightKayla

I totally have the same need for things to be balanced! Guess I'm weird and a little OCD!

Close up face of a woman in bed, staring into the camera
Photo by Jen Theodore

Experiencing death is a fascinating and frightening idea.

Who doesn't want to know what is waiting for us on the other side?

But so many of us want to know and then come back and live a little longer.

It would be so great to be sure there is something else.

But the whole dying part is not that great, so we'll have to rely on other people's accounts.

Redditor AlaskaStiletto wanted to hear from everyone who has returned to life, so they asked:

"Redditors who have 'died' and come back to life, what did you see?"


Happy Good Vibes GIF by Major League SoccerGiphy

"My dad's heart stopped when he had a heart attack and he had to be brought back to life. He kept the paper copy of the heart monitor which shows he flatlined. He said he felt an overwhelming sensation of peace, like nothing he had felt before."



"I had surgical complications in 2010 that caused a great deal of blood loss. As a result, I had extremely low blood pressure and could barely stay awake. I remember feeling like I was surrounded by loved ones who had passed. They were in a circle around me and I knew they were there to guide me onwards. I told them I was not ready to go because my kids needed me and I came back."

"My nurse later said she was afraid she’d find me dead every time she came into the room."

"It took months, and blood transfusions, but I recovered."


Take Me Back

"Overwhelming peace and happiness. A bright airy and floating feeling. I live a very stressful life. Imagine finding out the person you have had a crush on reveals they have the same feelings for you and then you win the lotto later that day - that was the feeling I had."

"I never feared death afterward and am relieved when I hear of people dying after suffering from an illness."



The Light Minnie GIF by (G)I-DLEGiphy

"I had a heart surgery with near-death experience, for me at least (well the possibility that those effects are caused by morphine is also there) I just saw black and nothing else but it was warm and I had such inner peace, its weird as I sometimes still think about it and wish this feeling of being so light and free again."


This is why I hate surgery.

You just never know.



"More of a near-death experience. I was electrocuted. I felt like I was in a deep hole looking straight up in the sky. My life flashed before me. Felt sad for my family, but I had a deep sense of peace."



"Nursing in the ICU, we’ve had people try to die on us many times during the years, some successfully. One guy stood out to me. His heart stopped. We called a code, are working on him, and suddenly he comes to. We hadn’t vented him yet, so he was able to talk, and he started screaming, 'Don’t let them take me, don’t let them take me, they are coming,' he was scared and yelling."

"Then he yelled a little more, as we tried to calm him down, he screamed, 'No, No,' and gestured towards the end of the bed, and died again. We didn’t get him back. It was seriously creepy. We called his son to tell him the news, and the son said basically, 'Good, he was an SOB.'”



"My sister died and said it was extremely peaceful. She said it was very loud like a train station and lots of talking and she was stuck in this area that was like a curtain with lots of beautiful colors (colors that you don’t see in real life according to her) a man told her 'He was sorry, but she had to go back as it wasn’t her time.'"


"I had a really similar experience except I was in an endless garden with flowers that were colors I had never seen before. It was quiet and peaceful and a woman in a dress looked at me, shook her head, and just said 'Not yet.' As I was coming back, it was extremely loud, like everyone in the world was trying to talk all at once. It was all very disorienting but it changed my perspective on life!"


The Fog

"I was in a gray fog with a girl who looked a lot like a young version of my grandmother (who was still alive) but dressed like a pioneer in the 1800s she didn't say anything but kept pulling me towards an opening in the wall. I kept refusing to go because I was so tired."

"I finally got tired of her nagging and went and that's when I came to. I had bled out during a c-section and my heart could not beat without blood. They had to deliver the baby and sew up the bleeders. refill me with blood before they could restart my heart so, like, at least 12 minutes gone."


Through the Walls

"My spouse was dead for a couple of minutes one miserable night. She maintains that she saw nothing, but only heard people talking about her like through a wall. The only thing she remembers for absolute certain was begging an ER nurse that she didn't want to die."

"She's quite alive and well today."


Well let's all be happy to be alive.

It seems to be all we have.

Man's waist line
Santhosh Vaithiyanathan/Unsplash

Trying to lose weight is a struggle understood by many people regardless of size.

The goal of reaching a healthy weight may seem unattainable, but with diet and exercise, it can pay off through persistence and discipline.

Seeing the pounds gradually drop off can also be a great motivator and incentivize people to stay the course.

Those who've achieved their respective weight goals shared their experiences when Redditor apprenti8455 asked:

"People who lost a lot of weight, what surprises you the most now?"

Redditors didn't see these coming.

Shiver Me Timbers

"I’m always cold now!"

– Telrom_1

"I had a coworker lose over 130 pounds five or six years ago. I’ve never seen him without a jacket on since."

– r7ndom

"140 lbs lost here starting just before COVID, I feel like that little old lady that's always cold, damn this top comment was on point lmao."

– mr_remy

Drawing Concern

"I lost 100 pounds over a year and a half but since I’m old(70’s) it seems few people comment on it because (I think) they think I’m wasting away from some terminal illness."

– dee-fondy

"Congrats on the weight loss! It’s honestly a real accomplishment 🙂"

"Working in oncology, I can never comment on someone’s weight loss unless I specifically know it was on purpose, regardless of their age. I think it kind of ruffles feathers at times, but like I don’t want to congratulate someone for having cancer or something. It’s a weird place to be in."

– LizardofDeath

Unleashing Insults

"I remember when I lost the first big chunk of weight (around 50 lbs) it was like it gave some people license to talk sh*t about the 'old' me. Old coworkers, friends, made a lot of not just negative, but harsh comments about what I used to look like. One person I met after the big loss saw a picture of me prior and said, 'Wow, we wouldn’t even be friends!'”

"It wasn’t extremely common, but I was a little alarmed by some of the attention. My weight has been up and down since then, but every time I gain a little it gets me a little down thinking about those things people said."

– alanamablamaspama

Not Everything Goes After Losing Weight

"The loose skin is a bit unexpected."

– KeltarCentauri

"I haven’t experienced it myself, but surgery to remove skin takes a long time to recover. Longer than bariatric surgery and usually isn’t covered by insurance unless you have both."

– KatMagic1977

"It definitely does take a long time to recover. My Dad dropped a little over 200 pounds a few years back and decided to go through with skin removal surgery to deal with the excess. His procedure was extensive, as in he had skin taken from just about every part of his body excluding his head, and he went through hell for weeks in recovery, and he was bedridden for a lot of it."

– Jaew96

These Redditors shared their pleasantly surprising experiences.


"I can buy clothes in any store I want."

– WaySavvyD

"When I lost weight I was dying to go find cute, smaller clothes and I really struggled. As someone who had always been restricted to one or two stores that catered to plus-sized clothing, a full mall of shops with items in my size was daunting. Too many options and not enough knowledge of brands that were good vs cheap. I usually went home pretty frustrated."

– ganache98012

No More Symptoms

"Lost about 80 pounds in the past year and a half, biggest thing that I’ve noticed that I haven’t seen mentioned on here yet is my acid reflux and heartburn are basically gone. I used to be popping tums every couple hours and now they just sit in the medicine cabinet collecting dust."

– colleennicole93

Expanding Capabilities

"I'm all for not judging people by their appearance and I recognise that there are unhealthy, unachievable beauty standards, but one thing that is undeniable is that I can just do stuff now. Just stamina and flexibility alone are worth it, appearance is tertiary at best."

– Ramblonius

People Change Their Tune

"How much nicer people are to you."

"My feet weren't 'wide' they were 'fat.'"

– LiZZygsu

"Have to agree. Lost 220 lbs, people make eye contact and hold open doors and stuff"

"And on the foot thing, I also lost a full shoe size numerically and also wear regular width now 😅"

– awholedamngarden

It's gonna take some getting used to.

Bones Everywhere

"Having bones. Collarbones, wrist bones, knee bones, hip bones, ribs. I have so many bones sticking out everywhere and it’s weird as hell."

– Princess-Pancake-97

"I noticed the shadow of my ribs the other day and it threw me, there’s a whole skeleton in here."

– bekastrange

Knee Pillow

"Right?! And they’re so … pointy! Now I get why people sleep with pillows between their legs - the knee bones laying on top of each other (side sleeper here) is weird and jarring."

– snic2030

"I lost only 40 pounds within the last year or so. I’m struggling to relate to most of these comments as I feel like I just 'slimmed down' rather than dropped a ton. But wow, the pillow between the knees at night. YES! I can relate to this. I think a lot of my weight was in my thighs. I never needed to do this up until recently."

– Strongbad23

More Mobility

"I’ve lost 100 lbs since 2020. It’s a collection of little things that surprise me. For at least 10 years I couldn’t put on socks, or tie my shoes. I couldn’t bend over and pick something up. I couldn’t climb a ladder to fix something. Simple things like that I can do now that fascinate me."

"Edit: Some additional little things are sitting in a chair with arms, sitting in a booth in a restaurant, being able to shop in a normal store AND not needing to buy the biggest size there, being able to easily wipe my butt, and looking down and being able to see my penis."

– dma1965

People making significant changes, whether for mental or physical health, can surely find a newfound perspective on life.

But they can also discover different issues they never saw coming.

That being said, overcoming any challenge in life is laudable, especially if it leads to gaining confidence and ditching insecurities.