Collecting humorous stories

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Luke Zimmermann
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:58 am
Location: UAE

Collecting humorous stories

Post by Luke Zimmermann » Sat Jun 16, 2007 3:31 am

Over the last 10 years I have been collecting anecdotes and examples of mistakes non-native speakers have made in the process of learning and using English as a second language. It keeps me sane during the sometimes endless marking sessions.

Would you like to share your funny stories? here are some examples of Arabish I collected in the Middle East:

If we don’t recycle paper, the trees will despair. (disappear)

Studies have to be started to see where the poverty is. Then, it helps unrich people to run small businesses.

My favorite hobby is drowning. I liked drowning when I was a child.

New Zeland is an island that is located in the specific ocean.

And an anecdote at a hairdresser in the Middle East: Arab speakers tend to use the word ‘too’ instead of ‘very’, in fact, the same as speakers from South America. “I love my family too much.” They don’t realise that the word ‘too’ has a negative meaning. It is more than you want or are comfortable with. An employer decided to check a reference on the resume of an applicant and phoned the previous employer. When she asked about the applicant’s performance in the previous job, she was told: “She is too good. I like her too much.” One day I went to a hairdresser. He was Syrian and spoke very little English, so it was difficult to explain how I wanted to have my hair cut. He did the sides with number 3 clippers and then changed it to a number 4. Before I could say anything he had started cutting the top of my hair with the clippers, and it was too short for my liking. However, it was also too late to change it, so I just let it go. At the end he asked me: “You like?” I replied: “No, I don’t like it. It’s too short.” Undisturbed he said: “Yes too short, very good.” He then charged me too much for the haircut, so I never went back.

I hope you enjoyed these and would like to share your stories.

Luke Zimmermann

Posts: 143
Joined: Mon May 31, 2004 11:05 am
Location: SE Asia

Post by emile » Tue Jun 19, 2007 1:00 am

"It's terrible to meet you"

-That wasn't in class, I heard this in real life!

"We can help you to distress your employees"

-From a brochure, the company was offering relaxation classes

"May I sh*t here?"


Clare James ELT
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun Dec 16, 2007 10:27 pm

Funny learner errors

Post by Clare James ELT » Sun Jan 27, 2008 11:40 am

I was quite surprised by a very polite Japanese student of mine. He wanted to leave the class early and when I asked him why, he announced ' I am going, b*tch'. I worked out afterwards that he was off to the beach.

The same student, living in Portsmouth, had picked up what he thought was an nice idiomatic greeting and asked people 'How do you mate?' Eventually I persuaded him that 'How are you mate?' and 'How do you do?' didn't really go together well.

Still, I've done worse things when speaking French or Italian.

Posts: 16
Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 6:06 pm
Location: Czech Republic

English proverbs

Post by JeremyintheCzechRep » Tue Jun 10, 2008 3:23 pm

Asked to write a short text to illustrate an English proverb, one Egyptian student wrote about the difficulties he had meeting girls. But, on a Thursday afternoon, if you're lucky, under the tree next to the chemistry department there are sometimes some girls sitting there and you can talk to them. Which just goes to show: Where there's a willy, there's a way.


Luke Zimmermann
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jan 18, 2007 10:58 am
Location: UAE

Post by Luke Zimmermann » Wed Dec 31, 2008 3:04 am

Cool stories. Thanks.

Here's another one with spelling errors and can be used to show students why spell checks are not full-proof. I live in the UAE where spelling is a major challenge. In the introduction to an essay on the conservation of water, one wrote: "Water is a problem in the UAE because there is always a lake of water." (lack of). In the same essay six points were made: "Firstly, secondly, ....and Sexily".

These examples are great to use in class to get a point accross. Be sure to do it in a way so you don't embarrass anyone. Your main aim is to help your students to avoid making the same mistakes and avoid embarrassment.

For more ideas and examples, there's an article in the Modern English Teacher of October 08.

Posts: 111
Joined: Tue Oct 18, 2005 9:32 am
Location: Bangkok, Thailand

Post by Brian » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:49 am

Here in Bangkok, there are comedy errors to be read everywhere.

For example, I've seen a menu offering 'crap soup' (crab soup)

Posts: 21
Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 5:19 am

Funny stories

Post by Danielprice » Thu Aug 19, 2010 5:40 am


Are you looking for funny short stories?

Try this:

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