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foreign languages

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When my mom(who is of german decent) would rush me for something(like getting dressed for school), she would say something like "Hurry up, you're gonna be late for school! Schnell, schnell!!"(which means "quickly". I thought she was saying "smell", so everytime she said that, i would smell my arm. I didn't know what she was really saying until i was 10.

Johanna
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In first grade I believed that I was from Mexico because I could count to ten in Spanish.

Lara Roy
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I used to think that every state in America spoke a different language and California (where I was living at the time) was the only one that spoke English.

Camille Noire
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i used to believe that american was an enitrely different language than english. I'm from wales and speak both english and welsh, and i always assumed that this was because england is right next to wales, and the language had kind of "leaked". When i was 10 (i can hear you laughing) a boy from the U.S. came to my school. Everyone thought his accent was totally cool and i said "wow, you already speak perfect english. can you teach me some american?"

bethan
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I used to believe that cursive handwriting was French. After all, the French are so sophisticated, and it made sense that their writing would look fancier than plain American (print) writing. However, when I finally learned how to read cursive, I was disappointed that the words weren't different.

Francophile
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I used to believe that musical notes were a different language. Like Chinese or Japanese a language with characters I could not understand. So I would always ask people to read music to me thinking it would be an actual story.

Alissa
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As a child, I believed that foreign languages were just random babble, like baby-talk, that some adults spoke in because they had never learned to speak properly. I remember feeling sorry for them, never learning such basic stuff. I figured that maybe they were just "mentally challenged" or something. It always confused me, then, that they seemed to understand each other perfectly. Maybe they had telepathy or something to compensate for their defective speech patterns. I thought that this sounded pretty cool, and envied them in this aspect. I was an odd kid.

Confused about foreigners
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When I was ten we were in NJ visiting family and my cousin taught me pig Latin. I thought it was so cool! I later told my Mom that I wished we'd never moved from NJ because they got to learn a foreign language in grade school. When I told her what that language was, she said, "Pig Latin isn't a REAL language." and started laughing hysterically. I'd been feeling very superior to my Ohio friends and was very disappointed to learn the truth.

Jennifer
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When i was very young I thought words in other language are just encoded and you have to know what letter stands for what letter.

Like "hallo" in German means "hello" so in every German word a is replaced by e in English

Lee
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When I was in second grade the teacher asked everybody if they knew a foreign language. Having learned both French and Japanese as foreign languages but not knowing there was any difference between them, I spoke up and said I knew French and proceeded to count in Japanese. The teacher, who actually knew French said it was a lie, disregarded me and it hurts me to this day.

Hallie
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When I was like 4 or 5, I loved those Sesame Street movies where Big Bird visits other countries. I really liked learning Japanese words in "Big Bird in Japan", but unfortunately almost all the words they focused on sounded exactly like English words: "hai" (yes) sounds like "hi", "ohayou" (good morning) sounds like "Ohio", and "ichi, ni, san" (one, two, three), sounds like "itchy, knee, sun." Because of this, I thought for a time that Japanese, and probably other languages besides English, had all the same words as English, but the meanings were just switched around.

Amanda
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I used to believe that "Hazchem" was a German word meaning "danger" (hence the signs up at factories etc).

I was 21 before I figured out, all by myself at least, that it was an abbreviation for "hazardous chemicals".

Christina
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When I was little I found out from someone that the name we call countries is not what they call themselves. Being the smart little bastard I was I started correcting everyone when they said the english version of a countries name. The only problem was that I was telling people "No, its not called Germany, its called doucheland!"

Noone corrected me until I was in middle school...

Rob
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I used to believe that before a baby learns to speak English, the baby is actually speaking a foreign language, and it's parents can't understand it because they don't know that language. When a baby is born in another country where people don't speak English, the baby speaks English at first and it's parents have to teach it the other language.
I thought that parents who spoke English should just swap their baby with a baby from another country so they would be able to understand what their baby is saying.

Sarah
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When i was about seven i invented my own language and said it ws from the planet Barbie (i loved dolls) I imagined this pink planet with craters everywhere and i told people that where i was from. I only remember one phrase from the Barbie language, Acaribada meaning "Where's my football" I dont know why i added that phrase to my language, i never liked football....

Mary
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When I was around 11, I started to teach myself Japanese. So, once when I was reading a manga I came across a scene in which a character is waiting to cross the street and the light changes to green--the character notes that it has turned green. However, in Japanese, the word used to refer to the green of traffic lights is "ao" which is usually the word for blue. So, I thought that in Japan, what are our 'green' traffic lights were actually blue! It wasn't until about a year later that it occurred to me that "blue" can sometimes mean "green". (And when I visited Japan six years later, I took special note of the green lights and laughed at myself again.)

Anon
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When I was little I used to think that everyone in the whole world spoke English. No matter what. So whenever I heard someone speak another language I would always wonder why they would go through the trouble of thinking in English and then speaking a whole different language.

Anon
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I knew a boy in first grade who didn't think people from England spoke English. As best I can figure it, he figured that accents qualified as other languages.

Anon
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I used to believe that people had a special in-ear translator that converted the language they were hearing into English, so they could understand it.

Sibyana
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When I was five, everytime I played "karate" with my little brother we would always speak in mock-Chinese. We really thought that was how they speak it. So on the first day of school I was delighted to find a Chinese person in my class. I went up to him and started speaking in mock-Chinese. This went on for days and I thought I was making progress - until it came to a point where he was so fed up that he just walked away and ignored me for the rest of the year.

Ray T.
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