Simple Expressions in Your Language Can Baffle Non-Native Speakers

Another translator sent the following story to a mailing list I subscribe to:

Here is a conversation a man from China once told me he had:

Call center person: “Can you give me your credit card number, please?”

Man: “I can.”

Call center person: “Well, I can’t process this without a credit card number. Are you sure you can’t give me one?”

Man: “I can.”

Call center person: “You can only pay for this by credit card. Do you have a credit card? Can you give me the number?”

Man: “I can.”

The call center person still misunderstands, so he gives the phone to an American friend:

Call center person: “Does he have a credit card number you can give me?”

Friend: “Sure!”

Problem solved.

A great example of how an expression we casually use every day in our native language can cause great problems for non-native speakers.

E© Jon Johanning 2014