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Off topic: Things people ask you because you are (Brazilian, etc)
Thread poster: Nesrin

Nesrin  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 03:01
English to Arabic
+ ...
Oct 10, 2010

A Brazilian friend posted these cartoons on their Facebook
about things people ask you because you are Brazilian.
I guess Brazil is one of the countries that most suffer from preconceived ideas, and having lived there for a couple of years I share the author's frustration. But I guess people have similar preconceptions and fixed ideas about other nations.

As an Egyptian, here are some of the questions you get asked:
Can you belly dance? (if you're a woman)
How do you say [this] in "Egyptian"?
Are you allowed to wear trousers/ t-shirts etc (again, if you're a woman)
How often have you been to the pyramids?

When I was little, in schools abroad, it was a lot worse. My young German friends had all the right questions:
Do you live in a tent/ a pyramid?
Do you go to school on a camel?
Do you speak hieroglyphic? and so on...

Thank God that doesn't happen so much now! Except for the likes of the yoga teacher, who said that sitting cross-legged on the floor doesn't come easy for everyone, but should be quite simple for me, since that is how we sit all the time?

So, just for fun this Sunday afternoon, what ort of funny/ infuriating questions do you get asked because of your nationality?


Simone Linke  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Member (2009)
English to German
+ ...
For Germans Oct 10, 2010

Typical question / assumption for Germans: "So, you like David Hasselhoff, huh?" *chuckle*


Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
Assumption about English people Oct 10, 2010

On a rainy day in Spain:
"I suppose you don't mind the rain because you're used to it"
(I've only lived in Spain for 25 yearsicon_smile.gif)


Local time: 04:01
French to Dutch
+ ...
For Dutch people Oct 10, 2010

"Can you translate this for me into English? You Dutch people are sooo good in foreign languages".icon_smile.gif

nice post Oct 10, 2010

Thanks for sharing this.

I can confirm that I have been asked the same questions posted on the blog plus:

"You speak Brazilian, right?" - no, Brazilian is not a language...we speak Portuguese.

"Why are you guys so good at football?" - I have no might be because people think that football is the only way out of poverty. I would say it is just cultural

"You guys speak Spanish also, right"

"Brazilian...Hola, como estás?" - that is Spanish man, not Portuguese! =)

These were just some of the questions, but I guess that there are a lot more.

Have a nice weekend!

Raphael G Correia


nordiste  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
English to French
+ ...
All French people live in Paris, drink wine and eat frogs... Oct 10, 2010

As a French (girl) student in Eastern Europe some years ago I got my share of smart remarks about fashion (Paris !) , Folies Bergères/Cabaret/Moulin Rouge and the likes ...

Since I was mainly wearing jeans/t-shirts and no make-up, some were even suspicious that I was not genuine French ...


Steve Booth  Identity Verified
Local time: 03:01
Member (2007)
English to Arabic
+ ...
I remember Oct 10, 2010

years ago when i was in the military i was one of a few brit guys on a camp full of US soldiers. One of the guys stopped me and asked whether we were British. Which i though a bit strange as the uniforms gave it away but i resisted the temptation to make a sarcastic comment. (it was actually quite a common question)

When I said we were British his next question was do you know Depeche Mode? (google them if you don't know who they are )

I denied knowing them personally and he refused to believe me saying you must know them they are from London that's near England isn't it.

Had a few other similar occurrences before we left that camp.

Also not relevant to nationality but similar sort of thing still when I was in the military if i ever went anywhere and somebody found out i was in the Army I would always get the question oh really do you know such and such he is in the army? The best ones were those with a surname that had a particular nickname like smith. When asked you could answer do you mean Smudge smith and their faces would light up and they would say yes thats the one, to which you would reply. No Never met him!

[Edited at 2010-10-10 15:13 GMT]


Jan Willem van Dormolen  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
English to Dutch
+ ...
Also Dutch... Oct 10, 2010

NMR wrote:

"Can you translate this for me into English? You Dutch people are sooo good in foreign languages".icon_smile.gif

How come you're not wearing wooden shoes?

Have you met Hans Brinker? (Not really, as he's a character from an American book that's hardly known in my country)

Windmills come up regularly too. In soccer minded countries Cruyff, but never with the correct spelling and pronunciation. He stopped playing 30 years ago, BTW...

It's not just countries, BTW. For me personally, I tend to avoid naming the town I grew up, because a famous novel in Dutch is called 'Back to XXX'. So people will think themselves very funny asking me if I ever go back there. Also, the novel is about an orthodox christian family, about the only orthodox family that ever lived in that town, but people will look at me in amazement and ask me how I ever strayed so far away from the flock.


Alison Sabedoria  Identity Verified
Member (2009)
French to English
+ ...
Things I've been asked in France: Oct 10, 2010

- What's it like living in all that fog?
- Are all Brits scared of being poisoned by wild mushrooms?
- Why doesn't the queen abdicate?
- Why do the British need the grape variety on a wine label?
- Is there any good cheese in England?
- What do the English like so much about old houses?
- Why do British and American novels need such garish covers?

And, believe me, I have done nothing to dispel the myth (?!) of English eccentricity!

In Taiwan many years ago, saying that I was from Birmingham was met by blank stares, but I soon discovered that I was welcomed with broad smiles when I said that I lived somewhere between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion. icon_smile.gif

[Edited at 2010-10-10 16:06 GMT]


Emma Goldsmith  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Member (2010)
Spanish to English
lol Oct 10, 2010

Wordeffect wrote:

In Taiwan many years ago, saying that I was from Birmingham was met by blank stares, but I soon discovered that I was welcomed with broad smiles when I said that I lived somewhere between Aston Villa and West Bromwich Albion.



Heinrich Pesch  Identity Verified
Local time: 05:01
Member (2003)
Finnish to German
+ ...
Good I didn't ask about Samba Oct 10, 2010

This summer in a restaurant at the table next to me sat a woman who had been living for 40 years in Brazil. We chatted a bit about the food, but fortunately I didn't ask her if she could teach me samba.
After all it is so awfully easy to fall into stereotypes with new people.



texjax DDS PhD  Identity Verified
Local time: 22:01
Member (2006)
English to Italian
+ ...
Italian living in the US Oct 10, 2010

The following are the 3 most frequent questions I've been asked in the past 9 years:

#1 - Do you eat pasta with every meal? icon_smile.gif

#2 - Do you eat pasta with every meal? icon_mad.gif

#3 - Ah, you are from Italy! Do you speak Italian? icon_confused.gif

Now I know why thy keep asking #3: Here every soul with a drop of Italian blood in the veins call himself "Italian", but still...

Brief anecdote:
Not long ago I met this woman with an Italian surname so I asked her where the name came from, and she told me that her husband was Italian.
"Really?" I said "Where is he from?"
And the lady replied, as if it was the most natural thing to say "He's from Canada".



Anna Spanoudaki-Thurm  Identity Verified
Local time: 04:01
Member (2009)
German to Greek
+ ...
Greece Oct 10, 2010

My favorites:
- Do you still use the greek alphabet? Yes? Poor children! The latin one is much easier to learn! (a thousand times!)
- Do you have telephone/computers?
- Do you believe in the 12 Gods? -No. -Why?

I have spent hours trying to convince authorities in Germany that Greece belongs to the EU.

... and I treasure the following experiences, although they do not have to do with stereotypes but with ignorance where you least expect it...
In Frankfurt airport I almost missed a flight to the US, because a (US) controller insisted that I required a Visum and a german residence permit. He thought I came from some country of the eastern block, otherwise "could I please explain, why the letters on my passport are russian?".

After a nightmare, 2.5 days long trip to Osaka (including a tree falling on my train from Cologne to Frankfurt Airport, resulting to my missing my flight and other nice incidents) I spent three hours at the immigration police department of Osaka airport, because they did not know what this "Greece" was. I tried to explain: "you know... Europe... Mediterranean... Italy (pointing left)... Turkey (pointing right) .... Greece! (pointing in the middle)".
I was released and managed to get the last train from the airport to the city after having the inspiration to use history instead of geography: "Greeeeeece.... Aristoteles!... Socrates!... ". I felt like hitting my head againist the wall, when the officer smiled widely and said: "Aaaaaaa!!! Gleeece! I have been on vacation there! Crete! Santorini!"


Angie Garbarino  Identity Verified
Member (2003)
French to Italian
+ ...
Oh but this is true... Oct 10, 2010

NMR wrote:

"You Dutch people are sooo good in foreign languages".icon_smile.gif
Isn't it?icon_wink.gif


Nicky La Touche
Local time: 04:01
Italian to English
+ ...
Rhetorical questions I get asked because I am British Oct 10, 2010

After years and years of living in Italy, I still get asked the following questions to which no one really expects an answer:

Isn't English food disgusting?
Italian cuisine is the best in the world, isn't it?
And, as you whizz along the Italian roads at the wheel of your Alfa Romeo, is it difficult driving on the right?

As well as standard questions like the above, there are standard statements such as:

There are no mountains in Britain.
British people don't know how to cook.

.... you can add more yourselves!


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