You Want WHAT Kind of Latte!?

A slip of the tongue is when you accidentally say a word that is similar to what you meant to say but is not right. This often happens when speaking very quickly or when you are overly excited. Most of the time you quickly realize you misspoke and then repeat yourself so that you can be clearly understood.

Now, when speaking a second language, slips of the tongue are quite common as you try to get used to pronouncing new words, if you don’t quite remember the word you are trying to say, or you simply get mixed up. I am no different than anyone else and have had some pretty funny mistakes when speaking Japanese in my everyday life. I was at a cafe years ago when I went to the counter to order a “To-nyu latte” (豆乳ラテ) but for whatever reason I said 「To-nyo-byo latte(糖尿病ラテ)をお願いします」. The barista just stared at me trying her best to understand what I was trying to order. I realized my mistake, turned bright red, ordered properly, and quickly paid for my intended drink so I could get out of there as fast as possible.

Looking back, I was so embarrassed at the time, but now this is one of my favorite stories to share with students who feel too scared of making a mistake to speak English with a foreign coworker or while traveling. Slips of the tongue happen and usually you remember the mistake you made much more than the listener does.