It's always a good rule of thumb to be cautious when trash-talking someone because there's no way of knowing who is around. Speaking in a different language sometimes does not make a difference, because there's a lingering chance the person also knows that language. When they hear what's been said about them, the results are never pretty.
Bilinguals on Reddit share the revenge they took on someone who trash-talked them. Content has been edited for clarity.
"My French was much better in high school/college than it is now. I was also lucky enough to have a fluent friend who taught me all the dirty words they won’t tell you in school. It served me well when my family and I were at Disney World one year. I was wearing a short dress on the day we went to Epcot. In the France pavilion gift shop, some French staff (young people who came over from France for work/cultural exchange) were looking at me and commenting loudly about my appearance.
Only they spoke in French, assuming the dumb American didn’t understand. Stuff along the lines of, 'Look at that dress,' Oh my god, what a disgusting person.' So I told their manager what I’d heard. The poor woman was so embarrassed.
While I walked out of the shop with armloads of expensive products the manager had showered on me and the family for free, the gossipy staff got absolutely screamed at by their mortified boss."
"So my grandma and I lot of bad blood (she harassed my mom and so I called her out on that), so she has made it a goal to convince my entire family that I’m autistic. She and the rest of my family live in India, but I’ve lived in America most of my life.
When I was visiting, she and my distant aunt saw me attempting to talk in broken Hindi to a taxi driver. So, took that opportunity to try and convince her of my 'mental illness' in my traditional language, Gujarati. I speak that language fluently, but people just assume I’m uncultured trash who can’t.
I then go up to her and tell both of them the story of how my grandma nearly killed my neighbor’s dog in perfect Gujarati. We haven’t spoken since, and we were in the same house for a month after that incident."
"I work and travel around Europe, well I move country every two or three years to keep things fresh. I have been in England, Germany, Holland, France, Portugal, Poland, and usually learn how to speak the language at a pretty good level.
Anyway, while in Portugal I had to wait in line at the doctor's for a quick l4 form as I was sick and off work.
Had this elderly couple behind me completely berate the heck out of me, stating I had no right to be in front of them as I'm a foreigner, and that us foreigners are ruining the country and economy (I was talking in English to my girlfriend who was in line with me, which is why they got so angry).
After 25 minutes of waiting, I turned around and thanked them for their words. The pure look of horror probably gave her more reason to see a doctor due to how flushed she looked."
"Shortly after moving to the US after spending most of my childhood in Germany, I was at a museum in Chicago on a family trip and helping my mom walk my youngest sister down a flight of stairs. The stairs were pretty big and steep, and my sister was about three at the time. To help her walk down, my mom was holding one hand and I was holding the other so my sister could take the steps one by one. Behind us was a Germany University class and the professor was directly on my heels, answering questions that his students were asking.
Apparently, despite having plenty of room to pass us on the left, the professor was none too pleased to be walking down the stairs slowly. He was obviously unsympathetic that these steps may be difficult for a small child, because he sighed and muttered to the student next to him, 'Americans are such freaking neanderthals.'
I don't know if my mom heard him, but I certainly did. So I turned my head and whispered back, 'You're a freaking neanderthal.' I didn't stop to look at his reaction, because I didn't want my mom to catch me swearing especially if she hadn't heard what the professor said.
I'm pretty sure he heard me though since both he and the student walking directly next to him were dead silent for the rest of the stairs. To this day, I wonder if my mom heard one or both of us and chose to ignore us or if she missed the brief exchange entirely since she has never mentioned it."
"I was at a meetup where people can practice either Spanish or French with other learners or natives. Usually, there's a table for each; I tend to go to the Spanish table to practice, though I do try to practice French from time to time. On this particular night, there weren't that many Spanish speakers. Eventually, I was the only one left, so I decided to go to the French table to practice. But it just so happened that the person I sat next to was a native Spanish speaker, so I ended up continuing practicing my Spanish.
Another guy who was sitting next to him seemed annoyed that we were speaking Spanish at the French table, so he ended up relocating to the other side. At some point, I heard him made a comment in French--which I couldn't really hear clearly--that was quickly followed by laughter. I looked in his direction, caught him looking straight at me, and deduced that he must've said something about me. I shrugged it off and kept talking to my guy in Spanish.
At some point, a girl sat by us and tried to strike a conversation. She wanted to practice French, so I obliged. Now, I'm nowhere near fluent in French, but I can hold a decent conversation, and people have told me my accent is pretty good. We talked for a bit and then she excused herself to go to the bathroom. But on her way, she stopped by the guy who I saw made a comment earlier and whispered something in his ear. Then followed this horrified look on his face as he looked straight at me.
Now I don't know what that girl said, but I can only imagine that she told him that I actually 'spoke' French, and he subsequently realized that I must've understood whatever biting thing he had said earlier. Of course, I actually didn't, but I'm glad to have had the upper hand at that moment."
"I learned just enough Mandarin from watching Chinese movies that I recognized a phrase being spoken at the local Chinese restaurant where the server at the counter called out to the cooks outback, 'Make sure this annoying girl gets extra shrimp!' after a customer made a point of complaining there wasn't enough shrimp in her last order.
I chortled a bit, and the server looked at me wide-eyed, so I just winked at her since I couldn't say anything back at all.
I never got stiffed on the shrimp in my food either."
"My grandparents are Ecuadorian, and they've spent a lot of years in Canada so they know English pretty well. My grandfather does maintenance work as a little side hustle when he's not basking in retirement in Ecuador.
So when he and my grandmother went to do a job at a house fixing a jingling, the owners spoke in English saying 'I don't trust these two, they look like thieves. Keep an eye on them and make sure they don't steal anything.'
That's when my grandmother broke out in perfect English that they were just gonna leave because that was incredibly disrespectful. The owners definitely looked embarrassed."
"My mom speaks almost exclusively English but can understand a fair amount of Cantonese and can read a few common characters.
We were in an almost deserted but very large Chinese restaurant in a neighborhood we are familiar with but don’t frequent. The food is decent but we didn’t finish so my mom asks for some takeout boxes to pack up the food. The waitress comes back with two tiny boxes that were obviously not enough for the amount we had leftover. There were giant stacks of these boxes on the back wall near the kitchen so my mom asks for a few of the larger ones. The waitress kinda rolls her eyes, leaves, and grabs a few of those and a plastic bag. She puts them on the table and immediately starts squawking to one of the other waitresses sitting a few tables away from us folding won ton.
My mom leans over and says that the one yelling is telling the other to charge us for the boxes, and says we're terrible customers. Sure enough, the angry one comes back with the bill and mom sees a 10 cent charge for each box amongst the scribbled out Chinese characters. She then calmly, but firmly says, 'I heard what you said. I will not be paying you for the boxes, I will not leave a tip, and we will never come back.'
She put cash on the table for the exact amount, minus the charge for the boxes, we got up and left.
The look on the waitress’ face was priceless, as though she had been caught accidentally confessing to murder. I never thought of my mom as a cool mom, but I definitely thought she was that day."
"I was at a camp in the US a few years ago, and some French kid was talking a lot of trash about my country (Dominican Republic) in front of me. Since I'm able to understand a bit of French, I just looked him straight in the eye and told him 'You really said all that in front of me thinking I wouldn't understand?'
His face went pale and he simply stood there like an idiot. One of the most satisfying things ever."
"I worked at a front desk at a hotel in the United States. I'm Latino, but have green eyes and pale so I don't look like I am. A Mexican family came to check in, and they start speaking English so I speak English back. They are trying to check into a room for four adults with four adults and three kids.
As I am telling them they need to get a second room, they start talking trash about me in Spanish, saying I was a horrible person for not letting them put seven people in a room of four.
I snapped and told them I was not being horrible or rude in any way, but they were being cheap so book it or lose it. They went quiet and booked the second room."
"I was raised in Cumbria, England. So our accent is pretty heavy. We moved to the Netherlands when I was 11, so my brother and sister picked up the language pretty quickly. Whilst we were on a skiing holiday, we heard some Dutch people going on about how horrible everything was.
We always talk English to each other but of course, we were following everything they were saying. It didn't take long for them to turn on us by saying that our accent sounded like our father and mother must be ugly and terrible to look at. They got the shock of their life when I responded in perfect Dutch with 'Well at least we don’t look nearly as horrible as the two of you.'
I have never seen such loud people go silent that fast in my life."
"I was with my wife (I'm bilingual Arab, she's bilingual Latina), brother-in-law, and teen son in a restaurant in Turkey. Of course, you could find tons of Arabs hidden under any rock there. The thing is, I apparently am Latino by association. So nobody ever asks me if I'm an Arab.
My fault family was chattering away in rapid-fire Spanglish, and I was sitting there quietly just nodding my head or chuckling if they said something funny.
Then the restaurant played some song where my wife was like, 'Ooh I love this song,' and she started to dance a bit in her seat.
Behind me, I heard a guy say to another in Arabic, 'Oh look at that lady's big butt.' Laughed and proceeded with the smack talk.
I immediately exploded.
I turned around and looked at the two men and told them politely (So my family wouldn't notice) in Arabic, 'Don't make me come over there with the boys and tear you two apart. Have some respect you filthy dogs.'
Their jaws dropped and one of them stammered a fake apology of, 'We didn't know you're Arab, wallah!'
To which I replied still smiling, 'Eat dirt, don't let me catch you outside.'
After we left my wife asked me, 'I felt that you were going to kill those men. You said a couple of bad words. I understood those. Everything ok?'
I just smiled and told her, 'They're just morons don't worry about it. Plus I don't have a murderous streak like you people. I'm a pacifist.'
She laughed and replied, 'I love it when you're jealous. You should've picked up the steak knife though, what were you going to do with a teaspoon?'"
"I'm not fluent in German but I know enough to get by in most cases.
So I was working at the local airport as a ramp employee, fueling airplanes, and other random tasks. We had a Twin Cessna come in, and we were dispatched to fuel him. So, I was in the cart at the time and was there first, and overheard the pilot and passengers speaking in German. Standard pleasantries, the pilot explained he was stationed in Germany and so on and so forth. I interrupted in English to get their fuel load, and my coworker and I went to work.
For the life of me, I don't entirely remember what we did to set this pilot off, but he started telling his passengers in German that we were both idiots and clearly didn't know what we were doing and other less than pleasant things (For reference, both my coworker and I are pilots, my coworker just passing his instructor ride a few days prior).
So I took the liberty of doing the final fuel receipt for the pilot, and in German told him that we heard everything he said, and asked if he had a problem. There might have been some implication on my part that If he didn't at least apologize, I would inform my much scarier looking coworker (who honestly wouldn't hurt a fly, dude was a former cop and still had the build) of what he said.
So yeah, to watch the blood drain from the dude's face was pretty freaking priceless. That he would happen to run into another German speaker far from any major German population areas. The added tip and apology didn't hurt either."
"I was working Loss Prevention in a predominately Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Caught two teenage boys shoplifting and brought them back to the office for processing with my partner. These kids spoke English just fine but would talk to each other in Spanish
So in Spanish, they come up with a plan; one will say their parents are in New York and are not available, and the other can have one of their sisters come in and say that she is the mother.
They also started talking about other items they had on them that we were unaware they had taken. My partner was absolutely 1,000% fluent in Spanish and just let them keep talking basically digging their own hole.
Once they were done he spun around and said "'he sister plan will not work, we are going to need each of you to have a parent come in before we release you or we involve the cops, which we have absolute justification to do seeing as how those other items you have put this into a Felony charge,' in clear English and then asks them 'Anything else you want to talk about?' in fluid Spanish.
I had to contain myself from jumping up and yelling, 'BOO-YEAH YOU LITTLE BRATS.'
It was an awesome moment."
"So just a little background for you:
In India, there's a major white complex. It's a huge inferiority complex that one feels to those who are white. Basically, even after the British left and we had our independence, the vast majority of the population still views the average white person as superior. They'll stare, admire, try and imitate, emulate, and lust after the white man and / or woman.
This being said, there are lots of average Indians who will try to take advantage of any foreigner. It's just the way they're made.
Now I'm an Indian, but I look like I could be a foreigner, and the fact that my English is far ahead of my Hindi (or any of the other Indian languages) with a slightly polished accent that isn't very Indian-English, I get mistaken a lot for a foreigner.
I live in a part of Bombay that is relatively a hot-spot for tourists, and lots of ex-pats also settle here. So I get loads of people trying to take advantage of me.
One beautiful time was when I was walking home from the gym, and a cyclist saw me, stopped, stared for a minute, and walked over and in the best accent he could come up with (think the Indian dude from the Great Gatsby) says, 'HELLO GOOD EVENING CHAP! I CAN SHOW YOU WHERE YOU GOING.'
Now I have a warped sense of humor, and I wanted to see if the guy was actually trying to be helpful or not, so I replied politely saying thank you, but I know my way around.
He replies saying, 'OH OK, VERY GOOD. YOU ARE SMART! YOU KNOW, I LIKE YOU! I TELL YOU A SECRET TRICK IF YOU USE DEBIT CARD.'
Now, this is the point where his son (I guess he must've been about 12 years old) asks him what he's doing, and he briskly replied (in Hindi), 'Shut up, smile, and let him take his card out, I'll hold out his card while talking to him, slyly write the number on your hand, I'll get the code from the back of the card, and I'll buy you a present with this idiot's money.'
I'm smiling and trying to look as blissfully ignorant as I can, and I feign interest in all that he's telling me after this. After a few random lines about how I should be careful, and how people take advantage of a single person traveling from abroad to India and their card information, he says, 'SHOW YOUR CARD, I WILL TELL YOU IF YOU ARE SAFE OR NO', and mumbles to his son in Hindi, 'Get ready, we have to be quick and not let him notice we're getting the number.'
As I pretend to look around for my card, he says to his son in Hindi, 'This guy looks as stupid as that guy from Monday,' and that's when I lost my cool.
I grabbed him by the collar (took him totally by surprise), pushed him up against the wall of the building where we're standing, and growled at him in Hindi, "This is the way you try and use your half-brain to scam foreigners?! You don't know who you just messed with, I'm about to slap you so hard your dead mother is going to feel it!'
At this point, the look on his face is just too good to forget, and he totally starts peeing himself (not literally) and fumbling for words. His son totally freaked out and just stood there frozen. I kept my grip on this dude's collar with one hand pinning him to the wall so he couldn't run and took a photo of his license (name and address on it). I then explained to him that I'd be sharing this photo of my uncle (who has since passed away but at the time was very high up in the Crime Branch) and that if any foreigner got ripped off in the area, we'd come after him.
Obviously, I wasn't actually going to do anything like that. I wasn't even furious, just putting on more of a show, but I wanted to put that fear into not only his head but his son's. There isn't much you can do to change the mind of a 40yr old, but a kid is impressionable.
He has the chance to put his head down, study, go to college, and make something of himself rather than follow in the footsteps of his low-life petty-scammer-father."
"The majority of my family is deaf - both parents and two of my siblings. Obviously, I am fluent in sign language (ASL, to be precise), and when I speak it I don't use my voice at all.
When I was about 14ish, we were at the mall with a few of my siblings' deaf friends. I was the only deaf one in this group. My siblings and my mom don't use their voices at all, but my father does when he gets excited about something, and the deaf friends also used their voices while signing.
We were walking down the hall, chattering away. Then a big group of teenage boys came up behind us, then started loudly mocking the deaf noises and then came around in front of us doing the classic'stupid' motion of slapping their hands against their chests. They were also loudly saying ridiculously lewd things about myself, my sister, and two of her friends. We had stopped for a moment to chat, so the boys went to the other side of the hall and continued to catcall and mock.
Their comments and motions made me angrier and angrier and I went up to them. The boys got more and more confident as I approached though, elbowing each other and grinning.
I smiled, and said softly 'Hi boys,' they all blanched and smiles fell. I continued starting out with a sweet voice and getting angrier by the sentence. 'Just curious, who the heck do you think you are? Do you think you're funny? Do you think it's hilarious to call deaf people stupid? HOW about taking your REMEDIAL SUMMER SCHOOL BUTTS back to wherever you came from?!'
I left them there; they were frozen for a few minutes before walking away as fast as they could."