A slip-of-the-tongue while speaking another language - or even our own come to that.
Usually it's both amusing and perhaps a little embarrassing; a quick smile and a laugh will make light of it though.
But sometimes there's maybe something more...er...significant about the mistake...as though subcosnciously we're really thinking what has inadvertently just come out of our mouths.
Take the case of the French prime minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, during his two-day trip to Germany this week.
He came out with a gaffe that could be...well revealing?
|Jean-Marc Ayrault (screenshot TF1 clip)|
The so-called two powers of the European Union - well at least the Euro - seem to have been dancing the unprettiest of jigs around one another, at least since François Hollande became president of this country.
To the rescue comes Ayrault, a former German teacher, ergo fluent in the language and well capable of reading out a prepared statement (yawn) in German in front of the invited entrepreneurs.
Because he clearly either couldn't read his own handwriting or actually wanted to say what he did when he substituted the word "fructbar" (literally "fruitful" or "productive") with "furchtbar" ("terrible" or "awful") in describing how he wanted the discussion and exchange of ideas with the German chancellor Angela Merkel to proceed.
He didn't even bother correcting himself!
Er M. Ayrault, a word of advice perhaps.
Stick to French the next time and let the interpreters do their work.