So, I've made a few Chinese language blunders in the past 9 months.
I told a female Chinese colleague in Chinese, "I like your shirt. It's very yellow."
When met with a shocked look and no other response, I mentally reviewed my statement. Finding nothing wrong with the tones or words, I said again, "I like yellow. Your shirt is a pretty color."
Once again, a surprised look, but this time, accompanied by an "Oh. Thank you."
Uncertain of my mistake, I continued up the stairs to teach my class, putting the whole incident behind me and forgetting it for the time being . . .
Monday morning. An American coworker comes to me in the hallway.
Coworker: I need to talk to you. You have to be very careful in the way that you use the word "yellow" with a Chinese woman.
Me: Okay . . .
Coworker: Yes. Chinese colleague said that you liked that her shirt was yellow.
Me: Yes, I did. (Uncertain of where this is going)
Coworker: She wanted me to tell you in China, evidently using the word "yellow" to refer to something about a woman means she is perverse and involved in some questionable activities including, but not limited to, pornography.
Me: shocked silence
Coworker: She figured you didn't mean that, though.
Me: (more silence) Yellow!? Are you serious?
O, language blunders. How fun you are in retrospect - not so while you are happening.