Well, I did it--I made my first really awful Hebrew flub today.
First off, a little background. (Of course.) As I may have mentioned, this is a shmitta year, which means that Jews may not sow, plant, or otherwise work the land. This also means that Jews may not eat any produce of the land, which, as we understand it, refers to land in Israel that is owned by Jews.
So what does one do, practically speaking, when one wishes to, say, purchase a potato? One can do a few things. One can buy a potato from outside Israel. One can buy a potato from last year's crop. One can buy a potato that was grown on an elevated platform, or hydroponically, off the land. (Are there such things as hydroponic potatoes? I know they do tomatoes...) One can buy fruit that grew on its own, but that comes with its own set of complicated issues. Or one can buy produce grown by a non-Jew--in Hebrew, a nachri.
In Ramat Beit Shemesh, the produce store has two signs under every bin of produce: what kind of produce it is, and what its shmitta status is. So you might see, "Carrots--outside the land," or "Oranges--sixth year." Got that? Good.
Today, I wanted to buy grapes. I saw the sign that said "grapes," but no corresponding sign informing the prospective purchaser of their shmitta status. So I asked the store's owner. What I meant to ask, of course, was, "Were these grapes grown by non-Jews?" I probably should have kept it simple and just asked, "Zeh nachri?" which he would have understood as, "Is this nachri?" But no. I had to get ambitious. I went up to the owner and asked, politely, "Ha'anavim nachriim?" "Are these grapes non-Jews?"
As soon as it was out of my mouth, I realized--but if I hadn't, the owner's reaction (highly amused) would have tipped me right off.