The other day I went to the supermarket to buy ingredients to make sushi. It was a couple of minutes before closing, and instead of searching the aisles for the rice, I thought it would be faster to ask. I walked up to an attendent and said, "excuse me, where can I find the rice."
she responded with a blank look. "what?" she said.
"um, do you know where the rice is?" I replied.
Again, she stared at me blankly, this time with a bit of panic. "what?" she said.
I was beginning to feel a bit desperate. Rice is a fairly simple word, and I couldn't think of any other way to say it. I tried agian, slowly, and as clearly as possible: "RICE."
Again, she looked at me blankly. "I don't know what you're saying."
Feeling very foolish, I tried to describe it. "Um, it's white, and you eat it in a bowl, with chopsticks" I mimed eating a bowl of rice, hoping no one else in the store was watching. I hadn't expected to have to do this in an English speaking country.
"Oh, RICE" she said, pronouncing it more like "Ray-uce" "I don't know where that is."