In just the last week, I’ve been involved in two separate mix-ups using the words food and foot.
In the first instance, my friend and I were heading to a bar she recommended. On the list of positives about the place was what I heard as baby food. When I obviously had no idea what she was talking about, or why you would want baby food in a bar, we discussed it further, which included some amusing miming. It turns out that baby-foot is what they call table football, or foosball, in France (and other places). I learned something new.
In the second instance, I taught a Business English class where I introduced the phrase to eat your own dog food. This is predominantly used in the IT industry, and is used when a company uses its own product in-house, before the latest version is released to the public. The practice of dogfooding has its benefits and drawbacks. Anyway, after the class, which told the story of the dog food company whose advertising campaign led to the phrase, I received some homework which repeatedly used the term dogfooting. I can’t work out what she thinks eating your own dog foot involves, but it doesn’t sound fun. Maybe it’s putting your foot in your mouth, but even worse?
I’m not sure whether the problem is with the interchangeable /d/ and /t/ sounds, the long and short versions of oo, or some combination of the two. I know with the first example, it was probably a combination of mispronunciation and my trying to hear a phrase that sounded familiar (but didn’t make sense). Just looking at the two words, you would think they would rhyme, but they don’t. It’s no wonder non-native speakers get confused.