“When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
– Clifton Fadiman
A few words about learning a few words of a foreign language…
Have you ever noticed how tourists sometimes talk MUCH louder and/or S-L-O-W-E-R in hopes of being understood? I always feel uneasy about this. Talking to someone like they are a three-year old won’t improve the communication. However, learning a few words or phrases in their language works magic!
I know this comes as a shock to many but everyone doesn’t speak English! Especially when you get into more rural or small villages, you will find very little English spoken. Certainly English is the predominant second language in many countries, but expecting everyone to understand you is, in my opinion, a bit arrogant. It brings up stereotypes of the “ugly American”… ugh!
Whether you have an affinity for languages or not, just trying basic greetings and phrases will evoke smiles and pleasure.
Start with five: hello, please, thank you, where (is) and good-bye.
They will gladly meet you half way and help you with your pronunciation. With a smile, a few simple words and phrases, and a lot of hand gestures, somehow we communicate. Your efforts will be appreciated. A new connection is made.
Help is here! Now, most travel guides have several pages in the back of handy foreign language phrases. Take it with you. Worst case, point to it! There are all kinds of books, CD’s, and online courses and sources galore to help you out. Plus you can get translation apps that even say it for you on your smart phones!
Really there’s no excuse for not making an effort, is there?
Send Me a Postcard! Just click on the “stamp” or comment below.
What are your thoughts on this? Please share!