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Experience Survey: Where you did/did not need to know the language

Experience Survey: Where you did/did not need to know the language

Nov 11th, 2000, 10:51 AM
  #41  
Gytha
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Hi, Everyone in Amsterdam speaks English very well, so luckily you don't have to attempt the language which seems to involve a few funny gutteral sounds! It would be helpful to know Dutch to read the signs though - it was hard trying to find our way around the city.
When I went to Barcelona I wished I had learnt more Spanish, though I did get by quite well with the little that I knew. Don't try to speak in French when you're there, they don't like it! My boss tried to ask the receptionist at the hotel for our luggage and I'm sure by the look on the receptionists face that she had understood what had been said but she pretended she hadn't. Mind you, it did mean that I could get one up on my boss when I asked in what I hoped was the correct phrase in Spanish and got an instant reply and our luggage!
 
Nov 11th, 2000, 04:06 PM
  #42  
ehowell
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My mom and I got lost in France. Speaking very little French we were able to get direction to our hotel by asking in Spainish. Between spainish and english we got back to our group with no problems. My was our big problems. We carried travlers checks and had a very hard time cashing them. Next time all credit and ATM's.
 
Nov 12th, 2000, 06:18 PM
  #43  
American
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top
 
Nov 13th, 2000, 05:35 AM
  #44  
bob
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Safety wise, in the Czech Repub (Prague/etc), Budapest you wont have much of a problem without lang skills. I would advise you to have some local language skills (or better yet, a local themself) if you're going anywhere in Russia, Poland, or any former Russian republic. Best advice I can give is dont linger too long in any of the train stations.
 
Nov 13th, 2000, 01:49 PM
  #45  
cmt
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one of my two favorite threads, and therefore one of my reasons for checking this site even when I don't have a question pending
 
Nov 17th, 2000, 05:57 PM
  #46  
topsy
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Back to the top!
 
Nov 17th, 2000, 07:03 PM
  #47  
van
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OK, I'll bite. We were 2 days in Italy and shopping for Sciacchetra in Monterosso. We wandered into a great little enoteca and ran into an exuberant converstation between the Italian owner of the shop, a Frenchman with some expertise in wines, and a surrounding crowd of tourists and locals, none of whom spoke enough English to explain to us the subtle characteristics of the vino rosso we were all sampling. The Italian owner launched into a cross-language joke centering around the barrika (sp??), a small cask, and my friend (with an adequate background in German and French) proceeded to try to relay the French guy's comments, while I tried to decipher the Italian from my phrasebook. Before long the whole shop was in the act. It turned into the funniest and warmest moment of a long, wonderful trip and knowing the languages had nothing to do with the conviviality that ensued. We bought the wine but I won't be able to appreciate it unless I'm in a room where no one speaks English. Viva la difference in Cinque Terre.
 
Nov 18th, 2000, 12:01 PM
  #48  
julie
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The most difficult place we have been, language wise, is Austuria and Galicia in the north of Spain. They are not as accustomed to tourists and since some places we visited were even more remote, we found our limited Spanish not quite good enough. They speak a language definiately related to Spanish,but also unique to them. But we did manage, and were treated with great respect and hospitality. I think, if you can only learn one language, make it Spanish, as much of the known world speaks or understands it.
 
Nov 20th, 2000, 10:53 AM
  #49  
Crash Test
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We toured Sweden in November 1999. Our travel guide assured us that virtually everyone under the age of about 50 speaks fluent English. We found that in all the hotels they spoke excellent English, and in better restaurants. In stores, fast food restaurants and small restaurants not associated with the hotels we encountered a number of people who spoke little or no English, and many of them were well under 50. In most of those cases, though, they did promptly call for someone who spoke English to assist us. So, I would not say it is essential to know Swedish. You should be sure you understand their road/traffic signs, however, before you embark on an automobile tour.
 
Nov 24th, 2000, 08:26 AM
  #50  
More?
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top
 
Dec 15th, 2000, 08:10 PM
  #51  
topsy again
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You are welcome to contribute....
 
Dec 16th, 2000, 08:43 AM
  #52  
Sue
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In Italy I have great success making up the language (sort of a combo between French and Spanish). Drawback: they understand me, but most of the time when they answer back I haven't a clue.

Sometimes you just have to plunge in. We were traveling couchettes on the train and it was morning. We all would be more comfortable if the bunk beds were turned into seats. So I asked the Austrian conductor: Canst sie sitz platz machen? (totally invented). He just grinned and folded up the beds.

At a restaurant in Salzburg there was a long word with karotten in the middle. I asked the waiter about it, wondering what kind of carrots it was. He replied, "It's, you know, what Bugs Bunny eats."

Like herself above, I am embarrassed to say I have an impossible time in England. So glad I have my husband along as a translator.

 
Dec 23rd, 2000, 06:28 PM
  #53  
curious
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Top, top, top
 
Dec 24th, 2000, 07:52 AM
  #54  
Brenda
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Went to Croatia and had absolutely no problems with English. The people were very friendly and tried their best to help. All the younger people know English there because they are required to learn it in school as a child. Most know German and Italian as well. In addition, Croatian is very similar to the Czech language so I noticed all the Czech tourists could just talk in Czech and the Croatians communicated back in Croatian and they understood each other perfectly.

The only time you could have a problem is being in some tiny village and all there are are little old ladies there.
 
Dec 25th, 2000, 06:21 AM
  #55  
???
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Tell us another story, someone.
 
Jan 5th, 2001, 11:40 AM
  #56  
arjay
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Lost in Scotland, we asked a local at a petrol station for directions. He launched into a long recitation -- and though I nodded enthusiastically throughout, neither my spouse or I understood one word of his burr-rich English, so we continued to rocket about the Scottish countryside a good deal longer.
 
Jan 6th, 2001, 02:21 AM
  #57  
Alby
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Things have changed a lot in Europe vis a vis language. In the seventies when I was there and there as still a black market for U.S. blue jeans in France, almost no one I encountered spoke English and we communicated with my trifling French and their trifling English.
In the nineties when I lived there, most French had a piddling to very good knowledge of English, but many hesitated to use it for nationalistic reasons.
Now, English has become the international language without any rival, just as the USA, for better or for worse, has become the dominant culture. It's a good thing for there to be an international language. It might as well be English, but it's unfortunate that one of the major reason for this (other than U.S. economic clout) is that U.S. education sucks in the languages.
All that to say that in my constant travels around the world I see less or no irritation among my contacts with switching to English. I used to need to use my French maybe a quarter of the time. That's pretty well changed to the point where I'm afraid I'll lose my French ability. Bottom line: use English. If they can't use it, walk over to the next store. They will!
 
Jan 14th, 2001, 07:39 PM
  #58  
topsy
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Fred or Barry, this may interest you.
 
Jan 14th, 2001, 08:09 PM
  #59  
oops
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here it is
 
Jan 15th, 2001, 02:08 AM
  #60  
Paige
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In the Netherlands, you don't need to know the language. They speak better English than a lot of Americans!
One time in Paris we went into a bakery and in my best French, I painfully ordered a few things. The sales clerk didn't catch what I said so I repeated myself, all the while feeling very self conscious of my attempts to speak her language. After my 2nd attempt, she responded, "Is that for here or to go?" Geez!!
 

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