Top ten (+1) – vocabulary for travellers
When you’re travelling, it’s an advantage to have some knowledge of the language of your host country. Of course, if you travel a lot to many different destinations, you can’t be expected to speak every language.
However, you may consider learning just a few words – they make all the difference. You show an interest in the culture, and a humble attitude gives you an advantage over the arrogance of assuming (and expecting) that everybody speaks English.
If you are travelling with kids, all the better. Kids love learning strange new words, and they enjoy the feeling of success when the words actually seem to “work”.
So here are some suggestions for basic vocabulary – online dictionaries or google translate or, even better, native speakers on the spot will help you find the equivalent in the language you want:
1. Thank you
4. My name is…
5. I’m from… (country)
10. I’m sorry, I don’t speak… (language)
If you don’t have time to learn all of them, you should at least try number 1. It’s the key word. As a traveller, you’re bound to get into situations where you can use it. You show you’re making an effort and you’ll most certainly get an extra smile.
If you pronounce number 10 reasonably well, you may get a lengthy answer in the native tongue. Just smile and repeat your sentence – if possible, adding the word for “really”.
You may want to extend the list with the word for “exit”. Many years ago, a Swedish friend of mine travelled to Germany with a few classmates. They checked into a small hotel and went Kneipe-crawling. They couldn’t remember the address of the hotel, so they struggled finding their way back. “Fortunately, I remember the name of the hotel, because I read the sign over the door when we went out,” one of the classmates said, and he started asking passers-by for directions to “Hotel Ausgang” – Hotel Exit.