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When in Rome: Lessons in Language

By Alphonso

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Picture yourself as a tourist in another country. Rather, allow me to paint you a picture. A tourist from another country visits an english speaking country and needs simple directions to their hotel. The exchange between them and that local can be quite unpleasant and uninviting if basic phrases aren’t understood. As native english speakers, we sometimes expect travelers to speak or understand basic english simply because we do.

Because I grew up in Europe and was fortunate enough to learn quite a few languages, I am empathetic to the sensitivities of language and associated barriers. Do I urge you to crack open a quick pocket translator before you embark on your next trip? Absolutely. I’m not advocating fluency in 7 languages, but learning basic communication can go a long way.

 

Words or phrases that I suggest?

1. Do you speak English?
2. My name is _____________.
3. Can you speak slowly?
4. Where can I find a bus/taxi?
5. Where can I find a train/metro?
6. Can you take me to the airport please?
7. How much does this cost?
8. Do you take credit cards?
9. Where is the nearest bathroom?
10. Where can I get something to eat?
11. Can you show me on a map how to get there?
12. Will you write that down for me?
13. I need help.
14. I’m lost.
15. I am an American citizen.
16. Please call the American Embassy.
17. Please call the police.
18. I need a doctor.
19. My blood type is ______.
20. I’m allergic to _______.

More personable phrases include some of the following:

1. “Please”,
2. “Thank you very much”,
3. “Good Morning/Day/Evening”
4. “Excuse/Pardon Me”

Things to remember:

When you travel abroad, it is wise to be prepared for anything that may occur. You may need to ask for general assistance, request price information, directions, and locations for food and transportation. You may also need to be able to communicate in an emergency and notify people of your medical condition as well as any special needs you or your companions may have.

As a highly recommended alternative, there are many great pocket translators or phrasebooks that you can carry with you (and will make your life 1000x easier).

When in Rome…do as the Romans do.

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Alphonso

I'm a creative director living in Atlanta. Formally trained at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Architecture, and currently pursuing with a M.F.A in Graphic Design at SCAD. When not a designer of things, you can find me at your nearest international airport traveling the highways of the sky. And oh yeh, I'm a pretty decent jumper.

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