Off the Language Hook


Here We Come

Here We Come

I fly to London tomorrow afternoon, where I’m meeting my sister. Then to Paris, and then Lyon. It is the day before my holiday. So if you know me, you know I am eagerly preparing by packing and making lists.

My To-Do list is in sections (special occasion). There’s things to do, things to clean, things to buy, things to download, things to email, and things to write in my notebook before I leave.

Yes, I am a dork.

One of those things to download is a basic French phrase guide. Just some basic phrases that will relate to the French my need for directions, a toilet, or inquire about how much that baguette will cost to shove in my face.

But in general, I am not terribly concerned about learning the language. It’s sort of language free travel for me.

OK, aside from prepositions, idioms, and the complete inability to say something directly, British English is the same as American English. So there’s no language barrier there. But I do need to make a mental note about pudding.

I have been to France several times and speak nothing close to what could be called “French.” Whenever I attempt a phrase in (my horrible) French, I either get a strained smile or a look of abject disgust. But that’s OK, because my sister speaks very good French. So, for once, I am off the linguistic hook.

I have been in the Czech Republic for a long time, and in that time I have had probably 30 visitors. And every time someone visits, it’s the same. All of the language responsibilities are on me. And for good reason. Czech is not exactly a common foreign language for Americans or Brits to have a passable knowledge of, and I have been here a long time, so assuming I speak some semblance of the language is reasonable.

And while I do speak the language to a somewhat reasonable degree, it’s sometimes stressful always being the translator, the organizer, and the speaker.

This is especially so if you are walking around a city with my parents or siblings. See, my family has a way of making the language aspect of any trip far more adventurous than it should normally be.

My brother conceived the idea of taking pantless pictures in Český Krumlov and so I had to ask a waitress if that would be a problem. Can we take a picture without pants? She informed me afterwards that I had actually mispronounced pants, so instead I had asked if we could take a picture without, I swear to Dog, cocks.

Though my parents are not the pantless tourist type, they have their own way of making travel linguistically arduous. They simply have a way of finding things to interact about. My mother makes random comments to random strangers, which are then up to me to convey. My father has an almost pathological need to learn everything about and everything that has ever happened to a waitress. Language barriers do not inhibit these instincts. And so instead of simply ordering cabs or explaining that the sauce should be on the side, I spend a lot of time asking waitresses how to spell the name of their family dog and telling perfect strangers why they shouldn’t go in the Sex Museum.

But not this week.

This week those things will be up to my sister, Julia. And I plan on taking full advantage. I am going to satisfy the Galeone instinct for random discussions and odd questions for waitresses. I guess in London we’ll both do it as long as it doesn’t involve prepositions or directness. And we’ll keep our pants on, probably.

But maybe I should make a new section on my To-Do list:

Things to ask random strangers

  1. #1 by Assignment Help & Writing on September 1, 2016 - 3:46 pm

    keep up the superb work dear.

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