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Old 06-04-2010, 10:01 AM
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I agree that many people think they speak a language when in fact they do not. I have heard people saying "I speak a little whatever" but they cannot say more than "hi" and "goodbye", literally. In this case, it does not help.

That said, "the 2 years of French" help tremendously. Few people travel and start discussing very complicated topics, and other than the phrases mentioned before on this thread the 2 years of French do allow someone who is relatively interested in languages to have a nice conversation. Also, it helps tremendously in reading maps, signs, listening to an announcement, etc.

I do not see how knowing a language, even the 2 year course, cannot be an advantage to anyone.

About speaking Spanish/Portuguese as mentioned before, or any languages that belong to the same group... I think first and foremost, traveling to a country without even knowing what language is spoken there is simply unthinkable. At least learn a few facts (language spoken, the very least you should know, hello?!) before you go, be a pleasant traveler, for Heaven's sake.

I have never traveled without learning a few phrases and I always buy a quick dictionary (small booklets with key words/phrases). No matter how busy I am, I have many hours in the plane to study that very well. And people are appreciative you are trying to speak their language, they genuinely are.

I think it is a case-by-case thing. People get insulted when you speak another language supposing that is their language, but if you clearly say something like "I am sorry, I know this is not your language, but this is the closest knowledge to your language I have and you don't speak mine" I am sure 99% of locals will be nice to you.

All in all, it really depends on the traveler's attitude.
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Old 06-04-2010, 10:30 AM
Location: Houston, Tx
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Originally Posted by Miaiam View Post
Has your knowledge of any language ever helped you significantly during a trip? Also, has the lack of knowledge made your trip more difficult?
My basic to intermediate knowledge of Japanese and Mandarin helped me a lot. For one thing, almost no one speaks English in Japan once you get away from the big hotels. By being able to get by in the business hotels you can save 50% or more on the price of a room compared to a typical hotel a tourist stays at. It's also really good for meeting girls. I met my wife in Guangzhou, China.
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by MAK802 View Post
My friend was born and recently moved back to Portugal to be closer to his family. He speaks both Portuguese and Spanish, and he said most people there do as well. I'm talking to him on FB chat and asked him if he'd be offended if someone started speaking Spanish to him, and he said absolutely not, at least they're trying. While they're not the same language, you'll find that most in Portugal (just like in Brazil) speak both fluently. Europeans don't get insulted over silly little things like people attempting to speak their language, that's crazy!
I can't remember where I got that from, I think by talking to some of the Portuguese, maybe my European co-workers I deal with. It's partly a historical grevencies thing and partly pride - and Oh HELL YEAH they DO get insulted by those silly things (ask a typical englishman what he thinks about the french). The logic being that, "hey we are this proud little country that is seperate from Spain, dont' forget that, so don't come here speaking spanish, we are not Spain." I think they have problems with the Spanish tourists perhaps, and are happy to attempt to converse in Spanish with non-spanish citizens.
But I am sure, when we mention anticdotes, "mileage may vary".
I've been to Brazil as well and I don't think they have those historical or ego issues. Spanish will get your through, but it's still not the same language. I was actually suprised how guttural, German sounding, the Porguguese language was.

Last edited by Dd714; 06-04-2010 at 11:19 AM..
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Old 06-04-2010, 11:15 AM
12,352 posts, read 18,454,883 times
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Originally Posted by slackjaw View Post
I don't follow your logic Dd714.

If someone took two years of French so can only speak at a fairly rudimentary level, how in earth is this not a plus? .
It is a plus. My post was poorly written and not well clarified, and my ideas did not get across. Too late to edit.
What I meant to say is many go over to Europe thinking they know a language, and find that they know nothing but the basics. Any language skills are a plus.
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