Express reader Rosemary Gillam is always up for a challenge when it comes to learning some of the local language – and her rewards are wonderful real life experiences around the world…
“Some of the places that I have had the good fortune to visit so far I have had fun looking up the common words needed to get by on the internet. I already knew hello and goodbye in French when I visited New Caledonia on my first overseas trip. I found it very difficult to order a salad in the native quarter of Noumea, pointing to the menu at the item I was trying to buy finally got a smile form the proprietor and a plate of asparagus for lunch. I guess this must have been what I was asking for in such bad French that there was no comprehension until my finger did the talking.
Bulla was the word required for my next trip. I learnt this before I went to the Fiji Tourist Board in Sydney. This opening gambit helped me get a ton of information on local attractions that would not normally have been supplied. Every where I went on that trip and a subsequent one I usually got a big grin and a very loud bulla vinaka in response.
“Travelling with my parents, they’ve always impressed upon me respect for other cultures and how learning some words in their language can be fun and show respect.
So – at age 11 – I learnt ‘calimera’ meant good morning in Greek, for when we were travelling through some of the islands there.
So one morning, I walked along a beach at the front of our hotel, picking up shells and nodding my head at passers-by and calling them ‘squid’ (calamari) instead. *nod* Squid! *nod* Squid!
To this day I love learning bits and pieces of the language when we travel – I love seeing people’s faces light up in delight that you have taken the time and care.” Kirsten Jackes, Intrepid Express reader.
We’ve all done it – felt confident trying out a few local words, only to end up with hot sauce instead of mild or a one-way ticket when we wanted round trip. But that’s all part of the fun, as Express reader Ewa Malinowska explains…
“This is a story of a friend whom I was traveling with in Poland. In Polish water is ‘woda’, and vodka is ‘wodka’ – the extra ‘k’ turns the word ‘water’ into an endearing term. During our travels, I taught my friend many words and phrases, and one day he decided to do the breakfast ‘shopping’ by himself.
At first glance Russian looks like the most impossible language to pronounce. There are lots of Cyrillic letters that appear strange to English speakers, like the ones that look like backwards ‘R’ and ‘N’ and the letter that resembles a spider.
In most languages the easiest word of all to say is “hello”, but in Russian even when the word is written in latin letters it still looks intimidating: zdravstvuyte! Don’t let that put you off – Russia and Russian might seem tricky at first, but as Intrepid’s Tara Kennaway explains, you’ll get the hang of it and then there’s so much to enjoy…
“Travelling on the Russia and Beyond trip, our Russian leader Masha helped us to get our minds and tongues around a few of the basics. Her technique for teaching us to read the Cyrillic alphabet had our train carriage attendant a bit nonplussed however – she used a whiteboard marker to write on the train windows! By the time we had crossed into Siberia I thought I was doing pretty well. That was until I asked the name of the little village where we would be staying on Lake Baikal. Instead of answering she wrote it and had us try to read it out loud: Bolshoye Goloustnoye.
With its heritage of British occupation, Intrepid’s Melissa Cannon never expected Sri Lanka to have such difficult-to-pronounce place names – but how wrong she was…
“The first challenge I encountered on our Circle Sri Lanka trip was at Panduwasnuwara, a ruined palace we explored en route to the fort of Yapahuwa, where the lion perched at the top of the ornamental staircase features on the 10 rupee note.
Tongue-twisting names such as Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and the ancient fortress of Sigiriya are some of the ancient city ruins that comprise Sri Lanka’s cultural triangle.
In a country where our pronunciation and tone of the word “ma” could mean we are saying mother, hemp, horse or even swearing, it’s no wonder we try to speak Mandarin in China with some trepidation. But giving it a go is all part of the fun and as Intrepid’s Rachel Wasser knows well, when all else fails, laughs prevail…
“One of the cities we visit on our Silk Road trip from Beijing to Kashgar, through the Xinjiang province in northwest China, is called Jiayuguan. Travellers in my groups often find it hard to get their tongues around this name. I don’t know if people can’t say Jiayuguan, or find it difficult to remember, but I pride myself on my Mandarin pronunciation skills and still when I say it to a local, they have no idea what I am talking about!