Sunday, February 17, 2008

Whadda ya say?


If you are traveling for two weeks or less to any country other than one which habla’s, parla’s, or vorbeste’s your own native language, I have found that there really are only a few phrases that you need to get around:

Please” and “Thank you” like your mama taught you.
Kudasi and Domo arrigato, or Bitte and Danke, or Va rog and Multumesc.

Where is the …? You can usually just substitute the English which at least 37% of the time will be close enough. (Pharmacy, train, hotel, police station.)
Waar is die…? or On és…? or Unde este…? (Faracia, tren, hotel, politia)

How much does this cost?
Ka'ma zeh ole' or Cât costa?

Do you have a room for the night?
Hast due ein zimmer, bitte fer ein nacht? or Are o camera, va rog pentru o noapte?

And “Excuse me.
Pardon or scuzati-ma

I’m pretty sure that I’ve done 11 or 12 countries successfully on just these.

Couple that with my “getting directions” philosophy you can get around just about anywhere. What? Oh. Sorry. Sure. You go up to anyone friendly-looking and apparently unarmed on the street and say in your best Tagalong or Hindi, “Excuse me, where is the…train station?” And who cares what they say. Almost without exception, they point. Aha. So walk a few blocks in the direction they pointed, and stop the next friendly native and ask the question again. If they point in the same direction, keep going. If they point in a different direction, turn that way. Keep repeating this procedure till you catch sight of the big, dark building with the clock, empty taxi's and dudes in red or blue uniforms without holsters, pushing trolleys! It may take some time, but what the hey, you’re a tourist, right? Time to look around the city is exactly what you have.

If, however, you are planning to spend more time than that abroad, I strongly suggest that you look up a few other handy phrases, none of which I’ve looked up for you: (Hey, did your other teachers do all your homework for you?)

What’re you, NUTS?!

For that much, I could buy three camels and your mother-in-law!

I ‘m lost. Could you please give me directions that won’t take me through a band of children begging for my money?

Hey, exactly what’s in this? And why does it taste so funny?

How much is that in real money? Gallons? Time? Weight? Temperature? Length? (This one is primarily American)

Can you tell me how to get to the Embassy without having to go through all those irate, uzi equipped citizens?

Pour me another one and make it a double!

Could you stop laughing at my clothes long enough to help me change this tire?

Don’t confuse the word “tourist” with “can’t count to ten” in your money.

(Am ne voi de ajutor! – that one I know in Romanian.)

That should keep your safe on your journey till the next lesson. You’re welcome.

Buon viaggio!

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Writer's Bloc by
Shelly Roberts is licensed under a
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