Questions tagged [language-barrier]

For questions concerning little or no knowledge of the local language.

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93
votes
3answers
20k views

What is a polite way to tell a Scottish person that I am struggling to understand his/her accent?

I am flying to Glasgow tomorrow. English isn't my mother tongue. In spite of living in London for the last 10 years, I still struggle with understanding different accents. My main concern about the ...
80
votes
9answers
6k views

How do you avoid "tourist traps" when traveling to a country where you do not speak the language?

Too many easily accessible restaurants and attractions cater heavily to tourists, and, in doing so, create an environment that they feel will be comfortable to people from other cultures. Spending ...
61
votes
10answers
23k views

Is it rude to speak Swedish in Norway?

I speak Swedish quite well, but my active Norwegian is very basic, although I can understand most of it if I concentrate. I'm aware Norwegians can usually/always understand Swedish. I'm told ...
60
votes
9answers
8k views

What exactly is a marshrutka (маршрутка)?

Hеllo аll, Recently I was in Nizhny Novgorod (Нижний Новгород). I spoke with some Russians and they told me that there are two types of buses in Nizhny Novgorod - "normal buses" and marshrutky (...
58
votes
7answers
14k views

How to know if a meal was cooked with or contains alcohol?

In the restaurants that I have been to, the menus usually indicate if an item has things like peanuts, eggs, is vegetarian, or contains raw meat. In some Asian restaurants, menu items are also given ...
57
votes
7answers
8k views

How to use public transport in Russia with limited knowledge of Russian?

I will soon make a small trip around Russia and visit some larger cities in Western Russia. I will arrive by train and further plan on traveling by public transport. I have, however, no knowledge of ...
54
votes
5answers
29k views

Will I be able to travel around India speaking only English?

I am to travel around some Indian cities: Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and others. Will I have trouble speaking only English, or should I learn some phrases in Hindi?
50
votes
5answers
12k views

How do you know if a Japanese person means no when they say yes?

I have come across a few situations when a Japanese person will extend themselves beyond what they probably should to help people. I am often worried when asking them to do something that they will ...
48
votes
12answers
13k views

How should I ask for a "pint" in countries that use metric?

This is perhaps a silly question, but I've found that when I've been abroad (and let's be realistic, this probably applies to every country but the US and the UK), I often want a drink from a pub or ...
43
votes
6answers
8k views

What's the best way to signal that I'd prefer to be served in English?

I'm traveling in an area where bilingualism - specifically, English - is extremely common. As in, I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't speak pretty good English in the two months I've spent here (...
42
votes
4answers
91k views

Can we get by as English speakers visiting Iceland?

We're going to Iceland for the first time in September. Will we be able to get around ok just speaking English, or should we try to learn some rudimentary Icelandic? And is that even what their ...
40
votes
5answers
21k views

Leaving Italy without paying a fine for a bus fare violation

I'm in Florence on vacation with my parents and we've run into some trouble with the city buses. We took an ATAF bus and were confused on how the system worked. Apparently you stamp the ticket when ...
38
votes
7answers
6k views

How to make sure that you get off at the correct bus stop in Thailand?

I find it extremely difficult to get off at the correct bus stop in Thailand, mainly for the reasons as: The bus stop usually doesn't have a recognizable sign on which stop it is. Thai characters and ...
38
votes
3answers
4k views

Stuck without toilet paper while travelling - what is the best approach?

Well, this has happened to everyone at some point - you find out there is no toilet paper just after you need it the most. Usually it's not a big deal, even in public toilet room you can wait until ...
36
votes
8answers
11k views

Communicating in Tokyo without Japanese

I'm going to Japan soon. (Like my previous question.) And I'm going to Tokyo. I'm not at all good at communicating in Japanese. A beginner, not even able to use it for basic purpose. How can I ...
34
votes
7answers
93k views

If I travel to Paris, can I get by with just English?

If I plan on visiting Paris, but not really the rest of France, is it still important for me to learn at least enough French to get by? Are people in Paris going to be willing to speak English if they ...
32
votes
4answers
10k views

How severe will language problem be in Germany?

I have to visit Munich, Germany for a couple of weeks this month for business purpose. I am absolutely ignorant about German language. Although I won't be interacting with the locals much, I'll have ...
30
votes
8answers
9k views

How much Russian do I need to know for travelling within Russia?

Or alternatively - how well-spoken (and widely-spoken) is English? I intend to visit St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk and Vladivostok. I feel like I might have the most troubles in the latter two ...
29
votes
3answers
7k views

Will I be understood in all Portuguese-speaking countries, if I learn Portuguese in Portugal?

I really like the Portuguese language, but if I want to be understood in all Portuguese speaking countries (e.g. Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Mozambique), would it be enough to speak "Portuguese" ...
27
votes
8answers
10k views

Language used at passport control in Frankfurt international airport

I will travel soon to Germany to attend a workshop at a university in Würzburg. The workshop is taught entirely in English. This is my first visit to Germany and I speak very little German. I was ...
25
votes
9answers
8k views

Is it considered rude if I present a list of pre-translated sentences?

I am about to visit Spain, mainly Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid. The problem is I do not speak Spanish at all. I am thinking to prepare a few pre-translated sentences in Spanish beforehand and ...
25
votes
3answers
3k views

Is there a practical point in learning foreign words while travelling?

It is frequently advised for travelers to learn the basic vocabulary in whatever is the local language in the country they're visiting. The reasons usually given are: It can help in situations where ...
25
votes
6answers
8k views

How to overcome the language barrier when visiting France and Spain?

I may be traveling to France and Spain for business purposes, and I'm likely to mix some pleasure with that business trip. I do not expect many language issues during the business conversations. ...
25
votes
4answers
63k views

What language to use in Georgia (the country)? Is English widely spoken?

I don't speak Georgian. I have been told not to use the little Russian that I know because it might be problematic considering the edgy relationship with Russia. My question is which language should I ...
25
votes
4answers
246k views

How to know "your number" for a machine haircut in a foreign country?

When traveling for an extensive period of time, you may need to get a haircut in a country where you do not speak the language. I usually get a machine haircut and just saying or showing the number (...
24
votes
13answers
10k views

Can you really get around everywhere with only speaking English?

I had a discussion with a friend on how many language one should learn to be able to be understood worldwide? My estimate would be with around 4-5 languages, but this is a gut feeling which I cannot ...
24
votes
6answers
10k views

How do I ask Japanese restaurants in writing not to serve me any meat?

A relative's doctor commanded him to eat NO meat to prevent Alpha-gal allergy, hypertension, and LDL cholesterol. His doctor says he can still eat seafood. We don't speak Japanese, but we plan on ...
24
votes
8answers
8k views

Friend is worried about language barrier at airport in France

A friend of mine is worried about missing her flight home when she travels to Paris. Her thinking is that there will be a language barrier and she will miss the announcements for her flight in French. ...
24
votes
3answers
164k views

What is the difference between "Gazole" and "Diesel" in France?

I am driving a car with a Diesel engine. I always thought that "Gazole" and "Diesel" were synonymous to each other, only to drive in a gas station which mentioned both terms, as in "Gazole" and "...
23
votes
4answers
22k views

Language problems at the airport?

I have a family member who speaks Romanian but not English, French or any other world language. If she flies alone, how can she pass through the control points (immigration, customs) at the airport? ...
23
votes
2answers
9k views

How useful/important is French in Montreal?

I'm going to be in Montreal for several weeks-months for work this fall. I don't speak a word of French. It's my understanding that Montreal is the primary anglophone enclave for Quebec and that ...
22
votes
4answers
5k views

In which countries in Asia is Mandarin more understood than English?

I'm bilingual in English and Mandarin Chinese, and I'm planning to go backpacking around Asia (Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Myanmar, Indonesia, etc). It seems that ...
22
votes
3answers
3k views

How much Farsi do I need to travel within Iran?

I'm looking to travel to Iran and I'm wondering how much Farsi I should know to be able to get by. Can I assume most people in the cities know English ? Is the signage only in Farsi or also in Latin ...
21
votes
9answers
9k views

Travelling to Greece without knowing the language

I am considering travelling to Greece to compete in the Athens Classic Marathon, but I do not speak any Greek. I will be fine once I get to the hotel as the travel provider will be onsite and ...
21
votes
9answers
32k views

Languages spoken in the Netherlands

I'm preparing a trip to Amsterdam. I know that the official language is Dutch but I have read that 90% of population speak English. So, Is it enough to speak English or should I learn some basic ...
20
votes
9answers
7k views

How to solve the language problem in Ankara, Turkey?

I will start studying my Master at Ankara, Turkey soon. I don't know the language and I receive strange behaviors when asking help in English: For example, I start with "Merhaba" ("Hello" in ...
20
votes
3answers
1k views

Using Modern Standard Arabic in Arabic-speaking countries

There are a lot of Arabic-speaking countries each with its own variety of an Arabic dialect with a Modern Standard Arabic (MSA or "Fusha") being the language of the media and official speech, and ...
20
votes
2answers
2k views

"Safe" typical dishes to order away from the tourist trail in Thailand when English is not supported?

I've found now that away from tourist areas, English is rare in Thailand both spoken and on menus. I've also found that some of the dishes we in the west think of as typical for Thailand don't seem ...
20
votes
2answers
3k views

How is Giza pronounced in Egypt itself?

Over a 100 years ago, I think Giza was pronounced Jeezah. For example, in his multi-volume book on the Great Pyramid, Piazzi Smyth, who worked at Giza for years spelled it "Jeezeh": The image above ...
19
votes
4answers
10k views

What was the meaning of this Indian gesture/greeting?

While on a business trip to India last week I saw two different gestures of greeting. Most people greeted me with the traditional Namaste greeting, with the hands held together, as below. However, ...
18
votes
4answers
3k views

Holidays in Brazil without Portuguese

I consider a holiday in Brazil, especially Florianópolis. But I can't speak any Portuguese. Can I get around there with English and a little Spanish?
18
votes
4answers
6k views

What is more widely spoken in the Baltic countries: Russian, Ukrainian, or English?

Wikipedia says that about a quarter of total population in Estonia, Latvia are Slavonic people like Russians, Ukrainians etc., and I wonder if Russian is well-understood and how natives treat tourists ...
18
votes
2answers
2k views

How to ask drivers not to take me to the bus station when hitchhiking in Thailand?

I'm hitchhiking around the world again and have hit a snag in Thailand. In Malaysia people generally understand a bit of English and generally "get" the idea of hitchhiking. A bit further north over ...
18
votes
1answer
728 views

Owl Cafe in Tokyo where English is spoken?

I'm visiting Tokyo in late September and really want to visit an owl cafe. I've heard that it is best to go with someone who speaks Japanese as they usually give instructions etc only in Japanese. Are ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Is English understood / spoken around the Italian Lakes?

I am planning a trip to the Italian Lakes (specifically, Lake Como) and I am wondering if English is widely spoken / accepted around these areas.
17
votes
3answers
4k views

If I want to travel to Brazil, can I get by with English?

I do not speak Portuguese, and only enough Spanish not to starve. English is my second language, but my first, Dutch, will not be very useful. Will people in Brazil be able to communicate with me? I ...
16
votes
5answers
12k views

Are there any issues with speaking Spanish as a tourist in Portugal?

I'm about to go on a trip to Portugal, not knowing any Portuguese. I was planning to learn all the basics (yes, no, hello, goodbye, thank you, etc) but in a slightly more complicated situation it's ...
16
votes
2answers
876 views

Transit through Beijing - Languages?

My girlfriend and I are planning a trip to Thailand this winter (from the UK), and the cheapest option appears to be Air China, with a 6-hour layover in Beijing (PEK). Given that neither of us can ...
16
votes
1answer
3k views

Tourists to UK from India only speak Hindi, will that be a problem with immigration?

A couple of my relatives are going to UK for vacation, but they aren't fluent in English. They can understand English but can't speak it. They are going with a group in which people are fluent in ...
15
votes
5answers
5k views

Is English spoken widely in Ireland?

My fiancée and I will be traveling to various places in Ireland for our honeymoon. Mostly mid-southern Ireland (Dublin, Galway, Limerick, etc.). Is there any reason to learn any basic phrases in ...