Questions tagged [languages]

For forms of written or verbal communication with people of other cultures. Consider tag [language-barrier] and for one or more specific languages consider the tags listed in the `tag info` here instead .

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66
votes
10answers
13k views

In what language should I address foreign customs and immigration?

I'm an American traveling to Central America for the first time this summer. I'll be entering Costa Rica and Panama. My Spanish is pretty good, but not native, and I wouldn't mind using it, but as a ...
61
votes
10answers
22k 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 ...
54
votes
5answers
8k views

As a native English speaker, which two further languages would give me the most travel utility worldwide?

This follows on from a travel conversation a group of us had in a hostel in London. Assuming I am travelling randomly between countries and continents, which two languages in addition to English ...
46
votes
1answer
8k views

What does YCWCYODFTRFDTY mean?

In several outback pubs in central Australia, including Cadney Homestead (below) and Stuarts Well Roadhouse, there's a prominent sign at the bar with the cryptic message "YCWCYODFTRFDTY": What does ...
42
votes
6answers
7k 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 (...
38
votes
4answers
5k views

Which Norwegian language to learn?

I'm taking a short trip to Norway next year and while doing a bit of research I've been thoroughly confused by which language to learn. Wikipedia goes into great depth about 3-4 different languages, ...
33
votes
8answers
20k views

What is the main spoken language in Kiev: Ukrainian or Russian?

I'm aware that there are both native Ukrainian and Russian speakers among Ukrainians, with the west being more Ukrainian-speaking and the east/south more Russian-speaking. What about Kiev today? I ...
32
votes
1answer
9k views

Do many Japanese people speak Korean?

I'd like to go to Japan but I can't speak Japanese. But I'm fluent in Korean. I know that many Korean people can speak Japanese, but can Japanese people also speak Korean?
32
votes
2answers
5k views

Which language(s) is most useful for backpacking Africa?

I'm looking to backpack Africa in a few years, so I'd like to start learning a language that would the most useful/widely spoken. There are a few conditions I've conjured up though: the language ...
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 ...
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 ...
24
votes
13answers
9k 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
3answers
8k views

Distinguishing Tamil speakers from Sinhalese speakers in Sri Lanka

When in Sri Lanka I would like to use a few words of either Tamil or Sinhalese with the locals. How can I tell which language I should try? Are there cultural appearances that I can go from? Of I get ...
23
votes
4answers
21k 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? ...
19
votes
5answers
6k views

What does this Chinese character 天 mean on my visa?

In my Chinese visa, against "Days after entry", I find this character: 天 Google translate says it means day, sky, heavens, God, etc. What exactly does it mean in this context? Edit: You can see it ...
19
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 ...
19
votes
3answers
2k views

Acceptable terms for describing black people in California

Today, our team was bought a drink or two by our company, so I was talking with an Afroamerican colleague and was trying to describe him that I had seen San Francisco in San Andreas GTA game, but he ...
18
votes
9answers
5k views

Catalan or Spanish in Barcelona?

I am going on a city trip to Barcelona, and as usual, I want to learn a few local words so that I can ask directions or order my drinks that way. My question, though: should I learn Spanish or ...
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 ...
17
votes
4answers
926 views

Will knowledge of Yiddish be useful traveling in Israel?

I am traveling to Israel for the first time this summer, and generally when I go to a country I like to learn a little bit of the language to make navigation easier (and because it's cool). However, ...
17
votes
3answers
2k views

Is there an international language at sea?

When the Russian pilot of an Aeroflot jet is approaching Moscow's airport staffed by Russian Air Traffic controllers, convention still holds that everybody is speaking English. Even if that English ...
17
votes
3answers
4k views

Should you use English or (possibly broken) Japanese in Japan?

So I'm going to Japan next month with friends, and I'm the only one speaking reasonably good Japanese. However, I am really nervous about how to approach people when, say, buying train tickets and ...
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
2answers
7k views

How widely spoken is English in New Caledonia (Nouvelle-Calédonie)?

As I understand it, French is the main common language in New Caledonia, spoken by almost everyone there, but often as a second language. The wikipedia article doesn't seem to mention much about ...
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 ...
14
votes
2answers
1k views

Burushaski teacher or course in Hunza Valley, Pakistan

I love exotic languages as much as I love travelling so one destination I'm considering for my next trip is Pakistan where a language famous to linguists for not being related to any other language is ...
14
votes
2answers
781 views

Which language is preferable for speaking with Palestinians: Hebrew or English?

Obviously, the best language to use to speak to Palestinians in Palestine is their own language, Arabic. If Arabic is not an option, which would generally be preferable: Hebrew or English? I'm ...
13
votes
7answers
25k views

What foreign language is the most common in Serbia?

What foreign language is the most common in Serbia? In which language have I the most chances to communicate with locals (in shops, railway stations, hostels etc.) if I don't know Serbian?
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Do Estonians prefer English to Finnish?

When interacting with foreigners who are not able to speak Estonian, do the Estonians prefer Finnish to English? Does it depend on the area, e.g. is an Estonian more likely to be able to communicate ...
13
votes
1answer
2k views

Is speaking Portuguese useful in Macau today?

Macau sets Portuguese as one of its official languages, but according to the Wikipedia page, only 0.6% speak it at home. However, people speaking it at home should be those who use it as their native ...
12
votes
1answer
597 views

Do different language editions of Lonely Planet contain different content?

I'm planning to travel to Spain when things have improved a bit, and I'm getting reasonably good at reading Spanish, and my wife is a native speaker. I'm thinking of getting guidebooks in Spanish as ...
11
votes
17answers
10k views

Are there a FEW languages that, along with English, will let a person be understood by the vast majority of people in North-Western Europe?

I'm referring to Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, and Denmark. Will it be possible to add Norway, Sweden, and possibly even Finland and Iceland? And how about the ...
11
votes
3answers
1k views

Languages in Bulgaria? [closed]

There is a realistic chance that I will be working in Sofia for a year or more soon. I care quite a lot about being able to communicate with local people wherever I am travelling, so I would like to ...
11
votes
2answers
578 views

Are there any travel experiences in Australia that offer aboriginal (or Torres Strait) “cultural immersion”?

I am wondering if it's possible for a traveller in Australia to immerse in aboriginal culture, or Torres Strait Islander culture. By "immerse" I mean stay in a traditional aboriginal area where ...
11
votes
2answers
893 views

Can I study the Welsh language as a traveller in Patagonia?

As a traveller interested in languages I have long been aware of the settlements in Patagonia where Welsh is spoken. But there's only about 1,500 to 5,000 Welsh speakers there and I'm assuming that ...
11
votes
1answer
551 views

Casual Khmer language classes or language exchange in Siem Reap?

As always on my travels I like to study the local language, as usual I don't have a budget that allows the prices of "proper" courses or individual tutors. So I'm wondering if there's some ...
10
votes
3answers
3k views

Am I better off using French in Brussels, or should I stick to English?

I'm a native English speaker, with tolerable French (ie, it's pretty good for an Englishman, though not great by continental European standards). I've tried to speak French in Belgium before, and ...
10
votes
2answers
6k views

Which language should I learn for a trip to Bali?

I plan to travel to Bali and want to learn some basic words in native language, like "Hello", "Thank you", .... But I'm not sure which language is native to Bali. It looks like there are Indonesian (...
10
votes
3answers
361 views

The literacy rate of Mandarin/Simplified Chinese in Taipei?

When I'm in China and having trouble communicating in English, I type in a sentence in Mandarin on my iPhone. I'm good enough to write one or two sentences in Mandarin, although I can't handle an oral ...
10
votes
1answer
430 views

How prevalent is Swedish in the Swedish speaking parts of Finland

What is the day to day language in a place like Turku/Åbo where the official language is Swedish? When I visit there as a tourist (so in shops restaurants etc.) should I expect almost everybody to be ...
9
votes
4answers
10k views

How to find “night and day” decongestant for a head cold when there's a language barrier?

So I've been in Tbilisi, Georgia for almost a week and the temperature is now dropping below zero Celsius sometimes and I have the dubious honour of being the first in my hostel to contract a head ...
9
votes
3answers
642 views

Somewhere tourists can lightly study Mongolian calligraphy in Inner or Outer Mongolia?

I'm currently in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia after having travelled through Inner Mongolia, China - which I'll return to when my current visa expires. I bought an English-Mongolian dictionary before I left ...
9
votes
2answers
465 views

Should I try and use basic Italian when on holiday in Italy?

Wherever I go on holiday I always try to learn and use some basic keywords and phrases. As a minimum I look up things such as please, thank you, hello, good morning etc. I think it's polite and hotel/...
9
votes
1answer
520 views

City in Peninsular Malaysia to immerse in Malay language?

I like to self-study the local language in the places I travel to. I don't do courses or attend classes. I just arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's a very multicultural city and though most signs ...
9
votes
1answer
693 views

Can a foreign tourist attend Okinawan language class in Naha?

I arrived in Naha, Okinawa yesterday and took an interest in the local language as usual since languages are one of my hobbies. Okinawan is a dying language separate from Japanese that is not ...
8
votes
1answer
818 views

Is it possible for a traveller to study the Jeju language in Korea?

Korea's large southern island province has its own language or dialect which is not mutually comprehensible with standard Korean. As a traveller who likes to learn languages as part of my travel I've ...
8
votes
1answer
348 views

Language schools that teach Mayan languages around Lake Atlitlan, Guatemala?

I've been to Guatemala several times and always spend some time around Lake Atitlan. This is maybe the third most popular place to study Spanish in the country and has many language schools for ...
8
votes
2answers
157 views

Is there a neighbourhood known for second-hand bookshops/antiquaries in Prague?

I'll be in Prague soon for a couple of days and I want to go dictionary-hunting. Is there a neighbourhood known for second-hand bookshops/antiquaries in Prague?
8
votes
1answer
311 views

Teletext Subtitles on Romanian Television

There is a teletext feature on the televisions in the hotel rooms. In England there was a way to get subtitles to appear by going to the teletext interface and entering 888. As far as I know this is ...
8
votes
1answer
2k views

Driving in U.S. (Hawaii) with EU license written in Czech

I have a European driving license which is completely written in Czech (see photos below). Can I use it for driving in the U.S. (I will go to Hawaii for 3 weeks), or do I have to obtain another ...