126 votes
Accepted

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

While you will generally experience a strong language barrier, the public transport system should be the least of your worries. With a bit of beforehand knowledge it can be an easy, interesting and ...
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  • 2,771
105 votes
Accepted

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

I'm English and lived in Glasgow for 4 years. Understanding many (but certainly not all) people will be tricky (even us native speakers struggle), but they'll be very willing to try to help you ...
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91 votes

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

Just ask for "a beer". I don't think you'll find a completely universal approach that fits all cultures perfectly. However, in the continental beer cultures I'm the most familiar with (Dutch, German, ...
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  • 4,457
88 votes
Accepted

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

Yes, it would be, if not "rude", then at least kind of awkward. Malaga, Barcelona and Madrid are all heavily touristed areas and most restaurant staff are very used to dealing with tourists who do ...
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  • 99.7k
80 votes

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

Please do not use Google Translate for Japanese without native speaker proofreading. The example sentences you provided are somewhere between comical and borderline offensive and sound rather like a ...
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  • 99.7k
72 votes

Language used at passport control in Frankfurt international airport

As at most international airports in Europe, all of the passport control officers will speak English. I was there a month ago, speak no German, and had no problem communicating with them.
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  • 3,079
67 votes

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

Generally most people respond well when you make an effort, even if you can't speak their language fully. Responding to "Hola" (Spanish for hello) with "Hola", saying "dankie" (Afrikaans for thanks), ...
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  • 157k
67 votes

Leaving Italy without paying a fine for a bus fare violation

There is no online database lookup when you leave Italy. At the most they will check your passport to make sure it is valid, and stamp it if necessary. Theoretically this could be done if you use the ...
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  • 28.2k
65 votes

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

This is a personal experience answer. I am Dutch, so maybe a bit more blunt than you, but my solution works well. I had that same problem last summer. I had arrived in Edinburgh one day, went to ...
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  • 48.9k
60 votes
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Is it okay to mix in local language when I know it poorly?

It doesn't matter where you go in the world, the locals are pleased when an obvious foreigner makes an effort to be polite in the few words they know. (Even France, these days.) But as soon as it is ...
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  • 1,329
54 votes
Accepted

Is it rude to speak Swedish in Norway?

No, in itself it is not rude. You can do it in a rude way, by just ignoring the signals if the other person is not happy about it. Offer the person you talk with the choice. I would start with a ...
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  • 48.9k
48 votes
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What exactly is a marshrutka (маршрутка)?

Just to add to the above guys answers. Маршрутка (Marshrutka) is a slang. It's a shortened version of "Маршрутное такси" (can be roughly translated as "Routed" taxi, essentially a taxi that has a ...
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  • 2,734
47 votes

Travelling to Greece without knowing the language

Millions of people per year visit Greece, and I'm willing to bet that a large portion of them do not speak any Greek. It's a very popular holiday destination for English speaking people. I can't ...
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  • 36.1k
40 votes

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

I have never seen such an icon. The only way to know is to ask for it. Common sense is that in a lot of countries where alcohol is prohibited by religion or not really within the local culture, you ...
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  • 6,148
40 votes
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Friend is worried about language barrier at airport in France

There should be no problem. 99% of city names are the same in French as they are in the native language, and when they're not the same, they're very similar (Moskva/Moscou, London/Londres). Find the ...
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  • 2,085
40 votes

How to politely indicate that you only speak English and would like to continue in it?

You can just say 'Hi, I only speak English, sorry.' You can expand that a little to the situation by adding 'good morning' or whatever is right for the time of the day, either in English or if you ...
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  • 48.9k
39 votes
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How severe will language problem be in Germany?

Not very severe. In Munich as with most of Germany, automated transport ticket machines can be changed easily to a number of different languages. Physical German signs are mostly in German but their ...
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  • 8,029
39 votes

How to solve the language problem in Ankara, Turkey?

One way you can help these situations is: Start by asking whether they speak English, in Turkish. I don't know any Turkish, but Google Translate says it's "İngilizce biliyor musunuz?" Make sure you ...
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  • 36.1k
38 votes
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Communicating in Tokyo without Japanese

Qualifier: I live in Tokyo You will have no problems navigating the train system or shopping in tourist-specific areas like Asakusa. Beyond that, not that many people speak or understand English. ...
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  • 1,298
37 votes
Accepted

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

For that list of countries, the answer is none: English is more useful than Chinese in all of them. The only country in Asia outside greater China where Mandarin is an official language or spoken by ...
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  • 99.7k
34 votes

Leaving Italy without paying a fine for a bus fare violation

According to the ataf website (which I can transalte for you in the part concerning administrative fines), you have 15 days to pay the fine before getting a written notification. After the ...
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  • 440
31 votes

How to politely indicate that you only speak English and would like to continue in it?

Alternatively, you could learn a couple of phrases in German/Dutch/etc. like 'Hello, sorry I do not speak German/Dutch/etc. Do you speak English?' This is my tactics that does not require much effort :...
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  • 1,227
29 votes

How can I convert an address in Thailand from English to Thai?

If you're looking for a fully automated way, you can't. Thai romanization is nonstandard and lossy, and Thai script has many redundant letters, so you can't tell if a "kh" is supposed to be ...
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  • 99.7k
28 votes
Accepted

Languages spoken in the Netherlands

English is widely spoken in Amsterdam, as well as other cities in the Netherlands, and you will have no problem navigating the city. Personally, I only know a few words of Dutch and I never had a ...
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28 votes
Accepted

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

Even when I can read signs, it's not always easy to navigate public transport. [Try the New York subway system, although there may be announcements they are not always intelligible. Add in a few ...
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  • 3,997
28 votes
Accepted

Travelling to Greece without knowing the language

You'll manage. I speak from recent experience: I completed last year's Athens Classic Marathon (which incidentally led to this question, but I digress). Unlike you I didn't book via a travel provider ...
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  • 5,725
27 votes

How to solve the language problem in Ankara, Turkey?

I am Turkish. Firstly I will say that my English isn’t perfect - if you don't understand me please comment and I’ll try to clarify. It’s a good choice to start with hello (merhaba) or excuse me (...
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  • 379
26 votes

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

It varies a lot, largely depending on where you travel to. I have definitely seen some menus with alcohol symbols next to some dishes to indicate that they're cooked with e.g. red wine. Most of these ...
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  • 782
26 votes
Accepted

Is English spoken widely in Ireland?

You'll get along fine with just English. According to Wikipedia: There are a number of languages used in Ireland. Since the late nineteenth century, English has been the predominant first language, ...
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  • 5,725
26 votes

Friend is worried about language barrier at airport in France

Many airports don't announce flights at all. I can't remember the last time I was at an airport that does and I can say with confidence that London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, Detroit and ...
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