Visiting different countries and experiencing local culture, food, and sights is a great thing and the reason that we collect miles and points (most of us, anyway!). But, what about the language?
Favorite Word to Learn in Any Language
I like to learn a few words in any language of a country I am about to visit even though English is widely spoken in many countries. For me, it is more than just about basic survival in some situations – it is also to show a little respect and try to speak a little in the tongue of the country I am in. So, what is my favorite word to learn in any language?
If you had one word to learn in any language, which word would you want it to be? Of course, there are some great ones like “hello” and “thank you.” “Bathroom” would probably make it pretty high on the list too! But, my favorite word to learn in any language is not one of those – it is simply “Excuse me.”
I know, you are saying “that is two words!” Yes, in English it is two words but the translation in other languages is often only one word so I think we can safely say word. 🙂
Why is “excuse me” my favorite word to learn? Sure, it is a way to be polite and apologize when I do something wrong (which can be easy to do in foreign countries if you do not understand the manners and customs!) but it is for another reason that I like to learn that word as well.
Do You Understand What They Are Saying?
Inevitably, you will be among a group of people in some country at some point in time and you will know they are talking about you. Sometimes, it might even be the police or security officers. I have this happen many times where people will start talking about me in their native tongue, assuming (since I had been speaking English anyway) that I do not know the language they are speaking in. It is hysterical and sometimes quite revealing to walk up to them or just to speak to them and say in their language “excuse me.” It will instantly tell you if they have been talking about you in a negative way or a nice one.
It can also be a good way to see if the police are having some issue with you. No one wants to ask you if you do speak the language since it might give away that they thought you didn’t understand them so they will often lower their voices more or, more often than not, just walk away or let you walk away.
Out of all the times I have used this, it has been very interesting to see what happens when people are talking about you and they think (correctly!) that you do not understand what they are saying. Of course, the primary purpose to use that word should be if you have interrupted/disturbed/etc the individual but it is nice that it can work this way also. 🙂
What is your favorite word to learn in another language?