Monday, June 09, 2008

Advice for people travelling abroad

Just a quick bit of advice when travelling:

Don't assume that no-one else around you will understand your native tongue. Sure, it might be tempting to say something snarky about people you see, but you never know who might be able to understand you.

If you speak Navajo you might be OK, bit there are often surprising people around. You might even run into an Asian-looking man in Portugal that understands Swedish and helps you find your train... Or people in the USA that understand Afrikaans.

All this was prompted by a South African family that sat behind me on a recent flight from Seattle to Oakland: They used Afrikaans to make loud rude comments about other people, discuss their flatulence and generally behave boorishly. If you want to skinder* about people, do it under your voice so no-one else can hear... Or better yet, just don't do it :)

* gossip

1 comment:

Peter May - The Pinotage Club said...

Many years ago I was trainee assisting a colleague, sent from England to teach an IT course in Amsterdam for 5 days. Class was taught in English but there was about 50% lab time in which al teh students were talking togther in Dutch while doing the labs.

Friday afternoon, when it came time to wrap uo the class my colleague gave a brief 'thank you for having us' in Dutch, expaining that he was a South African and although Afrikaans wasn't identical to Dutch he hoped they'd understood as much of our presentation as he'd understood their comments during labs.

You should have seen their faces... The Dutch never thought anyone else understood Dutch, and they were working back through what they'd been saying to each other all week :)