If you're going to travel to foreign places, you'll have basic needs to communicate with people who use different languages. Try to learn a few words, phrases, or expressions in these languages. This expressions won’t eliminate the need for translation or interpreting assistance, nor make you capable to fluently chat with foreign language speakers, yet they can at least endear you to the new people you will be meeting.
Greetings - “Hi” or “Hello”
Of course, we have to start with the salutations. In any country, it’s always polite to greet people in the warm words they have been accustomed with.
- If you’re in a French-speaking country, you say hello as “bonjour” (pronounced bohn-zhoor) or salut (sah-luu) if you want to be a bit informal.
- In German, hello is “guten tag” (gootan taag) or simply “tag.”
- To greet the Greeks, say “Γεια σας,” (yah sahss), which literally means “health to you.”
- Italians greet each other with the expression “buon giorno” (bwohn geernoh) or the more popular ciào (chow).
- Greeting someone in Latin, on the other hand, is through the word “salve” (sal-way) or “salvete” (sal-way-tay) when talking to at least two people.
- In Spanish, “hola como estas” (o-la komoh estahs) is the word for “hello” but many also use the expressions “qué onda?” (keh ondah) and “qué pasa?” (keh pasah).
- The Chinese say “ne ho” or “lay ho” while the Japanese and Indians say “konnichi wa” and “namaste” respectively.
- In Thailand, you say “issawa dee-ka” if you’re a female and “sawa dee-krap” if you’re male.
Asking for Favor – “Please” and “Thank You”
There will be many instances when you have to ask for the assistance of some locals in the foreign country you are visiting.
- In Spain, the equivalent word for “please” is “por favor” (por faavohr) while “thank you” is “gracias” (gra-see-us).
- In French, “please” is “se il vous plaît” (seel voo pley) while “thank you” is “merci” (mer-see).
- Italians say please with a phrase comparable to that of the Spanish: “per favore” (pehr fah-voh-reh). Thank you for Italians, on the other hand, is “grazie” (graht-tsyeh).
- If you are talking to a Chinese, say “please” as “qing” (ching) and “thank you” as “xièxiè” (shay shay).
- For the Japanese, the phrase "onegai shimasu" (oh-neh-gah-ee shee-mahs) is used to ask for a favor while "arigatō gozaimasu" (ah-ree-gah-toh go-zah-ee-mahs) is used to express gratitude.
Introducing Yourself – “My Name Is…”
Introductions may be done by simply stating your name while pointing a finger at yourself. However, it’s always better if you can introduce yourself in words that are familiar to the person you are taking to.
- When introducing your name to a Spanish person, you say "me llamo…(your name)" (meh yah-moh...) or “mi nombre es (your name).”
- If you are talking to a Frenchman, the words are "je m'appelle…(your name)" (zhuh mah-PELL).
- To an Italian, introduce yourself with these words: “mi chiamo...(your name)” (mee kee-ah-moh).
- Introducing yourself to a Japanese, on the other hand, entails the use of the copula “desu.”
- You just have to say your name and append it with “desu” (i.e. “Name” desu). In Chinese, you just have to start the sentence with “wǒ jiào” and state your name.
The Paradoxical “I Don’t Speak...”
Well, this one’s odd. You want to orient the person you are talking with that you can’t speak their language but you are actually speaking their language. However, sometimes you just have to say it so locals would be more inclined to be more understanding of the language barrier and be more slightly hospitable.
- If you are talking to a Spanish person, the words to say are “yo no hablo Español” (noh AH-bloh ehs-pah-nyohl).
- In French, say “je ne parle pas Français” (zhuh nuh PAHRL pah frahn-seh).
- In case you are talking to a Japanese, use the expression “Nihongo ga (yoku) hanasemasen” (nee-hohn-goh gah (yo-koo) hah-nah-seh-mah-sen), which literally means “Japanese I can’t speak,” translating the words in the order they are spoken.
- When it comes to Chinese, the words are “wǒ bú huì jiáng zhōngwén” (wo boo hooy djaang zhongwen).
Where Is the Toilet?
When you really have to release it, you will be badly needing these magic words.
- In Spanish, use the question, “dónde es el baño?” (dohn-deh ehs-ehl bah-nyoh?).
- If you are in France, say “où sont les toilettes?” (ooh sohn lay twah-let?).
- If you will be asking a Japanese local, the words to utter are “otearai/toire wa doko desu ka?” (oh-teh-ah-rah-ee/toh-ee-reh wah doh-koh dess kah?).
- Fortunately, if you are in China, the question to ask is rather short: "cèsuǒ zài nǎli?"
These five expressions will definitely come in handy as you visit foreign places. They may even make the travel experience better as you get to confidently interact with the locals regardless of how complicated the attempts at making conversations would go. Familiarizing yourself with these expressions is the best way to learn a new language.
Do you agree with the list presented above? Or do you have other very important expressions that should be included in this list? Drop a comment below to share those language learning and communication tips you have.