Thursday, June 19, 2008

Lingua Franca

“No worries! Most people in Europe understand English. You don't have to worry about that phrase book!”
Well, apart from being a rather arrogant attitude, it's not strictly true. Sure, in the major hotels on the main tourist routes there will be someone who speaks English, but off the beaten track....... I had a stomach bug and quite debilitating diarrhoea in Hungary. I needed help, but my miming did nothing to change the blank look on the face of the receptionist. Luckily we had a computer to hand and made use of the translating function (and this one could speak Hungarian). She then understood and gave me some tablets which fixed the problem. My only trouble was trying to spell d.i.a.r.r.h.o.e.a.

Which reminds me of an American in Paris. No, not the Gene Kelly movie of some decades ago. This Yank was a modern tourist in Paris, with camera, loud shirt, etc. He just couldn't wait to try out his school French. (Good on him!!) After spending some time studying the menu he beckoned the waiter, “Garsong, je desire consomme royal et un piece of pang et beurre – oh damm – une piece of beurre.”
“I'm sorry,” replied the very tactful waiter in perfect English, “I don't speak French!”
“Well,” said the American, “could you go and find me someone who can?!”

Anyway, after a handful of Carbo activatus the problem was indeed fixed and we were soon on the way, enjoying the fresh green of the Hungarian forests.

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