It is interesting when in the situation (as I mentioned in the last piece)of staying in a hotel and resort utilising 3 languages, 2 of which are not your own, to see just how much of the other two you can pick up in a week.
I know enough basic Spanish to be able confidently to order “Dos Mojitos pour favour” but confess that after my Italian work trip last summer I do still tend to say “Grazie” instead of “Gracias” when I receive them. That tiny error aside how much more of the language does the Englishman abroad really need?
Substitute “Cervesas” (beer) or “San Miguel” (a particular beer) for “Mojitos” and you can survive (albeit somewhat unsteadily) anywhere in the Spanish speaking world!
Similarly, my command of German is also limited to drinks orders – when Faith and I visited Hamburg with a party of friends in 1979 you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to learn “Ein bier und ein Weisswein bitte”! It sounds so different to its English equivalent.
On that trip I also learned that Fruhstuck = breakfast and that “Entschuldigen sie bitte” (Excuse me please) when shouted in an angry voice accompanied by loud door banging can cause one of your companions to think he is being arrested by the Secret Police (or, in that guy’s case, the International Morals Police – but that’s another story)!
Actually, what I tend to come out with, to the confusion of any native trying to make an educated guess as to my nationality, is a kind of international mish-mash of all the languages that I know any words in.
“Haben ein pint of Guinness pour favour monsieur?” would be a good example and I’m sure it would warm the hearts of those enthusiasts who try to develop international languages.
Esperanto could be made to work if it included more English slang or consulted the scripts of “Only fools and Horses” more closely. “Bonnet de douche, Rodney!” should be used much more frequently, in my opinion.
There are some non-English expressions that I try to convince Faith are real. I suspect, however that she just thinks I’m a complete idiot for even suggesting that “Bring my spaghetti, now” in Spanish is “Hasta la pasta”!
And there was another similarly stupid one that I came up with while playing with the U-bahn and S-bahn transport systems on that Hamburg trip in 1979 when she had only known my sense of humour for two years. So 34 years later when I asked “Where is this place ‘Salidas’ that all the airport coaches advertise on their windows and doors?” her reply was quick as a flash.
“It’s a little Spanish town that’s twinned with that German town of AUSGANG that you kept asking me about in Hamburg”!
Serves me right, I suppose.