Yesterday I confessed to Carter how uncomfortable I am going to countries where I don’t speak the language. “There are still places like that?” he asked.
Today, as I was trying to ask for the check for my goulash, I commented on how I feel like such a stupid American that I can’t even ask for the check in Hungarian, and my new roommate assured me that with my German and Arabic, I was hardly a stupid American.
I could learn Hungarian, in between TEFL classes. I could learn just enough words to ask questions I wouldn’t understand the answer to, add it to the list of increasingly random languages I know little bits of (Dutch, Kurdish, Swedish Battlestar Galactica subtitles…), and become even more confused. Or I could just spend the next four weeks asking, “English? Deutsch? 3arabi?” At least people will have options!
This is why sign language always work!
But even sign language isn’t universal! I mean, the Arab sign for “7isaab” doesn’t work everywhere! We did manage to get fed and pay the ladies, though!
You mean everyone doesn’t speak English?
Oh, plenty of people speak English and/or German here, and I’ll get along just fine without learning Hungarian … but it does make me feel like something of a snob….