5 Phrases You Need To Know In Every Language
5 Phrases You Need To Know In Every Language
Its not every day you walk into the corner store and realize you have absolutely no idea how to ask if they carry your favorite potato chips.
It's also not every day you walk into a corner store in Bangladesh - have no cash, no cell phone and no idea where you'll be sleeping that night - so there are a couple phrases you need to know in every language, whether in Bangladesh or popping down to Mexico for a bender with the boys.
No traveler has a lack of funny (or terrifying) stories of when their language skills were sorely inadequate. While body language can work wonders, there are many times that just knowing the phrase "No doctor, she's not pregnant, that is impossible." would have been really helpful.
And while we won't learn that one here today, these phrases you need to know in every language should come in handy if you take the 5 minutes to learn them before your next trip.
1. "Do you have a toilet?"
Let's face it, we all poop. Yup, even you princess. But as is often the problem when you are traveling, the comfortable, safe and clean (sometimes) bathroom you are used to in your shitty apartment is nowhere to be found.
Sometimes you are on the back of a motorbike swerving through traffic in Bangkok, sometimes you are cramped in the back of a chicken bus in Bolivia - hell, you might even be in the middle of the ocean - but when you know you know, and often there is little warning.
Wherever you may be, and however futile your search might prove to be in the end (we've got our fingers crossed for you), this is one of those phrases you will need to know in every language.
In Thai: "houng-num you-tee-nai-ka"
2. "Two beers please"
After that hell of a pooping adventure you just had you'll surely need a drink, and what is more frustrating than walking into a bar and not knowing how to ask for that slice of heaven. Now, while beer might be a pretty world famous word, I won't presume everyone ready this speaks English so you might just want to be able and ask in the local dialect - (how is someone reading this if they don't speak English you ask? I don't know, piss off)
You'll be hard pressed to find a country on your travels that doesn't at least have an awful local brew - Chile, Rwanda I'm looking at you - but you'll still want to know how to ask for a couple bottles of it.
In Spanish: "Dos cervezas por favor."
3. "Do you have a room?"
Along with needing a toilet from time to time, you'll probably need to sleep along the road the next time you are traveling, and while only the most idiotic proprietor won't assume you are looking for a room in their mess of a hostel when you stumble in at 4am, wouldn't it still be nice to ask in their own language?
A little goes a long way, and while as an American I am always very conscious to try and break every American stereotype when I travel, I suspect most travelers would like to do the same and at least know a couple phrases in every language, of which few are more handy than asking for a place to spend the night.
In French: "Est ce que vous avez une chambre de libre?"
4. "Are you single?"
Settle down, settle down, we're serious. The best way to get to know a new place is to mingle with the locals, and what better way than to have a local fling on your next adventure? With all the ingredients we've already laid out above, what do you need next more than a friend?
On a more serious note, get off the beaten path, meet strangers and make new friends, just make sure they are single first so you don't have a mob of angry Russian guys chasing you around for trying to steal one of their girlfriends.
In Russian: "Ty Odin?"
5. "I don't understand"
Almost as important as asking if someone is single is being able to deny you have any idea what that angry mob of Russian guys are screaming at you. While saying you don't know is a great way to get out of that situation - and to be fair, you really won't understand - it is also one of the best phrases you need to know in every language.
Whether at a little market in Spain trying to buy gifts to bring back home or disputing your bill at a restaurant in South Africa (yes, you did drink 17 beers), being able to communicate that you have no idea what is going on is at least a good starting point.
In Afrikaans: "Ek verstaan nie"
So while there is no chance in hell you will every be able to know enough to not come off like a bumbling fool while roaming the streets of Paris (don't worry, they will be rude to you either way), at least you can possibly learn a couple words to at least get a chuckle out of a couple people.