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max_gutierrez's avatar

Will be traveling through Europe soon -- will I be okay knowing only Spanish and English?

Asked by max_gutierrez (341points) August 31st, 2010

i am visiting netherlands, england, belgium, france, spain and maybe germany; Should i try to learn at least a little of their languages? or i’ll survive with just english and spanish?

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21 Answers

Hawkeye's avatar

English is common and most who work in tourist places can speak English. But you should take a phrase book and try out French, German, Spanish etc. The locals love it whey you do that.

JilltheTooth's avatar

It’s always good manners to learn at least a few phrases of the language where you visit; “Thank You”, “Excuse me”, “I’m sorry”, “I’m sorry I don’t understand” and “Do you speak English?” come to mind. Making even a minimal effort smooths the way for you. Phrase books can be very helpful.
Yeah, what @Hawkeye said, more succinctly

blah_blah's avatar

I went to the same places. My advice is damn near everyone you need to speak to knows English. This is the tricky part. You look like a dick if you just start talking in English and they will hate you. All it takes is a few lines of trying and butchering their language for them to say “I speak English.”

At least try and you will be ok and you will respected for not being another ugly american.

max_gutierrez's avatar

@blah_blah haha well i alreadsy speak spanish (my native language) and as a latin language i think i wont have hard times with french, but yes with german haha, i think i wont have language problem in netherlands because i have friends to guide me :P, but well sure i just gonna need a few general phrases

SeventhSense's avatar

Just ask them why they don’t have real football, why their cars are so comical and why you can’t get a good burger. They already feel deep shame at not being American so you can help them with this process. Oh and correct their English often. They often have silly accents and this a great embarrassment.. :)

max_gutierrez's avatar

@SeventhSense i love both footballs, i don’t care about their cars and i don’t like burgers haha

gailcalled's avatar

@max_gutierrez: Où est le wc (double-vay say)? (Where is the toilet?)

Venti litri, per favori. (Twenty liters, please)

Wo ist meine Aktentasche? (Where is my briefcase?)

Three phrases I found useful.

Personally, I liked spending more time in fewer places; I think Amsterdam is much more interesting than Frankfurt, also.

Vincentt's avatar

@SeventhSense Hahaha.

In The Netherlands, you should have no problems speaking English most of the time (I don’t even think it’d be considered impolite not to ask – I don’t ever hear that and had to serve English customers a few times. Still, would be nice if you did). In Belgium it also shouldn’t be a problem (or at least, in Flanders), and in England and Spain it obviously wouldn’t be either (using Spanish in Spain, obviously). France and Germany can really be a problem – in touristic places, they’ll speak English, but otherwise people can hardly, or will refuse to, speak another language than their own. And I can say from experience that this can be quite annoying if you happen to land in the hospital in Germany…

max_gutierrez's avatar

@gailcalled Oú est le (choose a location) and i’ll have enough to survive at france :p haha, actually i was thinking to use there spanish rather than english

max_gutierrez's avatar

@Vincentt hahahaha, indeed, french and german are my main problems i’ll have to carry pictures of body parts, bathrooms and many food then :P

gailcalled's avatar

@max_gutierrez: Except when it’s où est la, as in où est la gare (Where is the station?)

Similar in Spanish, right?

rebbel's avatar

De wc doet het niet (The waysay dude uht need) – The toilet isn’t working.
Benzine of bier? (Benzeenuh of beyr?) – Gasoline or beer?
Weet ik veel. (Wait ik vayl) – How should i know that.
Possible answers (to @gailcalled‘s questions) in Holland.

max_gutierrez's avatar

@gailcalled yes, in spanish you would say “Donde está el baño?” and “Donde está la estación?”¨

@rebbel you forgot about cigarretes :P

the100thmonkey's avatar

Yes, you’ll be able to get by just fine.

However, I would suggest taking a phrasebook – it’s amazing the difference that attempting (even mangling) the local language can make.


anartist's avatar

For reading signs, menus, or maybe even newspapers—the Italian and French might be similar enough to the Spanish understand. But the accent—there’s a problem!
German—a slight similarity to English but not enough to help.

My recommendation—test how comfortable you are with Romance languages before you go [online or in a newsstand with foreign-language publications. and get a German phrase book.

SeventhSense's avatar

Thanks. And you guys point out the number one reason to visit Europe.
They actually have a sense of humor.
Well maybe the number two reason

Tomfafa's avatar

In my opinion… you’ll be more than ok. I have never had a problem… despite all the stories. Trying those languages will always put you in the good graces of the natives. I think though, you are doing too much in one trip (unless this is your first trip)

max_gutierrez's avatar

@Tomfafa its my first trip, and almost sure that it will be the only one

WestRiverrat's avatar

Don’t do what I did in Arcachon. I got a little drunk and ‘Où est la gare?’ came out ‘Où est la guerre?’

You don’t really need to know where the war is when you are trying to catch the last train to Cannes.

max_gutierrez's avatar

@WestRiverrat hahahahahaha,. and they sent you to the war ? ahahahah

gailcalled's avatar

There is also le matelas (mattress) and le matelot (sailor).

And, Je suis gauche derriére is not what you shout out as the bus pulls away, without you.

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