First, let me tell you a joke – I heard it a few weeks ago, and I came to think of it last Monday.
– Two men were sitting on a bench, when a German tourist approached them, and asked them about something – none of the two men understood German, and the tourist then tried asking the same question in French. None of them understood French either. So the tourist tried in Spanish – but the two men just shook their heads, and the tourist gave up and walked away.
“Well” one of them said. “maybe one should learn some languages”.
“Why?” the other replies – “that man spoke three languages, and what did he get out of that??”
I had exactly the same feeling, when I sailed back to the Faroe Islands. There were many tourists on the ship, among them a guy from Switzerland, and two Hungarians who were my “neighbours” during the trip.
The guy from Switzerland sat next to me on the sun deck, and asked me – in German – where I came from, and where I was going. I replied in English that I live in the Faroe Islands, and that I was on my way home. He didn’t speak much English, so I had to use those few words I know in German. Not only that – he was very, very hard to understand. Well, I must have been hard to understand too. “Ich wohne in..err..die Färöer…err..ich bin on my way nach hause…”
“Ah, die Färöer Inseln? Ja ja, ich verstehe” And then we agreed that “wetter ist schön” (weather is good).
Then I met those very kind Hungarian people. They asked me if I spoke German, and I could only reply “not much”, but he spoke a little English. I never found out if I spoke more German than he spoke English – and his wife basically only spoke Hungarian, but understood a bit English. So again, communicating was a bit hard, but again – we managed to communicate somehow. At some point, I was sure we had made up a brand new language, mixing German, English, Hungarian and Danish. But the matter was, we understood one another with this nonsense-language 😆
The funny thing was, that when I arrived in the Faroes, I went for a looong walk in the wonderful weather – and then I met those Hungarians again. They had 6 hours in the Faroe Islands before the ship continued to Iceland. They asked for suggestions for what to see. What is “I recommend you a walk along the coastline for good pictures, or the museums for learning about the islands” called in German/Hungarian? They had a map with them, and I tried to point at the spots that I could recommend them, but I never found out if they understood it. But I met them in the most boring part of Thorshavn, and I just tried to show them a way to a more beautiful spot.
I wasn’t the only one that day, who were challenged in languages – my boyfriend told me that he had met an Italian tourist (also from the ship), who only spoke Italian. My boyfriend speaks a tiny little bit of Italian, and with a few words he tried to tell the Italian fellow the way to a museum. “Capisco! capisco” he said (I understand I understand), and walked in the wrong direction.
So that was why I came to think of that joke. I speak and understand Danish, English, Norweigan, Swedish, Faroese and that tiny bit of German. That is 5½ languages, but what did it help me?
So, I have to do something about it very soon – learn German and maybe some Spanish, Italian and French. Then I would be the perfect tourist guide 😆
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