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language advice from my European friends

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mcrae0104

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Plus your phone is lighter and more compact than a universal translator.

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Urquiola

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I started with German, but ended up marrying a mademoiselle from France. English is about half Germanic and half French origin. German is harder and they are more likely to speak English. Go with French.

If you don't learn much French, at the very least, rule numero uno, do not pass go, do not collect $200, the first thing out of your mouth better be "bonjour". Not "Do you speak english?", which comes second. It is cultural. You might even catch them forgetting which is a real bonus.

btw...if you're in France, go visit Chamonix. A bit touristy, but the mountains and hiking/mountaineering is great.
Yes, English has over 50% words coming from Latin, but grew independently from French, sometimes the Britons admire the French, other times they attempt ruling them, more or less openly. Both English and German have an old root in a previous language. When it diverged, and why, is something unknown to me. Salut +
 

Topaz

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My experience (mostly western Europe, but still) matches that of others. While nearly everyone speaks at least passable English, try and pick up a few critical words and phrases in the local language ("Please," "Thank you", "You're welcome," "Excuse me," "Do you speak English?") and then just be a gracious and courteous guest. People respond very well to you making an attempt to use their language, however badly you may mangle it. Intent is everything. One of the most impactful things I've seen is simply to ask wait staff and others, "How is your day going today?" They're consistently touched by the fact that a tourist actually cares about them enough to ask. I've had many comments that tourists and even locals never ask about them. You'll make great connections with people just with this simple courtesy.

The app "Duolingo" is a pretty good way to get a primer on getting the basics of a language. Google Translate is also great, although awkwardly slow "in the moment."
 

Aerowerx

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Yes, English has over 50% words coming from Latin, but grew independently from French, sometimes the Britons admire the French, other times they attempt ruling them, more or less openly. Both English and German have an old root in a previous language. When it diverged, and why, is something unknown to me. Salut +
Don't forget to add Nordic to the mix (as in Viking invasion of Great Britain).

And I have often wondered what is the minimum number of words and/or phrases you need to get along in a foreign country (and "Do you speak English" not allowed). If your RV-4 crashes in Elbonia (any Dilbert fans out there??), how much Elbonian do you need to convince them that you don't work for "pointy haired boss", for example?;)
 

AdrianS

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Don't forget to add Nordic to the mix (as in Viking invasion of Great Britain).

And I have often wondered what is the minimum number of words and/or phrases you need to get along in a foreign country (and "Do you speak English" not allowed). If your RV-4 crashes in Elbonia (any Dilbert fans out there??), how much Elbonian do you need to convince them that you don't work for "pointy haired boss", for example?;)
I read somewhere long ago that 300 words is a working English vocabulary - some older immigrants never get past that, but can shop, hold down a job, see a doctor, etc.
 
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