Travellers should always attempt a greeting in the language of the country they are visiting.
Travellers should always attempt a greeting in the language of the country they are visiting.

Important to learn the lingo before travelling

ONE of the many mistakes Australian travellers make is to assume wherever they go people will speak English.

My husband, normally a man of impeccable manners, is the worst offender of this.

He will march up to a person on the street in Paris and without even so much as an 'excuse me' will say in rapid Aussie-fied English: "Can you tell me which metro line is best to get to the Latin Quarter? I think it should be the red line, not the yellow one. What is your opinion?"

He is ignored a lot in Paris.

But then so am I.

I have too often made the mistake of approaching a stranger on the Parisian streets and politely saying: "Excuse me, do you speak English?"

The usual reply is a haughty "yes, I do, do you speak French?" before an arrogant but well-deserved dismissal.

Imagine us on the streets of Brisbane having a French person approach and ask us a question in French?

We'd be both offended and amused. Yet so many of us do this to strangers in foreign countries.

Either that, or shout at them in broken English as though they were deaf.

The old maxim that the traveller should always attempt a greeting in the language of the country she is visiting is a reliable one to follow.

Enter a shop in France, even a tiny patisserie, and ask for something without first offering a polite 'bonjour' and you will receive a withering look and often be overlooked for the customers behind you.

Not good when you're hankering for a baguette.

 

>> To read more travel stories


Why not give Richmond River Gun Club a shot?

Why not give Richmond River Gun Club a shot?

Member for Lismore Thomas George gives his column for the week

Generous Lismore businesses help Northern River's couple

Generous Lismore businesses help Northern River's couple

Lismore businesses help Casino couple

Local community helps women 'catch their dreams'

Local community helps women 'catch their dreams'

Local Indigenous women raise funds to travel to Cairns

Local Partners