|Subject: Re: Learning the Lingo?|
Yes, I always try to learn what I call "traveler's survival [Italian, Spanish, French, etc.]". I think it's a sign of respect for the people and culture you're visiting if one learns at least a little of their language.
Obviously, there are also very practical reasons to learn the local lingo. What has surprised me, however, is how speaking even a little of the local language has resulted in friendlier transactions and better service with shopkeepers, waiters/waitresses, hotel staff , etc. I'll never forget the time when I was buying train tickets at a small travel agency a few blocks from the Duomo in Florence, Italy. I managed in requesting the tickets in my terrible Italian and then, also in my terrible Italian, apologized for not being able to speak their language better. One of the two agents on duty looked me straight in the eye and said, in excellent English, "Well, at least you try!"
Let me add that I do NOT have a talent for languages. (Heck, I struggle with my native tongue!) However, I do have a "secret weapon": the Pimsleur series of language CDs and audiocassettes. If I can learn some of a foreign language using this product, ANYBODY can learn a foreign language! I think they also offer English as a second language lessons, but only in a limited number of languages (Spanish, maybe French). I highly recommend them. (I have no financial interest in the Pimsleur company whatsoever.)
Happy travels! Mark Mitchell Boyds, Maryland USA