Jul 16, 2011

facts of life: language barriers

I'm a man with a good sense for languages. I can identify, written and sometimes spoken, most of the languages in Europe. I can pinpoint some accents, even. I speak Portuguese, English, some French, something vaguely resembling Spanish, I invented a method called Portunhol Selvaxe which works very well in Galiza and I can still utter a few words in Latvian - brought my language course manual to freshen up.

I can also swear in most Slavic languages, but that's only useful in traffic.

What I cannot speak, understand or even pronounce, is Hungarian. These people have created this incredibly restricted club that is virtually impenetrable to outsiders. Most Hungarians speak German quite well. I don't, so that takes us nowhere.

Since I've been driving ahead of the group to take care of accommodation and make contact with the locals, things have started to become more and more difficult. I've wasted a fortune on credit for my mobile phone (roaming didn't help, either) while being unable to maintain conversations with anyone around here, and I had to find out about the details of our accommodation in Mohacs by using an interpreter. The interpreter was on the phone from Budapest, which in turn kept going over the counter, back and forth, for at least half an hour.

As soon as I gave up on trying to use my short vocabulary in German, I just switched to speaking Portuguese. With a few gestures, I can get my point across much more easily, because I actually believe my own words. But preferably, give my phone to Mirko and let him do the talking.

We'll all have many chances over the coming months to find ourselves in this kind of situation. But if I encounter such difficulties, I can imagine that most people will simply give up on ever seeing all these wonderful places just because of the language barrier.

I'm not advising anyone to learn Hungarian really quick. It's impossible, by the way. But I'll say this: every language you learn opens more than one door to a new part of the world. And this world is worth visiting.

In conclusion: liec to aiz auss (from my Latvian language manual)

- Tiago

1 comment:

  1. ahah that s right tiago, me too I love languages but Hungarian is simply crazy..You have to teach me this method for galizia:),,Hugs to everybody, keep on riding!!Giovanni