A Traveler’s Best Friend: Language

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Photo courtesy of lusi.

When it comes to broadening our horizons through learning new languages, those whose first language is English are particularly indifferent. With English being one of the most commonly spoken second languages around the world, why would you need to learn any new languages? Well, for travelers in particular, possessing a good understanding of a native language and subsequently being able to converse with locals will greatly enhance your travel experience.

Of course, it’s easy to carry around translation books with key phrases to get you through your exploring. Yet, to properly immerse yourself in a language is to express yourself with coherence and learn from the words and conversation around you.

Take, for example, ye good olde English language. We often take its complexity for granted, but the slightest tweak to a sentence can change its entire meaning. Understanding a language beyond the realms of a ‘popular phrases’ book will offer a deeper understanding of a place and its culture.

Languages engross and ingrain themselves into everything they surround. Having the ability to understand a local language will alleviate a great deal of ambiguity, allowing you to soak up your lovely linguistic travels with a clear mind.

There is no better way to equip yourself than with the ability to communicate with those around you. As a traveler, it may be wise to learn one of the more commonly spoken languages; here are a few suggestions as to which lingo to learn:

Mandarin

With over one billion speakers, Mandarin is the most widespread language in the world. It is reputed to be quite easy to learn, but its words are spoken in different tones to give different meanings, and this is more difficult to pick up on. Also, the hieroglyphic writing can be tough to get your head around. If you can overcome these initial head-scratchers, Mandarin is a useful resource for any traveler.

Spanish

After English, this is arguably the most sought after language in the world, especially with businesses. It is perceived to be relatively easy to learn and will accommodate you on your travels from Spain to Cuba to South America and beyond. The English language has ‘borrowed’ many words from Spain, which may offer a slice of familiarity to the initial learning stage.

Arabic

The holy language of the Koran, Arabic has become increasingly widespread and important to global discourse. However, with its complex grammar and substantial variations in dialect, it is said to be quite difficult to learn, despite being spoken in many countries including Syria, Jordan and Egypt. Arabic is so widespread, in fact, that it was made the sixth official language of the United Nations in 1974.

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