Cunning Linguist

Although the prospect of moving to a non English-speaking country might seem daunting, the problem of learning a foreign language can easily be solved with the following method: not bothering.

Indeed, only a handful of phrases are enough to get you through most everyday situations until you get pissed off with your host country and leave.

Some of the most important are:

  • [One] beer – Annoyingly, you might need to learn some kind of unit of measurement, so just learning ‘beer’ might not do it. Otherwise, the person you want beer from will be stuck in an endless feedback loop, unable to give you the amount you want because you aren’t actually saying the amount. They’re that retarded. Hopefully, learning the numbers one to four will be enough for buying a round, etc. And if you can’t be bothered to learn any numbers, demonstrate with fingers.
  • This/that – Again, best used in conjunction with a finger pointing at what you want. You could just point, however. Most cultures will get that, although some will definitely find it rude. Arabs, for instance, just vaguely wave in the direction something might be like they can’t really be arsed.
  • Thanks – You don’t want to seem rude. However, it is possible to overdo it. While people in Britain say ‘thank you’ to bus drivers and the like and actually mean it, most foreigners just couldn’t give a fuck.
  • Hello – You could just nod and smile, of course, and for the first few months somewhere this will probably do. But again and again you’re going to hear the same group of sounds when the locals meet and you’re going to learn the phrase just by osmosis. It’s best, once you work out what it is, just to throw it in one day and hope you get it right. You won’t of course. The locals will respond to your attempt with either offended silence or helpless laughter.
  • Hi! – This is even better than ‘hello’. The sad fact is that some languages were made up by people who were really anal about what time of day or night it is when meeting people, hence all the tedious [good morning/afternoon/evening/night] shit. The time of day you meet should be obvious to both parties just by where the sun is in the sky and in the evening by whether you have sick down you. Getting the vague time right is a massive meh so most languages have an informal alternative. If you’re lucky it might actually be ‘hi!’ and if not, they’ll know what you mean by ‘hi!’ and will probably think you’re cool [your mileage may vary]. If you want to use the local word for ‘hi!’ then you can do so without fear of causing offence. As you are a foreigner, they’ll assume you are stupid in any case.
  • Goodbye – [Strictly speaking, I’ve never really bothered to learn this in any language and not just because I hate ‘goodbyes’. When I started ‘learning’ Korean and discovered that the actual word  varies depending on which party is  leaving, I thought “fuck that” and closed my books. Smiling and nodding slightly while holding up a hand is generally enough. The only country in which I learnt to say goodbye, if only informally, is Italy. And that’s only because it’s the same word as ‘hi!’]
  • Fuck off – Generally, the whole world recognises ‘fuck off’, especially when used together with the finger. There are times, however, when learning the local version of ‘fuck off’ can add real drama to a scuffle with the natives, turning a potential comedy foreigner sideshow into a bloodbath.
  • Taxi! – This one’s a cheat because it’s the same in every language, except that some places spell it wrong. And even if it actually is a different word somewhere, it’s not like they can hear you anyway.
  • [turn] left/right – However, pointing works nearly as well, even in taxis.
  • [Stop] here – This one is genuinely useful in taxis and saves you from flapping your arms around and annoying the driver. You can get away with just pointing instead of learning the word for ‘there’.
  • How much? – Useful when dealing with shopkeepers, prostitutes and drug dealers. Don’t worry about learning any numbers so you can understand the response. Even if they don’t have a screen displaying the amount, all shopkeepers will have an absurdly large calculator they type the amount into. The others will have learnt the amount in English when entering the trade, as well as ‘how much?’ so you don’t actually need to learn this one after all.
  • You are pretty / Fancy a fuck? – Again, it’s not necessary to learn either of these phrases and you may cause offence when casually dropping them. The language of love is universal, and body language should tell you if drunken groping is appropriate. If so,  get your nob out [or a tit], stick it in their hand and start crying. If that fails, there’s always Rohypnol.

As you can see, it’s possible to get by with just the phrases above along with some others I’ve forgotten.

The secret is that the whole world has been brainwashed into thinking that learning English is both cool and necessary to get on in life. The locals who want to get to know you [who will be scumbags] probably already know more English than you will ever learn of their language and will be keen to practice it [in an attempt to con you].

Learning anything more than the basics in any language will reveal unpleasant truths, from  the casual racism being directed at you to  the asides about your weight and/or age. Best not to get involved.

Instead rely on the bare minimum outlined above. And if you still can’t be arsed, ‘okay’ is the most universally recognised word. Don’t do a ‘thumb up’ with it in Turkey, however, where the gesture means bum fucking.

And if you still refuse or are unable to learn a single syntactic unit of anything foreign, smiling is a gesture that is universal.

Except in Russia. They’re right grumpy cunts.


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