Hold on while I grab my phrase book –

Good luck with that one!  Standing in line in Paris waiting to buy a train ticket I was struggling to remember my schoolgirl French.  Unfortunately it did not run to purchasing “billets” in first class.  It did mean that I could ask the ticket vendor if he had seen the pen of my aunt…. and that was about that.

We are always told that a few words in the local language go a long way in any country – but I wonder.  Do you think the locals get a real good laugh at our pathetic accents and attempts to communicate in French, Spanish or even more complex, let’s say, Greek?  OMG – can you imagine what we sound like.

It’s always made worse by the fact that so many people in Europe today speak such good English.  It almost makes our attempts to page through the phrase book look extremely silly.   Unless you have the totally wrong phrase book as happened in an old Monty Python sketch where he thought he was asking a polite question in Hungarian “Can you direct me to the station” what he was actually saying was “Can you fondle my bum”.  Well of course that was just a comedy routine and very unlikely to happen in real life.  However sometimes there is reverse silliness that goes on where maybe the sign writers in foreign countries have got their English phrase books mixed up – with hilarious results.

But wait – some English signs by English speaking people are even more hilarious

Yup – it’s a weird world out there for sure.

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.

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