Ten years ago, Hagar and I bought a house in France. A few years ago, France was struck by a big freeze for around 8 days. It was an extreme cold spell. Many homeowners fell foul to its’ icy grip. The outcome of this big freeze or ‘gel sinistre’, as they say en France, was that every single radiator in our house cracked and one even exploded. It was yet another disaster. My friend, who keeps an eye on the house for us, popped in, mopped up the water and isolated all the taps. I buried my head in the sand until I had the strength to tackle it. Now, my French linguistic skills are variable depending on my brain space. It was armed with a dictionary that I entered the insurance office to try and sort out the claim that we needed to make. But, of course, I was reluctant to open it, until, as I stuttered with my Franglais, my i-phone translation app and my accent terrible, I tried to explain that the water pipes exploded. So I said, ‘mon pipe exploser’. The young girl behind the desk started to giggle and so did her colleague. It turns out that ‘pipe’ is slang for schlong. It would appear that I had just said in my worst French ‘my willy exploded’.
Mange Tout Rodney!
The average Brit will head off abroad on their summer holidays, able to speak just eight words of the local language, according to a new research.
The study, commissioned by Holiday Autos, found that French is the language Brits are most familiar with, with the average UK adult being able to rattle off up to 15 words.
Despite millions of Brits travelling to Spain this summer, the average holidaymaker knows just eight Spanish words.
The poll found 27 percent of Brits make absolutely no effort to learn a language ahead of their holidays as ‘everyone speaks English.’
‘Hello’, ‘yes’ and ‘goodbye’ are the most common words Brits know how to say in a foreign language, followed by ‘thanks’, ‘no’ and ‘good morning’.
Three in ten of Brits can ask where the bathroom is and over a third can competently ask for a beer.
An unsavoury one in ten are also capable of uttering ‘I have an upset stomach.’
Of the 1,500 respondents surveyed 23 percent said they holiday in popular resorts so there was no need to make an effort and speak the local language.
Yesterday a spokesperson for Holiday Autos, said: “This research highlights that Brits don’t make huge amounts of effort when it comes to learning languages when planning a holiday in country abroad.
“Saying that, if, of those eight words that the average adult knows is ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’, you can’t go far wrong.”
“For those that want to know just enough words to get by when they head off to sunnier climes this summer, we’ve produced handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases that you can learn while traveling or before you pick up your holiday hire car.”
The survey revealed nearly two thirds of British adults said they were embarrassed that as a nation we make such little effort to learn foreign languages.
But being so limited with the local language has landed one in ten adults in hot water with problems occurring when ordering food and drinks, following directions and settling a bill.
One in ten have lost luggage on holiday and struggled to communicate with the necessary people.
35 percent of Brits claim to start speaking much slower when trying to make themselves understood when on foreign soil and a quarter opt for gesticulating wildly with their hands.
More than one in twenty have even resorted to drawing pictures and one in ten have to rely on their smartphone to make themselves understood.
Over a quarter of Brits have a funny story to tell about a friend or family member trying to make themselves understood on holiday – with 17 percent claiming they still laugh about it.
In fact, the average holidaymaker has experienced three ‘lost in translation’ moments when on holiday.
According to the poll…
- One man asked for directions and kept being told the price of a chicken.
- A holidaymaker thought he was asking a waiter where the toilet was, but was actually repeatedly asking where the man’s wife was.
- Another asked for egg on his pancake and got a raw egg.
- One respondent asked for a lemonade and ended up buying a newspaper.
- Another respondent regularly got the French words for rabbit and bread around the wrong way.
A gentleman got a surprise in France when he asked for jam to go with his croissant and got a condom.
- One respondent ended up with a slap around the face. To this day he doesn’t know what he said!
Of those that completed the poll, 35 percent would like to know enough words to just get by when they head off on holiday.
The spokesman for Holiday Autos added: “The survey has uncovered some really interesting insights into how Brits seem to have the confidence to communicate while traveling without necessarily learning any of the native language.
“It shows that having confidence leads to happier holidays — something which Holiday Autos believes in wholeheartedly, as we provide book and go car hire and we are committed to find the best car at the best price for everyone’s holidays.”
TOP 30 FOREIGN WORDS / PHRASES BRITS CAN SAY
- Good morning
- My name is
- Good evening
- Excuse me
- The bill please
- Can I have a beer
- Where is the bathroom?
- Where is the hotel?
- Can I have a glass of wine
- Still water
- Where is the hospital
- Straight on
- Will you sleep with me?
- Sparkling water
- I have an upset stomach