Have you happend to come across someone who didn't speak English?
(for example, in a social... context, like a meeting with friends or in a trip). If so, how did you manage to communicate?
I've met hundreds of people who don't speak English, but almost all through work when I had an outside job. If they knew Spanish, that worked great for me (and a very large portion did, regardless of their country of origin) and I have a smattering of other languages. If it was something I didn't know at all and didn't have any co-workers I could call on to help me communicate, hand gestures and such were generally enough...but then, it was usually nothing deeper than trying to get a message across like "In which aisle is the toilet paper?"
Having worked in retail and fast food, this is a very frustrating question. I think it helps when both parties at least know the basics of each other's language. It's a decent building block. One time, a guy tried to order a drink with NO comprehension of the English language or the Starbucks menu. Thank god for translators. When I asked him 'Name?' to put on the cup, he just gave me a blank stare. I tried to bust out my rusty, broken Spanish "Te llamo." But if they can neither show you nor decribe what they need through hand guestures, no matter how many times they repeat what they need in their language, it's a lost cause. Buy a translating dictionary and come prepared.
not social, I was once approached by a French lorry driver, well he was shouting at me from his cab, in French, I shrugged and said, 'Anglaise.' He carried on wittering at me in French so I said, 'go back to France and send a driver who speaks English.' but not as polite as that:-) Suddenly he could speak English and asked me directions?
There is of course the other way when speaking to non English speakers, shout, the louder you shout the easier it is for them to understand, especially if you use a foreign accent.
My favorite memory is when I visited Salerno, Italy. My boyfriend and I wanted to try some gelato but we didn't know Italian and the clerks didn't know English or French. So the clerk held up a cup and a cone and said "coppa" and "cono." Now learning the vocabulary we were able to point to the flavor we wanted and we attempted to say the flavor name that was written next to it but I'm sure we butchered it.
When I visited Prague in the Czech Republic I went to a museum where one of the security guards didn't speak English. He wanted me to tie my coat around my waist instead of carry it. He came over to me and told me in Czech and also gestured. Between the tone of voice and gesture I was able to figure out what he wanted.
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