Travel Talk

Published on February 6th, 2013 | by Ann Rickard


Travel Talk – Learn the lingo before travel

ONE of the many mistakes Australian travellers make is to assume wherever they go people will speak English.

My husband, normally a man of impeccable manners, is the worst offender of this. He will march up to a person on the street in Paris and without even so much as an ‘excuse me’ will say in rapid Aussie-fied English: “Can you tell me which metro line is best to get to the Latin Quarter? I think it should be the red line, not the yellow one. What is your opinion?”

He is ignored a lot in Paris.

But then so am I. I have too often made the mistake of approaching a stranger on the Parisian streets and politely saying:

“Excuse me, do you speak English?”

The usual reply is a haughty “yes, I do, do you speak French?” before an arrogant but well-deserved dismissal.

Imagine us on the streets of Brisbane having a French person approach and ask us a question in French? We’d be both offended and amused. Yet so many of us do this to strangers in foreign countries. Either that, or shout at them in broken English as though they were deaf

The old maxim that the traveller should always attempt a greeting in the language of the country she is visiting is a reliable one to follow. Enter a shop in France, even a tiny patisserie, and ask for something without first offering a polite ‘bonjour’ and you will receive a withering look and often be overlooked for the customers behind you. Not good when you’re hankering for a baguette.



About the Author

is a Noosa (Australia) local and author of six successful books, all humorous travel narratives. In 2005 Ann won the prestigious ASTW’s Australian Travel Writer of the Year and in 2007 she won the ASTW Travel Book of the Year. Ann takes a culinary tour to the South of France in June every year . Ann writes travel, dining and columns for the Sunshine Coast Daily and is the Life editor of the Noosa News. Ann also maintains a well read and popular blog site. Ann’s travels have seen her explore cuisines all over the world.

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