Cityvisitor blog

Awkwardness abroad

Have you ever felt awkward when ordering food abroad?

New research has shown that more than half of Britons point at food on menus when they are ordering from restaurants in non-English speaking countries.

This is done so that people who are nervous about speaking to non-English people don’t actually have to say anything.

Being a broad Yorkshireman, I must admit that there are times when I have adopted the pointing attitude when ordering food.

People don’t always understand me in my own country, let alone when I am abroad!

It is easier to get what you want this way, and it avoids the awkwardness of miscommunication.

I find it embarrassing that I don’t know the local language of where I am going to, and it feels a shame that the waiter has to learn my language rather than me learn their language in their homeland.

I should try to learn languages more, and it is actually quite good fun learning the local lingo of where you are because I’ve tried it before.

However, when I’m on holiday, I’m not always in the frame of mind to learn things. I go away to relax, and I don’t want the stress of learning another language. This probably isn’t a good enough excuse, but it’s the truth!

The survey by Populus also found that 45% of people assumed local people would know English and 42% of people spoke English much slower than they would at home.

There are even 15% of people who speak English in a foreign-sounding accent to try to help locals understand English better.

One of my friends tried this when I went on holiday once, and it was one of the funniest things I ever saw. By putting on a different voice, it doesn’t actually change the fact that the words you are saying are different to what the locals are, so I find this tactic very funny.

English people do tend to have that arrogance when it comes to expecting non-English speakers to learn our language.

I’m sure we can all do better to try to adapt more. You never know, we might learn something in the process!

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