Travelling to Europe for your summer hols but ‘no speaka da lingo? Most Europeans appreciate at least some attempt at their language, regarding us Brits as arrogant for thinking ‘Everyone speaks English anyway’. They do, by and large – but they also resent our presumption. So, this summer, let’s give ’em what they want – albeit mispronounced, sometimes with decidedly dodgy results – especially if you try to cobble common expressions together using a foreign dictionary. OK, there’s no chance of you becoming fluent in another language in time to make it to the airport or Tunnel – but a few key phrases to enhance your experience won’t go amiss (although we do have our tongue firmly in our cheek…). And take note that, while our language is rich in euphemisms, they don’t usually translate well..!

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Let’s get you off to the best possible start when you unleash yourself on foreign ground.

French toilet sign

iStockphoto

First off, you’re bound to want to know where the loos are. So…

In France:
Don’t say: ‘Où puis-je poudre mon nez?’ (‘Where can I powder my nose?’)
Do say: ‘Où se trouve les toilettes, s’il vous plaît?’

In Italy:
Don’t say:
‘Ho bisogno di spendere un centesimo’ (‘I need to spend a penny’)
Do say: ‘Dove sono i gabinetti, per favore?’

In Spain:

Don’t say: ‘Estoy revienta una tripa aquí’ (‘I’m busting a gut here’)
Do say: ‘¿Dónde están los baños, por favor?’

In Germany:
Don’t say:
‘Ich kann es nicht halten länger’ (‘I can’t hold it any longer’)
Do say: ’Wo sind die Toiletten, bitte?’

In Portugal:
Don’t say:
‘Estou prestes a molhar minhas calças’ (‘I’m about to wet my pants’)
Do say: ‘Onde estão os banheiros, por favor?’

In Greece:

Don’t say: ‘Den écho páei poté pio apelpistikí’ (‘I’ve never been more desperate’)
Do say: ‘Poú eínai oi toualétes, parakaló?’

In Turkey:
Don’t say:
‘Kötü bir kaza olduğu konusunda var’ (‘There’s about to be a nasty accident’)
Do say: ‘Nerede lavabolar, lütfen nelerdir?’

Open-air Italian restaurant

iStockphoto

Next stop, asking for a recommendation for a reasonably-priced restaurant.

In France: Don’t say: ‘Je pourrais manger un cheval’ (‘I could eat a horse’)
Do say: ‘Pouvez-vous recommander un restaurant  un prix raisonnable?’

In Italy:
Don’t say:
‘Sono pronto per un po nosebag’ (‘I’m ready for some nosebag’)
Do say:Mi può consigliare un ristorante a prezzi ragionevoli?

In Spain:
Don’t say: ‘Soy Hank Marvin’ (‘I’m Hank Marvin’)
Do say:¿Me puede recomendar un restaurante a un precio razonable?’

In Germany:
Don’t say: ‘¿Was haben Sie hier einige scran zu erhalten tun um?’(‘What do you have to do to get some scran around here?’)
Do say:Können Sie ein preiswertes Restaurant empfehlen?’

In Portugal:
Don’t say: ‘Meu estômago acha que a minha garganta foi cortada’ (‘My stomach thinks my throat’s been cut’)
Do say: ‘Você pode recomendar um restaurante a preços razoáveis?’

In Greece:
Don’t say: ‘Tha édina teleftaía mou dekára gia éna kommáti psomí’ (‘I’d give my last penny for a crust of bread’)
Do say: ‘Boreíte na mou proteínete éna estiatório se logikés timés?’

In Turkey:
Don’t say: ‘Onu dolduru!’ (‘Fill ’er up!’)
Do say:Eğer makul fiyatlı restoran önerebilir misiniz?

Greek dancing

iStockphoto

Fancy a spot of dancing?

In France:
Don’t say: ‘Je veux couper un peu de tapis’ (‘I feel like cutting some rug’)
Do say: ‘Où peut-on aller danser?’

In Italy:
Don’t say: ‘Ho voglia di inciampare la fantastica luce’(‘I fancy tripping the light fantastic’)
Do say: ‘Dove si può andare a ballare?’

In Spain:
Don’t say: ‘Mírame látigo, me mira nae nae’) (‘Watch me whip, watch me nae nae’)
Do say: ‘¿Dónde se puede ir a bailar?’

In Germany:
Don’t say: ‘Wo finde ich einige Formen werfen?’ (‘Where can I cut some shapes?’)
Do say: ‘Wo kann man tanzen gehen?’

In Portugal:
Don’t say: ‘Onde posso obter o meu groove on?’ (‘Where can I get my groove on?’)
Do say: ‘Onde se pode ir dançar?’

In Greece:
Don’t say: ‘Eímai sti diáthesi gia twerking’ (‘I’m in the mood for twerking’)
Do say: ‘Poú boreí kaneís na páei sto choró?’

In Turkey:
Don’t say: ‘Nerede bazı hareketleri büstü olabilir?’ (‘Where can I bust some moves?’)
Do say: ‘Nerede bir dans gidebilirsiniz?’

Man asleep on pavement

iStockphoto

Looking for a bed for the night?

In France:
Don’t say: ‘Je cherche quelque chose pour une seule nuit’ (‘I’m looking for something for one night only’)
Do say: ‘Pouvez-vous recommander un hôtel?’

In Italy:
Don’t say: ‘Dove posso mettere la mia testa stanca?’ (‘Where can I lay my weary head?’)
Do say: ‘Mi può consigliare un hotel?’

In Spain:
Don’t say: ‘Busco algo barato y alegre’ (‘I’m looking for something cheap and cheerful’)
Do say: ‘¿Me puede recomendar un hotel?’

In Germany:
Don’t say: ‘Ich bin auf der Suche nach einem günstigen Koje’ (‘I’m looking for a budget bunk’)
Do say: ‘Können Sie mir ein Hotel empfehlen?’

In Portugal:
Don’t say: ‘Alguma idéia de onde eu posso obter algum olho fechado?’ (‘Any idea where I can get some shut-eye?’)
Do say: ‘Você pode recomendar um hotel?’

In Greece:
Don’t say: ‘Prépei na chtypísei to sáko’ (‘I need to hit the sack’)
Do say: ‘Boreíte na mou proteínete éna xenodocheío?’

In Turkey:
Don’t say: ‘Nerede benim yorgun kemikleri düzenleyebilirsiniz?’ (‘Where can I rest my weary bones?’)
Do say: ‘Bir otel tavsiye edebilir?’

Hungover woman

iStockphoto

In the morning – trying to explain that you’re feeling slightly jaded after hitting the town a bit hard…

In France:
Don’t say: ‘Il est le matin après la nuit avant’ (‘It’s the morning after the night before’)
Do say: ‘Je ne me sens pas si bien’

In Italy:
Don’t say: ‘Il mio cervello si sente come cotone idrofilo’ (‘My brain feels like cotton wool’)
Do say: ‘Non mi sento tanto bene’

In Spain:
Don’t say: ‘Necesito el pelo del perro’ (‘I need the hair of the dog’)
Do say: ‘No me siento tan bien’

In Germany:
Don’t say: ‘Ich leide selbst zugefügten Verletzungen’ (‘I’m suffering self-inflicted injuries’)
Do say: ‘Ich fühle mich nicht so gut’

In Portugal:
Don’t say: ‘Eu tenho gripe frasco marrom’ (‘I have brown-bottle flu’)
Do say: ‘Eu não me sinto tão bem’

In Greece:
Don’t say: ‘To stóma mou eínai san to káto méros tou klouvioú enós budgerigar tou’ (‘My mouth is like the bottom of a budgie’s cage’)
Do say: ‘Den aisthánomai tóso kalá’

In Turkey:
Don’t say: ‘Ben bir Türk güreşçi jockstrap gibi bir ağız var’ (‘I have a mouth like a Turkish wrestler’s jockstrap’)
Do say: ‘Ben çok iyi hissetmiyorum’

Beer and crispsiStockphoto

And finally, for those very British times when only two pints of lager and a packet of crisps will do, here’s how to ask…

In French: ‘Deux blondes et des chips, s’il vous plait.’

In Italian: ‘Birra e patatine, si prega di.’

In Spanish: ‘Dos pintas de cerveza y un paquete de patatas fritas, por favor.’

In German: ‘Zwei pints lager und eine packung chips, bitte.’

In Portuguese: ‘Duas pintas da cerveja e um pacote de batatas fritas, por favor.’

In Greek: ‘Dýo potíria býras kai éna pakéto patatákia, parakaloúm.’

In Turkish: ‘İki lager pint ve bir paket cips, lütfen.’

Enjoy your holidays. Cheers!