Buenos día, bon jour, boun giorno and bula.

Since it’s international languages week when we’re being encouraged to widen our linguistic horizons by branching out from our mother tongue, we might spare a thought for people who come here without being able to understand English.

A couple of women ahead of me in the queue at the airport bank were trying to pay departure tax.

The woman serving them asked for their passports. they looked blank.

She repeated what she’d just said, a little more slowly and a little more loudly.

They looked at each other then back at the woman serving them.

She asked for their passports again even more slowly.

It was obvious the women didn’t have a clue what she was saying.

I showed them my passport and the light went on in their eyes.

We can’t expect people working  at airports to speak every language they might encounter from their customers. But how difficult would it be to have a sign showing in pictures what was required when paying the tax?

2 Responses to ¿Comprende?

  1. Adolf Fiinkensein says:

    ‘buno dia’ is a particularly Argentinian rendition of beunos dias.

    A bit like our “Morning!”

  2. gravedodger says:

    I wonder if the less than well trained and supported “customer service representative” would have moved to shouting to get into their world if your so sensible solution had not worked. As one with only rudimentary english supplemented with bad and then non drawing room variations and a smattering of maori I am envious of multilingual practitioners of oral communication. In the olden days language options were french/commercial practice and latin/history-geography.I as the simple farmboy didnt spend long in choosing and I am sure the classics immersed teachers were not about to increase their work load by advising anything different. I have some regrets as in when a non english speaker requires treatment at the roadside but havn’t had anything beyond possible yet. Reading the obvious physical signs and pain response gives many signals but I take on board your simple ‘image’ solution as good advice to communicate.

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