I just learned to say "hi" and "thank you" in the languages of the
different Asian communities I live with.  It totally transforms my
relationships  like a cultural "open seseme". (sometimes I have needed
the phrase "does your brother carry a gun".)

--- In FairfieldLife@yahoogroups.com, Sal Sunshine <[EMAIL PROTECTED]>
> On Sep 17, 2006, at 9:13 AM, TurquoiseB wrote:
> > At least in the major cities, many if not most of
> > the people you speak to *can* understand and speak
> > English. It's just that unless their income is
> > completely dependent on tips -- and sometimes even
> > when it is -- they WON'T converse with you in English
> > until you first prove your worthiness as a human being.
> >
> > You do this by attempting to speak French, and thus by
> > embarrassing yourself thoroughly in public. Once you've
> > done this and the other French people in the shop or
> > bar or restaurant have had the opportunity to snicker
> > silently at your terrible accent and grammar, the French
> > are more than willing to suddenly rediscover their
> > previously-lapsed language skills and speak English
> > with you. It's a pecking order thang.  :-)
>   Actually, I've found that most people appreciate this.  Nobody
> fluency from a tourist, but if you visit another country, and attempt 
> to speak even a few phrases, even if you have to look them up in a 
> phrase-book right as you're speaking them, people seem to treat you 
> differently, as someone who is making an effort, even a small one, to 
> understand a part of their culture.  I've never interpreted the 
> laughter to be derisive.
> Sal

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