I think I have finally reached the saturation point of being the big dumb American, running around Europe, asking people if they can speak English. Yeah, it’s true, many people can. It’s also true that many other country people (Germans, Italians, and English) will just start speaking in their native tongue to people and not give a rip. But I, I want to be better than that. I want to have conversations that don’t revolve around what size beer or pizza I am ordering.
There are some countries where the people realize that due to their size and rather isolated language group, they need to learn other languages. For instance, I met a Hungarian girl in Vienna who spoke German, English, and a bit of French in addition to her native tongue. Maybe some others as well. The Hungarians know that having a language loosely tied to Finnish isn’t going to get them anywhere in the world and they deal with it.
It’s also the case in touristed areas of Slovenia and Croatia that people will usually always speak German or Italian or both and then a good deal of English as well. I respect that. But then, I also respect the fact that the Austrians (who speak a Germanic dialect of course) seem to learn French and English quite casually. I know that these are small countries surrounded by those speaking other languages, but still, there’s a pretty damn big effort to learn all these languages and learn them well.
So that is why I, the twiddly American really wants to learn at least one other language really well. I learned a good deal of Spanish in school and am reviewing that as I can, but honestly, very few people in Europe speak Spanish readily. I should probably learn German as I can read it quite well already, but not have any idea what I’m saying. This would be the practical way to go, but I have always been anything but practical. No, I think I’m going to go back to my alma mater and learn Serbo-Croatian. Yeah, it’s not a language that a ton of people speak, but it has strong linguistic ties to Czech, Slovak, Polish, and Russian to name a few. This makes it a bit more useful when you think about it. It is true that almost no one learns the Slavic languages in Western Europe. They all learn English, which I think I done got well nuf in my head at this point.