The average Briton will jet off on holiday knowing only eight words of the country’s language, according to a new study.
Researchers took a look into how ‘au fait’ we are with other languages and revealed the majority of us will head off on our summer holidays only being able to say a handful of things in the native dialect.
The survey by Holiday Autos revealed nearly two thirds of Britons claim to be embarrassed that we make such little effort to learn foreign languages.
However a further 27% admit to making no effort to learn a language ahead of their holiday – with the fact ‘everyone speaks English’ emerging as the main excuse.
Parlez vous anglais?
The study found French to be the language Brits are most familiar with, with the average UK adult being able to rattle off up to 15 words. However, despite millions of Brits travelling to Spain this summer, the average holidaymaker knows just eight words in Spanish.
‘Hello’, ‘yes’ and ‘goodbye’ are the most common words Brits known how to say in a foreign language, followed by ‘thanks’, ‘no’ and ‘good morning’ – while three in ten of Brits on holiday know how to ask where the bathroom is and over a third can competently ask for a beer.
Of the 1,500 respondents surveyed, 23% said they holiday in English speaking resorts so there was no need to make an effort and speak the local language.
A spokesperson for Holiday Autos, said: “This research highlights that Brits don’t make huge amounts of effort when it comes to learning languages when planning a holiday in country abroad.
“Saying that, if, of those eight words that the average adult knows is ‘please’, ‘thank you’ and ‘good morning’, you can’t go far wrong.”
“For those that want to know just enough words to get by when they head off to sunnier climes this summer, we’ve produced handy language guides that are available online and include top foreign phrases that you can learn while traveling or before you pick up your holiday hire car.”
Lost in translation
Being so limited with the local language has landed one in ten adults in hot water – with problems occurring when ordering food and drinks, following directions and settling a bill.
One in ten have lost luggage on holiday and struggled to communicate with the necessary people.
35% of Brits claim to start speaking slower in English when trying to make themselves understood and a quarter opt for gesticulating wildly with their hands.
More than one in 20 have even resorted to drawing pictures and one in ten have to rely on their smartphone to make themselves understood.
Over a quarter of Brits have a funny story to tell about a friend or family member trying to make themselves understood on holiday – with 17 percent claiming they still laugh about it.
The average holidaymaker has experienced three ‘lost in translation’ moments when on holiday:
- A gentleman got a surprise in France when he asked for jam to go with his croissant and got a condom
- A holidaymaker thought he was asking a waiter where the toilet was, but was actually repeatedly asking where the man’s wife was
- Another asked for egg on his pancake and got a raw egg
- One respondent asked for a lemonade and ended up buying a newspaper
- Another regularly got the French words for rabbit and bread around the wrong way
- One respondent ended up with a slap around the face. To this day he doesn’t know what he said.
Of those that completed the poll, 35% would like to know enough words to just get by when they head off on holiday.
“The survey has uncovered some really interesting insights into how Brits seem to have the confidence to communicate while traveling without necessarily learning any of the native language,” the spokeperson added.
“It shows that having confidence leads to happier holidays — something which Holiday Autos believes in wholeheartedly, as we provide book and go car hire and we are committed to find the best car at the best price for everyone’s holidays.”
Top 30 foreign words/phrases Brits CAN say on holiday
- Good morning
- My name is
- Good evening
- Excuse me
- The bill please
- Can I have a beer?
- Where is the bathroom?
- Where is the hotel?
- Please can I have a glass of wine?
- Still water
- Where is the hospital?
- Straight on
- Will you sleep with me?
- Sparkling water
- I have an upset stomach