“Where’s the bathroom?”


Feral cat in my patio (2007).

I really don’t have a good ear for languages. I have studied Latin, French, German, Russian, Thai, and Korean, but am not fluent in any of them. However, I did manage to pass the translation exams in French and German, which was required when I was a graduate student at Columbia University. I can read with the help of a dictionary, but can’t write or speak these languages.

It’s funny that a number of tour guide books include a section for questions to be asked in a foreign language.

Big mistake.

You do NOT want to ask, “Where is the bathroom?” in Korean, because the person you ask might think you are fluent in Korean and answer you in Korean. Then, you will be forced to say, “Can you give me directions in English?”

The first thing you should always ask a native is, “Do you speak English?”

Keep asking until someone says, “Yes.”

Then, ask that person, “Where is the bathroom?” in English.

Hopefully, you’ll be able to understand that person’s English and get to that bathroom in time.

10 Responses to ““Where’s the bathroom?””

  1. Linda Starr Says:

    when I traveled in Mexico that was the one word I learned but usually they just pointed out where the bathroom was to us. Ha.

  2. Jan Says:

    I usually make sure I know where the bathroom is when going to a foreign restaurant! 🙂

  3. Olga Says:

    That is a really good travel tip.

  4. DeniseinVA Says:

    That is a very important question when traveling! Understanding the answer is even more important 🙂

  5. SchmidleysScribblins Says:

    Yes, I had aFrenchman, with whom I was trying to speak French say, “Just speak English” in an annoyedvoice. Apparently, my French was not fluent. ☺️

  6. Christine Says:

    very good tip Gigi, I will remember that. Once I did try speaking in French and they did answer back in French, not really what I intended.

  7. Joanne Noragon Says:

    I must continually request help line “helpers” who speak English. Then when I must use the loo three hours into the “help” session, they hold the line for me.

  8. dkzody Says:

    Good point. Of course, I don’t travel to foreign countries so it is a moot point for me.

  9. Linda Reeder Says:

    Fortunately most Europeans who deal with tourists are fluent in English.

  10. Tom Sightnigs Says:

    Better advice hath never been given!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: