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Blogger Abroad: Charlie Visits a Dutch Distillery


Even the most ambitious polyglots don’t speak every language they might encounter in the world: There are thousands! So what happens when you don’t know the language required to communicate with someone?  If you know even one or two additional languages, you may be able to rely on them to help fill in the gaps!

This is exactly what our summer abroad blogger Charlie did during a recent opportunity to tour a Dutch distillery. In his words:

An exciting part of learning German is that it shares a number of similarities with neighboring languages.

While in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, I took a tour of a well-known distillery. The tour was only offered in Dutch, but, being a bartender, I didn’t want to let this opportunity go to waste. I ended up taking the Dutch tour and experienced something very interesting linguistically.

As the guide explained the distillery’s workings in Dutch, I would ask questions in German. Despite not understanding one another perfectly, I began to realize which words and phrases were most similar in my German to his Dutch. In sticking to these specific words, I was able to communicate quite passably to the guide by the end of the tour.

On a whole, I think the experience illustrates a really important element in communication between people of different mother tongues. While there may still be some gaps in understanding, there are many ways two people can build a pseudo “language” together to enhance their ability to communicate.

Languages allow us to connect with people and share experiences that we may have otherwise missed. Have you ever tried using your second language to communicate with someone who speaks a similar, but different, home language?

Tell us about it @LeadWLanguages on social media!

Charlie Blog 2: Distillery