Trying to communicate: the best part of your story.

Frequently, people avoid travelling away from tourist focused locations because they’re worried about whether they will be understood, I’d suggest that means they miss out of the best part of the experience.

msadvn recently said on reddit:

The stories of trying to communicate (and hopefully succeeding) might be some of the best parts of your adventure.

Here’s my story:

Kosovo has a very divided population. Due to Stuff and Wars and Sad Things, there are people that speak Albanian and people that speak Serbian. They probably understand and speak the other language as well, but for political reasons they do not, and will not understand.

Anyway, 90% is Albanian speaking so I took an Albanian phrasebook and went travelling to a remote southern village (Brod), high in the mountains!

After walking round the village several times, sticking out like a sore sore thumb, I walk into one of the cafés and attempted an Albanian “Meridita” (“hello/good afternoon!”).

Instantly “nie Albanish. Serbish.” was growled back.

“Shit.” I thought.

“Well, no point using the phrasebook”.

I then tried English. No one spoke English. I tried French. No one spoke French. I tried the bits of Swedish know, unsurprisingly, no Swedish. I tried bits of Russian, and hum, had a lukewarm response – Serbian and Russian are somewhat mutually intelligible and share vocabulary.

Then the guy behind the counter whipped out his laptop, plugged it into this crumbling wall socket and connected to google translate.. and via google translate, we communicated, I explained where I was from, and I was able to organise somewhere to sleep that night, and a guide to take me walking the next day!

I had a great time, and that experience of walking into that café will stay with me for a long time! :)


Linguistics fact: Brod is inhabited by the Gorani people who actually speak the Gorani language/dialect every day.

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