The language barrier need not prevent you from traveling

“Although ignorance of the local language thwarts exchanges of ideas, it’s unimportant on a practical level. I’ve wandered around four continents using only English and a few courtesy phrases of Tibetan, Amharic, Quechua, Albanian, or whatever. Our basic needs — sleeping, eating, drinking — can always be indicated by signs or globally understood noises. Even on the emotional level, the language barrier is quite porous. People’s features, particularly their eyes, are wonderfully eloquent. In our everyday lives, the extent to which we wordlessly communicate is taken for granted. In “far-flungery,” where nobody within a hundred miles speaks a word of any European language, one fully appreciates the range of moods and subtle feelings that may be conveyed visually.”
–Dervla Murphy, “Murphy’s Laws of Travel” from Paul Theroux’s The Tao of Travel (2011)

Posted by | Comments (3)  | February 27, 2012
Category: Travel Quote of the Day

3 Responses to “The language barrier need not prevent you from traveling”

  1. Matt Says:

    Yeah, I think I read or heard somewhere that only ~15% of actual communication is through the words spoken, your body is usually screaming your true thoughts, I’m thirsty!!!…

  2. DEK Says:

    You don’t need the language to get from here to there. Good will and solicitude for strangers are common, and the travel industry at all levels (excepting perhaps TSA) is user-friendly.