There is nothing quite like leaving things until the last minute. Granted, with a whole week still to go, I may have to give up the procrastination crown.
In one week, I’ll be on a plane headed to Istanbul. (I’ll try to post while I’m gone, but no guarantees.) Since I bought the tickets a few months back, I’ve had all the best intentions to sit down and learn some basic, survival-level Turkish.
Have I? Not until today. Whoops.
A Google search brought me this wonderful site that doesn’t even require me to create an account and works well with my brain. It’s a little buggy at times, but it gives me exactly what I want.
I’ve spent no more than three hours with it, and unless the Turkish it uses is entirely ridiculous or nonsensical, I’ve memorized most of what I consider survival-level language skills.
Yes, I’m bragging.
I’m also cheating. I’m fortunate enough to be wired for languages, and to have a usually excellent grasp of the English language, and to have studied four foreign-to-me languages fairly intensely, plus having traveled to non-English-speaking countries several times. Also, my standards for “survival” level relax for anywhere in or around Europe, where many people are bi- or trilingual. Going to, say, South Korea, would require an order of magnitude more work. And the purpose of a trip affects those levels, too.
In this case, “survival” level (to me) means basic politeness — saying “please” or “thank you” or “excuse me/sorry” — or being able to ask for the check at a restaurant, or how much something is in a shop, which also requires learning numbers. Maps are worth their weight in gold, and for everything else, there are hand gestures.
It’s kind of awesome how many fantastic conversations I’ve ended up in, despite the lack of a shared language.
Some of you must have fun language stories. Please share!