Friday, June 02, 2006

honoured strangers

I will be writing about my adventures in Corfu shortly (when I can find something to say that hasn't already been said beautifully by either Lawrence Durrell or Gerald Durrell), but for now, a short rant about the courtesies demanded of visitors to other countries.

Is it just me that feels that it is only courtesy to learn a few words of the local language before visiting another country? It appears that I am alone in this view, judging by the ecstatic reaction of one taverna owner to me asking for my food in Greek (I read the words off the Greek bit of the menu and added the word paracalo - please). As Nick Edwards says in the Rough Guide to Corfu, the utterance of even a few words of Greek elevates you from the status of tourista (grockle) to the status of xenia (guest, foreigner, honoured stranger).

When I went to Prague, I learnt how to say please, thank you, good morning, good afternoon, good night, etc in Czech. I also know these basic phrases in Italian, Greek, and Welsh (and I speak French, German and a bit of Spanish). It is is only polite, and doesn't take that much effort to learn (unless you are dyslexic). And there are lots of websites where you can find this sort of information, some of which have short sound files demonstrating the pronunciation. So there really is no excuse.

Here's my contribution to international relations.

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