English, the language of adventure

Visiting unfamiliar territory induces a sense of excitement and wonder. It is something that inevitably comes along with the journey. Travelling can refresh the spirit. It can sharpen your mind because of all the new stimuli coming its way. More importantly, it gives the opportunity to learn more about the locality, its culture, and communicate with its residents.


A deeper understanding

Venturing to other places especially abroad exposes you to other languages. At the same time, the people you are speaking with have a chance to practise their English skills as well. It might surprise you that it is not the most widely spoken language in the world. In fact, it is not even the second. It comes in at third place after Chinese and Spanish!

The United Nations (UN) itself encourages multilingualism. It allows representatives of Member States to become more open-minded, engaged, effective and interested in the Organisation’s programmes. Their assignments usually require them to travel from their home countries and visit foreign lands. While there, they are tasked to promote the interests of their nation and at the same time learn what could be brought back to their own country. The activities involved could likely exceed what a regular tourist would experience even though it is an adventure nonetheless.

Below are the six official languages of the UN:

●     Arabic

●     Chinese

●     English

●     French

●     Russian

●     Spanish


Discover its uniqueness

Of course, for the majority of us who are merely taking in the sights and sounds of a new place, there is no need to have a broad understanding of the major languages. Still, learning a little about the home language of the particular place you are visiting does help you have a better appreciation for it. This will also show the locals that you are putting in the effort to communicate as they do. It relieves some of the burden on them to adjust their ways in order to accommodate your visit. By doing this, you open yourself up to other facets of their culture that would not ordinarily be available to a normal tourist.

There are words for example that have no equivalent in the English language. Finland has sisu which translates to sustained courage, perseverance or grit. In Japan, using the word shoganai is a form of coping mechanism to communicate something that could not be avoided. Ta’arouf is a universal rule of etiquette in Iran practised through making offers to someone out of politeness. The other party would usually respectfully decline though there are times when a little back and forth of this process would ensue.


English evolving

Note that even languages themselves were influenced by different cultures as they traveled through time. Some words used by the Germanic tribes were derived from Latin of the ancient Rome. The former in turn brought this with them as they reached Albion or the British Isles. It formed parts of the British language or what we know today as English.

‘Butter’ for example was known as butyrum in Latin while knifr was knife in Old Norse. This evolution of words persists even today though there are instances where combinations instead of borrowing are used. Creative expressions such as ‘hangry’ (hungry and angry), ‘mic drop’ and ‘click bait’ have made their way into the English dictionary. Such words much like people have become enriched through travel. Perhaps a certain degree of transformation also awaits those who choose to go on exotic adventures and give in to their wanderlust.


By Patricia C Prada Jimenez and the Blogs Team


Some useful references:


UN official-languages





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