My colleague wanted to buy a box of chocolates from a Polish store but couldn’t get the vendor’s attention. If her voice was too soft or her approach not good enough for the vendor to recognise, I don’t remember anymore. But when I said “Dzien dobry!” coupled with my biggest smile, the vendor quipped “Dzien dobry!” back in her most friendly tone and welcoming smile. Our business in the store was done in a matter of minutes. I closed the conversation with “Dziekuje”.
“Dzien dobry” means good day in Polish while “Dziekuje” means thank you. Years of traveling has taught me that these are two of the most important foreign phrases one must learn while on a journey in a foreign land. I survived Warsaw for three days knowing only these two phrases. Normally, I would learn more words and phrases though but since we were on a business trip seeing only the hotel and the conference area and talking to non-Polish people most of the time, I limited the foreign language learning to these two phrases. I got by because after hearing “Dzien dobry”, the Polish are ready to help you with anything even if they don’t understand your English good enough. This applies to other languages, in other countries.
I realised that it does not even matter how you pronounce the words… of course there would be plus points for that but if you try to use a few local words in any travel, locals are more than willing to help you. Using their language is like music to their ears. It makes them feel like you are trying your best to get to know them better, to get to know their culture better. Which can not be far from the truth since learning the language is the best way to get to know a culture. More on that on my next post. Meanwhile, learn a few useful foreign phrases for your next trip here.#