Posted by: sbilingual | March 13, 2012

What are the key words of any language ?


Naturally, the answer depends on how you interpret the question.

Are you looking at it from a scientific perspective? If you are the answer might be the most frequently used words in the language. Alternatively, if you are an anthropologist the key words might be the ones which have the most significance culturally.

As a visitor to another country, the key words in a foreign language are the words which will be of most use to you and which you will use most often. These key words and phrases will vary from visitor to visitor depending on the purpose of their trip. A businessman, for example, may have different language requirements to the tourist, and when only learning a small part of language may choose to concentrate on a few formal situations.

Nevertheless, everybody who visits a foreign country will have some requirements in common.

Or do they ?

Probably not that many.

After all we are all different and want to travel for different reasons. For example, when I visit Spain or Italy I prefer to eat in local restaurants, and it is quite often the case that these are often places where little or no English is spoken. Other people prefer to stay in all inclusive hotels where language isn’t a problem. Even though eating is hardly a specialist area, it does illustrate the point that we all have differing holiday needs. Some people enjoy using trains and buses to see a country and so their key words relate to buying tickets, asking where such and such a train leaves from etc. Other people will spend a lot more time in museums and it will improve their trip to learn a few relevant expressions. In other words it is very useful to learn key words to cover situations that you will encounter.

So is there any common ground ? Are there any key words, expressions and phrases that EVERY visitor to Spain, Germany, France …… should learn ?




Signs. (Entrance/Exit etc).

Most people will also want to learn simple words to do with food, drink and travel but I would say that the only common ground, the only words that everyone has to learn are the above. You always need to know how to leave a place and how to get in. You will always have plenty of opportunity to say hello, goodbye and ciao to people. Numbers, well numbers are just always used. Two coffees, three tickets

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  1. This list is great, as there are key terms and phrases necessary in EVERY language that may help us all when we travel abroad. Great post!!!


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