Essential Swedish 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in Swedish.

If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Swedish 1 you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 essentials. 
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where is …?” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank or an ATM.
You may also want to know if the person you’re talking with speaks French, German, Spanish, Italian, or English – that is, one of the languages you may speak as well.

The Next 12 Swedish Phrases: “Var är…?”

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Italian speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Italian speaker
  • Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with the top right icon .)

Pronunciation Tips for Swedish:

In the following group of phrases, you can practice a few typical Swedish sounds:
r – is a rolled tongue-tip “r” (like a Spanish “r”).
u – say “ee” but round your lips.
s before ä – has a “sh” sound: “ursäkta”
-tion ending – in the phrases below, it’s pronounced “hon”, with a very breathy “h”.

Traveling in Sweden…

A few years ago – after taking a Hurtigruten trip along the Norwegian coast – we spent a week in Stockholm . We learned a lot about the history of Norway and Sweden and wrote about it in A Cruise and Norwegian Language Politics…
When you arrive at the Stockholm Arlanda airport, which is located about 25 miles north of Stockholm, you are immediately impressed by the Arlanda Express train, both by its fare (+/- $40) and its speed.
You can catch the train right below the terminal. It has WiFi, runs every 15 minutes and takes about 20 minutes to Stockholm Central Station.
A less expensive option (about $13) are the Flygbussarna airport shuttle buses, or the Flix Bus, starting at about $6. Both take close to an hour, depending on traffic.
While we were in Stockholm, we took a train ride to Uppsala, which takes about 40 minutes. Exploring the fourth-largest Swedish city with the oldest Scandinavian University (founded in 1477) turned out to be a very pleasant day trip.
Now, that we have also been to Denmark, we can really appreciate the similarities between the Nordic languages.

“Var är…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Var är…?” questions could let the person you are asking assume that you speak Swedish.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of Swedish words you may not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Swedish – left, right, straight ahead, etc.
Check back with us for next 13 Swedish phrases in a few weeks.

Essential Polish 1

Polish polite phrases and greetings…

Travelers visiting Poland can learn and practice 11+ essential words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below.
Listen.
Record yourself.
Play back and compare. 
(See more “Learn and Practice Tips” below!)

The First 11 Polish Phrases

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Polish speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself.
  • Click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Polish speaker.
  • Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with top right icon .)

Why learn these Polish Phrases?

Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful. 
Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Poland and as the waiter serves you, you say “Dziękuję”. 
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Polish, your effort may make him smile.
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
We start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”.
You’ll notice that the word “Proszę” has a couple of meanings: “Please”, “Here you are”, and is also part of the phrase “You’re welcome”.
“Dzień dobry” (literally “Good day”) is a formal greeting that can be used throughout the day.
We’ve also included “Nie mówię po polsku” (I don’t speak Polish) and the question whether your conversation partner speaks any of the languages you may also know.

Good Things to Know

Polish is a West Slavic language that is closely related to Czech and Slovak.
After Russian, Polish is the second most spoken Slavic language.
Polish and other West Slavic languages are written in the Latin script. (As opposed to East Slavic languages such as Russian and Ukrainian, which use Cyrillic.)
There are large Polish-speaking communities in Germany, the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, and other countries.
You’ll find that many young people in Poland speak English, but older people, especially outside of cities, not so much.
With them you may have to try your Polish, or use Russian or German.

Polish Pronunciation Tips

Polish letters and sounds in Essentials 1:
ie – has a “yeh” sound in “Nie” (No). Also in “Dobry wieczór”.
ę – has a nasal sound, similar to “-in” in the French word “enfin”: Try it in “Proszę”, “Dziękuję”.
sz – is pronounced the “sh” as in “show”. Try it in “Proszę”.
dzi – is pronounced “jee”, as in “jeep”. Try it “Dziękuję”, “Dzień dobry”.
dz – sounds like the “ts” in “hats”, in “Do widzenia”.
cz – has a “tch” sound, as in “Dutch”. Try it in the last sentence, which starts with “Czy…”.
If you’re eager to learn and practice more sounds, go to Polish Alphabet and Pronunciation.
For English speakers, Polish has a number of sound combinations that are challenging, as you can hear in the list below.
The best approach may be to learn the Polish sound system step by step, repeating often, as you learn each of the words and expressions.

Walking in the country side…

While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Warsaw and other large Polish cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a larger city may be crucial. 
And, as we always notice when we walk in a village or in the countryside, greetings are common and even expected!
Being a visitor in Poland will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Polish.

The Next 12 Polish Phrases: “Gdzie jest?”

In the next installment (to be added shortly) – Essential Polish 2 – you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and bus station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located. 
Even if you have a GPS-enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions.

Essential Dutch 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in Dutch.

If you’ve already learned and practiced Dutch polite phrases and greetings with Essential Dutch 1, you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 essentials. 
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where is …?” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, the subway or railway station, a bank, an ATM or a place to rent a bike.
You may also want to know if the person you’re talking with speaks French, German, Spanish, Italian, or English – that is, maybe one of the languages you speak as well.

The next 12 Dutch Phrases

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Dutch speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Dutch speaker.
  • Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with the top right icon .)

Dutch Pronunciation Tips

Taking examples from the list below: the Dutch “w” (as in “waar”) is pronounced more softly than an English “w”.
On the other hand, Dutch “v” is close to an English “f” – which you’ll hear in the phrase “het VVV-kantoor”.
Note: when “e” or “ee” are unstressed, they are pronounced “uh”. You’ll hear this in “de WC”, “de bushalte”, “de brug”, and in “een bank”, “een geldautomaat”, “een fiets”.
But when “ee” stressed, it sounds closer to “ay” (as in “day”). You’ll hear this in “apotheek”, “wanneer”, “spreekt u”.

Traveling in the Netherlands…

Because I have family in the Netherlands, we often go there.
Once there, we either rent a car at the airport or use the excellent train and bus system.
In European Travels 1: Rembrandt, Reunion, Dunes, and “Fietsen”… we talked about some of our experiences there.
“Fietsen” (to bike) is certainly a word you’ll hear a lot. For US residents both the number of helmet-less bike riders, and their agility to weave through traffic and pedestrian zones will be surprising!
In any case, when crossing a street, especially one-way streets, don’t just pay attention to the cars. Also look out for bikes, which can come at you from any direction!
In our first Dutch post with polite phrases and greetings, you’ll see our link to Dutch Canal Boating.
When you’re boating on a canal, the important question is: “When does the bridge open?”
Typically, there are signs close to a bridge that show you the hours of operation.
But whenever we happened to be walking past a bridge that we would pass later on with our boat, we would just ask the bridge keeper directly.
Major highways in the Netherlands and Belgium are well maintained and quite busy.
But once you’re in the countryside and on narrow roads in small towns, bike paths and car lanes often compete for space.
(On the picture above, the two-way car lane on a country road is sandwiched between two bike paths.)

“Waar is…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Waar is…?” questions could let the person you’re asking assume that you speak Dutch.
The result will often be an answer and a stream of Dutch words you may not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Dutch – left, right, straight ahead, etc.
And while the Dutch are certainly one of the most English-speaking people in Europe, you’ll still find those who prefer to give you directions in Dutch.
Find 13 directional phrases in Essential Dutch 3.

Essential Romanian 1

Romanian polite phrases and greetings…

Travelers visiting Romania can learn and practice 11+ essential words and phrases here. We’ve posted the first 11 below.
Listen.
Record yourself.
Play back and compare. 
(See more “Learn and Practice Tips” below!)

Why learn these Romanian Phrases?

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Romanian speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Romanian speaker.
  • Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with top right icon .)

The First 11 Romanian Phrases

Whenever you travel to a country where you don’t speak the language, you’ll encounter situations when these words will be useful. 
Let’s say, you’ve ordered your first meal in a restaurant in Romania and as the waiter serves you, you say “Mulțumiri”. 
Even if the waiter knows that you don’t speak Romanian, your effort may make him smile … 
And beyond “Please” and “Thank you”, basic greetings really are the staple of first words you should know in any country you visit.
And we start with the most obvious and easiest ones: “Yes” and “No”. We end with asking whether your conversations partner speaks any of the languages you may also speak.

Good Things to Know

Romanian is a Romance Language (like French, Spanish and Portuguese), which all originated from “Vulgar” or spoken Latin.
Romanian is most similar to Italian, especially because Romanian has a large number of Italian loan words.
But of the Romance languages, Romanian is the language closest in grammar to Vulgar Latin. It has three genders: Masculine, Feminine, and Neuter, and has kept the six Latin cases.
Romanian is the official language of Romania and of the neighboring Republic of Moldova.

Romanian Pronunciation Tips

In Romanian, there are a few letters that don’t exist in English, but their sounds are not that hard to learn.
Romanian pronunciation is phonetic and if you know any Italian, you’ll find that their sounds are quite similar.
Let’s start with examples from the list of phrases below.
Romanian “ț” has a “ts” sound. Examples: “Mulțumiri” and “Bună dimineaţa”.
The letter “ă” is pronounced “ah” (as in “father”). Examples: “Vă rog”, “Bună ziua!”, “Bună seara”, and others.
Romanian “r” is similar to an Italian trilled-r, (and not like an American guttural “r”).
Finally for this list, Romanian “c” has a “k” sound before “u” or “a”, and a “ch” sound (as in “cheese”) before “i” or “e”. Example: “Cu plăcere!”

Walking in the country side…

While there’ll be many opportunities to use basic greetings in Bucharest and other large Romanian cities, knowing them when you’re outside of a larger city is even more important. 
As we always notice when we walk in the countryside or in smaller towns, greetings are common and even expected!
Being a visitor in Romania will make you much more welcome, when you make the effort to greet people in Romanian.

The Next 12 Romanian Phrases: “Unde este…?

In the next installment – Essential Romanian 2– you’ll learn to ask where the bathroom, train and bus station, bank, pharmacy etc. are located. 
Even if you have a GPS enabled smart phone, it won’t tell you where the bathroom is – and you’ll certainly find plenty of opportunities to ask other “Where…?” questions. It’s also often a good way to start a conversation!

Essential Danish 2

Asking “Where is…? questions in Danish.

If you’ve already learned and practiced Essential Danish 1 you’ll be ready to tackle the next 12 essentials.
These are words and phrases that’ll help you ask “Where is …?” questions – if you’re looking for the bathroom, a pharmacy, a bus stop, or the subway or railway station, a bank or an ATM.
You may also want to know if the person you’re talking with speaks French, German, Spanish, Italian, or English – that is, maybe one of the languages you speak as well.

The Next 12 Danish Phrases: “Hvor er…?”

Learn and Practice Tips

  • Click the black arrow to hear the Danish speaker.
  • Click the red dot once to record yourself, click the black square to stop recording.
  • When you click the black arrow again, you’ll hear the native speaker and then yourself.
  • Do it several times until you sound like the Danish speaker.
  • Then “Choose a Study Mode” and test yourself with one of the Quizlet games! (You may need to adjust your Options with top right icon .)

Traveling in Denmark…

A few years ago we spent two weeks in Denmark. We had rented a car in Germany and took the ferry from Fynshav to Bojden.
We don’t have any experience with train travel in Denmark, except for using the Copenhagen subway and S-trains. Both were quite efficient and convenient to use. In fact, the two new driverless metro lines (a city loop is expected to be completed in 2019) made our Boston, MA Red Line even look more like the antique that it is.
All the bus stops in Copenhagen had signs that showed the arrival of the next 1-2 buses.
One noticeable feature that we saw everywhere, at every little town or community we entered: A radar read-out that showed our car speed. It seemed very effective.
While the Netherlands may have the reputation as the bicycling nation, Denmark and especially Copenhagen don’t seem to be far behind. Bike paths are everywhere and renting an e-bike is easy and fun.
We even took a Segway tour that used the bike paths in downtown Copenhagen.
You can read more about our experiences in European Travels 8 – Denmark: Zealand and Copenhagen.

“Hvor er…?”-Questions Answered…

Asking “Hvor er…?” questions could let the person you are asking assume that you speak Danish.
(This indeed happened to Ulrike, when she asked a passerby in a small Danish town for the closest ATM!)
The result will often be an answer and a stream of Danish words you may not understand.
It would therefore be good to know some basic directional words and phrases in Danish – left, right, straight ahead, etc.
Check back with us for next 13 Danish phrases in a few weeks.