I read the above discussion with interest (and a little alarm!), as I am about to visit Slovakia for the first time, on holiday. However, from my experience of travelling in countries where English is not widely spoken, I would suggest that it is not language that is the problem. I have endured many examples of poor service here in the UK, where everyone speaks English, and have had courteous and polite service in many foreign countries entirely based on gestures and pointing at phrase-books. So I would suggest that attitude is the key, but not only on the part of workers in the tourist industry, but very much also on the part of visiting tourists. Tourists need humility and patience when communicating with those who do not speak their language. A little of this, and a little effort to learn a few words of the native tongue leads to great rewards and a much-enriched cultural experience. In my travels (in Europe and beyond) I have witnessed excruciatingly ignorant tourists, who seemed to have no knowledge or sympathy for the places they were visiting. What's needed is a bit of understanding and forbearance on both sides.
30. Jul 2001 at 0:00