Language and Obnoxious Tourists

Time reports on a survey that was taken by employees in 4,000 hotels in Germany, the U.K., Italy, France, Canada and the U.S. for the French travel website The French have moved into the top slot as the Most Obnoxious Tourists, according to hotel employees.

Hidden away is the fact that Americans seem to have come a long way in the language department:

American tourists fared well in some surprising ways. Despite being notoriously language-limited, for example, they top the list of tourists credited with trying to speak local languages the most, with the French, Chinese, Japanese, Italians and Russians coming in last in the local-language rankings.

Timothe de Roux poo-poos the notion by explaining that most hotel staffs speak English, which doesn’t explain the results at all.

In my experience, it’s true that most folks from the US I see on my travels do actually speak a little Italian when in Italy. This contrasts greatly with my experience in the 70s, when speaking English loudly was considered the same as being fluent in any foreign language by the average US tourist. It got so bad for a while that in every country I traveled to I learned the local lingo for “I don’t speak English” and practiced it until it sounded convincing so that these louts wouldn’t be associated with me by the natives, who probably weren’t fooled in the slightest.

So, pat yourselves on the back, American travelers, you’ve come a long way.

Language and Obnoxious Tourists originally appeared on , updated: Jul 09, 2008 © .

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