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    Perfecting foreign language skills

    17th October 2006

    While at school, I was perfecting my English skills – improving pronunciation, learning grammar and spelling. When I had to go abroad, I felt good about talking with almost no accent; when some people happened to talk unclearly, I considered this to be their problem, not mine – because I was talking good.

    Yesterday, travelling by train from Medyka to Gliwice (in Poland), I needed to ask at what time does the train stop in Gliwice (it’s not the final destination of the train). Thankfully, there was a man from Ukraine travelling to Wroclaw (which is further in the train’s route), and he gave me a Ukrainian-Polish phrase book. I managed to construct the phrase which actually asks what I need. Then I went to the guard’s accommodation, and asked the question.

    I was well prepared to ask the question. Conductor understood me perfectly well.

    And answered.

    Here came the surprise – I couldn’t understand him! Well, I did look through the number names in Polish, but still – it was far from easy to understand the answer.

    Moral of the fable: language perfection is nothing: mutual understanding is everything.

    Purely K.I.S.S. principle, isn’t it? ;-)


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