In every place I have traveled to, there are always language challenges, even in my own birth country, since dialects, pronunciations and local expressions often vary greatly. It can make communication challenging at times.

I started school in Dutch schools, so Dutch was my second language as a child. My sister attended her first school while home was Holland, but she went to a British school. She acquired the British accent too and it was quite fun hearing her speak with a beautiful British accent.

We have assimilated so many accents and expressions from our travels. It isn’t uncommon for me to write a grocery list using Dutch words, or an exclamation in another language. It fits actually, since my interests and tastes in everything are very eclectic, I suppose primarily because of my travels. I like that though, and consider it a blessing.

When we moved from Munich, Germany to The Hague in The Netherlands for a second time, my sister had primarily played with German children, so German came easy to her then. Always a sociable and talkative little girl, she immediately made friends with some neighborhood children in The Hague. The first invitation for a play day at a neighbors came in the first week after we moved. They only spoke Dutch, no English and to her surprise, no German.

She came back after that first visit chattering about what they had done, as happy as a lark and happy to have new friends already. But in a serious moment of puzzlement she told us, “They talk like this,” and made nonsensical garbled speech imitations of the new language she was hearing.

It made me laugh so hard when she said that in such a serious puzzled tone, with a look of real concern on her little angelic face, like she was trying to figure out why they didn’t speak German. I could almost see the wheels in her head already turning to find the solution to this new conundrum in her life.

When you think about it though, all languages are garbled speech in the beginning, even to a baby learning its own native language, whatever it may be. It is what you do with those beginnings that matter. In the beginning we all sound pretty funny to each other, but breaking through those barriers is part of the fun and the challenge of traveling. So, garble on!


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