Language Barrier: Lacking and Laughter

In case you haven’t read this fact in other things I’ve written, I’ll share it again; Luxembourg has 3 official languages, Luxembourgish, French and German with the unofficial business language of English. In addition to the official languages, there are dozens upon dozens of other languages spoken throughout our tiny, landlocked Luxembourg. In an average day, it is possible to hear other languages like Portuguese, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Hungarian, Afrikaans, and a variety of Arabic and Asian languages all while riding the bus or walking around City Centre and that’s all in less than an hour.

As you can see, with an average of 155 different nationalities all in one petite place there is an incredible amount of variety in just about every aspect of life with language being just one of them. This variety makes Luxembourg a beautifully unique and amazingly diverse place to live, unlike anywhere else in the world that I can think of.books cartoon

So, it really should come as no surprise then, when you try to imagine the challenges manufacturers face when trying to label packaging to suit the greater needs in our country. It is not uncommon to see upwards of 12 different languages on a single packaged product. The hard part for me is that very often not one of these languages is English.

It’s not only packaging where I stumble around with the language barrier, it’s also a challenge in any business I enter, food or not. In restaurants, the menu is often the first obstacle with language and then the servers arrive to take my order and well, it can be quite an experience. I’ve had to write things down, fake a form of sign language with pantomime, struggle with vocabulary usage and beg for help from a compassionate soul nearby. I could choose to be humiliated but that doesn’t accomplish much so I chose to laugh at myself which often relieves very awkward situations especially for others.

Laughter has certainly made my language faux pas more palatable. I find that when I keep things lighthearted, others around me often follow along. In these lighter moments, I find that people will try to be genial and accommodating even if they really have no clue what it’s all about. I’ve made friends through the years because of my ability to try to laugh and not take it all so seriously when I don’t need to. I’m truly thankful that where I am lacking, I can laugh.Lux laugh

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