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Old 09-24-2006, 09:23 PM   #1
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Me and a friend of mine are planning to go backpacking in Europe the summer of 08' for a month or two. Since we still have a ton of time before we actually go, as well as the fact that I have a love for foreign languages anyway, I was wondering what languages would be best to learn? We're going to do the Eurail thing, so that includes.

Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Hungary, Italy, Luxembourg, Norway, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland.

Now, obviously, learning like five languages in two years is insane, but I was thinking maybe two or three would be fine. I wouldn't need total fluency, but it would be nice to be able to carry on a conversation.

I was thinking Spanish, French, and German would be best...although I really would like to learn Italian :P

Any insight would be excellent. Thanks!
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Old 09-24-2006, 09:36 PM   #2
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the majority of people that i met locals and other travellers spoke German.... Spanish was prolly next... so id say give them a shot... id concentrate at learnin one at a time but..

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Old 09-25-2006, 01:50 AM   #3
 
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welcome...if possible try and learn latin,that way you will get slight jist of everything,but yer,same as CFC was sayin,and french wouldnt go a miss i suppose,you might able to get by with spanish in italy and france,but you french in belgium,spain and maybe italy.or am i speakin total crap tp-er's
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Old 09-25-2006, 03:08 AM   #4
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French comes in handy in France, Luxembourg, parts of Belgium and Switzerland, as well as Morocco if you happen to tag that on to a trip to Spain. German would be very useful in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and my daughters, who speak German fluently could also use a combination of German and English to decipher Dutch and Flemish in the Netherlands and Belgium. So between those two you'd be quite well set for northern Europe.

English, in my experience, is WIDELY spoken in Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Greece and Ireland.

I had a year of Spanish at uni, and between that and my more extensive exposure to French, I was able to read and understand a little bit in Spain and Italy. I would imagine that they would be somewhat helpful in Portugal, and in Romania which also uses a latin-based language.

Hungarian and Finnish are the only Finno-Ugric languages in the pass area, and they are wildly different from one another, as well as from anything else, but we got by in Hungary with English (German might be useful there as well, I don't know), and I'm guessing the Finns, like their Scandinavian and Baltic neighbours, would be quite comfortable with English as well.

So, your choices of French, German and either Spanish or Italian, in addition to English, would be solid ones, covering the largest portion of your travels. From experience, I found Spanish much easier to learn than French, but if you learn French first, as I did, it makes Spanish pretty easy. But if you really want to learn Italian, I'd pick that because you'll be much more motivated to learn something you're interested in.

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Old 10-26-2006, 08:26 AM   #5
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I think French would be first then Spanish. Maybe a little bit of German would be handy but English is spoken in the Scandinavia part of Europe as tumbleweedz mentioned. I found French to be helpful even in Spain and Morocco. So yeah, happy language learning!
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Old 12-30-2006, 09:18 PM   #6
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French, German and Spanish probably would help you the most. However, it takes a shockingly small vocabulary to leave a great impression (100 words) or decent (10-15 words/phrases) in the remaining languages.

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