The “Can I have a beer?” List

There’s only a few days left before I go to France, so naturally I am spending a lot of time rushing around doing all the things I need to do before I leave the country (which also involves things like finishing watching the final season of House and reading all my library books, so hasn’t been as stressful/rushing around-y as it could have been) – but one thing I wanted to do to finish off the series of posts about South America was to publish a little project that I had whilst I was out there.

One of the things I found interesting (or I suppose FIND interesting; it wasn’t exactly a new realisation) about travelling, is how pretty much everybody you meet speaks English at least to a conversational degree. For someone like me, who only speaks English fluently and merely bumbles along in every other language (and by ‘every other’ I mean French, German and Spanish), this is just an unbelievably impressive fact, and generally makes me feel very inadequate. I wish England as a country put more effort into ensuring the practice of learning other languages in school was more compulsory from an earlier age (although actually I have no idea how compulsory or from what age we now learn languages, but you get the general gist).

So anyway, about 4 weeks into the trip I had an idea that I would ask the people that I met how they would ask for a beer in their native language (because let’s face it, that is the most useful phrase you could know in any language). I wish I’d thought to start earlier, because the list is unfortunately missing Finnish and Indonesian and multiple other languages that it needn’t be lacking due to the lateness of this, erm, brainwave. But there you go. Also it’s worth mentioning that the correctness of all these phrases – as in, how likely a native person would be to use the exact wording listed – varies from language to language, depending on who I asked and how much they understood what I was asking them. But I think any of them would probably be understood.

I’ve written them all down exactly as they were written by people in my notebook – no Google Translate was used in the making of this list. So here we go.

Can I have a beer, please?


Je voudrais une bière s’il vous plaît (French)

Quiero una cerveza, por favor (Spanish)

Ein Bier, bitte (German)
Not that I didn’t already know how to say this in German, but it was given by a guy called Luis on the way back from the Kuelap ruins

Kan jeg faa en øl (Danish)
Given by the Danish couple also in the minibus on the way back from the Kuelap ruins
Mag ik een biertje, alstublieft (Dutch)
Given by the Dutch girl caught in the conversation between the nutty English bloke and the equally nutty American about how mobile phones are set to take over humanity (not making that up)

Beer Kudasai (Japanese)
Given by a Japanese couple who were just about to leave in the hostel in Lima

Daitche pojalste piva (Russian, the version/approximation using the English alphabet)
Given by Sergio, the lovely Russian chap I met in Go Bananas hostel in Cusco

Yi bei pijiu (Chinese)
Given by an Australian guy on the free walking tour of Cusco – he could speak fluent Chinese

En öl, tack (Swedish)
Given by the Swedish couple in my group on the Inca Trail

Aja chato por favor (Quechua, language of the Incas – asking for chicha, traditional drink fermented from corn, rather than beer)
Given by Richard, my Inca Trail guide, and Guido, the sort of assistant-guide 

Jeg vil an og fa bestille en øl (Norweigan)
Given by Henrik, the awesome and wonderful Swedish guy from the Inca trek who lived in the Norweigan mountains

Bjor takk (Icelandic)
Given by a girl I met in the hostel in La Paz

Efshar Bira Bevakasha? (Hebrew)
Given by a guy who I shared a dorm room with in La Paz

One Comment

  1. Toffee April 23, 2013 at 3:44 AM

    Don't forget, you've been in India, too!

    Kya mujhe beer mil sakti hai? (Hindi)

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