As you pack your bags for a vacation (hopefully in the near future), it’s usual to throw in a phrase book to navigate your way through a new country, or even just order a beer. However, many people have at least a few words of English, so it can be helpful to fall back on, even in countries where it’s not the official language. After all, it’s the most widely spoken language in the world. But what happens when you’re in an English-speaking country but you still don’t understand what they’re saying?
English isn’t the most straightforward language, as it happens. Many countries have put their own stamp on it, after having adapted it over the years. Different cultures have changed it to suit their accent, their customs or even melded it slightly with another lesser-spoken language. So, if you’d like a tasty snack for your luxury journey in South Africa, you’d ask for padkos (travel food), whereas in Australia, you’d ask if there was something for tea (a meal, not a drink). One reason for the variances is that there is no centralized governing body for English, unlike French, which has the Académie Française and Spanish, which is standardized by Real Academia Española.