Monday, August 15, 2011

Numbers, Numbers, Numbers

No matter how much we prepare for our travels we often find It’s the small differences that can surprise us.  For me, my most recent visit to Paris started with the simple project of buying a bouquet of flowers as a hostess gift.  I stopped at a shop where I'd bought flowers before, selected a bouquet, paid, walked out and then noticed there were only five roses , not six, the half dozen I expected. I checked other bouquets in the display – all five, not a set of six to be seen.  And then I remembered, it’s Paris, flowers are given in odd numbers.  Of course a set of five.  Flowers in sets of odd numbers are normal, appropriate, expected. 

This little insight led me to think about numbers in general as part of a travel experience.  What number is appropriate when giving something?  What are the meanings of numbers?  Is seven lucky?  Is four not?  But that's not all we need to think about.

Let's not forget when we’re learning the basic translations of our polite vocabulary (please, thank you, can you help me?) that we should also pay attention to the numbers.  One to ten as a base.  Numbers as hours of the day – all 24 of them.   Useful to help understand what time a meeting will begin or what that bouquet of flowers will cost. 

To find out how to translate and pronounce the numbers there are all the language sources you'd usually use:  Google Translate, download apps and podcasts through iTunes (, find books, hand held translators, DVDs through Amazon ( or do a language specific web search.  Choices for everyone. 

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