There’s nothing to be ashamed of

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Ashley Booker (Chad, August 15) shouldn’t be ashamed of not knowing Greek. Where do you go for Greek lessons in this part of the country? And where do you go for Lithuanian lessons (and Latvian, Estonian, Polish and Finnish) all of which would have been useful during my 15 years involvement with the Baltic States.

I was taught French at school but have never visited France. My attempts at using German when travelling through Deutschland by coach always received an answer in English. Sadly Polish is so difficult to read I don’t even bother with maps to see where the coach is going. Przepraszam! That didn’t prevent me stopping two days in Warszawa on a train journey to Lithuania.

I’ve discovered an organisation which can provide a Lietuviu kalba (Lithuanian language) tutor, but at a cost; and at age 73 I doubt I’m up to learning a foreign language now.

Having tried several tape, CD and book tutors, it’s not as though I don’t have some knowledge of Lithuanian. When you consider that my lady friend (who is fluent in Lithuanian, Russian, Polish, Czech, German and English) used to translate my “Lithuanian” letters back into English in order to understand what I was trying to say, you can understand my problem.

There are so many destinations from Britain that it is impossible to learn all the languages you might need. The best advice I can give is to buy a phrase book and learn the basic phrases before you go.

A word of warning: don’t use Russian in the Baltic States – after 50 years occupation by the Soviet Union, it isn’t appreciated.

Tony Olsson


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