Holiday time for many. Fewer traffic jams, fewer cars on works’ car parks, lots of kids around.

Some years ago we were travelling through France, found a reasonable hotel and booked in.

We went down for the evening meal, my wife was, unstereotypically, a little late.

Two guys at the next table were chatting in what I assumed was a Scandinavian language. Stereotypically I assumed they’d speak English.

“Where are you guys from, then?” I asked.


“Oh yes, our football team has a Norwegian player, Gamst Pedersen”.

“Aha, Blackburn Rovers…” We prattled on and my wife arrived.

The lady owner came in and greeted us all in perfect French, as she was indeed French.

In our best rusty 1960s-schooled French we got by and ordered.

Next came the Norwegians who conversed with our restauranteuse in…Spanish.

“Excuse me”, I said. “She’s French, not Spanish”.

“We know that Englishman…but we don’t speak French, who does? She’ll just have to understand our Spanish!”

The ordering took a while…Norwegian to English to French to Spanish and back.

Have you get any funny or annoying 'having-a-linguistic-go' stories?