The okes over at Iconspeak have come up with an ingenious idea to overcome language barriers for those who don’t like their own homes and consequently travel a lot.
It’s so simple to use, you don’t even need WiFi.
It’s a shirt with a whole bunch of icons printed on the front.
How it works is, you order one of these shirts before visiting a foreign country; even before booking a flight to another country.
Once you receive your shirt from Iconspeak, spend some time figuring out what the icons mean. There’s no point in you trying to figure out where the nearest toilet is while you’re poking yourself all over your chest, shouting at a local to try and help you find it, the first time you wear the shirt in a foreign country. Then the shirt is useless, other than to make you look like a walking Whatsapp keyboard.
Getting to know and love your shirt, even before you wear it, goes a long way in closing the language gap.
Spend some quality time with your shirt. Take it for a walk; rub it; stroke it; cuddle with it.
Once you and your shirt are one, book a flight to a country of your choice. Make it a wild one. Choose the strangest language you can find on Google Translate, google where they speak it and book.
A note on booking accommodation in a foreign country: make sure you book lodgings at a hotel with good laundry services, cos you’ll want to wear your Iconspeak shirt every day. Or buy five of them, or one for every day of the duration of your stay.
If you’re emigrating to another country, this shirt is probably a good start, but I’d download the Google Translate app for further learning if I were you. The shirt only goes so far.
Or book a language course through Berlitz, which the guy in this video should have done.
Also, make sure you book in a relatively warm location. They don’t have an Iconspeak jacket.
Before boarding the plane, make sure you’re wearing your Iconspeak t-shirt. You might end up sitting next to a person who doesn’t understand a word of your native tongue. The shirt will make you look like a linguistic pro.
Once you arrive at your destination, you’ll probably be parched. You’ll want a coffee. That’s to say, if your destination of choice has coffee.
This is the perfect opportunity to use your shirt.
Approach an unsuspecting local and start stabbing at the appropriate icon on your shirt, while slowly uttering the word coffee with a guttural tone.
If the local doesn’t run away, it means your shirt is working.
If he does run away, try another colour t-shirt, but keep using the guttural tone (for effect). Traveller’s note: don’t wear red in Spain.
If you’ve successfully located a coffee shop with the help of your Iconspeak t-shirt, the next thing you’ll need to do is find a taxi to take you to your hotel.
Call the waiter and start stabbing at the car icon on your chest, located roughly in the pectoralis minor region, depending on your build and whether you bought the right size shirt.
At this stage it needs to be said that you’d better hope that the waiter understands it to be a taxi, and not a hearse. You don’t want to be insulting the chef or barista inadvertently. They might interpret, “Like, I need a taxi to get to my hotel, like,” as “You uncouth imbecile, your food is killing people.”
If he does manage to grasp that you’re in need of transport, you’re good to go.
If he thinks it’s a hearse, there’s probably not much else to do but wait.
As you can see, this t-shirt comes in real handy for the traveller who really wants to break a language barrier. Really break it. Into a million pieces.
And just to help you make the most of your travels, let’s take a closer look at some of the icons, and what they could possibly mean.
|I know I need exercise. Could I use your bike?|
|Could you turn that down please? I only listen to country.|
|I can’t eat that. I have a heart condition. My liver’s not too good anymore either.|
|Hey, get that thing out of my face. You never seen a tourist before?|
|You’ll be receiving a call from my lawyer.|
|Hey, where can I lock up my stuff? I’m scared you steal it.|
|Our currency is worth so much more than yours. I can buy pizza and have one slice and throw the rest away and it won’t even dent my pocket, loser.|
|What? You don’t have WiFi? How backwards are you people? How am I gonna post this dish to my Instagram followers?|
|When’s the next flight out of this hole?|
|You got any matches? I have an urge to burn something to the ground.|
|You guys make use of cloud storage out here in the jungle?|
Hope that helps you make the most of your travels. Please share this article and don’t forget to subscribe.