Tuesday, June 5, 2012


There is a very, very, very elite club that I wish to join.   The members of this club are people who have set foot in every country in the world.  As you might imagine, there aren’t many people who have done this.  Two major obstacles stand in the way of anyone who is seriously contemplating accomplishing this goal.  Time and Money.  I’ll address the money issue a little later.  Having joined the ranks of the retired last year, the time element is not a problem for me.  If someone were to hand me an unlimited free pass for every airline in the world right now, then tomorrow you just might find me in Timbuktu (though I’m not really sure where that is).

I’ll have you know that I’ve already begun preparing for this whopper event.  How?  Well, to start I have been purchasing as many of those foreign language phrasebooks as I can.  You know the type.  They have the basic phrases that every tourist needs to know.  Phrases like:   “Good morning,”, or “How much does this cost?”, or “What is that you are eating?”, or “Quickly, where is the nearest bathroom?”, or even “Excuse me, Mr. Cabdriver, but where exactly are you taking me?”  But do you know what essential phrases are not in any tourist language book I’ve ever seen?  We are all knitters here so I hope you are as outraged as I am because they have omitted the following:  1.) “I like to knit.”  2.) “Are there any yarn stores here?”  Would it have killed the publishers to add these two simple sentences?  Because, let’s face it, if I’m going to go to any foreign country, then I am definitely going to explore their yarn stores.

So now we come to the mysterious title of today’s blog.  “Tykkään Neuloa” is how the people of Finland say, “I like to knit.”  If I am going to visit every country in the world then I’m going to learn how to say, “I like to knit.” and “Are there any yarn stores here?” in as many languages as I can.  Not every language in the world, mind you.  Even I will acknowledge that that is too daunting a task.  Besides, in some languages, terms like “knitting” and “yarn over” and “circular needles” and “mohair” might not even exist.  I seriously doubt that any of the people of those primitive tribes in the sweltering jungles of the Amazon wear sweaters.  Though you never know about yarn stores.  Every little village has one or two crazy entrepeneurs.  But even in what most would consider standard languages, this translating is not going to be easy.  I am fluent in Spanish, so that won’t be a problem.  Indeed, it takes care of a lot of countries.  But that’s it as far as my foreign language knowledge goes.  Ahh, but we live in the age of the computer.  Anything is possible with such a contraption.  Also, I have a secret weapon. 

About a year ago, I began tutoring ESL (English as a Second Language) students at a Community Center in Chicago.  I’ve had the privilege of working not only with Spanish-speaking pupils but also with gentlemen and ladies from Asia and Africa.  Currently, I tutor a woman from Mexico, a man from Ecuador and a young lady from India.  The most exotic language I’ve had the pleasure of hearing in my ESL work was spoken by a former student of mine, a woman from Sierra Leone.  Her native tongue was a fascinating language called Susu.  So here I have access to this Community Center where I am surrounded by people from countries from all over the world.  This will be interesting.  Students at the Community Center are going to be looking at me and wondering, “Why is this crazy man asking me about knitting stores in my country?”

I’d like to share with you the few languages where I have already accomplished my phrasebook goal.  Who knows?  Maybe some of you might soon be visiting one of these very countries.  Feel free to use my research.  Though one word of caution, you’re on your own as far as pronunciation goes.  If any of you are fluent in the languages I include today and you spot a mistake or you can improve my work, then I would be very pleased to hear from you with your corrections and/or suggestions.  And if any of you are fluent in a language not included in today’s list, then please feel free to contribute.  Here goes.

Oh.  I almost forgot.  I said I would talk about the money issue.  Buying airplane tickets to every country in the world can’t be cheap.  But not too worry.  Cathy and I are just going to have to sell a lot more yarn.

SPANISH  -  Me gusta tejer.  Hay tiendas de lana por aqui?

FRENCH  -  J’aime a tricoter.  Est-ce qu’il y a un magasin de tricot pres d’ici?

ITALIAN  -  Mi piace lavorare a maglia.  Ci sono negozi di filati qui?

GERMAN  -  Ich mag zu stricken.  Gibt es einen strick shop hier? 

PORTUGUESE  -  Gosto de tricotar.  Existem lojas de trico aqui?

RUSSIAN  -  Ya lyubyu vyazat.  Yest vyazaniye magazini zdyess?

CHINESE  -  Wo xihuan bianzhi.  Yo meiyu zheli de sha dian ma?

NORWEGIAN  -  Jeg liker a strikke.  Er det et garn butikk her?

POLISH  -  Lubie dzianina.  Czy istnieja dziania sklepy tutaj?

HUNGARIAN  -  Szeretek kotni.  Vannak uzletek kottes itt?

JAPANESE  -  Watashi wa nitto ni sukidesu.  Koko de itodana wa arimasu ka?

KLINGON  -  Ggrzzt aqkh morv pzzanagrakh.  Ddreckh zerph lerkkizt tygvillfr nazg?

FINNISH  -  Tykkään neuloa.  Onko lankakauppoja täällä?

HINDI  -  Maim bunan karane ki li pasand hai.  Vaham dukanom yaham bunai?

SWEDISH  -  Jag gillar att sticka.  Finns det stickning buttiker har?

Fifteen languages down, seven thousand nine hundred and eighty five languages to go.


  1. TURKISH - Örgü örmeyi severim. Yakınlarda bildiğiniz bir yüncü var mı?

    1. Thank you, mysterious Turkish Language expert. I'm wondering if this also applies to Cyprus. That island is something of a mystery to me. But it must be included in my future world travels.