x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Your top 100 words?

Is a 100-word vocabulary sufficient to navigate the world? England's football manager thinks so, but expatriates in the UAE might not be so sure.

So how many words do you need to know to get by in a foreign language? Not too many is the answer according to England's football manager, the Italian Fabio Capello.

Capello, whose popularity has plummeted since England's poor showing at last year's World Cup, on Monday reacted angrily to being questioned about his poor grasp of English by saying he only needs "100 words" to explain his ideas to the players.

"I don't know if my English is good enough. I think when I speak with the players they understand everything," he snapped at the reporters. "Do you understand me? Yes? So why this question?"

While explaining football tactics to Wayne Rooney and John Terry might not require a vast lexicon, other jobs may need a slightly larger vocabulary, whether in English or any other language.

It is a scenario that many in the UAE face on a daily basis at the workplace. Expatriates are 80 per cent of the population, but few end up mastering Arabic. As a result, even people who do speak Arabic find themselves communicating in multilingual shorthand involving Arabic, English, Urdu or Hindi, and even Tagalog.

Are 100 words enough to cover different situations? Send your most useful words - Arabic, English, Urdu or otherwise - to letters@thenational.ae. Do you know what "yalla" means?