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Language Barriers with Buddies or Dive Operators?

Discussion in 'General Travel and Vacation Discussions' started by TheRavenCT, Sep 30, 2012.

  1. TheRavenCT

    TheRavenCT Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Austin, TX
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    Hi! I'm preparing to go to Malaysia and Singapore next year. As such, I've gotten interested in different aspects of international diving for the solo traveler. For my DM certification, I want to do a presentation of skills related to building trust with your (insta-) dive buddy, operator, and fellow tourists.

    I've started wondering about the question of language. Has anyone been paired with a dive buddy who spoke a foreign language? or who spoke or understood your language poorly?

    Also, any other ideas for my presentation would be great. It's mostly about anxiety, diving with inexperienced divers, communicating with everyone on the boat, using Scubaboard to find buddies before hand, pre during and post dive chats, and signaling.
     
  2. C P

    C P Nassau Grouper

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    Several years ago while diving in Egypt (we live in NC) with my Jr Certified Daughter there was a misunderstanding about depth. The DM on the boat told her she was depth limited to 13 and she kept saying 40. Kind of cute as they were nose to nose until they understood they were arguing feet and meters. I now use this as a teaching point in my classes when we talk about traveling.
     
  3. Doc

    Doc Was RoatanMan

    # of Dives: None - Not Certified
    Location: Chicago & O'Hare heading thru TSA 5x per year
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    Language? Signaling should be universal.

    As CP mentioned, the technical differences in feet and meters are easily understood, as is BAR vs PSI. After all, 1/2 a tank is the same no matter how you meter it... and usually DMs want you to let them know when that occurs.

    Pay close attention to the dive brief and especially the map/chart. Stay with the DM, certainly with any current considerations. Don't be shy about signalling 1/2 tank when it occurs. This helps him led the dive and take the best care of you. Many divers think they are sucking air and wait until they are at 1/3... a bad idea if that's not what he instructed you to signal.

    In the area you specify, they are certainly used to dealing with a number of British divers, and I am told that they speak a similar language to Texans, well, kind of, good enough.

    Insta-buddy brings up a whole new set of issues, certainly an oft discussed thread in and of itself.
     
  4. vladimir

    vladimir ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location:
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    Language barriers, for the English-speaking tourist, are pretty minimal in Southeast Asia. Everybody you deal with in Singapore and Malaysia will probably speak English. It is one of the four official languages of Singapore (and the default), and it is spoken widely in Malaysia, as well. If you are traveling to Indonesia, (and you should), you will find people are less fluent, but still able to communicate effectively if they are in tourism-related jobs.

    As for buddies, I had a Japanese buddy (and roommate) for a week in Sipadan who didn't speak a word of English. I don't speak any Japanese. He was my favorite buddy ever. I have had European buddies who spoke English to accommodate me: thanks guys. The world has bent over backwards to accommodate English speakers. I guess we have the British Empire to thank, and American TV.
     
  5. TheRavenCT

    TheRavenCT Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Austin, TX
    17
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    Vladimir, That's a great example. How did you and your buddy get up to speed when you first met? Just happened to do the same things and think alike?

    ---------- Post Merged at 06:28 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 06:24 PM ----------


    Thank you. I was wondering about more extreme cases, though. Insta-buddies are fine, you just need to talk to each other before hitting the water. But what if that is difficult because of a language barrier?

    ---------- Post Merged at 06:29 PM ---------- Previous Post was at 06:24 PM ----------


    CP, thanks. I think I'll include commonly cited units in my presentation for the conversion challenged.
     
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2012
  6. vladimir

    vladimir ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location:
    33,203
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    Yes. Perhaps divers who travel alone tend to be more independent. We pretty much dispensed with formal buddy checks (though I did eyeball his kit pre-dives) and gas signaling. We took turns leading dives, which can be signalled in much the same way you'd offer a seat to a pregnant woman on the bus. Beyond that there was no team dive planning. We did maintain reasonable proximity. I am okay with same-ocean buddies, but he seemed to prefer having an actual buddy. He was a skilled diver, and roughly half my size, so it was immediately evident who would determine when to ascend. What made him a great buddy was that he was always up for shore dives once the official boat dives had been exhausted. And the fact that he didn't talk made him a great roommate. :wink:
     
  7. chillyinCanada

    chillyinCanada ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

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    Had a Russian buddy assigned to me whilst on Sipadan. He had a little English, think he understood it better than he spoke it. We didn't talk much but did do a night dive together. Diving is a language unto itself! But pictures and diagrams REALLY help. How about a small waterproof flipbook to be carried about?
     
  8. TheRavenCT

    TheRavenCT Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Austin, TX
    17
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    That's a really cool idea.
     
  9. Diver0001

    Diver0001 Instructor, Scuba

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    Oooeeefff Russians. I've met a lot of Russians on vacations and usually find them pleasant enough but for some reason the "nouveau riche" crowd seem to go to Egypt in large numbers. Every single time I've encountered Russian divers in Egypt they have been loud, even by American standards, heavy drinkers and under water they can easily turn into suicidal human torpedoes that try to find the bottom no matter how deep it is. I'd worry a bit about diving with one of those nouveau riche Russian divers (especially young men) if I couldn't talk to them before the dive, but for the rest, I've never had trouble.

    I know that's a big generalization that's probably unfair to a lot of Russian divers but it does say something when you book a week in a dive camp and they spontaneously send you back an email saying, "you're in luck, there are no Russians coming while you're here." LOL

    R..
     
  10. BluewaterSail

    BluewaterSail Happy in Doubles

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Tamarac Florida
    499
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    +1 for pictures. They help everyone focus on the concept, but are invaluable for when there is a language barrier. As a DM, I would think that the flipchart idea above (or just wetnotes written on in pen) will be your key. As far as buddies, I sometimes do have language barriers, and I concentrate on the signals that indicate the major decisions. Like the turn pressure, and that you want to turn or call the dive.

    Its important to get the individual to respond agreement, and better than that repeat what you said.

    This by the way, is a major advantage to the standardized training of "DIR". You really are on the same wavelength on equipment and dive planning, so that little language is needed. But as a DM, you need to work with what walks in, and keep them safe.
     

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