only somewhat travel-related; indulge me!
i recently started watching the original Mission: Impossible (the TV show from the late ’60s and early ’70s) on Netflix. while the production values are a bit lacking (though i suppose par for the course for that era), it’s an enjoyable enough show. the best parts, though, as a linguistics enthusiast — i was a linguistics major in undergrad and did related work in graduate school — is what i have learned is called “Gellerese” (named after Bruce Geller, the man behind the series): an invented set of words that sound foreign but are easily understood by English speakers.
playing up the Cold War zeitgeist, many of the storylines took place in fake Eastern Bloc countries (where else would spies be?). but how could Geller make the locales accessible to the primetime-viewing public? by having signs that read “Priziion Mikitik” instead of, say, “Więzienie Wojskowe” (Polish) or “Militärgefängnis” (German). indeed, “military” and “prison” are words that can ultimately be traced through Romance languages, not Germanic or Slavic! come to think of it, he probably could have just used a variant of Romanian at times, but it probably wouldn’t have sounded “communist” enough? this could even be Prıziion Mılıtık since it looks like there’s a distinction between dotted and dotless i, which would orthographically make this more Turkic — in that case, “askeri cezaevi” (Turkish).
some other great examples, with Google translations of what i think they are trying to convey in a representative actual language. you can easily figure out what the Gellerese means because they are based on English or on very familiar foreign words. just a liberal sprinkling of metal umlauts and harsh consonants and voila! clearly somewhat comical in intent as well, but fascinating nonetheless.
there are some cases where Romance languages were also Gellerized, but for the most part, it was easy enough to use an actual language:
the anticipation of, and keeping an eye out for more Gellerese is what keeps me watching this show — and Barbara Bain‘s character, Cinnamon.
update: heh i just saw this, from the episode “The Astrologer” where they’re on a plane:
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