Most of the time you need to take a few years of a foreign language to graduate high school. However, most of the time, what you learn is only the absolute basics—you don't learn all the different dialects of a country. And just like the U.S. has different regional dialects (someone from Massachusetts might not understand someone from New Orleans that well, and vice versa) other countries do, too. As we see in Three Cups of Tea, Pakistan is a land of dozens of dialects and languages, and Mortenson has to master most of them if he hopes to unite the country.
Questions About Language and Communication
How do Mortenson's experiences in his youth help him learn languages easier as an adult?
Why does Mortenson have to enlist the help of so many locals to help him translate across the various regions of Pakistan and Afghanistan?
It isn't just a language barrier that sometimes causes problems for Mortenson. How does a difference in cultural mores sometimes hinder Mortenson's ability to communicate with the villagers of the Karakoram?
Chew on This
Language can be as varied as customs are throughout the different remote regions of Pakistan. Every village seems to have subtle, yet important, differences.
A good translator will always be Mortenson's most trusted companion. A man like Mouzafer not only knows the language, but the customs of all the villages and can guide Mortenson in the right direction.