If I had had this t-shirt while I was teaching and travelling in Asia, I would have saved myself a ton of embarrassing moments. I remember doing the same kinds of hand gestures and motions there so often in an effort to communicate nonverbally that I even started doing them when I returned back to Toronto!
But not all of us are accomplished mimes and I know I’m not the only one who shares these embarrassing moments abroad, since, obviously, IconSpeak was created for a reason. Three friends — George, Steven, and Florian — came up with the idea of IconSpeak after travelling around the world extensively and recognizing a glaring hole in communication when going abroad. They talked about their inspiration behind the T-shirt in an interview with Bored Panda:
We thought it would be great to have an essential set of icons with you, permanently, so that you could just point on whatever you need – and people would understand. Soon the notepad was pulled out again and we started listing more or less essential icons that would have been of great help during not just ours, but basically anyone’s trip.
The T-shirt features icons for everything from food and transportation to bedding, bathrooms, and weather patterns — even emotions! You know when you meet someone you like and, though you speak different languages, you want to tell them how cool you think they are? This simple t-shirt lets you point to a picture of a heart to communicate your interest in them or what they have to say. While thousands of languages are spoken around the world, most people understand pictures; not to mention, awesome ice breaker! Not only can it help you find a place to stay, but it also allows you to ask whether something is safe to drink, where a tourist attraction is, or how spicy a dish is! The guys have really taken the idea of IconSpeak and expanded it to encompass different situations and circumstances. As humans we naturally want to connect with one another, and this T-shirt makes doing so a whole lot easier. Check out their site here
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