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Common phrases in different languages

Here is a list of common phrases in different languages.

It is possible for tourists in a country whose language they do not understand to get along with a surprisingly short list of phrases, combined with pointing, miming, and writing down numbers on paper.

You are invited to add more languages to the list. Please use the minimum number of words that would be understandable and put the pronunciation in slashes according to SAMPA transcription if possible. If desired, also add a pseudo-English pronunciation guide for those not familiar with SAMPA or IPA. However, actual pronunciations of the pseudo-English spellings will vary wildly from speaker to speaker. Enclose the "spelling guide" in parentheses, separate syllables with dashes, use English words that sound like the syllables if possible, and render the stressed syllable in ALL CAPS.

The language family of every language is listed in parentheses.

Table of contents
1 English (Germanic)
2 Albanian (Albanian)
3 Arabic (Semitic)
4 Basque
5 Breton (Celtic)
6 Chakobsa (Fictional from the Dune series)
7 Catalan (Romance)
8 Chinese, Mandarin (Chinese)
9 Czech (Slavic)
10 Danish (Germanic)
11 Dutch (Germanic)
12 Ekspreso (planned, based on European languages)
13 Esperanto (planned, based on European languages)
14 Estonian (Finno-Ugric)
15 Finnish (Finno-Ugric)
16 French (Romance)
17 German (Germanic)
18 Greek
19 Hawaiian (Malayo-Polynesian)
20 Hebrew (Semitic)
21 Hindi (Indo-Iranian)
22 Hungarian (Finno-Ugric)
23 Icelandic (Germanic)
24 Ido (planned, reformed version of Esperanto)
25 Indonesian (Malayo-Polynesian)
26 Interlingua (Anglo-romance, planned, based on European languages)
27 Irish (Celtic)
28 Italian (Romance)
29 Japanese
30 Klingon (Fictional from the Star Trek series)
31 Korean
32 Latin (Italic)
33 Low Saxon (Germanic)
34 Lojban (a priori planned language)
35 Maori (Austronesian)
36 Marathi (Indian languages)
37 Nigerian pidgin (English-based pidgin)
38 Norwegian (Germanic)
39 Pennsylvania German, Pennsylvania Dutch (Germanic)
40 Polish (Slavic)
41 Portuguese (Romance)
42 Quenya (Fictional from J. R. R. Tolkien's work)
43 Romanian (Romance)
44 Russian (Slavic)
45 Sanskrit (Indo-Iranian)
46 Sardinian (Romance)
47 Serbian (Slavic)
48 Slovak (Slavic)
49 Slovene (Slavic)
50 Spanish (Romance)
51 Swahili (Bantu)
52 Swedish (Germanic)
53 Tagalog / Filipino (Malayo-Polynesian)
54 Taiwanese
55 Tamil (Dravidian)
56 Telugu (Indo-Dravidian)
57 Tok Pisin (Neo-Melanesian English creole)
58 Toki Pona (planned pidgin based on sources from around the world)
59 Ukrainian (Slavic)
60 Welsh (Celtic)
61 Volapük (planned, based mostly on English and other European languages)
62 Xhosa language (Nguni languages, Bantu)
63 General usage notes
64 See also
65 External link

English (Germanic)

As a sample, here's English, according to British Received Pronunciation, followed by American English/Standard American English:

Albanian (Albanian)

Note: All the sounds above are in the
Ogg Vorbis format.

Arabic (Semitic)

Note that this is relevant only to Classical Arabic; since these are commonplace words, they're often changed in local dialects, meaning most Arabs, even educated ones, will have difficulty understanding these in common usage.

Pronunciation guide: Stress in Arabic is most often on the penult syllable (i.e. one preceding the last). For the SAMPA transcriptions, /h/ is a glottal fricative; /h./ represents a voiceless pharyngeal fricative; /‘/ represents a voiced pharyngeal fricative; /’/ represents a glottal stop, and /:/ represents lengthening of the preceding phoneme. These are represented as double letters in the "spelling guide", and should be emphasized; the other spellings should be apparent from comparison with the SAMPA transcription.

note: these were snagged off of\'s Web translator, with SAMPA and spelling guide renderings a best-guess only.


Note on SAMPA: a comma after a fricative indicates that it is apical rather than laminal.

Breton (Celtic)

Chakobsa (Fictional from the Dune series)

Catalan (Romance)

Chinese, Mandarin (Chinese)

Note: tone 1 is high and level; 2 is rising; 3 is dipping; 4 is falling. A dot following SAMPA palatals indicates a retroflexed phoneme. For more info, see pinyin. Also note that the first set of characters preceding the slashes are in simplified Chinese characters and the ones following the slashes are in traditional characters.

(Usage Note: The first term is used in mainland China, while the second term is used on Taiwan.) (Usage Note: The second syllable of "nei4 ge" is actually a generic measure word; it is replaced by the appropriate measure word for the noun it refers to. Therefore, one uses "nei4 zhi1" when referring to a chopstick, "nei4 zhang1" when referring to a table, and so forth. "Zhi1" means stick or branch, and "zhang1" means "sheet" as in "sheet of paper".) (Usage Note: This actually means "it is" and can only be used in an answer to a question with the verb "to be". Languages like Chinese, Irish, Toki Pona, and Welsh do not have words for "yes" or "no". Instead you repeat the main verb of the question in your answer.)

Czech (Slavic)

Danish (Germanic)

(Usage Note: No word directly corresponds to the word "please". Danish and Finnish express the concept of politeness in a request in various ways.)

Dutch (Germanic)

Ekspreso (planned, based on European languages)

Esperanto (planned, based on European languages)

Estonian (Finno-Ugric)

Finnish (Finno-Ugric)

French (Romance)

German (Germanic)


Hawaiian (Malayo-Polynesian)

(Other useful words in Hawaiian:)

Hebrew (Semitic)

Hindi (Indo-Iranian)

Hungarian (Finno-Ugric)

Icelandic (Germanic)

Ido (planned, reformed version of Esperanto)

Indonesian (Malayo-Polynesian)

(note: N is pronounced like ng in king)

Interlingua (Anglo-romance, planned, based on European languages)

Irish (Celtic)

Italian (Romance)


Klingon (Fictional from the Star Trek series)

Usage Note: Many sentences which in English would be phrased as requests are represented in Klingon by imperative verbs, which are very freely used in this language. As a result, the word "please" is absent from the Klingon lexicon. Whereas in English one asks "what is it", in Klingon one would be more likely to say yIngu' (literally, "Identify it!"), and for Klingons, "ordering" a drink is not a metaphor: romuluS HIq HInob "give me Romulan ale!"


Note: Hangeul Revised Romanization of Korean /SAMPA/ See also: Names of Korea

Latin (Italic)

Pronunciations given are the Ecclesiastical Pronunciation (Based on Italian, and used in some ceremonies by the Catholic church)

Low Saxon (Germanic)

Lojban (a priori planned language)

Maori (Austronesian)

Marathi (Indian languages)

Nigerian pidgin (English-based pidgin)

Norwegian (Germanic)

Pennsylvania German, Pennsylvania Dutch (Germanic)

(dialects may vary)

Polish (Slavic)

Portuguese (Romance)

Quenya (Fictional from J. R. R. Tolkien's work)

Romanian (Romance)

Russian (Slavic)

Sanskrit (Indo-Iranian)

Sardinian (Romance)

Serbian (Slavic)

Slovak (Slavic)

Slovene (Slavic)

Spanish (Romance)

Swahili (Bantu)

Usage Note: Greetings in Swahili are an incredibly complex affair and are a crucial aspect of Swahili culture; it is not uncommon for a conversation to last five minutes before it actually moves beyond saying "Hello". There is no generic word for "Hello" in the language, rather there are numerous options depending on the relative ages and/or race of the people involved, as well as singular and plural forms. A non-comprehensive list would include "hujambo" (reply "sijambo") for two people of similar age and race, "jambo" (reply "jambo") for between white and black people, "Shikamoo" (reply "Marahaba") for a young person to an elderly person, "Hodi" (reply "Karibu") when in the doorway of a house. There are additionally numerous informal greetings such as "Mambo", "Safi", and many more. Curiously, farewells are abrupt or even non-existent.

Swedish (Germanic)

Tagalog / Filipino (Malayo-Polynesian)


See article.

Tamil (Dravidian)

Telugu (Indo-Dravidian)

Tok Pisin (Neo-Melanesian English creole)

Toki Pona (planned pidgin based on sources from around the world)

Words are accented on the first syllable.

Ukrainian (Slavic)

Welsh (Celtic)

Volapük (planned, based mostly on English and other European languages)

Xhosa language (Nguni languages, Bantu)

Note: [||\\] represents a lateral click, and [K] represents a voiceless lateral fricative (equivalent to Welsh "ll").

General usage notes

Toilet vs W.C. In many countries, the abbreviation W.C. for the British "Water Closet" may be used instead of the local word for "Toilet". In U.S. English "toilet" refers to the fixture (the toilet itself) rather than the room which contains it. In German, the informal "clo" for "closet" refers to the fixture.

See also

External link