21 interesting, useful or funny foreign phrases
1. Popty ping
Welsh for microwave.
Jeremy Powers says:
Even in China they knew what that meant. Very handy when things break. Bring a pair of broken glasses into a optomitrist is Nepal and show them and say “kaput.” They’ll realize they’re broken and you need help.
Andrew Johnson says:
I agree with Einstein that the most expressive word in German is “damit” (“with it”), but their various words related to travel and direction are just as good–e.g.,
German for “exit” and..
German for tours.
6. Come lo faceva la mama
Italiano for “Just like mother used to make!” Always makes the waiter or waitress smile.
Craig Hamilton says:
German for “cell phone.” It just makes so much sense!
Patrick Milligan says:
8. Je ne parle pas francais
My favorite phrase was “je ne parle pas francais” or “I don’t speak French”. It got me through France in the bad old days of the 60′s, when all of the French could speak english, but would not. But even my “je ne parl” showed them that I was making some effort to speak in their language. Melted the ice.
Nancy Davis says:
I love to go to the post office in Italy so I can buy some francobolli (stamps), my favorite Italian word!
10. Je ne sais pas
“Je ne sais pas.” (French for ‘I don’t know’) My daughter and I have shortened it to “pah”, to go along with our shortening of Louisville to “Luh” and New Orleans to “Nuh”. The fact that my wife rolls her eyes whenever either of us does any the above adds to the pleasure.
Leigh Shepherd says:
11. Je parle un petit, tres mauvais Francais.
(I speak a little very bad French.) Always got them laughing and speaking English.
In Greek it means “we are being tortured”!
Bob Holman says:
Pronto means hello when you answer the phone in Italy.
Bob Brisson says:
14. Sawat Dee Kup
My favorite is ‘Sawat Dee Kup’. Traditional Thai greeting makes everyone smile!
Wilbur E. Anderson says:
15. Varum nicht in dem luft gehen
German for “go fly a kite” – or as we might say- go jump in the lake.
Auke Hart says:
“Drempel” a Dutch word (pronounced like “Dremel” with a p) such a pretty word for a bump in the road. Note, Dremel is an electric screwdriver.
17. Der Schmetterling
The German word for “butterfly.” After hearing the Spanish “la mariposa,” (which aptly describes it as it’s resting on a leaf) or the French “le papillon” (which aptly describes it as it flits across the sky), the German word is, “der Schmetterling” (which aptly describes a pterodactyl, or perhaps one of those mechanical wind-up birds you see being sold on the streets).
Eleanor Kohn says:
I love saying “fauteil” which means armchair in French. It is a hard word to work into the conversation, so I was excited on my last trip to France when I got an opportunity to say “fauteil” in a normal context. I have loved this word since learning it in junior High French class.
19. Vaya con Dios
Spanish – Go with God
20. Ti kabicha
“Ti kabicha”–pronounced tee cab ee sha–is a nap or snooze in Haitian Creole. The combination of the sound of the words plus the meaning amuses me. Who knows why….
My husband and I had dinner one night on a cruise ship with the Norwegian captain. He described a philosophy of “dugnad” (doog-nod) meaning “voluntary community service, or the cultural standard of giving something of your time and talents to the greater good” in Norway. I found the word pleasing to say, and the meaning equally satisfying.
Got an interesting word or phrase? Add it as a comment below…
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