Honouring People And Cultures With Language Skills

I used to enjoy doing languages at school. I wasn’t very good at it but I did enjoy learning the new words as the evolution of language used to fascinate me. I used to study French and now, whenever I go over to France, I do make an effort to communicate as much as possible, in the style of the French, kissing an’ all! 😆 My accent leaves a lot to be desired, but I do try! 😉

More recently there’s been a huge influx of Polish people into the UK and I’ve been fortunate enough to make plenty of Polish friends. From my hairdresser, to my local cafe (where I get my daily soya hot chocolate), to my friends at badminton, you can’t get away from them now, no matter how hard you try! 😆 so I decided to take it upon myself to learn some Polish and I’ve got the basics down well; even some swear words! 😛

I believe there’s so much value in greeting people in their language with their cultural style. It’s like honouring who they are. From my experience, when I greet people in their language, they love it and truly appreciate it. With that in mind I would like to share the basic greetings in the 12 languages that I’ve managed to acquire the basics.

1. English

The 3rd most spoken language in the world. There are so many ways to greet in English. You can start with ‘Hello’ which is the general greeting. You can say ‘Hey’ as a less formal greeting or if you feel daring you and wanna’ be a bit more street. you can say, ‘Yo’, or ‘Wassup’ or ‘Sup’ for short. You can also start by saying ‘Good Morning’ as a more formal greeting. As a farewell greeting and a less formal one you can say ‘See Ya!’

2. French

The 14th most spoken language in the world. The universal greeting in French is ‘Bonjour’ which translated is ‘good day’. If you want to follow up on that you can ask ‘Ca Va?’ with an upward tone at the end to indicate it is a question meaning ‘how are you?. You can even respond with ‘Ca Va’ in a downward tone to indicate a response meaning ‘I’m well’. The universal farewell is ‘Au Revoir’.

3. Gujarati

The 24th most spoken Language in the world. Gujarati is my native tongue and it’s an unusual language but one that is relatively easy to learn. There is actually no general word for hello. The standard greeting is ‘Kem Chor?’ and it’s question meaning ‘how are you?’ You can respond by saying ‘Saroo Che’ which, translated literally into English means ‘good is’ or ‘I’m good.’

4. Hindi

The 4th most spoken language in the world. ‘Namaste is generally recognised as a greeting in Hindi although has it’s roots in Sanskrit. It has a beautiful translation – ‘The God/Goddess spirit within me recognizes and honours the God/Goddess spirit within you.’

5. Punjabi

The 12th most spoken language in the world. Punjabi’s have a vibrant culture and they are very proud to be Punjabi. They will almost always speak it when meeting Punjabi counterpart. The standard greeting in Punjabi is ‘Kiddah?’ which, like Gujarati, has a more literal translation of ‘how are you?’

6. Spanish

The 2nd most spoken language in the world. I love Spanish as a language and if there’s a language I’d go and study, Spanish would be it! The main greeting in Spanish is ‘Hola’ which is kind of like ‘hello’. You can also add ‘Que tal?’ which is ‘how are you?’ You can answer with ‘Vien’ which means ‘well’.

7. Italian

The 20th most spoken language in the world. Italian is considered a very sexy language and although I don’t know much, I can see why. The main greeting, which is also the farewell is ‘Ciao’.

8. Polish

The 27th most spoken language in the world. I like the Polish accent, it reminds me of those Meerkat’s off the telly ad! 😛 Like Italian, in Polish you greet the same way you as you goodbye which is ‘Chesht’. (Not sure if that’s how you would spell it.) You can also say ‘Yaakshamash’ which is ‘how are you?’ You can respond by saying ‘Dobje’ which means ‘I’m good’. If you have a slow badminton partner like me you can say ‘Ruj Dhupshka’ which means ‘move your ass!’ 😆

9. Mandarin

The #1 most spoken language in the world. My Mandarin isn’t very good but the universal greeting in mandarin is ‘Ni Hao’.

10. Cantonese

The 22nd most spoken language in the world. Again my Cantonese isn’t great either but the main greeting is Lei-Ho and for more formal occasions you can add ‘Ma’ at the end.

11. Japanese

The 9th most spoken language in the world. Of all the languages, Japanese has to have the most fun sounding greetings. The general greeting is ‘Konnichiwa’ which the literal translation is ‘good afternoon’. They have different greetings for different times of the day but that is now seen as a universal greeting. The telephone greeting is ‘Moshi Moshi’. Love it! 😀

12. Arabic

The 5th most spoken language in the world. The greeting in Arabic is ‘As-Salaamu ‘Alaykum’ which has the beautiful meaning of ‘may peace be upon you’. The common response is ‘Wa Alaykum As-Salaam’ which means ‘and upon you be peace’.

There are so many languages in the world so I would say go out there and learn something new from people who speak a different language to you. If you speak a different language to me, please feel free to enlighten me in the comments section on the basics, your greetings, farewell etc. I would love to learn more.

55 Responses

  1. Amy Potts says:

    I love this blog. Mike & I are always looking for new ways to greet each other. Also I love to see my Spanish speaking coworker’s eyes light up when I say “hola amiga”! Good stuff Amit! Keep writing!

  2. Hi Amit,

    I finally made my way to your blog! :)

    I totally agree with you on how wonderful it is to greet someone in their native tongue. It is usually welcomed as a pleasant surprise and people are grateful that you took some time to learn about their culture.

    By the way, cool on the Polish. My husband is originally from there so I try to learn as much as I can. Of course, he laughs sometimes at my accent but it makes it more fun! :)

    Hope all is awesome!

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Nadia,

      Welcome to the POC…glad to have you over and you’re always welcome! Polish is a fun language to learn, if there’s anything new you can teach me let me know. Jinkoya! 😉

  3. Can I add my own contributions in Italian?
    Ciao means hi
    Hey means, well.. hey 😀
    Come va mean how are you
    we it’s like yo
    and then there are countless ways depending on where you go 😉

    Oh, the formal one… Buon giorno means good morning 😀
    .-= New at Oscar – freestyle mind’s blog ..Declutter Your Life And Start Living Again =-.

  4. Johnny says:

    Hi Amit,

    I live in Barcelona, so I’ll give my contributions (and a little slang)…

    Spanish:
    que tal (kiddal): how are you?
    de puta madre: freakin’ awesome!

    Catalan:
    que ta bo: how are you?
    molt be, merci: pretty good, thanks

    Cheers,

    Johnny
    .-= New at Johnny’s blog ..You Are Now Allowed To Give In To Your Mondays =-.

  5. Hi Amit,

    What a fun post and a lovely way to connect and promote oneness! I like languages, too and I pick up the basics fairly easily before I visit a new country. The problem though is I forget just as easily what I’ve learned when I go home. I took French in high school and got pretty conversant. Then I took Spanish in college and got pretty good at it. But that was then and this is now and plainly, I have no fluency in either!

    Anyway, I ‘d like to offer a few words from places where I have roots:

    I had Korean friends in high school who taught me some basics:
    Hello (in person): an yeong haseyo
    Hello (on the phone): ya baseyo
    Thank you: gam sahab nida

    In Filipino (Philippines), my ethnicity:
    Hello: Kamusta
    Thank you: Salamat

    In Chamorro (Guam), where I grew up:
    Hello: Hafa adai
    Thank you: Si yu’us ma’ase

    In Hawaiian:
    Hello and Goodbye: Aloha
    Thanks: Mahalo

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Belinda,

      In your native tongue I say salamat for the amazing contributions! :-) Don’t worry, I’m like, I forget just as quickly as I learn but I just pick up and use as much as I can! My Gujarati, which is my native language, is very poor and I get teased for my poor accent when I speak it too! :-( LOL

  6. Vincent says:

    Hi Amit,

    This is my first time here and I would say that learning how to speaking French and Spanish would be great. It makes touring the country much more easier.

    Cheers,
    Vincent
    .-= New at Vincent’s blog ..Others Want To See You Make Decisions – Start Being Decisive Now =-.

  7. Amie Sugat says:

    Spanish is very different in different parts of the world. its spelled and pronounced differently in Spain than Mexico and even in different parts of Mexico. Portuguese was actually derived form parts of Spanish and the native islanders tongue. (someone correct me if I am wrong)

    I grew up cross cultural, or Matisse, as the french call it.

    My childhood/first languages were Yiddish, German, and French. I also learned some Hawaiian and Aleutian.

    From 6 till 14 I also spoke Spanish (Apache/Aztec dialects) and some English when I had to. During this time I was exposed to Korean, Hmong, Mandrine, and Japanese cultures, foods, and languages.

    From 14 till 20 we lived among mostly Hindu, Pakistani, and other east Indian languages, cultures, and foods.

    I learned English late in high school and in college. I now consider it my mother tongue since I am so out of practice with all the others I cant barely remember greetings.

    Oh, by the way, I’ve never been outside the united states.

    I love French, Spanish, Japanese, and Hindi. I plan on mastering each of these in my lifetime.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      It’s true Amy that it’s just as easy to forget as it is to learn although my mum speaks 6 languages and she never seems to forget! LOL

      I find the best way is immersion but even after a long absence it’s easy to forget. That’s why I’ve found it easy just remembering the greetings and the most important parts! :-)

      • Amie Sugat says:

        “The 2nd most spoken language in the world. I love Spanish as a language and if there’s a language I’d go and study, Spanish would be it! The main greeting in Spanish is ‘Hola’ which is kind of like ‘hello’. You can also add ‘Kiddal?’ which is ‘how are you?’ You can answer with ‘Vien’ which means ‘well’.”

        The dialect of Spanish I spoke growing up had this greeting:

        Hola, como esta?
        Bein y tu

        It basically means

        Hi, what are you?
        Good and you

        Since moving to the midwest I’ve had to relearn pronunciation as I learned a lot of clipped vowels and sharp constenant. Out here everything is drawn out, long vowels and long contanants. For the first two years I was out here nobody understood me, I kept having to re-explain what I said and then they’d get it.

        • Hey Amie

          That’s exactly like what Arvind, Avani and I were discussing further down in the comments sections. There are accents and small cultural differences to contend with but the main thing here is the basics. The basics tend to be fairly universal and can be carried off almost anywhere.

          So is there much difference between saying ‘Como Esta?’ and ‘Que Tal?’ ?

          Is that a regional difference or a dialect difference?
          .-= New at Amit Sodha – The Power Of Choice’s blog ..A Top 30 Chart Of The Most Uplifting Songs Of All Time =-.

  8. Anastasiya says:

    Amit, I loved this post!!!! I love studying foreign languages and English is actually my second language (though I have spent most of my life studying it extensively in school).
    My dream has always been to know at 3 foreign languages. So far I know English and German (just a little bit, I need to brush it up :-)) and I dream about learning French.
    I have two native languages: Russian and Ukrainian. If you do not mind I will add “Hello” in Russian, the fifth most spoken language in the world.
    Hello is “Privet” – this is how you would greet your friends and relatives. A more official version (mostly used in business communication and when greeting people you do not know) is “Zdrastvuyte.” If you want to ask “How are you?” then you should say “Kak dela?”
    Thank you again for this post. I had the best time reading “Hello” in 12 different languages :-)
    .-= New at Anastasiya’s blog ..10 Ways to Practice Mindfulness and Reach Life Balance =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Well thank you too Ana! I think it’s safe to say that I can now take this list up to something like 16 or so! Maybe I’ll do a follow up soon with all the new ones I’m learning! :-) x

  9. Jaky Astik says:

    And then there are Gujaratis (like me)- You’ll find them wherever there is good food. “Kem Cho” means “How are you” the special “jami ne jajo” means “Leave only after Lunch.”
    .-= New at Jaky Astik’s blog ..My all new old e-bike =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hi Jaky, thanks for commenting. You’re right, us Gujji’s love good food! I’m very familiar with ‘Jami Ne Jajo’ as it’s something you just cannot say not to in our culture…also explains my weight! 😛

  10. Lance says:

    Hi Amit,
    This is great! And…wow!! Knowing the basics in 12 languages! Years ago I studied both Spanish and Japanese, although it is all very weak at best now. So, I find this post a wonderful reminder of the connection we develop with others when we take the time to learn some of their native language. Thanks for sharing this.
    .-= New at Lance’s blog ..Powered By Laughter =-.

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Lance, any extra japanese you can teach me is grately appreciated, i know tone is very important in Japanese so it’s hard to learn from reading but gimme some goodies anyway! 😉

  11. Zengirl says:

    Amit,

    Every language has something beautiful in it. I believe Bengali, Urdu, and Hawaiian is also very poetic and beautiful. So much to learn, so little life.
    .-= New at Zengirl’s blog ..Life balance: 6 Critical areas =-.

  12. Amit Sodha says:

    Hey Zengirl, I love the Bengali way of saying ‘I love you’ a very fun way of saying it!

  13. Avani Mehta says:

    Hey Amit,

    I loved the idea behind this article. Greeting people in their native language opens their heart and creates a bond.

    By the way, in Gujarati it is ‘Kem Cho?’ and not ‘Kem Chor?’.

    Another fun exercise is to learn to speak ‘I love you’ in different languages. Of course this can’t be used with everyone 😉
    .-= New at Avani Mehta’s blog ..10 Fabulous Motivators That Inspire You To Take Action – Part II =-.

  14. Fantastic post, I really like your style.

  15. Amit Sodha says:

    If you spoke to many of my Gujarati friend they would tell you that my Gujarati is anything BUT refind! 😉 and probably has a cockney twang to it!

    You beat me to the punch Arvind!

    Bengali – Ami tomake bhalobashi. – Love it!

  16. Hulbert says:

    Nice post Amit! To add to the Mandarin section, “Ni hao” means, “Hi.” “Ni hao ma” means, “How are you?” “Jai jien” means, “Bye-bye” and “Shie shie” means, “Thank you”. So, Shie Shie for this post. :)
    .-= New at Hulbert’s blog ..Trust Your Intuition – How I Almost Joined a Pyramid Scheme =-.

  17. aDeeb says:

    Lessons in cultural relations!
    Nice to see people here who speak Bangla, the 5th most spoken in the world.
    Some other phrase you need to know in Bangla are :-
    “Shagotom” = Welcome.
    “Kemon acho?” = How are you?
    .-= New at aDeeb’s blog ..Apple iPad? No thanks. =-.

  18. Amit Sodha says:

    Nice, thanks aDeeb, I’ll be brushing up on my Bengali too! :-)

  19. Kem Chor Amit? Interesting post
    .-= New at Nimit Kashyap’s blog ..Furvious A Free WordPress Theme =-.

  20. Aneta says:

    I think that learning a new language is fun. But the best part of it is when you are actually speaking it! Even though you may suck at it but native speaker will be definitely happy to see that you’re trying. :)

    I’m Polish and it’s very good to hear that you like and enjoy our language. Well, I heard that polish is kind a hard to learn for foreigns but it’s hard for me to believe its truth ;D
    My accent in Lithuanian suck even though I live here my whole life! Don’t know why but I accepted this cruel reality. But speaking honestly I came to terms that the most important thing is not the way you speak but what you say 😉
    I tried to learn Russian but I gave up when I started learning its grammar. Understanding and speaking it is enough for me, for now ;D

    To tell you the truth I desire to learn Korean. At the end of this month I’ll go to a curse and I’m soooo excited about it. Can’t wait! :)

    Have a nice day 😉

    P.S. I have a feeling that my English sucks. Srsly, I have to study more ;x

    • Amit Sodha says:

      Hey Aneta,

      Wow you’re blessed to know so many languages. From what I’ve heard of Polish so far it doesn’t seem like it’s difficult to learn. I love the accent too!

      Korean sounds like it might be hard to learn so good luck with that! Once you learn the greetings please do share them with me here! :-)

  21. Micke chune says:

    Nice post! you did it good. I look forward to future post.
    Learning a new culture is more than just having the ability to speak a few words in a conversation. There are many language courses that are really good. Also I had some ideas while making this, so let me know what you think!!

    Thanks for sharing,

    Reference:
    german language schools

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