Do You Know How to Say These Words Around the World?


By: Jonnathan Chadwick

6 Min Quiz

Image: d3sign / Moment / Getty Images

About This Quiz

It's common to rely on Uber or Lyft for transportation while traveling, but if your cellphone doesn't have service, do you know how to catch an old-fashioned taxi in a foreign country? Do you even know how to say "taxi"? What about bus or boat? If you're sitting in a restaurant and you order tacos, you probably expect to get the Mexican dish of meat and vegetables wrapped in tortilla, but if you order tacos in Japan, you might be surprised at what you receive.

If you ever plan to do any world travel, the one thing you need to do in preparation is learn some key words. It's mandatory to learn the emergency numbers and embassies in whatever area you're visiting, but aside from that, it's also a smart idea to learn how to find the airport, hotel or bathroom. It's important to know how to count to 10 in the language to make sure you don't get ripped off, and it's even more important to know the local currency and the denominations. If you're game to travel, this is the quiz to make sure you're ready to go, and even if you don't plan on traveling any time soon, this is the quiz to see how well you know words around the world. Put your skills to the test and see how cultured you are when it comes to vocabulary.

Before you can speak with someone, you first have to get their attention. How do you say "hello" in French?

The French word for hello is "bonjour," and it's so common it's understood everywhere around the world. The word "hello" is also recognized worldwide, but it's good practice to learn the language of whatever country you're in. Spanish is "hola." Italian is "ciao." And Japanese is "konichiwa."


Knowing Internet language in the 21st century is just as important as knowing spoken language. How do you type "lol" in Thai?

In Thai, the number five is pronounced "ha," so three fives in a row equals "hahaha," which is the Thai equivalent of "lol." The lol acronym is commonly translated to "jajaja" in Spanish and "xaxaxa" in Greek.


After dining on seafood and pasta on the Amalfi Coast, you might look at your friends and say "arrivederci," which means what in Italian?

"Arrivederci" joins "au revoir," "bon voyage" and "sayonara" as one of the coolest ways to say goodbye in the world. Technically, if you want to say goodbye in Italian, a simple "ciao" will suffice, which is also the word for "hello." "Arrivederci" means "til we meet again."


English is widely spoken in New Zealand and Australia, but if you order an "entree" at a restaurant in New Zealand, what will you get?

In New Zealand, Australia and the U.K., the word "entree" is used for a starter course that comes after an appetizer but before the main course. The word comes from 18th-century France, where it defined the opening act of an opera or ballet.


In English, drugs are bad. In Russian, drugs are good. What does "drugs" mean in Russian?

The Russian word for "friend" is "drug," which is pretty confusing. The Latvian word is "draugs," and the Estonian word is "sober." Spanish and Portuguese speakers are familiar with "amigos," and the Dutch word is simply "vriend."


After walking around the beaches of Indonesia all day, you might go to the bar and ask for a glass of "air," which means what in Indonesian?

The Indonesian word for "water" is "air." It is pronounced ay-yeer and is spelled using Indonesia letters. The word "water" commonly translates to a variant of "voda" or "agua" in many languages and is simply called "wasser" in German.


One of the most important things to learn while traveling is how to politely ask for something. What does "por favor" mean in Spanish?

Knowing how to say please and thank you is essential when learning any language, and "por favor" works for "please" in Spanish, Galician, Portuguese and is "per favore" in Italian. Thank you in Spanish is "gracias" and "grazzi" in Italian.


Every living thing on Earth has a mother. How do you say "mother" in German?

The German word for mother is "mutter," and isn't pronounced much differently than in English. The word "ma" is understood to mean mother in almost every language. The U.K. and Australia commonly use "mum" instead of "mom."


If you wake up in the Netherlands one day, you may say "goedemorgen" to the first person you see, which means what in Dutch?

Good morning is one of the most popular greetings around the world. The Spanish version is "buenos dias," the Italian version is "buongiorno," the German version is "guten morgen" and the Portuguese version is "bom dia."


Mandarin Chinese is the most spoken language on Earth, and coffee is one of the most consumed beverages. How do you say "coffee" in Mandarin?

Almost every language in the world uses a similar word for "coffee," making the word pretty universal. Indonesians say "kopi" and Filipinos say "kape." It's "koffie" in Afrikaans, "khave" in Turkish, and every European language uses a variant of "cafe" or "kava."


A yes-or-no question requires only a "yes" or "no" for an answer. What does "ja" mean in about a dozen languages?

The word "ja" means yes in at least a dozen languages around the world. The Italian and Spanish word for yes is "si," and the French word is "oui," pronounced we. Russia, Serbia, Bosnia and Croatia all use the word "da."


The word "no" is recognized around the world, but how do you say "no" in Russian?

Although the word "no" is understood everywhere in the world, it's only spelled "no" in a handful of languages. The Vietnamese word is "khong," the Swedish word is "nej." It is "nei" in Norwegian, and just to be confusing, "nie" in Polish.


Greetings and partings are the most important phrases to learn while traveling. What does "farvel" mean in Danish?

Goodbye is the most universal farewell. The French say "au revoir," the Dutch say "vaarwel," the Spanish say "addios" and Italians say "addio," but if you're talking to an Italian person who you know, you can opt for the much cooler farewell of "arrivederci."


A hotel is simply called a hotel in many languages. How do you say "hotel" in Finnish?

Hotel is one of the most universal words, as it is simply spelled "hotel" in dozens of languages. The Hungarian word is "szalloda," and the Maltese word is "lukanda." Depending on where you are, a hotel may be referred to as something else like a bed, a lodge or an inn.


After drinking coladas on the beach in the Philippines all day, you might need to find a "banyo," which means what in Filipino?

Learning how to find the bathroom is one of the most important things to learn while traveling. Several languages use a variant of "bano" or "banyo," but bathrooms are labeled differently around the world. In some places, they're called "water closets" and in others, it's simply "toilet."


The birthplace of pizza is Naples, but how would you order "pizza" in Iceland?

Pizza is an Italian word, and almost every language uses the word "pizza" to describe the cheesy, doughy, saucy confection that is loved around the world. The word stems from the Greek "pitta" and Latin "pinza."


New York City streets are well known for being overrun with what cars that are called "taksos" in Estonia?

Taxi is another word that is surprisingly universal, as almost every language uses a variant of "taxi," "taksi" or "tacsi" to describe the yellow cab that is known for flooding city streets. Uber is popular in America but isn't the premiere ride-sharing app in every country.


In the movies, it's not uncommon to ask a neighbor to borrow some sugar. How do you say "sugar" in Norwegian?

The word "sugar" stems from the 13th-century French word "sucre," and today that is still the French word for "sugar." The Albanian word is "sheqer," the Dutch word is "suiker" and the Icelandic word is "sykur."


Stockholm is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. Before booking reservations anywhere in the city, make sure to check the "kosta," which is Swedish for what?

The most important thing to learn before traveling to any country is what the local currency is and what the average prices of everyday goods cost. The average meal for two in Stockholm will run you about $75.


The first beers ever brewed date back thousands of years to the Middle East and Asia. How do you say "beer" in Turkish?

Beer is brewed all over the world and started with some guy in Mesopotamia messing around with barley and today generates about $300 billion in sales worldwide. The largest beer festival in the world is Oktoberfest in Munich, where beer is called "bier."


If you're speaking with someone in Bucaharest and didn't hear the last thing they said, you might reply by saying "scuze," which means what in Romanian?

Bucharest is the capital of Romania, where the word "scuze" means sorry. The French word is "pardon," the Italian word is "scusa" and the Dutch word is simply "sorry." "Please," "thank you" and "sorry" are three of the first phrases every traveler needs to learn.


In America, a brat is a misbehaved, spoiled kid. What is a "brat" in Poland?

Poland, Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia all use the word "brat" for brother. The Czech Republic uses the word "bratr." The Dutch, Danish, Norwegian and Swedish all use "bror" or "broer." Italy uses "fratello," Romania uses "frate" and France uses "frere."


The cobbled streets and riverside city of Porto is beautiful. How do you say "beautiful" in Portuguese?

The Portuguese word for beautiful is "bonita," and it's easy to mix up bonita, linda, bella, hermosa and guapa, as they all have similar meanings. The French word is "beau" or "belle," and the Italian word is "bellissimo."


In English, to give someone a gift is a good thing. In German, to give someone a gift is a bad thing. What does "gift" mean in German?

The German word for "poison" is "gift," which is extremely confusing, but the Danish and Norwegian languages also use "gift" for "poison." The Korean word for "poison" is "dog," which is also confusing.


In Star Wars, Luke Skywalker discovers that Darth Vader is his father. How do you say "father" in Dutch?

Most people around the world will understand the words "ma" and "pa" to mean mother and father, but each language still has its own words. Italian and Spanish speakers use "padre," the French use "pere" and Albanians say "baba."


A slang word for "no" is "nah," and it sounds like the Greek word "nai," which means what in English?

Saying "nah" in Greece can easily be mistaken as "nai," which means yes. Most other languages use "yes," "si," "da" or "ja," but some languages are complete wildcards. The Vietnamese use "vang," the Hungarian use "igen" and the French say "oui."


Many languages use a variant of the word telephone to describe a phone, but what word do Germans use for a cell phone?

This isn't an exact translation of the word into German, but almost every language uses a variant of "telephone" for the normal landline phone that is rapidly going out of style. Other languages use variants of "mobile" and "cellular" to refer to a cellphone.


The Japanese word "wanpisu" is used to refer to what one-piece garment?

The Japanese word for dress is "wanpisu," which stems from the English phrase "one-piece." It's a typical example of a word borrowed from one language and then slightly modified to fit the norms of another language.


Wine is regularly served during meals in Italy. Before drinking, you might clink glasses and say "saluti," which means what in Italian?

The word "cheers" is used around the world as an exclamation of joy. It started as a shout of encouragement and support and quickly spread around the world. The French say "sante," the Finnish say "kippis" and Americans use it as a common email sign-off.


English is the official language of Australia. What time does a barbie in the "arvo" take place?

Arvo isn't an actual word but more of an abbreviation used in place of the word "afternoon." It's common in Australia, and someone is just as likely to wish you a good arvo as they are a good afternoon. A barbie is an Australian abbreviation for a barbecue.


English is the official language of Ireland and Scotland, but if someone in Edinburgh runs out to get the "messages," what did they go out to get?

This isn't a direct translation but is a common phrase in Scotland and Ireland, where the word "messages" is commonly substituted for the word "groceries." To "get the messages" means to "get the groceries." Legend has it the phrase originated from messenger boys who delivered groceries.


Tacos are a traditional Mexican food and are known around the world, but if you order a "tako" in Japan, what will you be served?

The Japanese word for octopus is "tako." If you want to order Mexican tacos in Japan, you'll have to say "takosu." Japan is a foodie haven, and Tokyo has more Michelin-starred restaurants than any other city, but tacos aren't exactly known as the country's specialty.


Money talks and the most important thing you can learn in any country is how to count in the language. How do you say "one" in Latin?

The Latin word for one is "unum." It's essential to learn how to count to 10 when visiting any country to prevent getting ripped off or spending more money or time than you're supposed to. The Italian and Spanish word is "uno," and France uses "un."


If someone from France texts you something deathly funny, you could respond by typing "mdr," which means what in French?

When you see something incredibly funny online, you might comment with "dead." In French, you can use the abbreviation "mdr," which means "mort de rire" and translates to "death by laughter." You can also play it safe and use "lol," which is pretty universal.


Sometimes the best thing to know is that you don't know anything. How do you say "I don't know" in Spanish?

Never underestimate the power of saying "I don't know." Even if you don't know how to say "I don't know," a simple shoulder shrug is recognized almost everywhere in the world. The French term is "je ne sais pas," not to be confused with "je ne sais quoi," which means an indescribable quality and has no direct English translation.


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