How to Say

Hello, Thank You, and You're Welcome

in Different Languages/Dialects  (34, as of December 2010)

These may be the most important 3 words you can know in a foreign tongue. They can make a person feel welcome and they can express your appreciation. Carol & I try to collect them and remember them; some are harder to recall than others.

Seems like if we all knew a few of these we might be able to reduce some of the misunderstandings in the world. But probably not the hate. No, I think that's too deep for words. Only actions can destroy hate.

Many of these, not collected by us as we meet new people in life, have been contributed by people from all over (thanks Google).

Language Hello Thank You You're Welcome
Afghani (sah-LAHM) (teh shah-KOR) (teh ah shah-MEL)
Albanian   (SKA-jeh) (fah-la-MEN-dur-it)
Arabic

(read right-to-left)

Assalamou Alaikoum
(ah-SAH-lah-moo   AH-li-koom)

Shokran
(sho-KRON)
 

Afwan
  Thanks, Suhail!
Australian G'day (geh-dye or geh-doi) Thank you! ("thoink yew" where the oi is said closer to a "long I") No worries, mate. (now wurrees mite)
Balkan States Zdravo Hvala  
Brazilian Portugese

Oi (Hi)
Bom Dia (Bom-JEE-uh) (Good Day)
Boa Tarde (Good Afternoon)
Boa Noite
(Good Night)
[Thanks, João]

Muito Obrigado
(moo-IT-o-bri-GAD-o)
the first word slides into the second

De nada (Jee-NAH-duh) literally, "of nothing"
[thanks, Farley]
Catalan
(E. Spain, Andorra)

Hola (OH la) Hi
Com anem?
How are we going?
[Thanks Ramon]

Gràcies (GRAH see ess)
Mercès
(MER sess)

De res (deh REH) It's nothing
No es mereixen (no ess mah RAY ee shun) Don't deserve it

Chinese
(Cantonese)

(lay ho ma)  lay ho means "you good" and ma makes it a question [Thanks Kevin Mc]

(mn goy   OR  do tzeh)
(depends on context)

(mn sai ha hay)   " not necessary", sort of like 'don't mention it' in English
[Thanks Chan Wei-Ming from San Diego & Kevin Mc]

Chinese
(Mandarin)
(NEE how) (XIE-xie) sounds like ZHEH-zheh, the zh sounding like the G in beige.

(bu kuh CHEE)        [Thanks Peter Chan from San Diego]

Danish Goddag (gooh-DEH)
Hej (hi) [informal]

Tak (tock)[thanks
Mange tak (MAHN-eh tock) many thanks

Selv tak (SELL tock) thanks yourself
Det var så lidt (DEH vah shaw leet) it was so little    [Thanks, Michael C.]
Dutch Hallo

Bedankt (beh-DONKT) thanks
Dank u wel (DONK oo vel) [thank you much]

Graag gedaan (grog GEH-don)   [Thanks, Marjolein at Vons]
Farsi (Iran) (sah-LAHM) (MEHR-see) (like the French) (kha-HESH ME-ko-nahm)  where "kh" is prounounced gutterally like "ch" is in German and Hebrew
Finnish Hei(hay) Kiitos (KEE tose) [ose is pronounced like it is in sucrose] Ole hyvä (oh leh HU va)
French Bonjour (Bawn-ZHUR)
[the "N" sound is made in the throat, similar to how we'd say "bong" without the "g". Close the epliglottis for a nasal sound. ZH is like the G in beige]
Merci (mehr-SEE)

De rien   (deh REE-en)  [ the "r" is said in the back of the throat almost as if hocking a lugie but without the disgusting noise in front. "it's nothing" ]
Avec plaisir (ah-VEK pleh-ZEER) [ "with pleasure"]
     [Merci, Martinolli from Montreal]

German

Guten Tag (GOOT-en tahg) [good day
Guten Morgen (GOOT-en MOR-gen) [good morning]
Guten Abend (GOO-ten AH-bend) [good evening]

Danke Schoen (DONK-eh shern) [but dont say the " r " ]
or  Danke  or  Vielen Dank (FEE-len donk)

Bitte schoen (BIT-eh shern) or just
Bitte (BIT-eh)
Ghanaian
TWI dialect
Kyia  (Chee-ah) Med 'ase  (Meh-DAH-see)

Ye n’ase da  (Yuh nah-see dah)
    [thanks Sonya from Detroit]

Hawaiian aloha (ah-LO-hah) mahahlo  (mah-HAH-lo) A'ole pilikia (ah-O-lay pih-lih-KEE-ah)
   [thanks Jonathan from Hawaii & Danielle R.]
Hebrew Shalom (shah-LOME) [translates as "Peace"] toda raba (toe-dah ruh-bah) or just toda Bevlakisha  (bev-lah-kih-shah)
Hungarian
(Magyar)
Szia (SEE-yah) Köszönöm (kuh-zuh-nuhm) were the uh is like saying an R but not finishing it Nincs Mit  (neench mit) Nothing [Köszönöm, Csilla and Vilmos]
Icelandic Hallo Takk (tock)

Gerdu svo vel (Ger DOO swoh vel)
[Takk, Gudrun, the very pretty nurse at Grossmont Hospital]

Italian Buon Giorno (bwon JYOR-no)
(the "JYOR" here is pronounced like the name George, without the last "j" sound)       (Thanks Sarah T.)

Grazie (GRAHT-zee)
[thanks Dennis Pieri]

Prego (PRAY-goh)
Japanese

おはようございます (oh-HAI-oh go-ZAI-mahsoo) Good Morning]
(ko-NEE-chee-wah) good day
(kohn-BON-wah) good evening

(DO-mo a-ree-GA-toh) or just   (DOh-mo)

Doc D. recommends:
(a-ree-GAH-toe go-ZAI-mas)
as more formal & broadly accepted

(DOH ee-tah-shi-MAH-shi-tay) [Thanks, Farley]

 

Korean (an-yong hah-SAY-yo)   (KAHM-sa HAHM-nee-dah) (tun mon-AY-oh)   [thanks Jonathan from Hawaii]
Latvian Sveiki Paldies [Paldies, Michael K.]  
Lithuanian Labas Ačiū (ah-TCHOO) [Ačiū, Michael K.]  
Norwegian Hei  (hi)
Tak   (tock) 
 [tusen tak, Marianne from hot, sunny Oslo]

Bare hyggelig  (BAH-reh HEU-geh-lih   that "eu" is a actually a ü)
Ingen årsak  (IH-nyen OOAR-sock  Mats says to roll that R if you can!)

Polish cześć  (cheshch)
dziękuję   (JEH-koo-yeh)
[dziękuję, Michael K.]

prosze (literally, please) [Thanks, Juan]

Romanian Buna Ziua  (bo-nah zee-wah) or just Buna
     [thanks Daniel from Bucharest]
Multumesc   (moolt-zo-mesk) Cu placere (Coo plah-chair-ay)
    [multumesc, Anna Maria from Detroit]
Russian здравствулте (ZDRAV-stru-tsyeh)  Formal
привет (PREE-vyet)   Familiar
[спасибо Rainey at EFF.org]

спасибо (SPAH-see-bah)
[спасибо Lilliana at Wells Fargo]

пожалуйста (po-ZHAL-stah, literally "Please")
[спасибо Carrie in Butte, MT]

Slovak Dobrý deň (doh-BREE-dyen)
Ďakujem (DYA-koo-yem) Prosím (PRO-sim)  [Prosim, Ivan from Bratislava]
Spanish
(Latino)

Buenos Dias (BWEN-ose DEE-ahs)  or  
Hola (OH-la)
Gracias (GRAH-see-us) De nada (deh NAH-dah) or Por nada or Mi Gusto (mee GOO-stoh) which means "My pleasure" [Gracias Rodrigo de Espana]
Swedish Hejsan (HAY-san)  or  just
Hej! (HAY)

Tack så mycket (tock shaw

MEE keh)
OR just Tack
[which seems to be the case for all Scandinavian languages] [Tnx & gd DX, AG6CV]

Varsågod (vor-SHA-gode)
[Thanks Paul S.]
Tagalog (Phillipino) Mabuhay (mah-BOO-hi) [long live]
Kumusta? (koo-MOO-stah) [familiar, "How are you?"]

Salamat po (sah-LUH-maht  poh) [formal]
Salamat [familiar]

Walang Anuman (wah-LUNG A-noo-mun)  [no problems]
Sige (see-geh)     continue      [from Adam B in Astralya & Ray F]
Thaitian ia ornana  (EE-yah or-NAH-nah) mauruuru (mor-oo-OO-roo) aita peapea  (ah-EE-tah PAY-ah-PAY-ah)
   [thanks Jonathan from Hawaii]
Ukrainian doìbryy den' (doh-BREE-dyen) diaìkuyu (JA-koo-yoo) bud' laìska (bud lie-EE-ska)  [diaìkuyu, Yuliya]

Obviously, I'm not a linguist. I dont have the proper symbols to use for a real, dictionary quality, pronunciation guide. I'm using letters and digraphs the way I SPEAK THEM - a typical American. Many of the foreign languages have sounds that don't exist in English (Chinese has 2 or 3 ways to say the same "noise" or syllable, each having completely different meanings) so it's hard to provide accurate direction for pronunciation. Some words can't be spelled with a Western (Latin) keyboard, so I've only included the pronunciation; the ones in bold are the actual spellings less possible diacritical marks. Also, I'm probably not even pronouncing many of these words right. But, it's a start. There are web sites out there that have audio recordings of these words and sounds.

I use an "h" on the ends of some phonetic examples if the vowel COULD be pronounced more than one way. For example, in American English, "bo" is always pronounced with a long "o", like "oboe".  But the "o" in "do", which really SHOULD be pronounced long ("doe"), is actually pronounced like "oo" ("dew").  Same with "to" (said "too" vs "toe").  Same with "de"; could be short like "den" or could be said long like "deep" so I use "deh" for short and "dee" for long. Other vowels in other pairings don't need the specificity since there's no dichotomy.

Email additions/corrections to

More on Language

From my 5th cousin, Howard, of Dartford, Kent, this link to recordings of many different variations of British English (sounds redundant), some recorded as long ago as the 1950's and the people recorded were born before 1900. Not just accents but also history from regular chaps and ladies.  Go here, http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/search/advanced.cfm?objectPage=name then enter a COUNTY as the search term and RECORDED SPEECH as the object type.

Fellow Mensan and neighbor, Richard Lederer, created a wonderful radio show called A Way With Words. Now hosted by Martha Barnette (see her website; she's a Babe-liophile, guys), & Grant Barrett it's heard on SOME NPR Radio stations (ask YOURS to pick it up if they don't carry it). It's about etymology, usage, puns (Richard's Specialty) and just the love of language. Not pedantic or sesquipedalian, it's always fun, sometimes titillating, and, well, ya loins sumthin', too. Both are authors and lecturers about language and you can tell they love it. You can hear the show via streaming audio if you're not in a Verbivore Visited Ville.


Last updated September 9, 2013      ©2010 Philip C. Wells