One of the advantages of international travel is the discovery of the language. Another benefit is the discovery that every culture has something they do really well, and language can be one of them.
Some cultures are simply better at communicating, or even if it’s not better, it can feel a lot nicer when spoken or read.
Over the years I’ve come to realize that there are quite a few phrases I use in my daily life that I’ve acquired through my love of travel, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites, among others I just really enjoy.
I can’t help but imagine that everyone also has a few that they like.
I say “Ciao” to say goodbye
One of the few painful parts of life in the UK is hearing people say goodbye. It’s like an endless trail of “bye now, bye” that can often be met with “bye, bye, bye” like we’re in an NSYNC song.
The Italians, however, have a wonderfully finished way of saying goodbye. Ciao. It works. Verbally, it is conclusive and succinct. At the end of each call, I say ciao and immediately hang up. No lingering goodbye trail. Even if they are said on the other end of the line, I have already left.
I like the word “Tack”
The Scandinavians surpass themselves in many things but there is one that I find simple and nice, and that is saying thank you in Swedish. I love the word “tack” as a thank you and among very close friends and around the house I find myself saying it.
It’s short and playful and always brings back fond memories of days spent traveling around Sweden. I always want to go back, so it’s just a fun way to say thank you and create some good vibes.
“Let’s Go” in French, Arabic or Italian!
A word so kind that even Israel and Palestine can enjoy it together. Yalla, or Yallah is great fun to say. When someone amps you up and gets you ready to go, saying “Yalla” is so much more fun than “let’s hang out” or something like that.
A fun, easy-to-say word that works throughout the Middle East, there’s a lot of positivity in my mind when I say Yalla – and not just because I instantly dream of dish after dish of mezze coming my way .
But that’s where I’m conflicted, because the French “allez” offers, which, pronounced as “ah-lay”, roll off the tongue so easily, conveying so much excitement. You can’t go wrong with either one, but if that’s not enough, the Italians have Andiamo!
Andiamo is so exciting to say, you can almost feel the gathering of Napoli fans glued to the TV as you say it, all huddled around you. Turns out, “let’s go” is a great phrase in almost any language.
Konichiwa is the best hello
Find me a better way to say hello than Konichiwa, and I’ll find you a liar.
I can’t claim to use this one with much regularity, but it slips occasionally and every time I smile. Konichiwa conjures up great memories of Japan and rolls her tongue very easily.
While we’re on the Japanese language, I also like “hai” more than yes.
inchallah it’s beautiful
I have to admit that I’m not even the least bit religious. But still, I like the Arabic word “inshallah” – which loosely means God/may Allah will.
It’s the beauty of spoken language that I love and even though I’m not religious, there’s a beautiful spiritual thought to “if” a higher power wants something to be, it will be.
I find it comes up most often when discussing future plans and hopes, like “will I see you tomorrow” and someone replies “inshallah” – I find a strange comfort in that.
“Eso Es” is fun
Spoken as sos, I love the Spanish expression “eso es”, which basically means “that’s it” or “perfect” in any affirmative sense. When you’re in a wine bar and someone offers you a taste and it blows your mind, “eso es” often comes to mind.
The Spanish language has way too many beautiful words and phrases, but this one is conversationally fun and gets even novice Spanish speakers through a lot.
Cheers remains the reference
I love kanpai in Japanese, kippis in Finnish, skol in Swedish, slainte in Gaelic, prost in German, ‘salud’ and all the others, but there is something extraordinary about ‘cheers ” – that works.
Simple, effective, and versatile as a way to say thank you or literally toast a nice drink of any kind, cheering is a pretty universal language of love and appreciation and I love both of those things very much.
It’s about you as much as it is about me, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments, no profanity please!
“Good Yarn” is a big change
Color me ignorant, but I didn’t know the “right yarn” until fairly recently. I told a colleague a story to which they replied “you spin a good yarn” which left me perplexed.
Good thread is basically a fun phrase that I’ve heard New Zealanders use most often, and it’s a slightly more visual and intriguing way of saying someone is telling a good story or a good thread.
Big words? I could go on for days
I’ll keep things above all else, but when it comes to cursing certain languages, do it just fine. So hey, I don’t even know where to start. Maybe another article for another day. I can hear Wagner Moura in Narcos as I sign here…