WONKY TIMES
yellow tassel

Five Words That Sound Similar In Almost Every Language

“Any time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you’re just used to it.”

yellow tassel
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Have you ever been watching a movie in another language and realizing that some of the words you’re familiar with are pretty much the same? Or what about when you hear a conversation verbally and recognize a word that’s similar to one you use?

How the heck are these words so alike when cultures have been speaking and spelling them for years — way before people started traveling to other countries and sharing their knowledge amongst each other?

“Different people agree to give different combinations of sounds different meanings. Considering that people are scattered around the globe and speak different mutually unintelligible languages, it is unlikely that they would all have the same words for the same thing. However, there are some select words that sound pretty much the same across so many languages.”

– The Language Nerds

Here are some interesting findings from the website The Language Nerds that you may find intriguing.

Coffee

person performing coffee art
Photo by Chevanon Photography on Pexels.com

Afrikaans: koffie | Albanian: kafe | Arabic: قهوة (qahua) | French: Café | Azerbaijani: qəhvə | Basque: kafea | Belarussian: кава (kava) | Bengali: কফি (kaphi) | Bosnian: kafa | Bulgarian: кафе (kafe) | Catalan: cafè | Cebuano: kape | Chichewa: khofi | Chinese: 咖啡 (Kāfēi) | Corsican: caffè | Croatian: kava | Czech: káva | Danish: kaffe | Dutch: koffie | Italian: caffè | German: Kaffee | Thai: กาแฟ (Kāfæ) | Sawahili: kahawa | Spanish: café | Portuguese: café | Turkish: kahveh | Croatian: kava  | Lithuanian: kava | Polish: kawa (kava) | Slovakian: kava | Ukrainian: kavy or kava | Georgian: qava | Hungarian: kavé | Serbian: kafa | Slovenian: kave | Yiddish: kave | Filipino/Tagalog: kape | Hawaiian: kope | Indonesian: kopi | Korean: keopi | Malay: kawah or koppi | Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): kopi | Tamil (Sri Lanka): kapi-kottai or kopi.

Tea

peppermint tea on teacup
Photo by Mareefe on Pexels.com

French: le thé | Swedish: te | Finnish: tee | Italian: tè | Danish: Te or The | Greek: τσάι (tsai) | Malay: teh | Portuguese: cha (pronounced ‘shah’) | Chinese: t’e, or ch’a | Persian: chaai | Urdu: Chai | Korean: cha | Russian: chay | Arabic: chai or shai | Bulgarian: chai | Croatian: caj (pronounced chai) | Dutch: thee | Afrikaans: tee | German: der Tee | Hebrew: teh | Hungarian: tea | Irish: tae | Indonesian: teh | Japanese: o-cha | Korean: cha | Latvian: teja (pronounced tay-ya) | Malay: teh | Maltese: te | Norwegian: te | Romanian: ceai | Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): thé | Spanish: el té | Swahili: chai (pronounced cha-i) | Taiwanese: de | Thai: chah (chah yen refers to iced tea) | Tibetan: cha or ja| Turkish: cay (pronounced chai) | Urdu: chai | (NorthVietnamese: che | (SouthVietnamese: tra (sometimes pronounced cha or ja) | Yiddish: tey Zulu: itiye. | Polish: herbata. 

Taxi

panning photography of yellow taxi
Photo by Rodolfo Clix on Pexels.com

Brazilian Portuguese: táxi  | Croatian: taksi | Czech: taxík | Danish: taxi | Dutch: taxi | European Spanish: taxi | Finnish: taksi | French: taxi | German: Taxi | Greek: ταξί (taxí) | Italian: taxi | Japanese: タクシー (Takushī) | Korean: 택 (taegsi) | Norwegian: drosje | Polish: taksówka |  European Portuguese: táxi |  Romanian: taxi | Russian: такси (taksi) | Spanish: taxi | Swedish: taxi | Thai: รถรับจ้าง (thæ̆ksī̀) | Turkish: taksi  | Ukrainian: таксі | Vietnamese: taxi | American English: cab.

Pineapple

green pineapple fruit with brown framed sunglasses beside yellow surface
Photo by Lisa on Pexels.com

Arabic: أَنَانَاس  (ananas) |  Croatian: ananas  | Czech: ananas  | Danish: ananas  | Dutch: ananas |   Finnish: ananas  | French: ananas  | German: Ananas | Greek: ανανάς (ananas) | Italian: ananas |  Norwegian: ananas | Polish: ananas | European Portuguese: ananás |  Romanian: ananas | Russian: ананас (ananas) |  Swedish: ananas | Turkish: ananas | Ukrainian: ананас  (ananas) 

Banana

crop person with bunch of tasty fresh bananas
Photo by SHVETS production on Pexels.com

English: banana  | Brazilian Portuguese: banana  | Croatian: banana  | Czech: banán  | Danish: banan |  Dutch: banaan  | European Spanish: plátano  | Finnish: banaani | French: banane | German: Banane |  Greek: μπανάνα (banan) | Italian: banana  | Japanese: バナナ (banana) | Korean: 바나나 (banana) | Norwegian: banan | Polish: banan | European Portuguese: banana | Romanian: banană | Russian: банан (banan) | Spanish: plátano | Swedish: banan frukt | Ukrainian: банан (banan). 

For more wonky stories, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Matt Sterner

Add comment

Leave a Reply

Follow us

Keep up with all of the wonkiest stories by following us on social media.

%d bloggers like this: