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https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BelgianStr

Are some words the same in every language?

September 26, 2017

23 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimnicholson

Radio and taxi might be good candidates. There was a song about it I think.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/painai2

Radio in the Thai language is วิทยุ (pronounced Withyu), so radio is not universal, at least using Thai.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/jimnicholson

I meant more universal than pizza, not universal in an absolute sense.

With around seven thousand languages, I doubt there is any word that is universal in an absolute sense. Even scientific terms.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DonFiore

The first question would be if we are talking about spelling or pronunciation but no matter what the answer, every language is highly unlikely. The problem is finding a reliable dictionary for the smaller languages but usually you can just take a look at Icelandic or Navajo. To cover some of the suggestions (I speak none of these languages, all translations pulled from wiktionary):

  • radio = útvarpstæki in Icelandic,
  • sushi = łóóʼ tʼáá tʼéehgo bił asdisígíí in Navajo
  • bazaar = chợ in Vietnamese
  • koala = 樹袋熊, 树袋熊 (shùdàixióng) in Mandarin
  • sauna = badstue in Norwegian
  • bikini = நீச்சலுடை (nīccaluṭai) in Tamil
  • chocolate = tiakarete in Maori (might still be derived from chocolate)
  • coffee = buna in Afar
  • café = daʼjiyání in Navajo
  • taxi = ᦷᦟᧆᦋᧁᧈ (lodtsaw) in Tai Lü
  • tea = aniibiishaaboo in Ojibwe
  • phone hello = အမိန့်ရှိပါ (a.min.hri.pa) in Burmese

https://www.duolingo.com/profile/EliasPitts

Think about the internet words! These words are said in English in every language!


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/DonFiore

What are the Internet words? (which btw is Béésh Łichíiʼii Bee Ééhoozinígíí or hiiłos for short in Navajo)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/dereknak12

Where did you get those words from?


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizsue

Yeah, all those different scripts show that nothing's going to be spelled the same way in every language. ;)

As long as sign languages exist, nothing's going to sound the same way in every language either. ;)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/flootzavut

I know tea is some variation on teh or cha in so. many. languages. Not universal, but incredibly common.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pan.Daniel

I think 'OK' is fairly universal and when answering the telephone, 'Hello/Hallo', seems quite common. To me 'pizza' is belongs with words such as 'sushi', 'bazaar', 'koala' and 'ballet' - they are representative of particular cultures. There are also words such as 'bikini', 'sauna' and 'chocolate' that have become widely known but perhaps more recently. I think 'coffee' and 'tea' sound the same in many languages.

Edit: Of course there are exceptions and many differences in spelling! :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BelgianStr

Good points.

I like Chocolate! www.indifferentlanguages.com/words/chocolate

response to edit... it isn't the spellings as much as the sound. Some words seem to be like gold, they don't rust.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pan.Daniel

I think you're right, some spellings do survive very well. I was thinking about other words that might be more universal. My first thought was the word 'exit' but many languages have significantly different words the way out! Then I thought perhaps 'abacus' and 'comet'? I'm not sure about 'abacus' but maybe 'comet' is moderately universal.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Pan.Daniel

Perhaps another is 'café', looks/sounds similar in a lot of languages.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizsue

"Ma" and "pa"/"ba" are some of the easiest syllables for infants to start babbling in. No wonder parents in so many different languages have decided "they must be talking about us!" and made "Mama" and "Papa"/"Baba" words for Mommy and Daddy. :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/piguy3

And the "m" one almost always is associated with the mother. One exception is Geogrian whey're they're switched: "mama" means "father" and "deda" "mother."


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/BelgianStr

Good point, I hadn't thought of baby talk...


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/lizsue

ASL has so many different words for pizza that What's Your Sign for PIZZA? is a book title: http://gupress.gallaudet.edu/bookpage/WYSbookpage.html :)


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Patrick.-

Quinoa, Inka, are words that are pronounced the same in almost every language.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lemniscatarum

Inca is spelt with a c.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/grey236

Inka is a less common variant.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Lemniscatarum

I didn't know that, thanks.


https://www.duolingo.com/profile/Patrick.-

The word Inca, comes from the Quechua: "Inqa or Inka".

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