Are some words the same in every language?
www.duolingo.com/comment/24596095 pure genius.
Is there a more UNIVERSAL word than pizza?
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
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! :)
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.
Perhaps another is 'café', looks/sounds similar in a lot of languages.
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 :)