Lost In Translation: Common Phrases From Around The World

Lost In Translation: Common Phrases From Around The World

by Marta Conte

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Studying English and foreign languages growing up, I have always been fascinated by how people from around the globe say the same things in very different ways. I especially love how some languages manage to have a perfect single word to describe an entire sentence. As travel is slowly restarting, I thought it would be fun to put together a little list of words and phrases from around the world to learn before your next journey.



Bok – Croatian

I ay – Huaorani, Ecuador

Samba – Lega, Congo


Getting around

Fara a puttanu – hitchhike – Icelandic

Mengoonceng – to have a free ride usually on a friend’s bike – Indonesian

Arrear – to drive on – Spanish


Bon Appetit

Pakupaku – to eat in big mouthfuls or take quick bites – Japanese

Parmaklamak – to eat with one’s fingers – Turkish

Giomlaireachd – the habit of dropping in at meal times – Scottish Gaelic


Bless you

Gesundheit – health to you – German

Velona – alive – Malagasy, Madagascar

Biseh – thank you – Mende, Sierre Leone


Braving the Weather

Serein – Fine rain falling from a cloudless sky – French

Efterarsfarver – Autumn Colours – Danish

‘inapoiri – moonless night – Cook Island Maori



Jimbulwila – to walk in an unknown place, where there is no clear path – Luvale Zambia

Kodhola – to leave marks in the sand when walking – Oshindonga, Namibia

Sakgasakgile – to wander about like a homeless orphan – Setswana, Botswana



Echarse el pollo – to get out of town – Chilean

Amenonéhne – to sing while walking about – Cheyenne, USA

Nochshlepper – a fellow traveller – Yiddish


Waste time

To beat about the bush – To waste time, avoid doing a certain thing – English

Menare il can per l’aia – To lead the dog around the yard – Italian

Å gå som kitten rundt den Varma grøten – to walk like a cat around hot porridge – Norwegian


In the end, I find languages are very similar to traveling. Learning a new one or just a few simple words can help change the way we see the world. So if you know of any fun, cool lost in translation words or phrases from around the world, leave us a comment so we can learn from each other! 

If you are interested in learning more phrases, check out Google Translate. You may just be amazed how other cultures say the same thing!


You may also like these articles from the Bébé Voyage blog:

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Traveling To Places With High Levels Of Poverty: How To Teach Our Kids About Economic Privilege

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