How to say Thank You in different languages
edited: Saturday, April 28, 2007
By Elizabeth Stephens
Rated "PG" by the Author.
Posted: Saturday, April 28, 2007
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A sort of Thank You "101" to take with you around the globe.
How does one thank thee around the globe? What actions can one take to
show gratitude to a certain culture? Well, here are some gracious tips
you should carry with you when you take that "round the world" trip
you've planned for years! If you have these simple words mastered,
you'll be treated with utmost respect, guaranteed! Let's go!
We'll start easy, in France. Ah France, c'est romantique, non? With
the majestic Eiffel Tower in the distance, sitting at a cafe, how
would you thank your waiter who quietly served you your cafe creme,
but didn't speak much to you, because they knew you were foreign, and probably didn't speak French?
Well, to show thanks, one would say "Merci Beaucoup"! Easy enough, but
one needs phonetics as well. The average Jo or Jane may not have ever
seen this phrase, or heard it for that matter, and would say "Merky
be-a-u-cowp" if they read it. The correct pronunciation would be "mair
see bo coo". Your waiter will be stunned, and smile, and know you're
alright to stay a while in his country. Remember you don't need to
leave a tip, its included!
Let's now hop across the eastern border to Germany! Oh Deutschland,
guten Tag! In Bavaria, one is greeted by a happy, beer drinking, red
faced German, offering a beer or two in the famed biergartens! In
acceptance of this "bier", the proper saying is "Danke". In looking at
this phrase, one might want to spell it out phonetically, and say
"daynk", that is not so, nein! The correct way to say "Danke" is
"donkuh". Learn this right, and watch the "biers" flow! You could
swoon that Fraulein you glanced across the room. Tschüss mein freund!
Let's turn south, to Italy! Buon giorno Italia! It is a wonderful
country, and when saying thanks, a little action goes with the famed
"Grazia". You must say it like a true Italian, for the Italians
welcome you to their land, but want you to be Italian too! As easy as
"Grazia" looks, it must be pronounced "Gratzee-eh", with a smile, and with open arms, even a hug will do, as those Italians are lovers! "That's amore!"
Now, let's put on warm coats and hats, and head north to Russia, the
land of Dr Zhivago and where vodka flows freely, to keep anyone warm
during the harsh, cold, winter months! The traditional Cyrillic alphabet leaves pupils turning into question marks in foreigners eyes. The letters are incypherable to many. Hearing the words is easier. In Russia, Thank You is said "Spasibo". It is said nearly the way it looks,
"spa-see-bo". Keep this phrase in your head everywhere you go, you'll
be glad you did. It may not hurt to learn more phrases, though, as
Russians aren't known to speak English very well!
Now, the orient is calling. A 9 hour flight from Moscow will land you
into bustling Tokyo! Konichiwa Tokyo! You thought you had problems
getting around in Russia, it is ten fold in this highly technically
advanced city. Even though electronic gadgets are futuristic,
surprisingly English is not spoken as much as one would assume. So,
its up to the Anglophones to attempt to communicate with the Japanese
in their native tongue. Now, saying thanks here is not just in the
words, but actions are important. As one would say "Arigato" to a
gracious host, one would say "Arigato" as giving a slow, short bow at
the same time. This alone will surely get you far within the depths of
Tokyo's concrete jungle, and reactions will be of joy and contentment.
Now, as strange as the Japanese language can be to foreigners, saying
it is just as it is spelled, "Ar-ee-gato". Make sure you don't get
into a bowing marathon, however, the Japanese will continue to bow, as
long as you do, so if you find your self having bowed three times,
after they last bow back, it is OK to stand up and leave. Ahh so!!
Don't get too comfortable with being in Asia, and all you know is
"Arigato", because in China, it is a whole other story! In China, when
saying thanks to the train conductor on your long journey to the Great
Wall, you must say "xie xie". What? How do you pronounce that, you
ask? Well, one great thing to learn here is that in China, words that
begin in "x", have a "shh" sound, as in the "Xi'an" Dynasty, its
pronounced "She-an". So, "xie xie" is then pronounced "shey shey".
This is not where the story ends, though, my globe trotting friends. China has two major dialects, and depending upon which region you are means you have two separate ways to say thanks! "Xie xie" is Mandarin, and "do jeh" is Cantonese. "Do jeh" is pronounced "do shay". For the most part, it will be Mandarin that is spoken everywhere, but a good many people in China do speak Cantonese, about 71 million of the 1 billion that exist in the country. Be sure to learn where you'll be, and which dialect is
spoken there, and you'll be sure to impress when using the proper
Had enough yet? Not nearly. Let's travel westward from Asia to the
Middle Eastern nations, where Arabic is the main language. Basically,
when in any Middle Eastern/North African nation, you can get by with
the Arabic you learn, so that is a lot of ground covered with one
language, which gives you props, and makes conversations a little less
stressful. That is unless you get into a stressful situation, then you're on your own! The formal Arabic writing and reading is difficult, as in Russian. The Arabic words are read right to left. Again, hearing it is easier to mock than adjusting your eyes to the artistic alphabet. Here in the Arab nations, Thank You is said "shukran", which is pronounced "shoe cran". Simple enough, right? Well, in Arabic, "Shukran" is not all that is said in a conversational exchange. The proper way to respond is "La shukran ala wajib", which pretty much is "No, it is you I thank", which I find very polite and endearing. There are many
misunderstandings with the Arabic language and its people. I find that
exchange of words alone to be very polite, and gracious, which is a
reflection of the culture, for the most part.
If you learn enough Arabic, and learn enough French, you can get a double whammy of language know how when traveling through countries such as Morocco, Tunisia, and many of the northern African nations! That is when
languages become fun, as you can be in one country, and you may know
how to communicate, depending upon which pocket you find yourself
Moving onwards, let's now put on our sombreros and head west, just
south of the US border to Mexico. Ariba, ariba! We're in Mexico!
Spanish is spoken here, and is probably the most notable foreign
language that Americans will know, as many states are becoming
bi-lingual, with the growing Latin population in the US. And, to say a
mighty "thank you" in Mexico, simply "Gracias" will do, pronounced
"gra-see-us". So, grab a taco and a cerveza, and be sure to be
"graci"ous to your Mexican host!
Much further south from Mexico lies the giant country of Brazil. Not
to be confused with the rest of the South American countries, Brazil
speaks Portuguese. People are often stunned when they get to Brazil,
and they cannot get anywhere speaking Spanish! Portuguese is barely
the same as Spanish, even though it is a romance language, as is
Spanish, French and Italian. There are similarities, yes, but not
always. So, "thank you" in Brazil would be understood as "Abrigado",
pronounced "ah-bree-gadoe". So you see, not at all similar to
"Gracias", or even "Grazia", and definitely nothing like "Merci"! Be
sure to take in the glorious sites offered in Brazil, and leave your
Spanish book at home!
With at least 10 ways of saying thank you under your belt, you're sure
to travel this globe being greeted with smiles all along the way! Pick
up a few more of the "needed" phrases, such as hello, good bye,
numbers, etc, and you'll be a world class citizen! I leave you here,
bid you "a Dieu", and wish you much luck in your future travels! Don't forget your passport! Ciao!