New phrases page

I’m just putting together a new phrases page, which you can see here, and wonder if you could help. The phrase in question is “Do you speak … language?” with the reply “Yes (a little)”. In each case the language in question is the language of the question, for example, the phrase in French is “Parlez-vous français? / Oui (un peu)”.

This is the kind of question other people might ask you, rather than you asking them, but it’s useful to be able to understand it.

This entry was posted in Language, Words and phrases.

36 Responses to New phrases page

  1. Laci the Hun says:

    Beszél magyarúl? Igen, egy kicsit. (formal)
    Beszélsz magyarúl? Igen, egy kicsit. (informal)

    Ĉu vi parolas Esperanton? Jes, mi parolas Esperante iomete.

    I hope it helps 🙂

  2. Polly says:

    This is Western Armenian. Anyone who knows how to spell can make corrections. I’m sure there’s at least one spelling error in there somewhere. The squigly character over the first word is a question mark. I’m not sure if that is technically the right place to put it. The colon-like thing at the end is the period.

    Հայերեն՞ կը խոսիս:
    Այո, գիչ մը կը խոսիմ:
    (Hayeren guh khosees?
    A-yo keetch muh gu khoseem.)
    Do you speak Armenian?
    Yes, I speak a little

    I’m sure you can find plenty of sources for Russian, but here it is anyway. BTW – books usually say “mala” for a little but every time I meet a Russian they say “nemnozhka.”

    Вы Говорите по-Русский?
    Да немножко Говорю.
    Vi guhvahreete pa-russkiy
    da, nimnozhka guhvaryu
    Do you speak Russian
    Yes, I speak a little

    SIMON-I put these out here so that anyone who wants to correct or improve them can do so before it goes into your page.

  3. Polly says:

    CORRECTION. I added an “й” to the end of по-Русски above. That doesn’t belong there.
    It’s a habit. Usually, it’s in adjective form when I read it or write it. Alternately, one could say:
    Вы Говорите Русский язык?
    Viy govorite russkiy yazik?
    Do you speak Russian LANGUAGE?

    But, I don’t know if that’s as “smooth.”

  4. Polly says:

    Tagalog, the national dialect of the Philippines:

    Nagsasalita ba kayo ng Tagalog?
    Nagsasalita ako ng kaunti lamang.

    Do you speak Tagalog?
    I speak only a little.

  5. Lau says:


    Taler du dansk? (inf)
    Ja (en smule)
    Ja (lidt)

    The formal version is “Taler De dansk?” but that is rarely used.

    I see that you have written “Ja (ein bißchen)” which is correct, but I don’t think that ‘bisschen’ i spelled with an ß according to the new orthography.

  6. Mike says:

    Simon, for Japanese you use the verb 出来る (to be able; can), but shouldn’t it be either 話す (hanasu; to speak), or 話せる (hanaseru; to be able to speak)?

    日本語が話しますか。/ 日本語が話す(の)?
    Do you speak Japanese? (frm./inf.)

    日本語が話せますか。/ 日本語が話せる(の)?
    Can you speak Japanese? (frm./inf.)

    Of course, I could be completely mistaken. I’ve just never heard 出来る used like that before.

  7. Josh says:

    Actually, I’ve always learned it Simon’s way and translated it: “I japanese can”.

  8. Benjamin says:

    Yes, Lau is correct: Today it’s written “bisschen”, though it’ll take some years until everyone has adopted that. Or until the old version “dies” out… 😉

    Notice however, that in Switzerland you don’t write the letter “ß” since several decades now – they have abolished it completely in 1930s and replace it by “ss” in general – which is actually really odd, since a doubled consonant normally implies a short vowel and that’s just wrong for many words (that were) using “ß”.

    You have to do the same, when typing on a keyboard without a ß-key, but yet… I don’t think it was a good idea to replace ß with ss officially. The better way would’ve been to replace it by s or ss according to vowel length. However… I’m off topic again, so I’ll stop here. 😉

  9. bulbul says:

    – Hovoríte po slovensky? (formal) / Hovoríš po slovensky? (informal)
    – Viete po slovensky? (formal) / Vieš po slovensky? (informal) (lit: Can you…?)

    – Áno, trochu.

    – Mluvíte česky? (formal) / Mluvíš česky? (informal)
    – Umíte česky? (formal) / Umíš česky? (informal)

    – Ano, trochu.

    – Govorite li srpski/hrvatski? (formal) / Govoriš li srpski/hrvatski?
    – Da, (nešto) malo govorim srpski/hrvatski. (This is the most natural way of putting it I can think of).

    – Spreekt u Nederlands? (formal) / Spreek je Nederlands? (informal)
    – Ja, een beetje.

    – Puhutteko suomea? (formal) / Puhutko suomea? (informal)
    – Kyllä, vähän. (formal) / Joo, vähän. (less formal :o)

    Arabic (Modern Standard):
    هل تتكلمين العربية (when addressing a woman)
    هل تتكلم العربية (when addressing a man )
    نعم, قليلا

    ِArabic (Syria/Lebanon):
    – Btiḥki l-ʿarabī?
    – Aywa, šwayye.

    – Talar ni svenska? (formal) / Talar du svenska? (informal)
    – Ja, lite.

  10. bulbul says:


    Вы Говорите Русский язык?
    Viy govorite russkiy yazik?
    Do you speak Russian LANGUAGE?

    One would be understood, but it is indeed far from smooth. по-pусски (no capital P) is probably the only right way of putting it.

    Oh and I almost forgot:

    – Czy mówi pan po polsku? (formal) / Czy mówisz po polsku?
    – Tak, niewiele.

  11. bulbul says:

    BTW – books usually say “mala” for a little but every time I meet a Russian they say “nemnozhka.”

    – Absolutely 🙂 “nyemnoga” would be another way of putting it, but my experience is same as yours, Polly – “nyemnozhka” is the word a Russian would use 9 out of 10 cases.

  12. jdotjdot89 says:

    Correction for Syrian Arabic:
    “Btiḥki l-ʿarabī?” is only for femnine. When addressing a man, it’s “btiḥk”.

    אתה מדבר עברית? (את מדברת אנגלית?) כן, אני מדבר (מדברת) קצת עברית.
    Atah medaber ‘ivrit? (At medaberet ‘ivrit?) Ken, ‘ani medaber (medaberet) ktzat ‘ivrit.
    Do you speak Hebrew? Yes, I speak a little Hebrew.
    The parentheses are feminine.

    ¿Habla Ud. el español? (formal)
    ¿Hablas español? (informal)
    Sí, hablo un poquito de español.
    Occasionally, you may find the word “castellano” used instead of “español”.

    Fala você o português?
    Sim, eu falo um pouco do porutguês.

  13. Evans Knight says:

    فارسی (Farsi):

    شما فارسی حرف بیزنید؟ (Shomā Fārsi harf bizanid?) (formal)
    تو فارسی حرف بیزنی؟ (To Fārsi harf bizani?) (informal)

    بعله من فارسی صخبت کردم (Ba’ale, man Fārsi sokhbat kardam.)

  14. bulbul says:

    “Btiḥki l-ʿarabī?” is only for femnine. When addressing a man, it’s “btiḥk”.

    Well, no. The verb is tertiae yaa’, ergo “(b)aḥki” for “I speak”, “mniḥki” for “we speak”. There may be some variation in the length of the final vowel and I’ve also heard “btiḥkay/btiḥkey” for feminine.

  15. Tomensnaben says:

    My Latin isn’t the best, but I think it’s actually “Lainene dices (singular) dicitis (plural)” “dico/dicimus (paule)”

  16. Podolsky says:

    In Russian it should be
    Вы говорите по-русски? – Да, немножко.
    [Vy govorite po-russki? – Da, nemnozhko.]
    In Latin:
    Loquerisne linguam latinam? – Sic.

  17. Stuart says:

    As a Welsh speaker I’m sure you know this anyway, but in the language of heaven it’s:

    Ydych chi’n siarad Cymraeg? (formal)
    Ydw, tipyn bach.

    Wyt ti’n siarad Cymraeg? (informal)
    Ydw, tipyn bach

    The word “wyt” in the informal version can be left out, so you can say “Ti’n siarad Cymaraeg?”

  18. I’d like to correct jdotjdot89’s entry above – just a little! – to:

    Você fala português?
    Sim, [eu] falo um pouco de português. (Or, more colloquially: Sim, [falo] um pouco.)

    This will do both for the Brasilian and the Lusitan versions. In this expressions the article (o) is not used before the language’s name.

    Am I the only Brasilian reader of this blog?! Shame!

  19. Will you accept conlangs? If so, here are the relevant sentences in Xliponian:

    Louhes Xliponic? Iça, farb.

    Pronunciation is as follows (“Italian” vowels, stress on capitalised syllables): LouHES shlipoNIK? Itsa, FARB.


  20. Josh says:

    If conlangs are ok, then I’ll submit a little Oslesian:

    Khevreda oslesgu?
    Y, khevreci vugu.

    kh= “ch” in Ger. “Buch”
    y= “u” in Fr. “Mur”
    c before i/e= “ch” in Eng. “church”

    Also, my younger brother and I grew up in a bi-lingual french/english home here in Charlotte, NC and we developed a sort of creole that we’ve spoken since we were about 6:

    Tok fronsé?
    Wé, tok anpuh.

  21. Josh says:

    Forgot to add- we don’t have a name for our creole, we just always called it “fronsé”. It goes in and out of mutual intelligibilty with standard french- sometimes it sounds just like it, sometimes not at all.

    Steiné fronsé wi toké?= Est-ce que tu comprends le français que nous parlions?

    No, pa vrémon.= Non, pas vraiment.

  22. anònim says:


    Que parla català? Sí, una mica. (formal)
    Parles català? Sí, una mica. (informal)

  23. Polly says:

    Bulbul – Thanks for the feedback!

  24. I’d appreciate it if a native speaker from Argentina could check this over before it’s posted, but I believe this would be the informal form of the question for Argentinean Spanish:

    Hablás (vos) castellano/español?

    (If I am not mistaken, the Argentines may prefer “castellano”.)

    And if you’re accepting conlangs, here’s how the question is asked and answered in my conlang, Aramansch.


    (Informal, singular) Hol galtach ah d’Aramansch?
    (Formal, singular) Hol galtan lau d’Aramansch?


    Ajeh, skieke. (“A little” implying “some”; speaker has basic conversation skills and is being modest so that not too much is expected.)

    Skieketil. (“A little” implying you only know a few words or phrases. You do not say “yes” because this implies being at least a little conversational.)

    (All pronounced as German, accented syllables are in bold. “d’a” pronounced “da”.)

  25. Zachary R. says:

    @Josh, in French as well as in English, it’s commonly known as Franglais (the mixing of both French and English). Though English also has the term Frenglish. It highly differs from region to region and can’t really be considered an independant language yet, unlike creole.

    Also, in the Japanese part of the page, why is there an い after 少し?

  26. jdotjdot89 says:

    I do have to apologize for my mistakes above–the Arabic one I just realized today before rereading this blog, actually. I was for some reason thinking of Hebrew grammar rules being applied to Arabic question formation, which makes absolutely no sense. Now, as for Ronald’s post saying that I was wrong about it being “do português” and that it should be “de” instead, what I said is definitely not INCORRECT, but it is certainly inconvient for a speaker and would not be said, you are right. Along with that, my post about spanish should techincally be changed, too–it should be “¿Habla usted español?” rather than “el español”.

    Finally, there’s a mistake in the Hebrew on the page that is 100% my fault. For the feminine version of the question, I wrote “Do you speak English?” rather than “Do you speak Hebrew?”

    It looks now:
    את מדברת אנגלית?
    (At medaberet ‘ivrit?) f

    It should be:
    את מדברת עברית?
    (At medaberet ‘ivrit?) f

    Aright, that’s it. I think I got something wrong with every single language I posted about… *sigh*

  27. Evans Knight says:

    I’m stupid.

    in re to Farsi, the response should be

    man Farsi harf bizanam.

    not sokhbat kardam. thats another verb.

  28. harris says:

    in yiddish:

    ?רעדט איר ייִדיש
    (Redt ir Yidish?)

    ?רעדסטו ייִדיש
    (Redstu Yidish?)

    .יאָ, אַ ביסעלע
    (yo, a bisele)

  29. Logan says:

    Afrikaans :
    Praat u Afrikaans? (formal, singular or plural)
    Praat jy Afrikaans? (singular informal)
    Praat julle Afrikaans? (plural informal)

    Praat Meneer / Mevrou Afrikaans? (Does Sir / Ma’am speak Afrikaans?) is another formal way of asking.

    The response to all would be “Ja, ‘n bietjie” (Yes, a little).

    – – –

    Norwegian :
    Snakker De norsk? (formal, singular or plural)
    Snakker du norsk? (informal singular)
    Snakker dere norsk? (formal, plural)

    Ja, litt. (Yes, a little.)

    – – –

    Mongolian :
    Та монгол хэл мэдэх үү? (singular formal or plural)
    Чи монгол хэл мэдэх үү? (singular informal)
    Ta mongol hel medeh uu? / Chi mongol hel medeh uu?

    Тийм, би монгол хэл жаахан мэднэ. (Yes, I speak it a little.)
    Tiym, bi mongol hel zhaahan meden.

  30. Bob says:

    I’m studying Ge’ez. I have a little familiarity with modern Ethiopian languages.


    Do you speak Amharic?

    amarenya techelallueh?
    amarenya techiyalleush? (f)

    አማርኛ ትችላለህ?

    አማርኛ ትችያለሽ? (f)

    yes, (a little)
    ow (tennish tennish)
    አዎ (ትንሽ ትንሽ)

    Do you speak Tigrinya?

    tegreñña tezarebdo?

    ትግርኛ ትዛረብዶ?


    (I don’t know Tigrinya for “a little”)

  31. Simon says:

    Many thanks for all the translations.

    If any of you are able to provide audio recordings of this phrase in your language(s), that would be even better.

  32. Evans Knight says:

    i recorded the farsi on garageband…and converted it to .m4a. how can i send it to you?

  33. Hello, jdotjdot89 – do not feel bad about this. I just thought I should contribute my 60 sulti’s worth (pardon, that’s the Xliponian in me speaking) from a native Brasilian-Portuguese speaker. No, what you wrote is definitely _not_wrong_. And thanks for the reply!

  34. Rebecka says:

    I am always a bit hesitant about this “polite” Ni-form in Swedish. We took the Ni away, and it shouldn’t really be used. It wasn’t polite back then and it shouldn’t be considered so nowadays either. In my opinion.
    If no one has provided you with a Swedish recording, I can make one.

  35. Benjamin says:

    Espereble ne ĝenos vin, se mi demandos al vi- dum kiom da jaroj vi studis Esperanton, Laci the Hun?

  36. jw says:

    Sorry, this is a little late. I just discovered your blog. Here’s classical Syriac:

    – malel-att b-suryoyo?
    – en. malel-no b-suryoyo qalil.

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