De bouche à oreille

Last night we were discussing how to encourage more people to come to the French conversation group and we concluded that word of mouth is probably the most effective way – all the posters we put up around Bangor last Saturday have yet to bring hordes of new recruits. We also thought that the French version of word of mouth, de bouche à oreille (from mouth to ear), seems to be more logical then the English. Another way to say word of mouth in French is de vive voix (of live mouth).

Word of mouth in Chinese is 口耳相傳 (kǒu ěr xiāng chuán) or “mouth ear mutual spread” or 口口相傳 (mouth mouth mutual spread); in Dutch it’s van mond tot mond (from mouth to mouth) and it’s the same in German, von Mund zu Mund. In Japanese it’s 口コミ(kuchikomi) or “mouth com(munication)”, and in Spanish it’s boca a boca (mouth to mouth) or boca a oreja (mouth to ear).

What about in other languages?

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This entry was posted in Chinese, Dutch, French, German, Japanese, Language, Spanish.

17 Responses to De bouche à oreille

  1. fiosachd says:

    Ancient Greek: ἀπὸ στόματος / ἀπὸ γλώσσης / ἀκοῇ.

    Latin: viva voce.

    Russian: из уст в уста.

    Scottish Gaelic: le facal beòil.

  2. Júda says:

    In Hebrew: מפה לאוזן (transcription: mi-pe le-ózen; transliteration: mph lʾwzn) — from-mouth to-ear.

  3. Szabolcs says:

    There’s no one-to-one correspondence between concepts in languages. One may find an expression that is similar when translated verbum pro verbo, but it might not be used in quite the same way.

    In Hungarian there’s the expression szájról szájra jár, literally, “[it] goes from mouth to mouth”, a verb phrase meaning to spread quickly by word of mouth. There’s also the noun szóbeszéd (szó = word, beszéd = talk (n)), which corresponds more directly to the English word-of-mouth, or sometimes just means rumour/gossip.

  4. Seumas says:

    For Scottish Gaelic:

    As well as ‘le facal beoil’ (which I haven’t heard used much), you can also say ‘beul aithris’ (mouth report), which I think is more common.

    “A reir beul aithris, bha cuideigin ann aig an am.”

    “According to word of mouth, someone was there at the time.”

  5. It depends on context. Irish would say: (1) ‘Chuaigh an scéala ó bhéal go béal,’ The news was spread by word of mouth; (‘ó bhéal go béal’ lit. from mouth to mouth); (2) ‘Caithfimid an scéala a scaipeadh’ We must spread the word / the news by word of mouth; (ó bhéal go béal / by word of mouth is understood although personal texts, e-mails would not be excluded). (3) ‘Labhairt le daoine!’ By word of mouth; ( lit. Speaking to people – as in the answer to the question, ‘What’s the best way of telling people about our French class? Word of mouth.)

  6. Dennis King says:

    Tu veux dire « de bouche à oreille » ?

  7. Shaday says:

    Wouldn’t it be “la bouche…” instead of “le bouche”?

  8. Simon says:

    Dennis – you’re right, it is « de bouche à oreille », and Shaday – you’re right as well, it is la bouche and not le bouche. However, strangely enough, when you Google it you get more results for « le bouche à oreille » than « la bouche à oreille ».

  9. Sandra says:

    @Dennis, Shaday and Simon
    Every single one of you is right: “bouche” is feminine, the phrase is “de bouche à oreille” for the adverb (as in “the news spread de bouche à oreille”) but ta-ta the process of spreading news by word of mouth (the noun) is called “le bouche à oreille”. And you never ever hear “de la bouche à l’oreille”, god knows why.
    By the way, “de vive voix” doesn’t mean the same as “de bouche à oreille”, but is more like ‘face to face’ or ‘in person’, as opposed to on the phone, by letter, email etc. For example, you would say “C’est mieux d’annoncer ce genre de nouvelles de vive voix” meaning ‘It’s better to tell this sort of news face to face’. Does the English phrase ‘word of mouth’ refer to this meaning too?

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  11. c. says:

    In Italian it’s called “passaparola”.

    passare = to pass, to relay
    parola = word

    it is a *masculine* noun!

    “word of mouth is probably the most effective way” =
    “Il passaparola è probabilmente il modo più efficace”

  12. bia medeiros says:

    In Portuguese: Boca a boca (mouth to mouth)

  13. peter j. franke says:

    Dutch: mond op mond… (mouth to mouth)

  14. Abbie says:

    I actually stumbled upon this phrase in Thai today: การบอกเล่าปากต่อปาก, which is basically “the act of telling from mouth to mouth”.

  15. philramble says:

    In Tamizh, a language in South India, “word-of-mouth” is expressed as “vaay chol” – literally, “mouth speak” or “mouth communicate”. “By word of mouth” would be written as “vaay chol inaal” – literally meaning “mouth communication result” but to be understood as “as a result of word-of-mouth”

  16. Tommy says:

    Some of the literal translations of “word of mouth” are “mouth to mouth” (like Dutch, German, Spanish, Portuguese), but this actually refers to CPR and sometimes kissing in English. It is the physical contact of mouths, rather than the abstract transfer of information between them.

    I can imagine a funny situation in a language I’m not so familiar with, trying to convey “word of mouth” by using the equivalent construction “mouth to mouth”. I’m sure these physical “mouth to mouth” activities are also literal in many languages. Just a thought.

  17. Abhijit says:

    in Kannada, a south Indian language, it would be ‘baayi inda baayige’ which is exact equivalent to ‘mouth to mouth’