Making friends around the world

The other day I met a fan of Omniglot from Spain who told me how much she loves Omniglot, especially the phrases section because it helps her make friends all round the world. It was wonderful and encouraging to hear this.

Some other nice things people have said about Omniglot.

The phrases section actually started with phrases like “My hovercraft is full of eels“, and other ‘useful’ phrases like:

- Sot oc’h gant ar binîoù? – Are you fond of bagpipes? [Breton]
- Ha’aheo no paha ‘oe i kena papale kupalaka, pehea la – You must be very proud of your large hat [Hawaiian]
- Îmi poţi împrumuta puţin spatula ta? – Can I borrow your spatula? [Romanian]

The kinds of phrases that you use every day, of course :)

Then I thought it might be a good idea to add some somewhat less ‘useful’ phrases like Hello, How are you? and Where are you from? – the kinds of things you might just use now and then.

I often use the phrases pages for opening and closing greetings when writing emails and other messages, and for sending birthday and Christmas greetings. Also, whenever I meet people who speak a language I don’t know, I’ll try to learn at least a few phrases in that language, which is a great way to start conversations.

For example, there’s a Bulgarian lass who works at the hotel I stayed in Douglas in the Isle of Man a few weeks ago. The first time I stayed there two years ago I discovered that she was from Bulgaria, so this time I went back armed with a few Bulgarian phrases, much to her surprise. I think she expected me to continue in Bulgarian after I’d said hello (Здравей [Zdravej]), but I had to explain that my knowledge of Bulgarian is limited.

Do you use the phrases in this way, or in other interesting ways?

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This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

8 Responses to Making friends around the world

  1. Yenlit says:

    S’mae Simon,
    I’ve been visiting Omniglot now for many years way before you added a blog to the website and before google and wikipedia were on the net which is hard to imagine now? Anyway, I often use your phrases website page for much the same reasons as yourself. It’s a useful resource especially the translations for ‘Happy Birthday’and ‘Merry Christmas’ as well as the general pleasantries which I use a lot.
    I’ve heard references of the ‘my hovercraft…’ quite a few times also, if I remember rightly the Esperanto version was once used on an episode of QI and I’ve overheard somebody at work mentioning the Welsh version of ‘my hovercraft…’ while thinking to myself, ‘I know where they’d got that from’!
    Diolch yn fawr iawn!
    Yenlit

    PS. You should get some Omniglot t.shirts made up and sell them for some free publicity?

  2. I love learning new phrases from other languages that are a little silly and completely “useful” :)

  3. Andrew says:

    Li ho! Li chia pa boe? (Taiwanese)

    A friend of mine is very proud of the one sentence in Japanese she knows: Sono akachan no atama wa bōdaidesu (“That baby’s head is enormous!”), which she has never been able to use in context, even though her pronunciation is quite good.

  4. This site is both useful and amusing! It helped me a lot on learning the basics on reading in another totally different language and I always try to use phrases from phrases section whenever I talk to foreign people – they seem to like when we try to learn their languages.

    By the other hand I always recommend phrases section when someone is up to or has just arrived in Brazil and they laugh a lot when reading the last sentence about hovercraft full of eels!

  5. Say, Simon, on the hovercraft-page, is the text Testking offers you guaranteed success in 70-662 as well as 642-515 exams through incredible 646-204 online training. supposed to be there? It looks awfully spammish. Could be a meta-Python-thing of course…

  6. Mike says:

    Learning phrases that might be a little different or out of the ordinary helps keep learning a language fun and interesting. Thanks for the post!

  7. Simon says:

    Blinde Schildpad – that sentence is paid advertising – not ideal I know, but it’s one of the ways Omniglot generates revenue.

  8. Russian says:

    We use phrases in a lot of interesting ways. We actually tutor and teach Russian, we think the more interesting we can make the words being taught, the better. This is our baby = learn russian