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5 Words that sound the same in almost every language.

Words really don't have any logic to them. You can't just work out the meaning of words based on the sounds that make them up. That's because words are arbitrary.  So if you don't speak Chinese, you can't possibly figure out the words for, say, "breakfast" or "fridge". Different people agree to give different combinations of sounds different meanings. Considering that people are scattered around the globe and speak different mutually unintelligible languages, it is unlikely that they would all have the same words for the same thing. However, there are some select words that sound pretty much the same across so many languages. They flit across language barriers either through trade, the internet or because people just like the sound of them. Here are some of them:


Afrikaans: koffie | Albanian: kafe | Arabic: قهوة (qahua) | French: Café | Azerbaijani: qəhvə | Basque: kafea | Belarussian: кава (kava) | Bengali: কফি (kaphi) | Bosnian: kafa | Bulgarian: кафе (kafe) | Catalan: cafè | Cebuano: kape | Chichewa: khofi | Chinese: 咖啡 (Kāfēi) | Corsican: caffè | Croatian: kava | Czech: káva | Danish: kaffe | Dutch: koffie | Italian: caffè | German: Kaffee | Thai: กาแฟ (Kāfæ) | Sawahili: kahawa | Spanish: café | Portuguese: café | Turkish: kahveh | Croatian: kava  | Lithuanian: kava | Polish: kawa (kava) | Slovakian: kava | Ukrainian: kavy or kava | Georgian: qava | Hungarian: kavé | Serbian: kafa | Slovenian: kave | Yiddish: kave | Filipino/Tagalog: kape | Hawaiian: kope | Indonesian: kopi | Korean: keopi | Malay: kawah or koppi | Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): kopi | Tamil (Sri Lanka): kapi-kottai or kopi.


French: le thé | Swedish: te | Finnish: tee | Italian: tè | Danish: Te or The | Greek: τσάι (tsai) | Malay: teh | Portuguese: cha (pronounced ‘shah’) | Chinese: t’e, or ch’a | Persian: chaai | Urdu: Chai | Korean: cha | Russian: chay | Arabic: chai or shai | Bulgarian: chai | Croatian: caj (pronounced chai) | Dutch: thee | Afrikaans: tee | German: der Tee | Hebrew: teh | Hungarian: tea | Irish: tae | Indonesian: teh | Japanese: o-cha | Korean: cha | Latvian: teja (pronounced tay-ya) | Malay: teh | Maltese: te | Norwegian: te | Romanian: ceai | Sinhalese (Sri Lanka): thé | Spanish: el té | Swahili: chai (pronounced cha-i) | Taiwanese: de | Thai: chah (chah yen refers to iced tea) | Tibetan: cha or ja| Turkish: cay (pronounced chai) | Urdu: chai | (North) Vietnamese: che | (South) Vietnamese: tra (sometimes pronounced cha or ja) | Yiddish: tey Zulu: itiye. | Polish: herbata. 


Brazilian Portuguese: táxi  | Croatian: taksi | Czech: taxík | Danish: taxi | Dutch: taxi | European Spanish: taxi | Finnish: taksi | French: taxi | German: Taxi | Greek: ταξί (taxí) | Italian: taxi | Japanese: タクシー (Takushī) | Korean: 택 (taegsi) | Norwegian: drosje | Polish: taksówka |  European Portuguese: táxi |  Romanian: taxi | Russian: такси (taksi) | Spanish: taxi | Swedish: taxi | Thai: รถรับจ้าง (thæ̆ksī̀) | Turkish: taksi  | Ukrainian: таксі | Vietnamese: taxi | American English: cab.


Arabic: أَنَانَاس  (ananas) |  Croatian: ananas  | Czech: ananas  | Danish: ananas  | Dutch: ananas |   Finnish: ananas  | French: ananas  | German: Ananas | Greek: ανανάς (ananas) | Italian: ananas |  Norwegian: ananas | Polish: ananas | European Portuguese: ananás |  Romanian: ananas | Russian: ананас (ananas) |  Swedish: ananas | Turkish: ananas | Ukrainian: ананас  (ananas) 



English: banana  | Brazilian Portuguese: banana  | Croatian: banana  | Czech: banán  | Danish: banan |  Dutch: banaan  | European Spanish: plátano  | Finnish: banaani | French: banane | German: Banane |  Greek: μπανάνα (banan) | Italian: banana  | Japanese: バナナ (banana) | Korean: 바나나 (banana) | Norwegian: banan | Polish: banan | European Portuguese: banana | Romanian: banană | Russian: банан (banan) | Spanish: plátano | Swedish: banan frukt | Ukrainian: банан (banan). 

Any time you think some other language is strange, remember that yours is just as strange, you’re just used to it


  1. American English for taxi is taxi, cab, or taxi cab.

  2. Not so sure about that plátano in Spanish... many countries, including Costa Rica, where I live, use banano.

  3. However some of the migrated languages have indeed adopted other words. In Brazil, pineapple is called 'abacaxí'.


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