Language Facts: Asia


🌟 Korean – The Language of Harmony 🌟

🔤 Interesting Fact: Korean is known for its unique writing system, Hangeul. Created during the 15th century, it’s an alphabet designed for simplicity and phonetic accuracy.

🗣️ Common Phrase: “안녕하세요” (Annyeonghaseyo – Hello or Greetings). Politeness and respect are essential in Korean communication.

🌸 Favourite Idiom: “고래 싸움에 새우 등 터진다” (Gorae ssaum-e saeu deung teojinda – When whales fight, the shrimp’s back breaks). A caution against getting caught in conflicts beyond your capacity.

🎨 Cultural Tidbit: Korean culture emphasizes harmony, whether in family relationships, art, or daily life. The concept of jeong (정) represents deep emotional bonds and interconnectedness.

Gyeongbokgung Palace in the Middle of the Lake Surrounded with Autumn Trees Photo from Pexels

📜 Arabic – Language of Rich History and Poetry 📜

🐪 Interesting Fact: There are at least 11 words for ‘love’ and hundreds of words for ‘camel’.

🕌 Common Phrase: “السلام عليكم” (As-salamu alaykum – Peace be upon you, a common greeting). 

🌟 Favourite Idiom: “الصبر مفتاح الفرج” (Patience is the key to relief – patience is a virtue). 

📜 Cultural Tidbit: Arabic calligraphy is an esteemed art form, and mastering it is considered a mark of intellectual and cultural refinement.

Ouarzazate, Drâa-Tafilalet, Maroc Photo from Pexels

😄 Thai – The Language of Smiles 😊

🔤 Interesting Fact: Thai is a tonal language with five tones, and its alphabet is derived from the Khmer script. It’s known for its complex spelling and pronunciation. 

🙏 Common Phrase: “สวัสดี” (Sawasdee – Hello or Goodbye). 

🐘 Favourite Idiom: “ช้างให้เชือก ช้างเอาเชือก” (Chang hai cheuak, chang ao cheuak – Give an elephant a rope, and he’ll take the rope, meaning if you give someone an opportunity, they’ll take it). 

😀 Cultural Tidbit: Thailand is known as the ‘Land of a Thousand Smiles’, because a smile is much more than just a smile…it’s a subtle form of interpersonal messaging. In fact, there are at least 13 different smiles, each one having a very specific meaning.

Khwaeng Wat Arun, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, Thailand Photo from Pexels

🏛 Khmer – The Language of Ancient Temples 🏛

💯 Interesting Fact: Khmer has its own numbers and a script that dates back to the 7th century, talk about ancient texts!

😄 Common Phrase: “អ្នកសុខសប្បាយទេ?” (Literally means “Are you safe and happy?”, but is used for “How are you?”)

🐸 Favourite Idiom: “ដូចក្រពើក្រោមមេឃ” (Doch krapeu kraom mek – Like a frog under a coconut shell, meaning someone who is unaware of the larger world).

🎊 Cultural Tidbit: In Cambodia, the New Year is celebrated in April with such gusto that even the ancient stones of Angkor Wat seem to dance in joy! This year it was celebrated between the 13th and 15th of April (2024).

Angkor Wat, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia

🏞 Mandarin – The Language of the Flowing River 🏞

🧠 Interesting Fact: Mandarin is not only the most spoken language in the world but also has over 50,000 characters. You’ll need a Great Wall-sized memory to remember them all!

🍵 Common Phrase: “干杯!” (Gānbēi! – Dry the cup! Similar to Cheers!)

🛎 Favourite Idiom: “掩耳盗铃” (Yǎn ěr dào líng – Cover one’s ears while stealing a bell, meaning to deceive oneself or others about something that is obvious).

🏮 Cultural Tidbit: The art of Chinese calligraphy is a revered practice, akin to painting landscapes with words. It’s a tradition that beautifully combines visual art and interpretation of the Chinese language.

Great Wall of China, China

🐲 Vietnamese – Language of the Ascending Dragon 🐲

🔤 Interesting Fact: Vietnamese stands out from its Asian language counterparts by employing the Latin alphabet, with additional diacritical marks and accents to represent specific sounds. Très chic!

🍻 Common Phrase: “Một, hai, ba, dô!” (One, two, three, cheers!) – The Vietnamese way to toast to good times and great company!

🐎 Favourite Idiom: “Ngựa non háu đá” (Foals are eager to kick – hold your horses/think before acting) – A reminder to take a deep breath before making any rash decisions.

🛵 Cultural Tidbit: In Vietnam, dodging a sea of scooters is an extreme sport! If you can cross the street unscathed, you’re an honorary local legend.

Ninh Bình, Vietnam

🌅 Japanese – The Language of the Rising Sun 🌅

4️⃣ Interesting Fact: Japanese is an ‘isolate’ language, meaning it’s unrelated to any other language. It has four alphabets, including Kanji and Hiragana, and is known for its subject-object-verb order1.

🙏 Common Phrase: “ありがとう” (Arigatou), which means “Thank you” and is an expression of gratitude.

🐒 Favourite Idiom: “猿も木から落ちる” (Saru mo ki kara ochiru – Even monkeys fall from trees, meaning everyone makes mistakes).

🚅 Cultural Tidbit: In Japan, punctuality is paramount, especially concerning public transportation. Trains are so timely that a delay of just a few minutes can cause a public apology from the service provider1.

Close Up Photography of Cherry Blossom Tree, Osaka, Japan

🐅 Bengali – The Language of the Royal Bengal Tiger 🐅

📚Interesting Fact: Bengali is the seventh most spoken native language in the world. It’s known for its rich literary heritage and is the only language for which a movement to protect its status led to the creation of International Mother Language Day.

Common Phrase: “আমি ভালো আছি” (Ami bhalo achhi), which means “I am fine” or “I am well.” It’s a polite response when someone asks about your well-being.

🐯 Favourite Idiom: “বাঘের ঘরে মেয়ে দেওয়া” (Bagher ghore meye dewa – Giving a daughter to a tiger’s home, meaning to undertake a very risky task).

🎉 Cultural Tidbit: The Bengali New Year, known as ‘Pohela Boishakh’, is a vibrant festival celebrated with processions, music, and dance, reflecting the lively spirit of the Bengali people.

A Man Rowing A Small Boat With a Sail, Bangladesh