a man standing on a dirt path with bushes and mountains in the background

One of the benefits of international travel is the discovery of language. Another benefit is the discovery that every culture has something they do really well, and language can be part of that.

Some cultures are just better at communicating, or even if it isn’t better it might sound a lot nicer when spoken or read.

Over the years, I’ve come to realize that there are quite a few phrases I use in my daily life which I’ve gained from my love of travel, so I figured I’d share a few of my favorites, among others I just really enjoy.

I also can’t help but imagine that everyone has a few they love as well.

a man holding a drink

I Say “Ciao” To Say Goodbye

One of the few painful parts of living in the UK is hearing people say goodbye. It’s like a never ending trail of “bye now, bye” which can often be met with “bye, bye, bye” as if we are in an NSYNC song.

The Italians however, have a wonderfully finite way of saying goodbye. Ciao. It just works. Verbally, it’s conclusive and succinct. At the end of every call I say ciao and hang up promptly. No lingering trail of byes. Even if they’re being said on the other end, I’m already off.

I Love The Word “Tack”

The Scandinavians exceed in many things but there’s one I find simple and nice, and it’s saying thanks in Swedish. I love the word “tack” as thank you and among very close friends and around the house I find myself saying it.

It’s short and playful and always puts a fond memory of days roaming around Sweden into mind. I always want to go back, so it’s just a fun way of saying thanks and creating good vibes.

“Let’s Go” In French, Arabic or Italian!

A word so nice even Israel and Palestine can enjoy it together. Yalla, or Yallah is very addictively fun to say. When someone gets you amped and ready to go, saying “Yalla” is so much more fun than “lets go out” or something like that.

A fun, easy to say word that works all across the Middle East there’s a lot of positivity in my mind when I say Yalla — and not just because I’m instantly dreaming of dish after dish of mezze coming my way.

But this is where I’m conflicted, because French offers “allez”, which spoken as “ah-lay” rolls off the tongue oh so easily, conveying so much excitement. You can’t go wrong with either, but if that isn’t enough, the Italians offer Andiamo!

Andiamo is so exciting to say, you can almost feel the gathering of Napoli fans glued to the TV as you say it, all huddled around next yo you. It turns out, “let’s go” is a great phrase in almost every language.

a person walking on a wet street
Image by Masashi Wakui from Pixabay

Konichiwa Is The Best Hello

Find me a better way to say hello than Konichiwa, and I’ll find you a liar.

I can’t claim to use this one with much regularity, but it does slip out from time to time and every time it does, I smile. Konichiwa evokes great memories of Japan and rolls off the tongue ever so easily.

While we’re on the Japanese language, I also love “hai” more than yes.

Inshallah Is Beautiful

I must admit, I’m not even the slightest bit religious. But all the same, I love the Arabic word of “inshallah” – which loosely means God/Allah willing.

Its the beauty of it spoken off the tongue that I love and even though I’m not religious, there’s a nice spiritual thought to “if” a higher power wills something to be, it will be.

I find it most often comes up when discussing future plans and hopes, like “will I see you tomorrow” and someone responds “inshallah” — I find an odd comfort in that.

“Eso Es” Is Fun

Spoken like s-o-s, I love the Spanish phrase “eso es”, which basically means “that’s it” or “perfect” in any affirmative sense. When you’re at a wine bar and someone offers you a taste and it blows your mind “eso es” often comes to mind.

The Spanish language has far too many beautiful words and phrases, but this one is conversationally fun and allows even novice Spanish speakers to get much across.

Cheers Remains Benchmark

I love kanpai in Japanese, kippis in Finnish, skol in Swedish, slainte in Gaelic, Prost in German, “salud” and all the others, but there’s something OG cool about “cheers” — it just works.

Simple, effective and versatile as a way of giving thanks or quite literally toasting a nice drink of any kind, cheers is a pretty universal love and appreciation language and I very much adore those two things.

This is about you as much as its about me, so feel free to share your favorites in the comments, sans profanity please!

“Good Yarn” Is A Great Change Up

Color me ignorant, but I didn’t know “good yarn” until fairly recently. I told a colleague a story to which they replied “you spin a good yarn” which left me puzzled.

Good yarn is basically a fun phrase I’ve heard New Zealanders use most often, and it’s a slightly more visual and intriguing way of saying that someone tells a good story, or a good yarn.

Bad Words? I Could Go On For Days

I’ll keep things above board here, but when it comes to cursing some languages just do it really well. So well, I don’t even know where I’d start. Maybe another article for yet another day. I can hear Wagner Moura in Narcos as I sign off here…

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. Happy sounds
    – “anything else I may help you with”
    – Clunk
    – Thunk
    – Pop
    – Mr xxx (or Mrs, or Ms or, oh never mind)

    Unhappy sounds
    – disconnected tone
    – beep
    – the sound of your armrest being lifted
    – thwack
    – tuneless nasal moaning
    – yes please
    – laughter and glee from the First Class galley
    – ding
    – the grinding noise as the carousel stops

  2. Sorry the last comment didnt come thru

    Happy sounds
    – “anything else I may help you with” (phone agent, after solving your problem)
    – Clunk (the overhead bin closes on your substantial cabin baggage)
    – Thunk (the aircraft door closes and the seat next to you is still vacant)
    – Pop (pre departure champagne in business class)
    – Mr xxx (or Mrs, or Ms etc) the sound of your name as in More Champagne Mr/Mrs xxx?

    Unhappy sounds
    – disconnected tone (after waiting hours for an agent then explaining your complex problem)
    – beep (the jetway reader rejects your upgraded boarding pass)
    – the sound of your armrest being lifted (as a person of size tries to squeeze in next to you)
    – thwack (the schoolboy behind starts kicking the seat back)
    – tuneless nasal moaning (as your seatmate sings along with the IFE)
    – yes please (as your seatmate takes the last edible meal)
    – laughter and glee from the First Class galley (all night)
    – ding (as the lights come on, and the seatbelt sign, an hour before landing)
    – the grinding noise as the carousel stops (and your bags didn’t show)
    tly swallowed by the HTML

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