01 January 2016

In any language...

Via The Land of Maps.

Addendum: Readers with a modicum of knowledge of the German language might enjoy browsing an "Atlas of Everyday German."  Go to the left sidebar, pick a random round of the survey, and see what you find.  Here, for example, is the regional variation in the phrase you would use if you walked into a shop some afternoon and met someone you know -

- and here is the less-clearly regionalized response to "thank you" -

A tip of the blogging hat to an anonymous reader, who sent me that link.

Many readers of TYWKIWDBI are already familiar with the fascinating dialect maps of English, for which I posted the link in 2013. 

Addendum #2:  A hat tip to reader Aleksejs, who sent along the link for this map of the Latvian words for "potato" (officially "kartupelis") -


  1. Buon anno, tanti auguri a te e famiglia.
    Happy new year, best wishes to you and yours from Rome.

  2. Since you do seem to enjoy maps, you could have a quick look here:

    This map shows the geographical location of different variants of wishing a happy new year in the German language area.

    The first map shows the phrase used "while drinking to the new year at 00:00 hours", the second one the phrase used to greet someone on January 1st.

    Let me just point out one detail: On the map you posted the greeting for the Netherlands is "Gelukkig Nieuwjaar" which would translate rather literally to "Happy new year". On the map I linked to there are two yellow dots right at the border region of the Netherlands, Germany and the dutch speaking part of Belgium. There and only there the German greeting translates to "Happy new year" as well. So although the wish there is in German words the phrasing is actually derived from the neighbours to the north west.

    (These maps are from a project where people are asked about how something would be phrased in everyday conversation where they live. There are a ton more maps, although it's probably way more enjoyable if one understands the language.)

    1. I understand German quite well, so ... Vielen dank !!

    2. I've added your link and some representative maps to the post. There are several equivalent projects for the English language, such as here -


      - z.B.

  3. ah but never say bitte danke which in my simple mind came off as please, thank you but to my (now) ex wife and her parents seemed to confirm some suppressed fears of the new family member's I.Q.

  4. It's hard to understand for Americans how much variation there is in the 'standard' language in Europe. You could make an equally varied map for (leaving) greetings for the Netherlands, which is a much smaller country. It changes roughly by province (and we have 12) but there is a little more detail below that.

    All over Europe, accepts and dialects change pretty much from region to region if not city to city. It's hard to draw maps of this because it's not distinct. It's a huge map of shades of slowly changing accents, dialects and languages. To put it shortly, a Welchman and a Scott can only understand each other if they both try to speak English.

    Similarly, but oppositely, it is very hard for Europeans to understand that there are huge regional cultural differences throughout the US, despite the fact that American English is a much more homogeneous language than European languages. A Bostonner and a Texan have much less trouble understanding each other linguistically than culturally.

  5. Ran afoul of German regional variation on a visit there two years ago. My husband likes hefeweizen, so he'd ask for that most places. Invariably, if he asked for hefeweizen, the person would correct him that it's hefeweize. So he'd ask for hefeweize at the next place, and they'd correct him that it's hefeweizen. It was a constant source of amusement.

  6. Laimīgu jauno gadu no Latvijas! :) which literally translates to "Lucky New Year from Latvia".

    Speaking of variations of the same thing depending on which region you are - I present to you... Regional "names" for potato in Latvia. The official is "kartupelis".

    1. Thank you, Aleksejs. I've inserted the map in the body of the post.


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