Jennifer's Language Pages
Greetings in more than 3000 languages
Contact the creator of this website
Send any comments or suggestions to Jennifer Runner at firstname.lastname@example.org. I will respond to questions and suggestions as quickly as I can.
My work on this site is a hobby (see the Sources section for a short history of how this project started over twenty years ago); I make changes to the website and respond to emails whenever I have time, usually (but not always) on Saturdays or Sundays. Although I make changes as quickly as I can once I receive them, it may take a week or two for them to appear on the site.
My background: for the last fifteen years I have taught English to speakers of other languages (over the years I have taught students who speak many different languages including Spanish, Hmong Daw, Hmong Njua, Arabic, Assyrian, Cantonese, French, German, Iu Mien, Japanese, Korean, Lao, Mandarin, Mongolian, Punjabi, Portuguese, Russian, Thai, and Triqui). I have degrees in Spanish and German, teaching credentials for Spanish and English, and have studied several other languages at beginners' levels. My interest in languages and linguistics, and my study of languages, is an ongoing hobby.
Purpose of this site
The purpose of these pages is to promote intercultural communication and understanding, and to increase awareness of the linguistic diversity around the world. At this site you can learn how to say greetings and several other words and phrases in hundreds of different languages. My goal is to include every language, so that people will be able to stay at least a few words to anyone they meet, anywhere in the world.
Some of the translations on this site come from resources not available online, or resources not available in English; therefore, an additional purpose of this site is to make those translations available online to an English-speaking audience.
A greeting is a starting point: it is a way to initiate a conversation, to acknowledge a friend, or to meet someone new. It is also often one of the first things people want to learn when they begin learning a foreign language. This website is likewise a starting point intended to initiate conversations, acknowledge the linguistic diversity of the world, introduce people to new languages they may not have encountered before, and promote further language learning.
Sources for the translations, language names, and ISO codes (and how do you know if the translations are correct?)I began collecting translations of greetings in 1992 by asking people in my culturally diverse community and penpals around the world how to say hello in the languages they spoke. My short list of greetings began to grow and I created this website in 1995 as a way of sharing the list as well as a way of asking others to contribute their own languages. Many of the translations in my collection have come from my own research: from dictionaries, language textbooks, linguistic documents and manuscripts, phrase books, travel books and Internet language resources. (Many come from resources not available online and/or not available in English, so one of the purposes of this site is to make those translations available online to an English-speaking audience.) Other translations have come from people I have met or contacted through the internet, and people who have sent me comments, suggestions, additions, and corrections by e-mail. Others have verified (or corrected) translations I have found from other sources. Many of these people are listed here.
Whenever possible, I verify the translations from multiple sources, preferably native speakers, academic publications, linguistic documents, printed materials from reputable publishers, and/or email contact with linguists or linguistics departments of universities. For a few lesser-spoken or extinct languages, I have only been able to locate a single source; for these, I generally compare the translations to similar greetings in related languages or a literal translation of the individual words used in the greeting (if I have only one source for the greeting and cannot locate a literal translation from another source or any similar greetings even in related languages, I do not include the greeting on my site since I am not able to verify that it is correct). However, this does not ensure that the translations I do include in the list are free from errors. Translations which come from older (early twentieth century or earlier) documents may be outdated and archaic even if the translations can be confirmed in multiple sources, translations which look similar to related languages may be false cognates or uncommonly-used calques, and errors found in one source are sometimes repeated in others. I therefore cannot guarantee the accuracy of the translations, but I do try to keep the list as accurate as possible.
Please note that the "other phrases" pages (thank you, please, yes, no, what is your name?, my name is, I don't understand, do you speak English?) are not updated or checked for accuracy as frequently as the greetings pages, and therefore may contain errors, broken links, and inconsistent orthography. The same is true for the older versions of the greetings pages, which are no longer updated at all; the older greetings pages were not checked for accuracy as carefully as the current version, and have a notation at the top indicating that they are archived versions. See the newer greetings pages (updated weekly) for the most complete and accurate list of translations.
My main sources for language names, locations, and ISO codes are:
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://www.ethnologue.com.
Multitree: A digital library of language relationships. 2014. Bloomington, IN: Department of Linguistics, The LINGUIST List, Indiana University. Online: http://multitree.org/.
SIL International. 2015. ISO 639-3. Online: http://www-01.sil.org/iso639-3
See also: Works Cited.
Why do some languages have so many ways to say the same thing? And what about languages that don't have a translation for "hello"?Many languages have several ways to say the phrases listed here. The same is true for English: we sometimes say "hi" (in the United States), "good morning" (in the morning), "g'day" (in Australia), etc., depending on the time of day, the place, and how well we know the person we are greeting.
Many languages have greetings that should only be used during certain parts of the day, like English; others have words that are only used when speaking to children, to relatives, to women, to elders, or only used by certain groups of people. Words that should only be used in certain situations are indicated with an explanation in square brackets (on the older pages) or in the right-hand column (on the newer greetings pages).
Likewise, many languages do not have a direct translation for "hello". However, almost all languages have words or phrases that are spoken when people meet or see each other. In some languages these words and phrases are very standardized (the same thing is always said each time someone greets someone else), and in other languages the greetings that are used may vary from person to person and from one time to another. These "words that are spoken when people meet or see each other", or examples of these words and phrases, are what I have included on my website regardless of their literal meanings.
See About Translating Greetings on this site for more information and examples.
How can I contribute additions or corrections?
Send them to Jennifer Runner at email@example.com! Please let me know if you see any mistakes, or if you have any translations to add that I have not included. This site is always "under construction." Any additions or corrections I receive will be added as soon as possible. The older greetings pages are no longer being updated; see the newer greetings pages for the most complete, updated version (if you've sent me corrections, your corrections will appear on the newer pages). Please note that the "other phrases" pages (thank you, please, yes, no, what is your name?, my name is, I don't understand, do you speak English?) are not updated as frequently as the greetings pages.
Yes! Currently, I am mainly updating the alphabetical pages linked from the greetings page on a regular basis. The most recent changes are listed on the What's New page, which I update weekly (on Saturdays or Sundays). This site is a hobby, which I maintain in my free time; although I make changes as quickly as I can once I receive them, it may take a week or two for them to appear on the site.
The older greetings pages are no longer being updated; see the newer greetings pages for the most complete, updated version (if you've sent me corrections, your corrections will appear on the newer pages). I am not currently adding much to the other phrases pages, but will occasionally add languages, and will make corrections if there are errors. Please note that the "other phrases" pages (thank you, please, yes, no, what is your name?, my name is, I don't understand, do you speak English?) are not updated or checked for accuracy as frequently as the greetings pages, and therefore may contain errors and inconsistent orthography. The same is true for the older versions of the greetings pages, which are not updated at all. See the newer greetings pages (updated weekly) for the most complete and accurate list of translations.
My goal is to include every language in the world. If a language is missing, it is because I have not found translations for this language to add to my website. If you know a language which is not yet included, and can provide the translations,please contact me.
Artificial and constructed languages (conlangs) are not currently listed.
For a while I included pages for languages spoken in specific countries, but it became too time-consuming to keep these pages updated (adding a single language to the site often meant updating up to ten different pages) and many countries were still missing. I have therefore removed these pages in order to provide more accurate, up-to-date information that reflects all corrections and additions that I have received and that can be regularly maintained more efficiently. You can still find greetings in the languages spoken in any country on the main greetings pages, and if you have questions about languages spoken in a particular country or about the information on the pages that were removed, please email me.
How do you pronounce these words?
Each language pronounces letters a little differently, and this information is currently not available on this website. For languages that do not use the Latin alphabet, I have tried to include both the language's own writing system as well as a transliteration in the Latin alphabet. (The Latin alphabet is the alphabet used in English and many other languages such as Latin, Spanish, French, German, Swahili, etc.)
How can I read the different writing systems? What fonts are used?
For most languages on the newer greetings pages, the words are written in their native script in the left-hand side of the list. On the right side, the same words are written with the Latin alphabet. For Latin-based alphabets, I used Times New Roman font for the newer greetings pages, and Courier New for the older pages. Your computer will need to be able to read the Arial Unicode MS font or a similar Unicode font to correctly display some of the non-Latin characters used on this site. For languages that use an alphabet not available in Arial Unicode MS, I have used a variety of other Unicode fonts. (For example, the greetings for Hakka Chinese use the font MingLiU_HKSCS-ExtB). If your computer is unable to read these fonts, the pronunciation or transliteration is available in the left column.
What are the three-letter codes? What is ISO 639-3?
Languages are identified on this site by three-letter ISO 639-3 codes. These codes were created by SIL International's Ethnologue in cooperation with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to provide a consistent, international way to identify individual languages. Since many languages are known by several names, these codes helps to identify the specific languages listed on my site, to avoid confusion between languages with similar names, and to avoid duplicate listings (such as one language being listed under several different names).
In the newer version of the greetings lists, the ISO 639-3 code is provided for each language, with links to the Ethnologue page for that language. The Ethnologue links provide information about where the language is spoken, how many people speak it, names of dialects of the language, and other names the language is known by. Some languages that are no longer spoken (extinct, historical or ancient languages) do not have Ethnologue links. For those languages, the links on my site will take you to information about the language from The Linguist List, which uses the same system of ISO 639-3 codes with an additional set of local-use codes. All languages listed on my site are identified by an ISO 639-3 code or by a local-use code from The Linguist List's MultiTree and a link either to Ethnologue (if available) or MultiTree.
More information about ISO 639-3 codes is available from Ethnologue's page explaining three-letter codes for identifying languages and from The Linguist List's answer to the question What is an ISO 639-3 code?
Will you link to my site?
This site no longer includes links to language-learning or other language sites (commercial or otherwise), with the exception of the linked ISO 639-3 codes which provide further information about the languages listed. Links for individual language will take you to that language's Ethnologue page (or, if it does not have an Ethnologue page, to the Linguist List's MultiTree). Please be aware that Ethnologue now allows users to view only five pages for free per month, and after that it will ask you to register as a paying user before viewing additional pages (this is a recent change, and affects only users in certain countries). If you are unable to access the Ethnologue pages that you want to view, please visit the MultiTree site's page for the language, using the same three-letter language code.
Because of the number of languages listed and the difficulty of maintaining an up-to-date list of accurate, high-quality links, I no longer provide links to additional language resources on this site.
(The works below were consulted for language data such as language names, ISO 639-3 codes, and geographic locations where each language is spoken, as well as for the articles on this site. See also Information about sources for information about sources of translations on this site.) about sources of translations on this site.)
CDE. 2011. Language Census Instructions. Sacramento, California: California Department of Education. Online: http://www.cde.ca.gov/ds/dc/lc/documents/lcinstruc11.doc (link no longer active)
INALI. 2010. Catálogo de las Lenguas Indígenas Nacionales. México D.F.: Instituto Nacional de Lenguas Indígenas. Online: http://www.inali.gob.mx/clin-inali/
Gordon, Raymond G., Jr. (ed.). 2005. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fifteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://archive.ethnologue.com/15/
Grimes, Barbara F. (ed.). 2000. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Fourteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://archive.ethnologue.com/14/Lewis, M. Paul (ed.). 2009. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Sixteenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://archive.ethnologue.com/16/
Lewis, M. Paul. 2013. "So What's in a Name?" Ethnoblog. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: https://www.ethnologue.com/ethnoblog/paul-lewis/so-whats-name
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig (eds.). 2014. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Seventeenth edition. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://www.ethnologue.com/17/
Lewis, M. Paul, Gary F. Simons, and Charles D. Fennig
(eds.). 2015. Ethnologue: Languages of the World, Eighteenth edition.
Dallas, Texas: SIL
Open Language Archives Community.
2015. OLAC Language Resource Catalog. Philadelphia: University of
SIL International. 2014. Worldwide: Languages of the World. Dallas, Texas: SIL International. Online: http://www.sil.org/worldwide
The collections of translations and the graphics at this site are Copyright © 1995-2016 by Jennifer Runner and may not be copied in any form. Just like the words you find in a dictionary or phrase book, the individual words listed here are intended to be used freely and are not copyrighted, but (like a dictionary or phrase book) the complete lists themselves are the result of years of work and are protected by copyright.
Use of the information for non-profit educational use is encouraged; please give credit to the source (Jennifer's Language Page at users.elite.net/runner or www.elite.net/~runner). E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about use of this site or for permission to use the lists or graphics found at this site.
Jennifer's Language Pages
Greetings in more than 3000 languages
To find a specific language, click on the first letter of the language's name.
Send comments, additions, or corrections for this page to Jennifer Runner
URL for this site: http://users.elite.net/runner/jennifers/
© 1995 - 2016 Jennifer Runner. All rights reserved.
Last updated on January 3, 2016.