How to Say Hello in 15 Languages

Did you know that the 21st of November is World Hello Day? To celebrate, learn how to say hello in 15 languages today!

Participating in World Hello Day is as easy as saying “Hello” to ten people. But what if they don’t speak your language? No worries, we’ve got you covered. Here’s how to say “Hello” in 15 different languages, along with some etiquette tips for greeting people from different cultures.

How to Say “Hello” in 15 Languages

How to Say Hello in French

Bonjour (formal)
Salut (informal)

Use “salut” only for close friends and family. For everyone else, use “bonjour.” When meeting a stranger, it’s polite to shake hands . . . quickly, and with a light grip.

In other words, not like this:


Friends, family, and acquaintances may greet each other with a kiss on the cheek. However, the French are not huggers.

How to Say Hello in Spanish

Hola (formal)
Buenos días (Good morning, with morning being anytime before lunch)
Buenas tardes (Good afternoon)
Buenas noches (Good evening)
¿Qué tal? (Informal-  What’s going on?)

In most Spanish-speaking cultures, it’s polite to shake hands with strangers and acquaintances you don’t know well. Between people who know each other, air-kissing is a common way for women to greet each other and for men to greet women.  Men often hug.

How To Say Hello in Russian

Zdravstvuyte (Formal)
Privet (Informal)

When greeting strangers or acquaintances,  shaking hands is the preferred greeting.  Russians generally go for firm handshakes. Don’t shake hands over the threshhold of a door, as this is considered bad luck.

Need some help with pronunciation? Here you go: Read more

How Translation Encourages Tolerance

16 November is the International Day for Tolerance. Since 1996, the UN has celebrated the International Day for Tolerance with the aim of fostering “respect and appreciation of the rich variety of our world’s cultures, our forms of expression and ways of being human.”

This year, the focus is on reducing intolerance towards refugees and migrants and building a sense of connection between refugees and their hosts.

Translation, interpretation and other language services have an essential role to play in these efforts. Here are seven ways translation encourages tolerance.

Translation helps people understand each other.

People fear what they don’t understand. That’s one reason so many episodes of intolerance stem from people being confronted by a foreign language. For example, in the United States this year, there’s been an uptick in incidents of people being harassed or attacked for speaking Spanish in public.

Why are people so uncomfortable with hearing others speak a foreign language? One of the most common reasons given is that they think foreign language speakers are saying something negative. They don’t understand what’s being said. So, they assume the worst.

Translation lifts the veil so that people can see each other’s common humanity.

Translation fuels negotiations.

Without communication, disagreements can turn violent.  And once they turn violent, it’s hard to break the cycle of mutual distrust that results. Translation and interpretation fuels negotiations between countries and between different factions within a country.

For example, consider the end of the Cold War. Politicians like President Reagan, President Bush and Mikhail Gorbachev get all the credit in the history books.  However, this NPR piece shows how important translators and interpreters were in negotiating the end of that conflict.

Translation helps people help each other.

Translation is also a vital part of foreign aid. Without translation, it becomes exponentially more difficult to determine what people in distress need most and to manage the logistics of providing it. That’s why K International is proud to support Translators Without Borders every chance we get.

As this recent piece in the Economist notes, Translators Without Borders has been instrumental in helping Rohingya refugees access aid, particularly in regards to health issues. There’s a shortage of interpreters, so aid workers have had to rely on interpreters who speak related dialects for help. However, the Rohingya are a rural group with a conservative culture. So, they have their own collection of euphemisms to talk about health concerns like diarrhoea. Sadly, many of the women and girls have also been raped or sexually abused. They also rely on euphemisms to describe what happened to them.

Around the world, translation also helps refugees access services and integrate into their new communities. 

Translation encourages appreciation for other cultures.

Translation makes other cultures understandable.  Often, with understanding comes tolerance. When you know the meaning behind different cultures’ mythologies and traditions, they no longer seem quite so foreign.

Translation helps to publicise intolerance and injustice.

Public pressure doesn’t always work to protect vulnerable people from intolerance. But sometimes it does. For example, US President Trump was forced to revise his family separation policy after publicity led to protests, both in the United States and internationally.

As many of those families did not speak English, translation and interpretation was an essential part of getting the word out.

Translation helps enforce international laws.

Education is one of the best ways to encourage tolerance, but it’s not enough. Sometimes, consequences are needed as well. Translators and interpreters are vital to efforts to successfully enforce international laws.

Without a doubt, the most famous example of this is the Nuremberg trials. There were 200 defendants from the Nazi regime. All proceedings had to be translated into four different languages: English, German, Russian and French.  Due to the complexities involved, a system of simultaneous interpretation was developed that’s still used to this day.

Translation keeps the United Nations running smoothly.

According to the United Nations, promoting tolerance “lies at the core of the United Nations Charter, as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and is more important than ever in this era of rising and violent extremism and widening conflicts that are characterised by a fundamental disregard for human life.”

The United Nations isn’t perfect. They can’t solve every problem.  But they’ve done a lot of good over the years for some of the most vulnerable people and to fight intolerance around the world.  With that in mind, let’s take a moment to tip our hats to the translators and interpreters who work behind the scenes to keep the organisation running.

Do you have any more examples of how translation encourages tolerance? Share them in the comments!

kindness around the world

World Kindness Day: 5 Ways People Show Kindness Around the World

13 November is World Kindness Day.  World Kindness Day has been celebrated since 1998, and this year I daresay we need it now more than ever. 2018 has shown that intolerance knows no borders.  It’s easy to forget that kindness is ALSO universal. Every culture has its own customs and traditions of kindness, compassion and hospitality. Here are just five of the endless ways people show kindness around the world.

Southern Africa: Ubuntu

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before:  An anthropologist tries to get a group of African children to run a “winner take all” race with a basket of fruit as a prize. It doesn’t go as planned. Instead of racing each other, the children all hold hands. They cross the finish line together and share the fruit. When the anthropologist asked them why they cooperated instead of competing, they said “Ubuntu, how can one of us be happy if all the other ones are sad?”

I hate to be a spoilsport, but I can’t find any confirmation that story actually happened as described.

However, ubuntu as a cultural concept is real. As a philosophy, it was made famous by South African leaders like Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. But it’s much older than they are. Ubuntu is an idea that’s common to many of the cultures of Southern Africa. In Zimbabwe, the Shona call it unhu. In Malawi, it’s called uMunthu. In all of these languages, the meaning is constant: “I am because we are.”

This philosophy encourages kindness in a variety of ways, including:

  • Sharing resources.
  • Taking care of each other.
  • Caring for children as a community.
  • Taking care of travellers. For example, according to Nelson Mandela, “A traveller through a country would stop at a village and he didn’t have to ask for food or for water. Once he stops, the people give him food and attend him. That is one aspect of Ubuntu …”

Read more

What to do if your products are stuck at the border

What To Do If Your Products Are Stuck At the Border

Selling your products in another country sounds like a fantastic opportunity. In most cases, it is. However, it’s also more complicated than selling goods in just one country. Multilingual labelling is particularly tricky. Different regions have different requirements, and if your labels are found wanting, your products will likely end up stuck in limbo at the border.

Obviously, the potential business impact of such a mishap is enormous. If your products are stuck at  the border, they aren’t selling. If they aren’t selling, you’re losing money.

So, how do you get them moving again? The exact steps you need to take will vary depending on where your products are stuck, and why they’ve been barred from entry. That said, we’ve put together a guide to common labeling problems and solutions to get you started. Here’s what to do if your products get stuck at the border.

Common Labeling Issues

Labels matter. Here are 3 reasons your product labels might be rejected at the border.

Missing allergen information

Food allergies are a hot topic these days. Their frequency and severity seem to be on the rise, as is media attention on the subject. Food labelling regulations give allergy sufferers the ability to do things the rest of us take for granted. Like going to the shop, buying a chocolate bar, and eating it without going into shock.

When allergens aren’t labelled, tragedy can result.  For example, in the UK, two people died recently due to incorrectly marked sandwiches from popular ready-to-eat chain Pret A Manger. One victim, Natasha Ednan-Laperouse, was only 15 years old and allergic to sesame. She read the label on the sandwich she picked up at the airport. Unfortunately, it didn’t list the sesame seeds baked into the bread. Under the current “fresh foods exception,” it didn’t have to.  She collapsed on the plane and died a few days later.

Incidents like these generate new labelling laws that can vary by country. The “fresh foods” loophole is likely to close soon in the UK, with the expected passage of “Natasha’s law.” Read more

audiovisual heritage

How Transcription and Translation Preserves Our Audiovisual Heritage

Did you know that 27 October was the World Day for Audiovisual Heritage?  The goal of this observance is to “raise general awareness of the need to preserve and safeguard important audiovisual material for future generations.” “Audiovisual heritage” can include anything from movies to TV to radio broadcasts. UNESCO calls these “the primary records of the history of the 20th and 21st centuries.” However, these records are more fragile in some ways than the journals, letters and newspaper articles of years past. For example, UNESCO notes that “sound recordings and moving images can be deliberately destroyed or irretrievably lost as a result of neglect, decay and technological obsolescence.”

Around the world, digital archivists look for strategies to preserve these pieces of our shared history. Much of the work involved is technical- trying to find ways to keep original media intact and accessible or copying it into a digital format. However, translators and transcriptionists also have a crucial role to play in preserving these materials.

Transcribing Audio

Transcription is one way to preserve the content of an audiovisual resource.  Digital transcriptions also have the advantage of being easily searchable. However, transcriptions are no substitute for the original content. Nor is transcription a replacement for proper storage and digitisation. The magic of actually hearing voices and seeing images from the past is irreplaceable.

That said, transcription is still an essential part of the preservation process. For example, the US nonprofit organisation LYRASIS recommends that all recordings be transcribed and indexed, with multiple copies of the transcription saved in different formats.

Translating Content for Wider Distribution

Translation has always played a vital role in the preservation of knowledge. For example, Arabic translators helped preserve the work of ancient Greek philosophers when Europe was stuck in the Dark Ages. Likewise, translating audiovisual content can help ensure its survival. Even more important, translation makes the content understandable to a wider audience. As UNESCO notes in its publication on Audiovisual Archiving: Philosophy and Principles, “preservation is never an end in itself: without the objective of access it has no point.”

UNESCO also notes that there’s an opportunity for translators to help make both audiovisual resources and media scholarship available worldwide:

[T]his wealth of knowledge is not equally available to all. To the extent that much of it is written in English, non-English-speaking professionals are at a disadvantage.

Clearly, translation has an important role to play in making this knowledge more accessible to everyone. Read more

Blog Posts

Available Pages


Archives by Month: