January 30, 2018

15 European Language Facts

Languages are an awesome thing. They are not only the way to communicate between humans but such an interesting matter. You will always have something new to learn or a surprise to get from them. Of course, in a continent with such a huge variety of languages as Europe, there are loads of fascinating and curious facts about European languages. Here we collect 15 of them:

  1. Albanian

Albanian can be really tricky! Did you know that shaking your head means ‘yes’ whilst nodding means ‘no’?

  1. Basque

Basque, which is spoken in regions of France and Spain, is the only European language that is not related to any other language; its origin is still unknown.

  1. Czech

If you thought Albanian was complex, try pronouncing these Czech words: krk (neck), prst (finger), smrk (pine tree) and smrt (death). As many other words in this language, they are made up entirely of consonants!

  1. Dutch

Scheveningen is a shibboleth (a word that pronnounced correctly distinguishes you from a certain group). During WWII the Dutch identified Germans by asking them to pronounce the name of the Dutch city, Scheveningen.

  1. English

Did you know that every 98 MINUTES a new English word is created?! The clock is ticking, start thinking… you can come up with the next one!

  1. Finnish

Did you manage to read the longest Finnish word? In English it can be translated as “I wonder if it’s not with his act of not having made something be seen as unsystematically“.

  1. Georgian

Shemomedjamo is a very useful Georgian word that can’t be translated into English. How else would you describe the feeling of eating without limit (even when you’re full) simply because the food is good? Yep. Shemomedjamo.

  1. Italian

The longest Italian palindrome (it reads the same backwards and forwards) is onorarono which means ‘honoured’.

  1. Irish

Another yes and no trouble. In Irish there’s no word for these two. Despite this, answering questions is still possible, you “just” have to use a verb form.
– Did he hear? – Ar chuala sé?
– Yes: Chuala (heard) / No: Níor chuala (didn’t hear).

  1. Lithuanian

Did you know that Lithuanians are very fond of outdoors? This is why they have plenty of personal names that take after nature concepts like Rūta (Rue), Aušra (Dawn), and Giedrius (Sunny).

  1. Maltese

These objects can be found in Malta‘s Quccija (1st birthday party), they are placed on the floor and the baby is left to choose one. Each one of them represents a different future: an egg for abundance of happiness, a ball for sport, a wooden spoon for cooking and great appetite, coins for wealth, paintbrush for an artist, thread for fashion, pen for a desk job, calculator for an accountant, a book for a lawyer and rosary beads for the church.

  1. Portuguese

English words like cobra, flamingo and piranha have a Portuguese origin: they entered the English language during the times of Portuguese exploration.

  1. Russian

If you are still doubting if you should learn Russian, this fact may help you decide: 60 to 70% of all scientific literature is published either in Russian or English.

  1. Silbo Gomero

What would you think if you were told that people can have a conversation by whistling? In fact, a whistling language exists: Silbo Gomero is “spoken” by inhabitants of the Canary Island La Gomera.

  1. Slovene

When you know this fact you will fall in love with the real love language (Ciao, italiano). Slovene is one of the few languages that uses a grammatical dual form, when referring specifically to two objects or subjects. Can you imagine how intimate and romantic this can be when talking about your loved one?