English is fabulous, but it doesn’t have a word for everything. Some concepts can be expressed better, or at least faster, in another language.
Here’s some shortcuts and curiosities from French, German, Spanish and Swedish:
In English, if you want to talk informally to a bunch of people at once, how can you address them? You’ve got “you”, or maybe “you guys” or maybe “y’all” (accent dependent). German and Spanish have an extra pronoun (ihr/vosotros) as a shortcut. I love this tool. In Latin America they have basically dropped “vosotros”, and I find it pretty strange when instagrammers speak to their audience with the (formal/plural) “ustedes”.
The Day After Tomorrow
“Yesterday” and “tomorrow” are okay, but many languages have added more useful words. “The day before yesterday” exists as Vorgestern, anteayer and förrgår. “The day after tomorrow” is le surlendemain, övermorgon and übermorgen.
What’s the best time of day?
Feierabend! “Feier” is a celebration or party, and “Abend” means evening. The Germans use it to describe the time between finishing work and going to bed – so, evening, but broader. You can wish someone a “happy Feierabend” at the end of the day. On the Spanish side, they have the word “sobremesa” (“about table”) for the time spent around a table, talking and drinking, once the meal is over.
English is not the best language for asking a question – in others, you can just stick the verb in front and you’re done. For example: “Gehst du?” vs. “are you going?”, and “sabes?” vs “do you know?”. Informal English has gone in this directon (e.g. “you going tonight?”) but it’s not “correct”.
Daddad and Dadmum
This one is extremely cute. In Swedish, and I believe other Scandinavian languages, “granny” and “grandpa” is too vague. So if mother and father is “mor och far”, it means your paternal grandparents are your “farfar och farmor” and your maternal grandparents are “morfar och mormor”. Beautiful.