Cheers to Language

I’m currently in the midst of a wedding in a minority area of China and learning how to say “Cheers” in so many languages.  Here are the ones I’ve learned or used in the last week:

Chinese: Gan bai (dry cup, meaning finish the darned thing)

Dai (the language used in Xishuangbanna/this wedding): Swae, usually said in 2 or 6.  So we’ve been saying “Swae, swae, swae swae swae, SWAE!”

Aini: Suh (used liked the Dai Swae)

Bulang: Lai

Jinou: Chee bue duh (in Chinese, it sounds like “I don’t remember)

Lao: Nyeok.  My Lao friend says it is often said as “Nyeok Nyeok”, which is some sort of Lao innuendo sound.

Thai (northern?): Lewm

It's a fuzzy picture, but that seems right for an alcohol fueled wedding.

I’m not just learning drinking words either.  My favorite language quirk I’ve learned this week is what people say to get camera targets to smile.  In America we tell people to say “Cheese!”  We tried this in Brazil but no one knew what we were talking about.  In this area of China, they say “eggplant” to get people to smile.  That’s not nearly as amusing as my new Thai friends who told me they tell people to say “Pepsi”.  Pepsi cola has no idea that they’re missing out on the best marketing campaign full of smiling Thai people.

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1 comment
  1. Jenn said:

    Gan bai sounds like “scallop.” i’m just saying…

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