calling all multilinguals (updated: now with testicles)

I posted this on facebook and got a lot of good responses, but I’m going to try here as well. The scenario is this: one character tells another character that there’s a list of about ten phrases he can say in fifty different languages or dialects of languages. She doesn’t believe him, and challenges him. The sentence she chooses (of the ones on his list) is “Why did you kill your wife?”

Eventually you’ll find out what I’m doing with this.

So I need to have this sentence in every possible European and eastern European language, but here’s the important part: I can’t use school-room French or Swedish or whatever. I need vernacular, colloquial and even rude translations. Below are some of the suggestions I got through facebook (I had lots of information on Polish, Russian, etc., but I couldn’t get the software to deal with the Cyrillic alphabet). As you’ll see, some people were very specific about the geographic variety of the language in question, or about the colloquialisms. That information is  really useful.

And I really, really need different regional varieties of Italian. Sicilian, Calabrese, Neopolitan, Roman, any anything else. [update: Stephanie really delivered on this, but I’m always happy to hear more. Thanks, Stephanie!]

Examples:

LanguageGeographyTranslationNotes
 ItalianColloquialPerchè hai ammazzato la tua donna?/
SalentoPerce’ hai ccisu muierda?/
RomanescoOh, ma perché hai accoppato tu moje?higher social standig than ‘romanaccio’
Salerno/CampaniaMa pcché a ccis a’ muglier’t?my family’s neck of the woods
Reggio Emilia (Emilia Romagna)Perchè et màsé to muiera?/
Valdarno/TuscanyPerché te thu l’ha ammazzatho la thu moglie?/
FlorentineO perché tu ha’ammazzaho la tu’ moglie?/
North Eastparcè atu copat to femine?/
SicilianPicchì a ttò mugghieri l’ammazzasti?/
LombardyParghé te gà mataa a la femma?Rough translation, this dialect doesn’t traditionally have a written form
SiracusePerche’ hai ucciso tua moglie?  (or)  Pichi a mazzato a ta mugieri? /
 FrenchSenegalPourquoi est-ce que tu as tué ta femme?/
colloquialPourquoi t’as tué ta femme?  (or)  Pourquoi t’as buté ta meuf?  (or) Pourquoi t’as tué ta meuf?the kind of French you might hear spoken in the slums of a big city, for example. It includes ‘verlan‘, which is a way of inversing syllables of words to create slang.
CajunFi pi tchar, pourquoi t’as tué ta femme?fi pi tchar”  the euphemism we use for “fils de putain” [“s.o.b.”]
....
 SpanishSpain¿Por qué mataste a tu esposa?   *see Laura’s comment below
Madrid¿Por qué mataste a tu (maldita) mujer/vieja?  maldita = damned; vieja = old lady
Madrid ‘español castizo’¿Por qué cojones te cargaste a la parienta?Both of these have a little vulgarity thrown in for good measure. They are roughly translated into “Why the fuck did you kill your woman/wife?” “Carallo” and “cojones” are both the vulgar term for testicles.
Galicia¿Por qué carallo mataste a tua mulher?/
Spanish [South America]Colombia¿Por qué mataste a tu desgraciada mujer? (or) ¿Por qué putas mataste a tu esposa?(or) ¿Por qué mataste a tu desgraciada mujer?
your ‘f-king’ wifeWhy the fuck did you kill your wife?
PortugesePortugalPor que matou sua mulher?/
CatalánCatalonia¿Pe què vas matar a la teva esposa? (or) ¿Per què va matar a la seva esposa? (or) Per què va(s) matar la teva dona?
See Stephan’s comment below
NorwegianOsloHvorfor drepte du dama di a?slang
JærskKeffor drepte du kånå di?/
small town south of OsloHvorfor drepte du gamla di?
gamla is a little disrespectful, somewhat like ‘your old lady’.   “den fordømte kjerringa di‘ = Your damn old lady
[Bokmål]Hvorfor drepte du konen din?/
Swedish SwedenVafan mördade du din sambo för? (or) Varför dödade du din fru?/
FinnishSouthern OstrobothniaMinkä tähären tapoot emäntäs? (or) Minkä tähären soot emäntäs tappanu?/
HelsinkiMiks sä tapoit emäntäs? emäntäs is an old word for wife, but it is becoming re-popularized
HelsinkiMiksi tapoit vaimosi?/
PoriMiks sää tapoit vaimos?  (or)  Miks helvetis sää tapoit vaimos?helvetis = the hell
Dutch HollandWaarom vermoorde jij je vrouw? (or) Waarom heb je je vrouw vermoord?A mild swear word for a female would be: rotwijf, kelerewijf (kelere is derived from cholera, most Dutch swear words have something to do with diseases)
GermanBaden-WuerttembergWarum haschd du dei Frau umbracht?
BerlinWarum hastn deene Olle abjemurkst?very colloquial
Swiss  [Alemannic]Warum hascht diin Wiib erschlaha? (or) Warum häschd dini frau tötet?
DutchHollandWaarom vermoorde jij je vrouw? (or) Waarom heb je je vrouw vermoord?A mild swear word for a female would be: rotwijf, kelerewijf (kelere is derived from cholera, most Dutch swear words have something to do with diseases)
DutchHollandWaarom vermoorde jij je vrouw? (or) Waarom heb je je vrouw vermoord?A mild swear word for a female would be: rotwijf, kelerewijf (kelere is derived from cholera, most Dutch swear words have something to do with diseases)
LuxembourgishFirwaat hues de deng aal Fraa embruecht?
BosnianSarajevoJebote, zasto ubi svoju zenu?literal translation would be “F@@@, why did you kill you woman?” Word “zasto” has above S alphabet small V, as it reads (sh), and is an alphabet in Bosnian/Croatian, Serbian language, but doesn’t exist in English language.
HungarianHungaryMiért ölted meg a feleséged?


Comments via Facebook

34 Replies to “calling all multilinguals (updated: now with testicles)”

  1. It’s not Columbia, it’s Colombia ¬.¬ Btw:

    ¿Por qué putas mataste a tu esposa?
    ¿Por qué coños mataste a tu esposa?
    – Why the fuck did you kill your wife?

  2. I’m not so good on colloquial Spanish, but I suspect that “Carallo” is the Gallego equivalent of the Castilian “carajo”. In that case it’s not the same as “cojones”: together they’d make a full set of male genitalia.

    Columbia ¿Porque mataste a tu desgraciada mujer?

    should be

    Colombia ¿Por qué mataste a tu desgraciada mujer?

    And if you say “¿Por qué mató a su esposa?” it’s very formal. Maybe the equivalent in English of saying “Why did you murder your wife, sir?”

    1. Laura, haven’t seen your dancing pixels in a while. Thanks for the spelling heads-up and the note on the formality, very useful.

  3. Latin: “Cur mulierem tuam occidisti?”
    Greek (Ancient): “?? ??? ??????? ??? ??????????;”

    The Catalan translation would be more natural as “Per què va(s) matar la teva dona?”. “Esposa” exists, but it isn’t the common word for ‘wife’.

      1. It’s my fault, I haven’t figured out how to handle non-western alphabets with this software. But I’m working on it. And thanks.

  4. Is there any room for contructed languages? There are a few international auxiliary languages that are associated with Europe — I’m pretty sure I can get you Esperanto, and I might possibly be able to find someone who can do Volapük or Interlingua.

    I’ll put out the word.

    1. Thank you for putting out the word. I’m afraid constructed languages won’t work. This is set in 1883, among poor and working class people. It’s good of you to jump in, I appreciate the help very much.

  5. Romanian: De ce ?i-ai omorât so?ia?
    Maltese: G?alxiex qtiltha? OR G?alxiex qtilt lill-martek? OR G?alxiex qtilt lill-mara?
    Bulgarian: Ti zashto ubi zhena si, be?
    Albanian: Pse e vrave gruan tenede?
    Norwegian (Svelgenser dialect): Kofor drepte du kona di?
    Bosnian (slang): Što si ba ubio svoju ženu?

  6. Uh oh.
    Romanian without the weird symbols: De ce ti-ai omorât sotia?
    Maltese without the symbols: Ghalxiex qtiltha? OR Ghalxiex qtilt lill-martek? OR Ghalxiex qtilt lill-mara?

    1. Yes, those pesky non-western symbols. I have to figure out how to fix this. But thanks anyway, these are great. I’ll get them up on the table asap.

  7. The sentence you have under Spanish (Galicia) is not Spanish at all; it’s Galician, a different Romance language, more closely related to Portuguese than Spanish.

    The first Swedish sentence would be very inappropriate in 1883; sambo is a modern term for a non-married yet cohabiting romantic partner.

    1. I’ll fix the Galician status, and thanks very much for the note about Swedish. That’s the kind of thing I really need to hear.

  8. For the Dutch one, first of al it should be vermoordde (double -d-) in the first version; but the other one sounds more natural anyway. Also, perhaps it would be better to use jij instead of the first je: “Waarom heb jij je vrouw vermoord?”
    In Japanese:
    D?shite okusan o koroshita ka?
    ????????????? (no question mark necessary)
    The ancient Greek one would be more accurately transcribed as:
    “Tí tèn gunaíka sou apékteinas?”

    1. Thanks, David. I’ll make that change to the Dutch. Ancient Greek I don’t really need, but modern day Greek I could use.

  9. Wow, your blog really hates other alphabets, diacritics, etc.
    In the Japanese phrase, the question mark was an o with a macron; it could also be transcribed ô or ou: dôshite, doushite.

    1. I know, it’s awful about the diacritics. I just haven’t had time to figure out how to fix it. But I will. And thanks again.

  10. For Italian: it should say: Perché hai ammazzato (ucciso) tua moglie?

    la tua donna is something like “your woman”, not wife

    Bavarian: Warum host’d du dei Weib umg’brocht?

    Hessia: Was hastn Du dei Fraa umbracht?

    This is fun!

  11. Also

    dialect of Catania, Sicily: Picchì ammazzasti a ttà mugghieri ?
    and R: De ce ti-ai omorat sotia?

  12. French-speakers use dislocations a lot.

    ‘Pourquoi tu l’as tuée, ta femme?’ and
    ‘Pourquoi tu l’as butée, ta meuf?’

    would be more colloquial, in my opinion.

  13. hello
    in romanesco (the dialect of Rome) is “oh, ma perché hai accoppato tu moje?” (this is “romanesco” but not “romanaccio”, the difference is the society level… romanesco is higher level than romanaccio)
    I’m asking to my FB contacts for other italian dialects

  14. salerno (campania) “ma pcché a ccis a’ muglier’t”
    reggio emilia (emilia romagna))“perchè et màsé to muiera”
    valdarno (tuscany) “Perché te thu l’ha ammazzatho la thu moglie”

  15. This is Sardinian (The Campidanese variant of the language spoken in Sardinia, Italy)

    “Poitta asi boccìu a pobìdda tua?”

    “pobìdda” can be also changed in “mullèri”

  16. last one:
    CastelFranco Emilia (near Bologna… it’s always Emilia-Romagna but there are a lot of different dialects in Emilia) ‘parché t’è mazé tu muier’

    Thanks to my friends in FB that helped me in helping you :-P
    “In bocca al lupo” with your book

Comments are closed.