8 Interesting Words & Phrases of Asia

What’s fascinating to me the most about this phrase is its literal translation, which is, “Did you eat rice?”

While recently doing some research on Asian Cultures, I came across some pretty interesting words and phrases within some of the Asian languages that I couldn’t ignore talking about. I just had write about them. And I came across quite a bit of them, but for the sake of this article, I narrowed it down to 8 words/phrases. I will probably do another article for some of the other words/phrases I found, but for now, let’s get started with these.

1. Thong

Now, if you are familiar with the English translation for this word, right away you will assume that I’m talking about something that I’m not actually talking about. It’s not what you think. If you’re ever in Thailand and someone asks you if you like to wear thong, please know that they’re not referring to lingerie. Thong in Thai can mean a number of different things depending on how it’s said, and interestingly, gold is one of the meanings. So yeah… don’t get freaked out.

2. Pinakanakapagpapabagabag-damdamin

Yes, try to say that a few times without fumbling your words. If you aren’t aware, this is actually 1 word. Arguably considered the longest word in the Tagalog language, it consists of 32 letters. If you were to translate it into English, it would simply mean, “the most emotionally disturbing or upsetting thing.” (Not emphasizing on the “simply”, of course).

3. Bap meogeosseoyo? – “How are you?”

What’s fascinating to me the most about this phrase is its literal translation, which is, “Did you eat rice?” This greeting in Korea is used to show concern for others, which is really cool and shows the beautiful hospitality and care that they show towards another’s well-being. This isn’t the only way for someone to ask, “how are you”, in Korean, but it is the most interesting way in my opinion.

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4. “Do Not Disturb, Tiny Grass is Sleeping”

If you’re ever in China and you see a sign on the grass that has this quote on it, …know that they’re politely just asking you, “Do not step on the living grass”. I love how they put it in such a way that upon seeing it, it cautions you to not only avoid stepping on the grass, but after seeing the “…tiny grass is sleeping” part, it sort of urges you to want to walk by quietly as well. It’s like it’s telling you, “Shhh…”. I love that.

5. Jodoh

8 Interesting Words & Phrases of AsiaThis word doesn’t have an English translation for it. It represents “Something that is just meant to be”. It can also mean other things such as soulmate or describing when 2 people look good together—they’re considered Jodoh. Or it could even be used to describe a situation where something worked out for you. Like for example, you go to the gym to sign-up for an upcoming pilates class, but when you get there they tell you that the class is already fully booked. But as you’re walking away, suddenly someone nearby stops you and says, “I just got a text message saying that I have to work that day, so I won’t be able to make it to that class,” and then they ask you if you’d like to take their spot. In that situation, you and that pilates class would be Jodoh.

6. LỆ

This is another word with a cool meaning, which is for describing, “the teardrops with deep sorrow”. So beautiful. This word alone just makes you want to start writing poetry for someone. Anyone.

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7. Hak Paeng Gan

Lao (Laotian)
This phrase is also something that can’t be translated into English. It’s similar to someone saying, “I treasure our friendship” or “I love you guys”. Something you might hear a close friend or relative from Laos say to you or someone after spending some time eating and drinking with one another, having an enjoyable time.

8. “Brew and drink the dirt from under someone’s fingernails”

So…getting straight to the translation… If someone tells you that they want to “Brew the dirt from under your fingernails and drink it like a tea”, take this as a compliment. Trust me. Let me explain. In the Japanese culture, by someone telling you this, they’re pretty much saying that you have admirable qualities and that they hope that those qualities will somehow be transferred onto them. This is probably the best idiom I have ever heard in my entire life. It literally destroys every other idiom ever thought of by any other human being. I mean come on, what better way than this to tell someone that they have admirable qualities? You just can’t beat that. I’m definitely going to start using it.

Thanks For Reading

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this article about these 8 Interesting words/phrases of Asia. I really had a lot of fun researching them and learning something new about these cultures. And like I said, there were many more, so stay tuned-in for the next article on Asian Cultures. See ya!