Airplane call signs


If you’re flying and your airplane doesn’t fall from the sky and leave you burning to death in a horrible crash, you might be able to thank my friend Joe. He just graduated from air traffic control school. (Congrats!) And it was because of him that I got to learn the awesomely fun call signs air traffic controllers and pilots use.

Here’s the list:

A – Alpha
B – Bravo
C – Charlie
D – Delta
E – Echo
F – Foxtrot
G – Golf
H – Hotel
I – Igloo
J – Juliet
K – Kilo
L – Lima
M – Mike
N – November
O – Oscar
P – Papa
Q – Quebec
R – Romeo
S – Sierra
T – Tango
U – Uniform
V – Victor
W – Whiskey
X – X-ray
Y – Yankee
Z – Zulu

Apparently, air traffic controllers use their initials when they make contact with pilots. If I were in charge of air traffic, and let’s all be thankful that I’m not, my initials would be “Echo Romeo.” Pretty cool, if you ask me.

What would yours be?

New Zealand slang from Beyond the Trail

When we left off with Rob and Debra, our Beyond the Trail travel bloggers, they were backpacking it across Australia, soaking up sun, drinking Fosters (Okay, I don’t know if that part is true.), and rifling both the cities and countryside for fun Aussie slang to share with Grammar Partiers.

The location of their current field report is New Zealand, where they are soaking up the sun, yada yada yada, having an amazing time everyone should be envious of, and rifling both the cities and countryside for fun New Zealand slang to share with us.

Here are some slang words and phrases Debra emailed to me recently that she has heard on her adventures:

brekkie: breakfast
coach: bus
good on ya: good for you
he just cruises/we cruise: chilling
sweet as: something really good
what are ya after: what would you like/what kinds of things are you interested in

In my web travels, I found, which listed loads of kiwi slang words and phrases. I have listed some of my favorites below, but I recommend checking out the site for more slangy goodness.

across the Ditch: across the Tasman Sea
bickies: biscuits
bit of a dag: person with a good sense of humor
blimin’: bloody (like the swear word)
blow me down: an expression of surprise
cadge: to borrow
carked it: died
crook: sick
dairy: corner store
fizzy drink: soda
flash: something that looks new
going bush: become reclusive
grunds: underwear
hard yakka: hard work
ice block: ice pop
manus: idiot
pashing: kissing
plaster: band aid
pong: bad smell
rack off: go away
rattle your dags: command to hurry up
stuffed: tired
ta: thanks
togs: swim suit
winge: to complain
wobbly: tantrum
yonks: a long time

If any of these are out of date, or if you know of any new slang words I should include in my list, please let me know.

You can follow Rob and Deb’s fantastical globe-trotting journey at their blog, Beyond the Trail. With their inside peek into foreign cultures, which only people willing to rough it at camp sites and stray way off the beaten path can have, the site is a must-read.

Important travel phrases

On Monday I will be travelling to Montreal to have some fun, to soak up a beautiful environment, and mostly to practice my French. This got me thinking about the most important phrases to know when travelling to a country where a foreign language is dominant. Of course, it’s not terribly difficult to find English speakers most places you travel, but knowing some key phrases is indispensible. Plus, locals appreciate it when travelers show respect by trying to communicate in their language.

Below are some helpful phrases in some of the world’s most popular languages.

Chinese (phonetically pronounced)
Hello: nín hǎo
Goodbye: zàijiàn
Please: oǐng
Thank you: xièxiè nǐ
Where is (the train station)?: Zài nǎlǐ (huǒchē zhàn)?
Where is (the toilet)?: Zài nǎlǐ (xǐshǒujiān)?
Right: yòu
Left: zuǒ
How much does this cost?: Duōshǎo qián ne?
I don’t speak (Chinese).: Wǒ bù huì shuō (zhōngwén).
Do you speak English?: Nǐ huì jiǎng yīngyǔ ma?

Fun phrase: Why doesn’t Google work here? Wèishéme bùshì gǔgē zài zhèlǐ gōngzuò?

Hello: bonjour
Goodbye: au revoir
Please: s’il vous plaît
Thank you: merci
Where is (the train station)?: Où est (la gare) ?
Where is (the toilet)?: Où est (le toilette)?
Right: droit
Left: à gauche
How much does this cost?: Combien ça coûte?
I don’t speak (French).: Je ne parle pas (en français).
Do you speak English?: Parlez-vous anglais?

Fun phrase: I would like a glass of (bordeaux) please.: Je voudrais un verre de (bordeaux) s’il vous plaît.

Hello: hallo
Goodbye: auf wiedersehen
Please: bitte
Thank you: danke
Where is (the train station)?: Wo ist (beim Bahnhof)?
Where is (the toilet)?: Wo ist (der toilette)?
Right: rechts
Left: links
How much does this cost?: Wie viel kostet das?
I don’t speak (German).: Ich spreche nicht (deutsch).
Do you speak English?: Sprechen Sie Englisch?

Fun phrase: Your country has very functional architecture.: Ihr Land hat sehr funktionale Architektur.

Hindi (phonetically pronounced)
Hello: hailō
Goodbye: alavidā
Please: krpayā
Thank you: dhan’yavāda
Where is (the train station)?: (Rēlavē sṭēśana) kahām̐ hai?
Where is (the toilet)?: (Śaucālaya) kahām̐ hai?
Right: adhikāra
Left: vāma
How much does this cost?: Jyādā isa lāgata kitanī hai?
I don’t speak (Hindi).: Maiṁ (hindī) bāta nahīṁ karatē.
Do you speak English?: Kyā āpa aṅgrēzī bōlatē haiṁ?

Fun phrase: It’s good that I like vegetarian food.: Yaha acchā hai ki maiṁ śākāhārī bhōjana pasanda hai.

Hello: ciao
Goodbye: addio
Please: si prega di
Thank you: grazie
Where is (the train station)?: Dove si trova (la stazione ferroviaria)?
Where is (the toilet)?: Dove si trova (la toilette)?
Right: destra
Left: sinistra
How much does this cost?: Quanto costa questo?
I don’t speak (Italian).: Non parlo (italiano).
Do you speak English?: Parli inglese?

Fun phrase: How does a country have so many beautiful women? Come fa un paese sono tante belle donne?

Japanese (phonetically pronounced)
Hello: kon’nichiwa
Goodbye: sayōnara
Please: shite kudasai
Thank you: arigatō
Where is (the train station)?: Doko no ekidesu?
Where is (the toilet)?: Toire wa dokodesu ka?
Right: migi
Left: hidari
How much does this cost?: Kore wa ikura kakarimasu ka?
I don’t speak (Japanese).: Watashi wa nihongo o hanasanai.
Do you speak English?: Anata wa eigo o hanashimasu ka?

Fun phrase: Where can I buy a robot? Koko de watashi wa robotto o kōnyū dekimasu ka?

Russian (phonetically pronounced)
Hello: privet
Goodbye: do svidaniya
Please: pozhaluĭsta
Thank you: spasibo
Where is (the train station)?: Gde (zheleznodorozhnyĭ vokzal)?
Where is (the toilet)?: Gde (v tualet )?
Right: sprava
Left: sleva
How much does this cost?: Skolʹko eto stoit?
I don’t speak (Russian).: YA ne govoryu (russkiĭ )
Do you speak English?: Vy govorite po-angliĭski ?

Fun phrase: I want a big fuzzy hat.: YA hochu bolʹshoĭ nechetkih shlyapu

Hello: hola
Goodbye: adiós
Please: por favor
Thank you: gracias
Where is (the train station)?: ¿Dónde está (la estación de tren)?
Where is (the toilet)?: ¿Dónde está (el baño)?
Right: derecho
Left: izquierda
How much does this cost?: ¿Cuánto cuesta esto?
I don’t speak (Spanish).: Yo no hablo (español).
Do you speak English?: ¿Hablas Inglés?

Fun phrase: No more tequila or I’ll vomit.: N el tequila más o voy a vomitar.

Hello: hello
Goodbye: kwaheri
Please: tafadhali
Thank you: asante
Where is (the train station)?: Ambapo ni (kituo cha treni)?
Where is (the toilet)?: Ambapo ni (ya choo)?
Right: haki
Left: kushoto
How much does this cost?: Kiasi gani hii gharama?
I don’t speak (Swahili).: Siongei (Kiswahili).
Do you speak English?: Je kuzungumza Kiingereza?

Fun phrase: It’s so hot I feel like I’m melting.: Ni hivyo moto mimi najisikia kama niko kiwango.

Funny Spanish idioms


Here is a list of entertaining Spanish idioms and their English equivalents.

La carne de burro no es transparente.
Literal translation: The flesh of the donkey is not transparent.
English equivalent: You make a better door than a window.

Sacarse el gordo.
Literal translation: To draw the fat one.
English equivalent: To hit the jackpot.


Gato escaldado del agua fria huye.
Literal translation: The scalded cat flees cold water.
English equivalent: Once bitten twice shy.


Cada perico a su estaca, cada changa a su mecate.
Literal translation: Each parrot on its perch, each monkey on its rope.
English equivalent: To each his own.


Comer frijoles y repetir pollo
Literal translation: To eat beans and belch chicken.
English equivalent: His bark is mightier than his bite.


Da un beso a la botella.
Literal translation: Give the bottle a kiss.
English equivalent: Take a swig.

Claro como el agua de Xochimilco
Literal translation: Clear as the water of Xochimilco
English equivalent: Clear as mud.

Está pensando en las musarañas.
Literal translation: He or she is thinking about the creepy-crawlies.
English equivalent: He or she is daydreaming.

Denglish, Franglais, Germish, and Spanglish – English words find new life across the globe

Lesson: How English words evolve in other languages

Last time we discussed false friends, words that look the same or similar to words in other languages, but have different meanings. Related to false friends are pseudo-anglicisms. These are English words other languages adopt, but use in ways English speakers would likely misunderstand.

Here is a list of some interesting pseudo-anglicisms:

pseudo-anglicism foreign definition
autostop (Greek) hitchhiking
baskets (French / Romanian) sneakers
beautyfarm (German / Italian) spa
college (Finnish) sweater
desk  (Japanese) title  for office worker
dressman (German) male model
face control (Russian) checking if a person looks appropriate (a common practice in Russian night clubs)
funeralmaster (German) undertaker
gadgets (Italian) goodies
gimmick  (Filipino) a night out with friends
golf (Italian) sweater
handphone (Korean) cell phone
handy (German) cell phone
junk  (Dutch) drug addict (In English it would be “junkie”)
magnetron (Dutch) microwave oven (sounds more like a superhero name to me)
mansion (Japanese) condominium apartments
pocket (Dutch) paperback book
relooking (French) makeover
shampooing (French) shampoo
slang (Filipino) a strong foreign accent
skin scuba (Korean) scuba diving
smart (Japanese) skinny
speaker / speakerine (French) Announcer (radio, TV, railway)
style (Vietnamese) Appearing teenage, playful, modern
talkmaster (German) talk show host
topfit  (Dutch / German) physically fit
twen (German) a person in his/her twenties

Some of these I really love. Wouldn’t it sound good to say, “I won’t be back until tonight, honey. I’m going to the beautyfarm,” or, “I’ll get you your stupid food in a minute. Let me throw it in the MAGNETRON!!!”

It’s amazing how much of  American culture we have exported. (Though it’s frightening to think how many people in foreign countries may know who Snooki is. On behalf of America, sorry about that one.)

For your enjoyment, here is a list of more pseudo-anglicisms.