Scott Hanselman

Learning Languages Fast - Can you Flush the Toilet in Zulu?

February 20, '08 Comments [80] Posted in Musings
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Tim Ferriss has a penchant for languages. His post How to Learn (But Not Master) Any Language in 1 Hour got me thinking because he gives eight sentences that you can use to get a really good understanding of how a particular language is constructed.

The apple is red.
It is John’s apple.
I give John the apple.
We give him the apple.
He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.
I must give it to him.
I want to give it to her.

Tim uses these sentences because they show how verbs are conjugated between speaker and subject, they show gender, number, direct and indirect objects, negations and tense. Fantastic.

Interestingly, if you ask two speakers of the same language, you might get different answers.

Here's my wife's answers for the first 6 sentences in isiNdebele:

I ephuli libomvu.
Li ephuli likaJoni.
Nginika uJoni i ephuli.
Simnika i ephuli.
Ulinika uJoni.
Ulinika yena.

And here is the same from her sister.

I apple leli libomvu
Ngelika Johane.
Ngipha uJohane i apple.
Siyamupha i apple.
Uyalipha uJohn.
Uyalipha yena.

There's a few things interesting about this, other than two sisters will never agree on anything. Deconstructing isiNdebele (isiZulu), we see:

  • Nouns start with a vowel as in iapple or iephuli or uJohn. (There are many noun classes, not every one starts with i.)
  • The prefix si- indicates we and ya- is present tense, so siyamupha is we (are giving) give
  • Mo uses ukunika to say "to give" and her sister says ukulipha meaning "to hand over" but they really both mean to give. (From http://isizulu.net/) Then her sister goes an uses ukulipha in her 3rd example, so get good examples!
  • There's no gender in the last two, so uyalipha can mean both he gives and she gives.
  • I can see how some verbs are conjugated as in ngipha (I give) and uyalipha (he/she gives)

If there are borrowed words in the language that resonate with me (meaning, I can easily remember them) like imota (car) or ifoni (phone) I can now put together sentences like Imota kaScott (It is Scott's car) or if I learn a few basic infinitive verbs like ukufuna (to want), ukufunda (to learn) or ukucela (to request) I can assemble sentences like:

  • ngicela imali - I want (request) money
  • ngifuna ukufunda isiZulu - I want to learn Zulu

What do you think of Tim's sentences? While you'll not become fluent, it seems to me that this a fun an effective way to learn more than just memorized phrases. You'll certainly build a nice base to build on if your brain works this way.

I know I have a very international readership, and I love travel, so I'd love it if you'd all add in the comments the native translations of these eight sentences in the format:

The apple is red. - PHONETIC PRONOUCIATION - NATIVE ALPHABET
etc...

As an aside, Richard Sprague once said that if you really want to know if someone who says they know a language is really fluent in that language, you should ask them how to say "Flush the toilet." Why that phrase? Because most folks who've cobbled together an understanding of a language from High School or phrase books might be able to assemble an awkward sentence that sounds like "push the button to make the water come" rather than the colloquial or commonly used phrase. For example, in French, "tirer la chasse" translates to the English "pull the chain." Only a person who has lived in a country and gained some fluency knows these kinds of colloquialisms. So the next time your office mate says he knows six languages...find out in how many he can say flush the toilet.

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About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:34:08 AM UTC
Russian:

The apple is red - Yabloko krasnoe - Яблоко красное.
It is John’s apple - Eto yabloko Jona - Это яблоко Джона.
I give John the apple - Ya dal Jonu yabloko - Я дал Джону яблоко.
We give him the apple - Mi dali emu yabloko - Мы дали ему яблоко.
He gives it to John - On dal eto Jonu - Он дал это Джону.
She gives it to him - Ona dala eto emu - Она дала это ему.
I must give it to him - Ya doljen dat eto emu - Я должен дать это ему.
I want to give it to her - Ya hochu dat eto ei - Я хочу дать это ей.
KAE
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:54:34 AM UTC
Here's the norwegian version:

Eplet er rødt.
Det er Johns eple.
Jeg gir John eplet.
Vi gir han eplet.
Han gir det til John.
Hun gir det til han.
Jeg må gi det til han.
Jeg ønsker å gi det til henne.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:56:47 AM UTC
Here is the Dansih version. gh is like in "ghost", ii is like in "Wii".

The apple is red - Ayblet er rot - Æblet er rødt
It is John’s apple - De er Johns ayble. - Det er Johns æble
I give John the apple - Yi ghiiver John ayblet - Jeg giver John æblet
We give him the apple. - Vii ghiiver ham ayblet - Vi giver ham æblet
He gives it to John. - Han ghiiver de til John - Han giver det til John
She gives it to him. - Hoon ghiiver det til ham - Hun giver det til ham
I must give it to him. - Yi er nod til at ghiive de til ham - Jeg er nødt til at give det til ham
I want to give it to her. - Yi vil ghiive de til hiinne - Jeg vil give det til hende

Have fun learning Danish.


Palle Due Larsen
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:58:43 AM UTC
German version (no time for phonetics though :-( ):

The apple is red. - Der Apfel ist rot.
It is John’s apple. - Das ist John´s Apfel.
I give John the apple. - Ich gebe John den Apfel.
We give him the apple. - Wir geben Ihm den Apfel.
He gives it to John. - Er gibt ihn John.
She gives it to him. - Sie gibt ihn Ihm.
I must give it to him. - Ich muss ihn Ihm geben.
I want to give it to her. - Ich möchte ihn Ihr geben.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:17:10 AM UTC
Hi Scott, here are the sentences in German.
Unfortunately I don't have the time to search the pronounciation, but I hope this helps like so too.
I thought quite a while about this, and stated my opinions below the sentences:

Der Apfel ist rot.
Es ist Johns Apfel.
Ich gebe John den Apfel.
Wir geben ihm den Apfel.
Er gibt ihn John.
Sie gibt ihn ihm.
Ich muss ihn ihm geben.
Ich möchte ihn ihm geben.


I was definitely surprised that you could figure out kind of much about isizulu with just 6 sentences from 2 people. However, I must admit that I do not know much about it, but I'm convinced that isizulu has not much a relationship with english, so this was quite surprising to me, BUT...

From a logical point of view, the limits of such a method lie in the bounds that the native-language of the user (in this case yours, Scott) puts on the possibilities of inference for the analyzed foreign language.
Let me clear this by an example that matches exactly on english:

In english the gender is (in general) only applied to persons. There is no other article than "the". But in (most) other languages there is a gender for anything. E.g. the moon is feminine in italian, masculine in german, both using different articles for the different genders, but in english there is no distinction between masculine and feminine things.
This means that the mean amount of information in english, the so called "entropy" is less bits per word than in other languages, if we would only talk about the genders. Now, as we all know you cannot infer something from the unknown logically, thus, there is no possiblility for you to find out the difference between the two genders in the foreign language, unless someone tells you that you have to watch for this.

From an A.I. point of view, this means that your learning method has to be reinforcement learning.

Well, this is only the perspective of a scientist, of course. In spite of all this and for the sake of a quick and effective way to find out many things about a foreign language, I have to admit that this is a very good method.

Hope this helps,
Dennis
Dennis
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:17:35 AM UTC
Persian version:

The apple is red. - (سیب قرمز است).
It is John’s apple. - (این سیب جان است).
I give John the apple. - (من به جان سیب رامی دهم).
We give him the apple. - (ما به او سیب را می دهیم).
He gives it to John. - (او آن را به جان می دهد ).
She gives it to him. - (او آن را به او می دهد).
I must give it to him. - (من باید این را به او بدهم).
I want to give it to her. - (من می خواهم این را به او بدهم).
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:18:57 AM UTC
Basque and Spanish versions. Words in parentheses are not necessary to translate these sentences, but they might be necessary depending on the context, or to reinforce something.

You'll notice that pronouns are not necessary in either language, because usually the verb gives all the information. In Basque, besides, there is no gender distinction (except in the informal 2nd person, which does not appear here).


Euskara (Basque):

The apple is red - Sagarra gorria da
It is John’s apple - Johnen sagarra da
I give John the apple - (Nik) Johni sagarra ematen diot / (Nik) Sagarra Johni ematen diot
We give him the apple - (Guk) Sagarra ematen diogu
He gives it to John - Johni ematen dio
She gives it to him - (Berari/hari) ematen dio
I must give it to him - (Nik) (Berari/hari) eman behar diot
I want to give it to her - (Nik) (Berari/hari) eman nahi diot


Spanish:

The apple is red - La manzana es roja
It is John’s apple - Es la manzana de John
I give John the apple - (Yo) Le doy la manzana a John
We give him the apple - (Nosotros) Le damos la manzana (a él)
He gives it to John - (Él) Se la da a John
She gives it to him - (Ella) Se la da (a él)
I must give it to him - (Yo) Debo dársela (a él)
I want to give it to her - (Yo) Quiero dársela (a ella)

Mikel
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:19:32 AM UTC
Oops, sorry, the last sentence should have been:

Ich möchte ihn ihr geben.

HTH,
Dennis
Dennis
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:25:20 AM UTC
Polish version:

The apple is red. - Yablko yest chervoneh. Jabłko jest czerwone.
It is John’s apple. - Toh yest yablko Johnah. - To jest jabłko Johna.
I give John the apple. - Dayeh yablko Johnovie. - Daję jabłko Johnowi.
We give him the apple. - Dahyemy moo yablko - Dajemy mu jabłko.
He gives it to John. - On dayeh toh Johnovie. - On daje to Johnowi.
She gives it to him. - Ona dayeh toh yemoo. - Ona daje to jemu.
I must give it to him. - Moosheh datch toh yemoo. - Muszę dać to jemu.
I want to give it to her. - Khtzeh datch toh yey. - Chcę dać to jej.

"Flush the toilet" in Polish is "Spuścić wodę", which means something like "Let the water down".

Polish is a freaked out language :)

Cheers,
Andrzej
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:26:32 AM UTC
Here is the Greek version
Note 1: Wherever you see "Thi", read it like the english word "the"
Note 2: Read " i " without pronunciation, as in english letter "e", not "ai"

The apple is red - To milo einai kokkino - Το μήλο είναι κόκκινο
I give John the apple - Thino sto Yianni to milo - Δίνω στο Γιάννη το μήλο / Δίνω το μήλο στο Γιάννη
We give him the apple. - Tou thinoume to milo - Του δίνουμε το μήλο
He gives it to John. - (Aftos) To thini sto Yianni - (Αυτός) Το δίνει στο Γιάννη
She gives it to him. - (Afti) To thini se afton / (Afti) Tu to thini - (Αυτή) Το δίνει σε αυτόν / Αυτή του το δίνει
I must give it to him. - Prepi na to thoso se afton - Πρέπει να το δώσω σε αυτόν / Πρέπει να του το δώσω
I want to give it to her. - Thelo na to thoso se aftin - Θέλω να το δώσω σε αυτήν / Θέλω να της το δώσω
GrOne
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:26:42 AM UTC
French version:

The apple is red. - La pomme est rouge.
It is John's apple. - C'est la pomme de John.
I give John the apple. - Je donne la pomme à John.
We give him the apple. - Nous lui donnons la pomme.
He gives it to John. - Il la donne à John.
She gives it to him. - Elle lui la donne.
I must give it to him. - Je dois la lui donner. - or - Je dois la donner à lui.
I want to give it to her. - Je veux la lui donner. - or - Je veux la donner à elle.

Dutch version:

The apple is red. - De appel is rood.
It is John’s apple. - Het is Jan's appel.
I give John the apple. - Ik geef de appel aan Jan. - or - Ik geef Jan de appel.
We give him the apple. - We geven de appel aan hem. - or - We geven hem de appel.
He gives it to John. - Hij geeft het aan Jan.
She gives it to him. - Ze geeft het aan hem.
I must give it to him. - Ik moet het aan hem geven. - or - Ik moet het hem geven.
I want to give it to her. - Ik wil het aan haar geven. - or - Ik wil het haar geven.

I might have done some mistakes in the dutch version as I haven't spoken the language in a while.

Sorry, no time for phonetics...
Gazza
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:28:53 AM UTC
Afrikaans version (phonetics in IPA)

The apple is red - di appəl əs rɔiː - Die appel is rooi
It is John’s apple - dət əs juhɑn sə appəl - Dit is Johan se appel
I give John the apple - ɛk xeˑə juhɑn di appəl - Ek gee Johan die appel
We give him the apple - ɒns xeˑə hɒm di appəl - Ons gee hom die appel
He gives it to John - həi xeˑə dət fər juhɑn - Hy gee dit vir Johan
She gives it to him - səi xeˑə dət fər hɒm - Sy gee dit vir hom
I must give it to him - ɛk muˑt dət fər hɒm xeˑə - Ek moet dit vir hom gee
I want to give it to her - ɛk vəl dət fər hɑˑr xeˑə - Ek wil dit vir haar gee
safrican
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:32:03 AM UTC
Here's polish :

The apple is red - Jabłko jest czerwone
It is John’s apple - To jest jabłko Dżona
I give John the apple - Daję jabłko Dżonowi
We give him the apple - Dajemy mu jabłko
He gives it to John - On daje je Dżonowi
She gives it to him - Ona daje je jemu
I must give it to him - Muszę dać je jemu
I want to give it to her - Chcę dać je jej

Cheers,
Marcin

ps. this site have layout problems on safari 3.0.4 ;-)
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:32:27 AM UTC
Swedish

The apple is red. - Aepplet ær rœtt - Äpplet är rött
It is John’s apple. - Det ær Johns ɛpple - Det är Johns äpple
I give John the apple. - Jag ger John ɛpplet - Jag ger John äpplet
We give him the apple. - Vi ger honom ɛpplet - Vi ger honom äpplet
He gives it to John. - Han ger det till John - Han ger det till John
She gives it to him. - Hon ger det till honom - Hon ger det till honom
I must give it to him. - Jag moːste ge det till honom - Jag måste ge det till honom
I want to give it to her. - Jag vill ge det till henne. - Jag vill det till henne
Carl-Johan
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:33:56 AM UTC
This is in Icelandic. Sorry for the lack of pronounciation.

The apple is red - Eplið er rautt.
It is John’s apple - Þetta er eplið hans Johns.
I give John the apple - Ég gef John eplið.
We give him the apple - Við gefum honum eplið.
He gives it to John - Hann gefur John það.
She gives it to him - Hún gefur honum það.
I must give it to him - Ég verð að gefa honum það.
I want to give it to her - Mig langar til að gefa henni það
Jon Stefansson
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:37:50 AM UTC
Hebrew:

A few notes:
1. I used 'ch' for the pronunciation of the throatie h you don't have in English (like in the word Chanuka).
2. The test phrases don't really account for noun genders (some languages have those).
3. I assumed the speaker to be male, but added the female forms.

The apple is red - Ha'tapu'ach Hu Adom - התפוח הוא אדום
It is John’s apple - Ze Ha'tapu'ach Shel John - זה התפוח של ג'ון
I give John the apple - Ani Noten (/Notenet) Et Ha'tapu'ach Le'John - אני נותן (/נותנת) את התפוח לג'ון
We give him the apple - Anachnu Notnim Lo Et Ha'tapu'ach - אנחנו נותנים לו את התפוח
He gives it to John - Hu Noten Oto Le'John - הוא נותן אותו לג'ון
She gives it to him - Hi Notenet Lo Oto - היא נותנת לו אותו
I must give it to him - Ani Chayav (/Chayevet) Latet Lo Oto - אני חייב (/חייבת) לתת לו אותו
I want to give it to her - Ani Rotze (/Rotza) Latet La Oto - אני חייב (/חייבת) לתת לה אותו
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 10:46:25 AM UTC
Afrikaans version, using IPA symbols:

The apple is red - di apəl əs ɾɔiː - Die appel is rooi
It is John’s apple - dət əs dʒɒn sə apəl - Dit is John se appel
I give John the apple - ɛk xiˑe fəɾ dʒɒn di apəl - Ek gee vir John die appel
We give him the apple - ɔns xiˑe [fəɾ] ɦɔm di apəl - Ons gee [vir] hom die appel
He gives it to John - ɦəi xiˑe dət fəɾ dʒɒn - Hy gee dit vir John
She gives it to him - səi xiˑe dət fəɾ ɦɔm - Sy gee dit vir hom
I must give it to him - ɛk mut dət fəɾ ɦɔm xiˑe - Ek moet dit vir hom gee
I want to give it to her - ɛk vəl dət fəɾ ɦɑːɾ xiˑe - Ek wil dit vir haar gee

Cheers from a sunny Kɑːpstat!
Theodor Kleynhans
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:19:11 AM UTC
Portuguese: (sorry, no time for phonectics right now)

The apple is red - ... - A maçã é vermelha.
It is John’s apple - ... - A mação é do João.
I give John the apple - ... - Eu dou a maçã para João.
We give him the apple - ... - Nós damos a maçã para João.
He gives it to John - ... - Ele dá a maçã para João.
She gives it to him - ... - Ela dá a maçã para João.
I must give it to him - ... - Eu tenho de dar a maçã para ele.
I want to give it to her - ... - Eu quero dar a maçã para ela.

Claudio
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:55:26 AM UTC
Malay (Malaysian)
- No translation of the word "the". "Epal ini" means "this apple", or can be "epal itu" -> "that apple".
- Doesn't distinguish between gender.

The apple is red - Epal ini merah
It is John’s apple - Ini epal John
I give John the apple - Saya berikan John epal ini
We give him the apple - Kami berikan dia epal ini
He gives it to John - Dia berikannya kepada John
She gives it to him - Dia berikannya kepada John
I must give it to him - Saya mesti berikannya kepada John
I want to give it to her - Saya mahu berikannya kepada John

BTW, your blog rocks Scott!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:01:08 PM UTC
Arabic version

The apple is red. - attuffaha(tu) hamra' - التفاحة حمراء
It is John’s apple. - Innaha tuffahatu John - إنها تفاحة جون
I give John the apple. - A'ataytu John attuffaha(ta) - أعطيت جون التفاحة
We give him the apple. - A'ataynahu attuffaha(ta) - أعطيناه التفاحة
He gives it to John. - Innahu yo'teha le John - إنه يعطيها لجون
She gives it to him. - Innaha to'teha le John - إنها تعطيها لجون
I must give it to him. - Yajeb an o'tehe eyyaha - يجب أن أعطيه إياها
I want to give it to her. - Yajeb an oteyaha eyyaha - يجب أن أعطيها إياها

Note: There is no gender-neutral pronouns in Arabic. It's either he or she and there is no (it). Hence all previous sentences are referring to the apple as a "She".
Eyad Salamin
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:03:36 PM UTC
Another Portuguese version (from Brazil):

The apple is red - A maçã é vermelha
It is John’s apple - É a maçã do João
I give John the apple - Eu dou a maçã para João
We give him the apple - Nós damos a maçã para ele
He gives it to John - Ele a dá para João
She gives it to him - Ela a dá para ele
I must give it to him - Eu devo dá-la para ele
I want to give it to her - Eu quero dá-la para ela
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:22:16 PM UTC
As an ex-classicist, I had a go in Latin, though it's a bit rusty, so may not be 100%. A couple of explanatory notes:

1. Word order usually depends on emphasis. So here, I just chose what looks nicest to me, usually putting the verb a t the end, but others may choose different orders.
2. Pronouns (I, he, she etc.) are optional in Latin since they are usually inferred from the context, though I've had to add them in some cases below.

The apple is red - pomum rutilus es
It is John’s apple - pomum Iohanni est (I think "Iohannus" is John!)
I give John the apple - Iohanno pomum do
We give him the apple - eo pomum damus. ("Eo" is to him, but I could have left it out as it is inferred from the context)
He gives it to John - Is Iohanno dat
She gives it to him - ea eo dat. (In theory this could simply be "dat" as "She" and "to him" would normally be inferred from preceding sentences)
I must give it to him - necesse est mihi eo dare. (This is where my Latin is a bit rusty - there may be a better way than saying "It is necessary for me to give it to him")
I want to give it to her - volo ut eae dare

I see someone's done Modern Greek above - maybe I'll have a go at Ancient Greek later!
Olli
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 12:56:12 PM UTC
Someone has already posted the Spanish translation, so I can only add that "Flush the toilet" in Spanish is "Tirar de la cadena"... which is a literal translation of the French way of saying it. Funny, ain't it?
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 1:16:37 PM UTC
Chinese:

The apple is red. -> na ping-guo shi lu se. -》 那苹果是录色。
It is John’s apple. -> na shi Yue-han de ping-guo. -》 那是约翰的苹果。
I give John the apple. -> Wo gei Yue-han ping-guo. -》 我给约翰苹果。
We give him the apple. -> Wo-men gei Yue-han ping-guo. -》 我门给约翰苹果。
He gives it to John. -> Ta gei Yue-han. -》 他给约翰。
She gives it to him. -> Ta gei ta. -》 她给他。
I must give it to him. -> Wo bi-xu gei ta. -》 我必需给他。
I want to give it to her. -> Wo xiang gei ta. -》 我想给她。

Chinese doesn't have "the" either. "na" (那) above is actually "that."
Also, I think more colloquial Chinese speakers often use a useful word, "ba," to identify the object of a sentence. This makes it much easier for people to understand a beginning speaker to, so:

I give John the apple -> Wo _BA_ ping-guo gei Yue-han. -> 我把苹果给约翰。
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 1:28:45 PM UTC
Lithuanian:

The apple is red - Obuolys (yra) raudonas
It is John’s apple - Jis (/Tai) (yra) Jono obuolys
I give John the apple - Aš duodu obuolį Jonui
We give him the apple - Mes duodame jam obuolį
He gives it to John - Jis duoda jį Jonui
She gives it to him - Ji duoda jį jam
I must give it to him - Aš turiu (/privalau) duoti jį jam
I want to give it to her - Aš noriu duoti jį jai
PT
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 1:49:16 PM UTC
Italian (natives feel free to correct me, it's been a while):
The apple is red - La mela è rossa
It is John's apple - È la mela di John
I give John the apple - Io dò la mela a John
We give him the apple - Noi diamo la mela a John
He gives it to John - Lui lo dà a John
She gives it to him - Lei lo dà a lui.
I must give it to him - Io devo darlo a lui
I want to give it to him - Vorrei darlo a lui
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 2:31:48 PM UTC
Canadian :)

The apple is red - eh
It is John’s apple - eh.
I give John the apple -eh.
We give him the apple -eh.
He gives it to John -eh.
She gives it to him -eh.
I must give it to him -eh.
I want to give it to her -eh.
Charles Nurse
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 2:45:06 PM UTC
Hi Scott,

Here are my 2 cents.
ENGLISH - HINDI - TELUGU (Both languages from India)
The apple is red - Yeh Sep Laal hai - eeee apple errra gaa undhi
It is John’s apple - Yeh John ka sep hai - eeee apple John dhi
I give John the apple - Main John ko sep de raha hun - nenu john ki apple istunna
We give him the apple - hum use sep de rahe hai - manam thanaki apple ichchamu
He gives it to John - Usne John ko sep dhiya - thanu john ki ichchadu
She gives it to him - Usne Usko dhiya - aame thanaki ichchindhi
I must give it to him - Mujhe usko dena hai - nenu thanaki ivvali
I want to give it to her - Main use dena chahta hun - naaku thanaki ivvali ani undhi

Literal translation into Hindhi and Telugu (The - Lu - Gu) - If you know Hyderabad (where Microsoft has Development Center, then its Telugu :D)
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 2:56:18 PM UTC
Thailand (Bangkok) version:

The apple is red - แอปเปิ้ลสีแดง
It is John's apple - มันเป็นแอปเปิ้ลของ John
I give John the apple - ฉันให้แอปเปิ้ลกับ John
We give him the apple - พวกเราให้แอปเปิ้ลเขา
He gives it to John - เขาให้มันแก่ John
She gives it to him - เธอให้มันแก่เขา
I must give it to him - ฉันจะต้องให้มันแก่เขา
I want to give it to him - ฉันต้องการให้มันแก่เขา

------------------------------------------------------------------------
Thailand (Chiang Mai) version:

The apple is red - แอปเปิ๋ลข๋องอ้าย John สี๋แดง
It is John's apple - มันเป็๋นแอปเปิ้ลข๋องอ้าย John
I give John the apple - เฮาฮื้อแอปเปิ้ลกับอ้าย John
We give him the apple - พวกเฮาฮื้อแอปเปิ้ลเข๋า
He gives it to John - เข๋าฮื้อมันแก่อ้าย John
She gives it to him - เธอฮื้อมันแก่เขา
I must give it to him - เฮาจะต้องฮื้อมันแก่เขา
I want to give it to him - เฮาต้องก๋านฮื้อมันแก่เขา

Confusion ??? :)

Utehn.s
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:00:31 PM UTC
Here's the Pig Latin Translation:

Ethay appleway isway edray.
Itway isway Ohnjay’say appleway.
Iway ivegay Ohnjay ethay appleway.
Eway ivegay imhay ethay appleway.
Ehay ivesgay itway otay Ohnjay.
Eshay ivesgay itway otay imhay.
Iway ustmay ivegay itway otay imhay.
Iway antway otay ivegay itway otay erhay.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:30:29 PM UTC
Asking how to say flush the toilet for many Asian languages wouldn't be useful since many don't use Western-style plumbing. I spent a year in China and I can tell you that the only places you found toilets were in hotels for foreigners.
Bill
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 3:34:54 PM UTC
Tagalog:

The apple is red. - Ang mansanas ay pula.
It is John’s apple. - Ito ay mansanas ni John.
I give John the apple. - Ibinigay ko kay John ang mansanas.
We give him the apple. - Ibinigay namin sa kanya ang mansanas.
He gives it to John. - Ibinigay niya ito kay John.
She gives it to him. - Ibinigay niya ito sa kanya.
I must give it to him. - Kailangan ko itong ibigay sa kanya.
I want to give it to her. - Gusto ko itong ibigay sa kanya.
jop
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 4:32:39 PM UTC
I've taught myself Japanese over the years; this is my take on it.

The apple is red. - ringo wa akai desu. - 林檎は赤いです。
It is John’s apple. - John no ringo desu. - Johnの林檎です。
I give John the apple. - (watashi wa) John ni ringo o agemasu. - (私は)Johnに林檎を上げます。
We give him the apple. - watashitachi wa kare ni ringo o agemasu. - 私達は彼に林檎を上げます。
He gives it to John. - kare wa John ni agemasu. - 彼はJohnに上げます。
She gives it to him. - kanojo wa kare ni agemasu. - 彼女は彼に上げます。
I must give it to him. - watashi wa kare ni ageneba naranai. - 私は彼に上げねばならない。
I want to give it to her. - watashi wa kanajo ni agetai. - 私は彼女に上げたい。
Vurlix
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 5:11:01 PM UTC
Since Brazilian Portuguese has already been posted, I'll let you know how to say "Flush The Toilet":

This is the infinitive form of the verb: "Dar Descarga". This translates litterally to "Give a discharge".

I flush the toilet - Eu dou descarga
You flush the toilet - Você dá descarga
We flush the toilet - Nós damos descarga
They flush the toilet - Eles (Elas) dão descarga
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 5:22:22 PM UTC
Portuguese from Portugal (pt_PT)

The apple is red - ... - A maçã é vermelha.
It is John’s apple - ... - É a maçã do João.
I give John the apple - ... - Eu dou a maçã ao João.
We give him the apple - ... - Nós damos a maçã ao João.
He gives it to John - ... - Ele dá a maçã ao João.
She gives it to him - ... - Ela dá a maçã ao João.
I must give it to him - ... - Eu tenho de lhe dar a maçã.
I want to give it to her - ... - Eu quero dar-lhe a maçã.

(assuming “it” is a apple, we do not have the indeterminate “it” )
luis
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 5:58:17 PM UTC
Estonian version

The apple is red - Õun on punane
It is John’s apple - See on Johni õun
I give John the apple - Ma annan Johnile õuna
We give him the apple -Me anname talle õuna (can not define gender in this sentence)
He gives it to John -Ta annab selle Johnile (can not define gender in this sentence)
She gives it to him - Ta annab selle talle (no difference in genders in estonian) so I have to say actually, Male gives it to female - Mees annab selle naisele - or Girl gives it to boy - Tüdruk annab selle poisile
I must give it to him - Ma pean selle talle andma (can not define if receiver is she or he)
I want to give it to her - Ma tahan seda talle anda (again, can not define if receiver is she or he)
Macintosh
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 6:04:25 PM UTC
Czech language translations:

The apple is red. - To jablko je červené.
It is John’s apple. - To je Johnovo jablko.
I give John the apple. - Dám Johnovi to jablko.
We give him the apple. - Dáme mu to jablko.
He gives it to John. - On ho dá Johnovi. (or also: Dá to Johnovi.)
She gives it to him. - Ona mu ho dá. (or also: Dá mu to.)
I must give it to him. - Musím mu ho dát.
I want to give it to her. - Chci jí ho dát.

David.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 7:31:19 PM UTC
In Australian...

The apple is red. - The apple is red mate
It is John’s apple. - It's Jono's apple mate
I give John the apple. - I give Jono the apple mate
We give him the apple. - We give the bloody apple
He gives it to John. - He gives it to Jono
She gives it to him. - She gives it to the b*stard
I must give it to him. - I must give it to the b*stard
I want to give it to her. - I want to give it the Sheila

b*stard is not necessarily offensive and can even be a term of endearment!
Luke
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 8:01:09 PM UTC
Chris:

as far as I know, 录色 is no color and lǜsè is green, but written 綠色.
紅色 hóngsè is red. (All tradditional chinese).
Kai
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:46:29 PM UTC
In Finnish:

The apple is red. - Omena on punainen.
It is John’s apple. - Se on Johnin omena.
I give John the apple. - (Minä) annan omenan Johnille.
We give him the apple. - (Me) annamme omenan Johnille.
He gives it to John. - Hän antaa omenan Johnille.
She gives it to him. - Hän antaa omenan hänelle.
I must give it to him. - Minun pitää antaa se hänelle.
I want to give it to her. - (Minä) haluan antaa sen hänelle.

Pronouns in parens can be used or left out.
OJL
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:55:42 PM UTC
The apple is red. - La manzana es roja.
It is John’s apple. - Esta es la manzana de Juan.
I give John the apple. - Yo le doy a Juan la manzana.
We give him the apple. - Nosotros le damos a él la manzana.
He gives it to John. - El se la dió a Juan.
She gives it to him. - Ella se lo dió a él.
I must give it to him. - Yo tengo que dárselo a él.
I want to give it to her. - Yo deseo dárselo a él.
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 9:56:02 PM UTC
It was in spanish!
Wednesday, February 20, 2008 11:04:21 PM UTC
A minor disagreement with the Norwegian version, last sentence:
Jeg ønsker å gi det til henne - means "I wish to..."

While, in my opinion, the correct "answer" would be:
Jeg vil gi det til henne

And "Flush the toilet":
Trekk ned / Trekk ned doen - Pull down?/Pull down the toilet
Trekk i snoren - Similar to the French version: Pull the cord
Thomas Eyde
Thursday, February 21, 2008 12:05:24 AM UTC
Thanks Kai. Ooops. I was thinking of green apples, which I prefer.
Thursday, February 21, 2008 12:08:56 AM UTC
Dutch. No pronounciation (if you can pronounce it properly, you're Dutch and the point is moot... hehe).

The apple is red - De appel is rood.
It is John’s apple - Het is John's appel.
I give John the apple. - Ik geef the appel aan John.
We give him the apple. - Wij geven de appel aan hem.
He gives it to John. - Hij geeft het aan John.
She gives it to him. - Zij geeft het aan hem.
I must give it to him. - Ik moet het aan hem geven.
I want to give it to her. - Ik wil het aan haar geven.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 12:30:50 AM UTC
...and of course right after posting I see that the Dutch version is tucked away up there already.

Bleh. At least we agree.
Thursday, February 21, 2008 1:12:36 AM UTC
As far as I know, there is no Arabic version for "Flush the toilet" but I know the Libyan version of it (The Libyan slang is an Arabic language with some other local accents) and it is "Shed el sifoon" and I know the Egyptian version which is more or less similar to the Libyan version "Shed el sifoon yaad"
For the eight sentences in local Arabic accents you could come up with 23-40 different ones. But the one above for the standard Arabic language is a good translation.

I do like the Canadian and Australian versions. Can some one come up with the English and Scotch versions!!!! I bet they would funny as well :-)

Ali Hmer
Thursday, February 21, 2008 2:47:22 AM UTC
Wow. What a great way to learn a language! I need to learn Thai, so I guess I need to meet someone to translate these sentences for me!
Thursday, February 21, 2008 5:39:19 AM UTC
Hi,Scott.
This stuff is funny.
And in the comment list,I saw a comment writed by Chris Bilson.Good job,Chris Bilson.But in Chris Bilson's comment,there are something wrong.In other word,in China,when we talk to others, we don't say that sentances like Chris Bilson mentioned.As a Chinese,in my opinion,when we use Mandarin Chinese,We just say:
The apple is red - zhe ge ping guo shi hong se de. ->这个苹果是红色的。 or - yi ge hong se de ping guo. ->一个红色的苹果。
It is John’s apple - zhe shi YueHan de ping guo. ->这是约翰的苹果。 or - ping guo shi YueHan de . - >苹果是约翰的。
I give John the apple. - wo ba na ge ping guo gei le YueHan->我把那个苹果给了约翰。
We give him the apple. - wo men gei le ta yi ge ping guo. -> 我们给了他一个苹果. or - zhe ge ping guo wo men gei ta le. ->这个苹果我们给他了。
He gives it to John. - ta ba ta gei le YueHan. -> 他把它给了约翰。
She gives it to him. - ta ba ta gei ta. -> 她把它给了他。
I must give it to him. - wo bi xu ba ta gei ta. -> 我必须把它给他。
I want to give it to her. - wo da suan ba ta gei ta. -> 我打算把它给她。
DonLiang
Thursday, February 21, 2008 11:15:36 AM UTC
Turkish:

I tried to write the simplest forms, however these sentences sound stupid, much more than any other translation ;)
Square bracket, means it is optional, and by optional, I mean really unnecessary.

The apple is red. - .. - [o] Elma kırmızı[dır]
(o stands for the, dır stands for is)
It is John’s apple. - [o] John'un elması[dır]
(o stands for it here)
I give John the apple. - ... - [ben] John'a elmayı veririm
(last m is I. Literally, this implies I always give, but sound like there is a condition. A tense indicating a particular time is necessary here)
We give him the apple. - ... - [biz] John'a elmayı veririz
(can you spot the difference ?)
He gives it to John. - ... - [O] [onu] John'a verir
(first O is he and onu is it here, additionally, unlike I and We, this might not imply always, much more like story telling)
She gives it to him. - ... - [O] [o'nu] O'na verir
(no gender differences, O is seperated in written Turkish, since it stands for a person.
I must give it to him. - ... - [onu] O'na vermeliyim
(meli states the obligation)
I want to give it to her. - ... - [onu] O'na vermek isterim
(Here, meaningfully, the implied always is so unbearable that, it means a completely different thing. One would expect, an obstacle to do so, to follow. Again a tense is desperately needed)

Phonetics ? Don't make me started :)

I would like to see a correlation between spoken languages and programming languages. Turkish is pretty much like C++, I guess. It is very powerful but at the same time very hard to use its powers. This makes Japanese, C#. This subject makes me wanna resume blogging, I was looking for a non-technical subject. BTW, English would definitely be a scripting language.

Thursday, February 21, 2008 11:36:37 AM UTC
Sinhalese version :

The apple is red. Apple gediya rathu paatai
It is John’s apple. Eka John ge Apple gediya
I give John the apple. Mama John ta Apple gediya denawa
We give him the apple. Api Ohuta Apple gediya denawa
He gives it to John. Ohu eka John ta denawa
She gives it to him. Aya eka John ta denawa
I must give it to him. Mama eka John ta denna ona
I want to give it to her. Mata eka John ta denna ona
Sandu
Thursday, February 21, 2008 2:28:30 PM UTC
In Hindi (one of the Indian major languages):

The apple is red - yeh seb laal hai - यह सेब लाल है
It is John's apple - yeh seb John ka hai - यह सेब John का है
I give John the apple - main yeh seb John ko deta hun - मैं यह सेब John को देता हूँ
We give him the apple - hum yeh seb usko dete hain - हम यह सेब उसको देते हैं
He gives it to John - wo John ko yeh deta hai - वो John को यह देता है
She gives it to him - wo usko yeh deti hai - वो उसको यह देती है
I must give it to him - mujhe jaruran usko yeh dena hai - मुझे जरुरन उसको यह देना है
I want to give it to her - main usko yeh dena chahta hun - मैं उसको यह देना चाहता हूँ

Of course, even in Hindi, this can be said in multiple ways. Hindi text, courtesy of Orkut Scrapbook functionality which lets us transliterate English to Hindi. Based on looking at the preview, I can see that the hindi is not being rendered properly here. Here's a link to what i typed: http://blog.gadodia.net/english-hindi.jpg

Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:11:47 PM UTC
Serbian:

The apple is red - Jabuka je crvena / Јабука је црвена.
It is John’s apple - To je Džonova jabuka / То је Џонова јабука.
I give John the apple. - Dajem jabuku Džonu / Дајем јабуку Џону.
We give him the apple. - Dajemo mu jabuku / Дајемо му јабуку.
He gives it to John. - On je daje Džonu / Он је даје Џону.
She gives it to him. - Ona mu je daje / Она му је даје.
I must give it to him. - Ja moram da mu je dam / Ја морам да му је дам.
I want to give it to her. - Ja želim da joj je dam / Ја желим да јој је дам.

Flush the toilet. - Pusti vodu / Пусти воду. (Literally: Let the water go)

(a = 'a' in car)
(u = short 'oo')
(o = 'o' in blog)
(e = 'e' in pet)
(i = 'i' in pit)
(j = 'y' in you)
(r = trilling 'r', kinda Spanish 'r')
(Dž = 'J' in John)
(ž = 's' in pleasure)

Complete guide for Serbian pronunciation is at
Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:15:18 PM UTC
Serbian (cont...)

Complete guide for Serbian pronunciation is at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Serbian_language
Srđan
Thursday, February 21, 2008 10:27:02 PM UTC
What a great idea!

Marathi

The apple is red - suffer-chunda laal aa-hey
It is John's apple - tay John-tsa suffer-chunda aahey
I give John the apple - mee John-la suffer-chunda day-toe/day-tay (1)
We give him the apple - aam-hee/aa-pun tyaala suffer-chunda day-toe (2)
He gives it to John - toe tay John-la day-toe
She gives it to him - tee tay tyaalaa day-tay
I must give it to him - mee tyaalaa tay dilla pai-jay ("I gave it to him, is wanted.")
I must give it to him - mee tyaalaa tay day-tsutz ("I am to give it to him, with emphasis.")
I want to give it to her - mull-a till-a tay day-tsa aa-hey

(1) day-toe is first person masculine singular, while day-tay is first person feminine singular.

(2) aam-hee excludes the person you are talking to from "we". aa-pun includes the person you are talking to in "we". This is a unique feature of Marathi I believe.
Friday, February 22, 2008 12:27:04 AM UTC
Really nice idea. Icelandic is already done ... but Vaibhav, your devanagari renders just fine in my browser (Firefox 3 Beta 3 on Vista) and matches the image you linked to exactly, albeit with a far less pretty font.
Friday, February 22, 2008 6:04:14 AM UTC
I am thrilled you folks think this is as cool as I do. Keep them coming! Any Africans care to share?
Friday, February 22, 2008 6:28:25 AM UTC
In Bahasa Indonesia

The apple is red. - Apel itu merah.
It is John’s apple. - Ini apel milik John
I give John the apple. - Saya yang memberikan apel tersebut kepada John
We give him the apple. - Kami berikan apel itu kepadanya
He gives it to John. - Dia berikan ke John
She gives it to him. - Dia berikan kepadanya
I must give it to him. - Saya harus berikan kepadanya
I want to give it to her. - Saya ingin berikan kepadanya
Cicak
Friday, February 22, 2008 7:29:58 AM UTC

"Gikuyu" one of major kenyan Languages
The apple is red. - Itunda ni itune.
It is John’s apple. - Ni ria Johana
I give John the apple. - Ni ndahe Johana itunda
He gives it to John. - Ni aheire Johana
She gives it to him. - Muititu niamuheire
I must give it to him. - No nginya ndimuhe
I want to give it to her. - Ni ndirenda kuhe muiritu
Ciruni
Friday, February 22, 2008 7:55:05 AM UTC
In Romanian language (Română):

The apple is red. - Mărul e roşu.
It is John’s apple. - E mărul lui John.
I give John the apple. - Îi dau mărul lui John.
We give him the apple. - Îi dăm mărul,
He gives it to John. - I l-a dat lui John.
She gives it to him. - Ea i l-a dat lui.
I must give it to him. - Trebuie să i-l dau lui.
I want to give it to her. - Vreau să i-l dau ei.

In romanian the words are read almost like they are written, except a few special cases:
- Î, î, Â, â are all pronunced the same -
- ş (sh) is pronunced /ʃ/, the voiceless postalveolar fricative (like sh in shoe).
- Ă, ă is A-breve - the mid-central unrounded vowel

Tudor
Friday, February 22, 2008 9:23:30 AM UTC
Just have to include a bork version:

Zee epple-a is red.
It is Juhn’s epple-a.
I geefe-a Juhn zee epple-a.
Ve-a geefe-a heem zee epple-a.
He-a geefes it tu Juhn.
She-a geefes it tu heem.
I moost geefe-a it tu heem.
I vunt tu geefe-a it tu her.
Geir-Tore Lindsve
Friday, February 22, 2008 2:34:03 PM UTC
LOLCATZ :)

The apple is red. - teh appel iz red, Srsly.
It is John’s apple. - iz John's appel.
I give John the apple. - ai givez John teh appel.
We give him the apple. - we givez him teh appel.
He gives it to John. - him givez teh John.
She gives it to him. - her givez him.
I must give it to him. - ai muzt givez him.
I want to give it to her. - ai wantz givez her srsly.
Friday, February 22, 2008 5:01:06 PM UTC
spanish versions:

For "I must give it to him", instead of "(Yo) Debo dársela (a él)"
I would use "(Yo) tengo que dársela (a él)" or "(Yo) necesito dársela (a él)".
This is because "debo" traslates to english "should" and not "must".

Also, "flush the toilet" in caribbean spanish (at least puerto rico and dominican republic)
is "bajar el inodoro", which translates literally to "lower the toilet", as in, making the water go down. we never pull the chain.
Lucas
Friday, February 22, 2008 5:46:28 PM UTC
In YORUBA (a Nigerian Language)

The apple is red. - Osan yen pon
It is John's apple. - John lo ni osan na
I give John the apple. - Mo fun John ni osan
We give him the apple. - Gbogbo wa fun ni osan
He gives it to John. - Arakunrin mu fun John
She gives it to him. - Arabirin mu fun John
I must give it to him. - Mo gbodo mu fun arakunrin yen
I want to give it to her. - Mo fe mu fun arabirin yen

I don't know what "apple" is in Yoruba (there probably isn't such a fruit), so I used the word for the ORANGE fruit instead.
Mama Adesuwa
Friday, February 22, 2008 9:06:16 PM UTC
Slovenian.

If I assume /we/ means /two/ of us:

The apple is red. - Jabolko je rdeče.
It is John's apple. - To je Janezovo jabolko.
I give John the apple. - Jabolko dam Janezu.
We give him the apple. - Dava mu jabolko.
He gives it to John. - Dal ga je Janezu.
She gives it to him. - Dala mu ga je.
I must give it to him. - Moram mu ga dati.
I want to give it to her. - Želim ji ga dati.

If I assume /we/ means /three or more of/ of us, there's a diffrence:

We give him the apple. - Damo mu jabolko.

LP,
Dejan
Dejan Stanič
Saturday, February 23, 2008 12:08:22 AM UTC
Yoda Speak:

Red, the apple is.
John's apple, it is. Hmmmmmm.
I give john the apple. Herh herh herh.
We give him the apple. Hmmmmmm.
He gives it to John.
She gives it to him.
Give it to him, I must. Yeesssssss.
Give it to her, I want to.
Yang
Saturday, February 23, 2008 3:22:36 AM UTC
Latvian, with IPA.

The apple is red. >> Ābols ir sarkans. >> 'aːbuols ir 'sarkans.
It is John’s apple. >> Tas ir Džona ābols. >> tas ir 'dʒona 'aːbuols.
I give John the apple. >> Es dodu Džonam ābolu. >> es 'duodu 'dʒonam 'aːbuolu.
We give him the apple. >>Mēs dodam Džonam ābolu. >> meːs 'duodam 'dʒonam 'aːbuolu.
He gives it to John. >> Viņš to dod Džonam. >> viɲʃ tuo duod 'dʒonam.
She gives it to him. >> Viņa to dod viņam. >> 'viɲa tuo duod 'viɲam.
I must give it to him. >> Man ir viņam tas jāiedod. >> man ir 'viɲam tas 'jaː.ieduod.
I want to give it to her. >> Es viņai gribu to dot. >> es 'viɲai 'gribu tuo duot.
Jānis Lībeks
Saturday, February 23, 2008 6:06:37 PM UTC
Here's a corrected norwegian version:

Eplet er rødt.
Det er Johns eple.
Jeg gir John eplet.
Vi gir ham eplet.
Han gir det til John.
Hun gir det til ham.
Jeg må gi det til ham.
Jeg vil gi det til henne.
Øystein Johnsen
Sunday, February 24, 2008 6:58:04 PM UTC
@Brian Sullivan:
correct, except that "mela" is feminine, therefore:

He gives it to John - Lui LA dà a John.
She gives it to him - Lei LA dà a lui (a native speaker would most likely use the contracted version "Lei gliela dà").
I must give it to him - Io devo darlA a lui.
I want to give it to him - Vorrei darlA a lui.
Monday, February 25, 2008 2:19:43 AM UTC
This is the best I've tried. FYI, I copied the Thai transcription from the Utehn.s' post.

English - Thai - Pronunciation

The apple is red - แอปเปิ้ลสีแดง - apple see dang
It is John's apple - มันเป็นแอปเปิ้ลของ John - mun pen apple khong john
I give John the apple - ฉันให้แอปเปิ้ลกับ John - Chun hai apple kub John
We give him the apple - พวกเราให้แอปเปิ้ลเขา - Puak rao hai apple khoa
He gives it to John - เขาให้มันแก่ John - khoa hai mun kae John
She gives it to him - เธอให้มันแก่เขา - Ter hai mun kae khoa
I must give it to him - ฉันจะต้องให้มันแก่เขา - Chun ja tong hai mun kae khoa
I want to give it to him - ฉันต้องการให้มันแก่เขา - Chun tong kann hai mun kae khoa

Wednesday, February 27, 2008 1:18:41 AM UTC

Here's the Amharic (from Ethiopia) version

The apple is red - Pomu Qey new
It is John's apple - Ye Yohanes Pom new
I give John the apple - le Yohanes Pomun setehut
We give him the apple - Pomun setenew
He gives it to John - Le Yohanes setew
She gives it to him - Lersu setechew
I must give it to him - Lersu mestet alebign
I want to give it to him - Lersu mestet efelegalehu
Dawit
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 1:21:25 AM UTC
Here's the Tigrigna (from Ethiopia) version

The apple is red - Pomu Qeyh eyu
It is John's apple - Nay Yohanes Pom eyu
I give John the apple - Ne Yohanes eti Pom hibeyo
We give him the apple - Eti Pom hibnayo
He gives it to John - Ne Yohanes habo
She gives it to him - Neuu hibato
I must give it to him - Neuu kehebo aleni
I want to give it to him - Neuu kehebo edeliy eye
Dawit
Wednesday, February 27, 2008 6:07:45 AM UTC
aha, aussie, lolcatz and even yodaspeak. hawesome :>
heres the urdu version (Pakistani official language). its very close to hindi, if not the same.

The apple is red - seb laal hai (no translation for 'the', can say THIS by adding 'yeh' at front)
It is John's apple - John ka seb hai (again, translating 'it' is hard, cause we'd normally use this [yeh] or that [wo])
I give John the apple - main seb John ko deta hun
We give him the apple - hum seb usko dete hain
He gives it to John - wo John ko deta hai
She gives it to him - wo usko deti hai
I must give it to him - mujhe oosko dena zaroori hai
I want to give it to her - main usko dena chahta hun

once again, i ignored translating "it" and "the" as afaik, it isnt used. We say this apple is red, or that apple is red. this/that is john's apple. i give john this/that apple etc

and, as an aside, I loved your list of useful tools <3! changed the way i use my computer
Shakir Ahmad
Friday, February 29, 2008 10:50:24 AM UTC
Hi, here is the hungarian version, sorry, no pronunciation:

The apple is red. - Az alma piros.
It is John’s apple. - Ez János almája.
I give John the apple. - Jánosnak adom az almát.
We give him the apple. - Neki adjuk az almát.
He gives it to John. - Jánosnak adja.
She gives it to him. - Neki adja.
I must give it to him. - Neki kell adnom.
I want to give it to her. - Neki akarom adni.
Lam
Friday, February 29, 2008 8:34:05 PM UTC
In Shona (Zimbabwe):

The apple is red. - Apple iri idzvuku.
It is John’s apple. - Apple nderaJohn.
I give John the apple. - Ndinopa apple kunaJohn.
We give him the apple. - Tinopa apple kunaJohn.
He gives it to John. - Murume aripa kunaJohn.
She gives it to him - mukadzi anoripa kumurume.
I must give it to him. - Ndinofanira kumupa.
I want to give it to her. - Ndinoda kuripa mukadzi.
Lorraine (hi Mollar!)
Monday, March 10, 2008 4:19:07 PM UTC
Telugu Version (India(State:Andhra Pradesh))

The apple is red. - Apple erra ga undi.
It is John’s apple. - Idi john gaadi apple.
I give John the apple. - Nenu apple john ki istanu.
We give him the apple. - Manam vaadiki apple iddam.
He gives it to John. - Vaadu adi John ki istadu.
She gives it to him. - Aame adi John ki istundi (Gender changes from Vaadu to Aame (male to female) and istadu to istundi (male to female again)).
I must give it to him. - Nenu vaadiki ivvali.
I want to give it to her. - Nenu daaniki iddam anukuntunna.
Pavan Kondepudi
Saturday, March 15, 2008 1:48:03 PM UTC
Esperanto version =)

The apple is red. - La pomo estas ruĝa
It is John’s apple. - Ĝi estas John pomo
I give John the apple. - Mi alportas John la pomo
We give him the apple. - Ni alportas lin la pomon.
He gives it to John. - Li alportas ĝin John.
She gives it to him. - Ŝi alportas ĝin lin.
I must give it to him.- Mi dev alporti ĝin lin.
I want to give it to him.- Mi volas alporti ĝin lin.

Michael S.
Saturday, April 12, 2008 4:27:11 PM UTC
And this one is "alemannisch", a dialect spoken in the south-west of Germany (which is called Baden), in Alsace (east of France) and in the "german-speaking" part of Switzerland). So actually a very international language :-)

D´ Äpfel isch rot.
S´ isch Johns Äpfel.
Ich gib´ John de Äpfel.
Mir genn ihm de Äpfel.
Er git ´n John.
Sie git ´n ihm.
Ich muess ´n ihm gä.
Ich wott`n ihm gä.

Christian

More at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alemannisch
Friday, April 18, 2008 4:34:34 PM UTC
If you take this sentence, I must give it to him: "Я должен дать это ему" and search for its exact match in Google, you will find this web page, and only this web page.

This doesn't mean its wrong, or that you would be misunderstood....(this test is not foolproof, but their are milliions of pages of Russian dialogue on the internet)....but I suggest it hints as to why Tim's whole thesis is a bit of a lark.

Russians just wouldn't even use these pronouns to build a sentence, although they will happily demonstrate their knowledge of English by making a literal translation.

Tim's post does one thing though, if you are an English speaker, who wants to learn another language, don't have any particular reason for learning one, and want to quickly find one that closely matches up with english, this will make that clear...also just saying: learn Spansih...would accomplish the same thing.

But, if like me, you had a particular reason to learn a language...learning spanish wouldn't help since my mother in law, speaks Russian.

I think one must...must be conversationally fluent, then you can go back and make Tim's style of analysis, if you want...but he's got it backwards.
Friday, April 18, 2008 4:53:06 PM UTC
p.s. I don't want to sound elitist, and I know it may sound that way, but....I want to clarify, I've been learning Russian for 4 years. I don't live in Russia, but I do chat on the internet.

I know, if I said:

She gives it to him - Ona dala eto emu - Она дала это ему.

The response would be:

Что ето? - Shto eto? - What it?

To which I would be thinking, DO YOU NOT EVEN FOLLOW THE CONVERSATION FROM ONE SENTENCE TO ANOTHER???

But, because I don't want to get frustrated like that, I would form a sentence, either repeating the word 'Apple'...of if I must use a pronoun like this:

She to him gave it to see. Ona emu dala eto smotret - Она ему дала это смотреть.

In English we speak to the air. In Russian you speak to people.

For example in a chat room:

English, "How its going?" Russian "To everyone, hows it going?"

In english, we give something for no reason.
In Russian, you had a reason, state it.

I'm a learner and some native can argue with me)) But don't..the fact is, these are the types of things I've had to learn in order to be understood better on my path to fluency, and it does make me better understood.

Maybe someday in the future I'll be good enough to see more parallels with English, but in the beginning its better to understand its different, and you need to go with more basic Russian.
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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.