VERY IMPORTANT LINGUISTICS POST About Petting Dogs
Over on Twitter, I started a Very Important Linguistics thread about how to ask to pet someone’s dog in other languages.
I took several years of French in high school, and yet when I went to a French book fest/convention last year, I lacked this vital knowledge!
Here are the results so far, sorted by language. Pronunciation is included where provided. I can’t vouch that these are 100% accurate, and for most languages there are multiple ways of asking. Hopefully these should at least be good enough to get your point across so you can get on to the more important task of petting the dog.
Feel free to add additional languages or refinements in the comments, and I’ll update as things come in. I’m particularly interested in feedback/suggestions from native speakers. Pronunciation guidelines and assistance are also welcome.
Thanks to everyone who contributed!
ممكن ألمس كلبك؟ (Moomkin almas kalbek?)
يمكنني أن داعب كلبك؟ (“Yumkinuni an da’aeb kelbik?” Or “kelbak” if asking a man.)
Chinese – Simplified
Må jeg gerne klappe din hund?
Informal: Mag ik je hond aaien?
Formal: Mag ik Uw hond aaien?
Pwede ko ba siyang hawakan?
Saanko silittää koiraasi? And to thank if the answer is yes, Kiitos.
Puis-je caresser votre chien? (Or “votre chiot” if it’s a puppy)
Alternate version: “Pardon?” *Indicate dog.* “Je peux?” *mime petting* “Il-est gentille?”
Darf ich bitte deinen hund streicheln?
Beißt er? (“Does he bite?”)
Pwede ko siya matandog?
Posso per favore coccolare il tuo cane?
Posso accarrezzare il suo cane?
Inu o sawate mo ii desu ka? (Vowels follow the same phonetics as Spanish.)
Inu wo nadete yoroshii desu ka?
(개를) 쓰다듬어도 될까요?
(The (개를) part means dog, but since that part would be obvious from context you don’t actually need to say it.)
Licetne mihi, quaeso, canem tuum mulcere?
Czy mogę pogłaskać pana/pani pieska? (Che (very short e sound) moga po-gwa-ska-ch pani (female)/panna (male) pye-ska?)
To say thank you: Dziękuję bardzo. (dyjen-koo-yuh.)
Posso fazer carinho no seu cachorro?
Tinno mbodo yidi tuche rawandumaa.
Могу ли я погладить вашу собаку, пожалуйста? (Mogu li ya pogladeet vashu sobaku, pahzhaloosta?)
Можно погладить вашу собаку? (Mozhno pogladit’ vashu sobaku?)
Tha mi airson do chù a’ shlìobadh? (Ha me air-son doh hyu ah shleeohpehk?)
Am faod mi an cù agaibh a sliobadh?
¿Puedo acariciar al perrito?
Får jag klappa din hund? And “Tack,” if the answer is yes.
July 3, 2018 @ 2:26 pm
For a transliteration of the Korean, I’ve got “ne gaeleul tolbwa sulka”. Since not everyone can read Hangeul.
July 3, 2018 @ 3:34 pm
Ah, I consulted a native speaker
“Tha mi airson do chù a’ shlìobadh”
Ha me air-son doh hyu ah shleeohpehk (roughly)
July 3, 2018 @ 3:56 pm
For “Inu o sawate mo ii?” is good, but it’s lacking in politeness – I’d add “desu ka” at the end, which makes it a standard level of polite that is acceptable at large – “Inu o sawate mo ii desu ka?” (the ‘u’ in desu often falls off and isn’t heard much when spoken)
July 3, 2018 @ 5:50 pm
Alternate italian version: “posso accarrezzare il suo cane”
Jim C. Hines
July 3, 2018 @ 7:51 pm
Thanks, all! Updates added.
July 3, 2018 @ 9:59 pm
Much more useful than the old “the pen of my uncle’s gardener is in the basket of my aunt” sort of foreign phrasebook!
I would attempt to provide the Tok Pisin (“inap mi…?”) but generally speaking, you shouldn’t try to pet a PNG dog. They will assume you are going to give them a clip around the ear and either dodge away or bite you.
July 4, 2018 @ 6:48 am
In Finnish/Suomi the emphasis is always on the first syllable of each word, so the pronunciation would be:
Saanko silittää koiraasi?
SAAHN-ko SIL-it-tää KOY-raah-si?
Kiitos (thank you) / Kiiti (thanks)
KII-tos / KII-ti
ä is pronounced at the front of the mouth, as in ‘cat’.
a is pronounced at the back of the mouth, as in ‘car’.
When there are doubled consonants (tt in silittää) each is pronounced distinct from the other, when there are there are doubled vowels (ää, aa, ii etc) the sound is dragged out a little longer.
July 4, 2018 @ 2:48 pm
Comment on the German:
“Kann ich deinen Hund streicheln bitte?”
would be better as:
“Kann ich bitte deinen Hund streicheln?”
“Kann ich deinen Hund streicheln? Bitte?”
But that last one sounds very pleading, almost desperate.
July 4, 2018 @ 3:02 pm
Wouldn’t the German be “Darf ich…” (May I) rather than “Kann ich…” (Am I able to…)?
Jim C. Hines
July 4, 2018 @ 3:03 pm
@Markus – Tweaking that now, thank you.
July 5, 2018 @ 10:13 am
“Kan jeg få klappe hunden din?” isn’t Danish. Maybe Swedish?
July 5, 2018 @ 12:25 pm
A small correction to Carpe Librarium’s contribution:
Kiitos (one t) is correct, but Kiitti needs a second t before the syllable boundary. KIIT-ti.
Also, the most helpful comparison to double consonants (tt in silittää) I’ve found is that they are pronounced as at a word boundary in English. Compare the difference between “geT Told” and “get old”.
July 5, 2018 @ 1:21 pm
I agree with Lise. Danish option three is the best (more polite).
July 6, 2018 @ 4:03 am
Methinks it would also be good to get the translations for yes and no in each language, so you can understand the basic part of the answers…
and putting in “thank you” for your reaction seems useful as well.
I only know a few:
Yes = Ja
No = Nee
He/she (doesn’t) bite = Hij/zij bijt (niet)
Please = Alsjeblieft
Thank you = Dank je / Dank u (informal / formal)
Yes = Ja
No = Nein
Please = Bitte
Thank you = Danke
Yes = Oui [We]
No = Non
Please = S’il vous plait [seelvuplay]
Thank you = Merci
July 6, 2018 @ 8:19 am
Good idea; Scots Gaelic
seadh = yes (pronounced ‘shuhg’)
tha = yes (‘ha’)
Chan = no (kind of a cough-‘ahn’)
Tapadh leat = thank you (‘tapa laht’)
mòran taing! = thank you (‘mow-ran tayng’
July 6, 2018 @ 11:32 pm
I am reminded that Pippi Longstocking yells at someone who hasn’t said thank you, “Even the clock says ‘tack’!”
July 14, 2018 @ 4:29 am
Il est gentil ? (don’t pronounce the ‘l’)
Elle est gentille ?
… if you know if it’s a good boy or a good girl of course 🙂
Otherwise, use ‘il’.
July 15, 2018 @ 3:53 pm
One more for your collection. Brazilian Portuguese: Posso fazer carinho no seu cachorro? (Not sure if someone from Portugal would phrase it the same way!)