COFFEE IN ALL THE LANGUAGES OF THE WORLD
Caffè in Italian, coffee in English, café in French and Spanish, kaffee in German. They all sound a lot alike. And guess what? Coffee sounds pretty similar in practically every language in the world!
From Finland to China, from Greece to Iceland, from Japan to Turkey, Russia and South Africa, we all use similar words for the beverage. Don’t believe it? Just take a look:
Hmong: Kas fes
Even the Klingon language in Star Trek has a similar word for coffee: /qa’vIn/.
But why? There is a very good reason for this: all these similar words for coffee, in different languages in countries located far apart, come from a single ancient word.
This is most likely the Arabic word qahwa, meaning “stimulant”, used around the year 1000 by Arabic merchants to describe the beverage extracted from coffee beans which they imported from their trips to Africa. The same word is now Arabic for coffee.
Some, however, believe that the common root that gave rise to the word for coffee in all the world’s languages comes from Caffa, the name of the peninsula in what is now Ethiopia where the coffee plant grew wild in huge quantities.
Who knows? In any case, wherever in the world you may travel, you can be confident that if you say something that sounds like “coffee”, anybody will understand that you want to order your favourite beverage. It may be easy to get across the idea that you want coffee; but as for explaining HOW you want your coffee – well, that’s a little tougher!