Asia is reviewed as a mixture of cultures and unlike the western countries which has a few variety of languages used, Asian countries have distinct language differences even when they are neighbors to each other. While traveling to Singapore the first day, then country hopping to Cambodia, you might be traversing a path which can easily confuse you since Asians may seem to speak alien languages which all sound the same but are in fact different.
Differentiating it may be hard. I know saying this in an Asian perspective can be a little biased. Honestly, despite being Asian, I also have the same dilemma at first when I was still immersed with myself and my mother tongue which is the only language I know, aside from English that is. Aside from what seems to be the same faces, squinty eyes and short stature, Asians have a way of conversing only we can understand. For westerners, it may look all the same. For us, we stand out in our own right.
Westhill Consulting may be able to help you distinguish the different language flavors of Asia. Here is the list of basic languages you can use when you are traveling Asia:
The largest spoken language in the world with more than 1,000,000,000 speakers, Chinese language is composed of 13 individual languages. Mandarin, Fukien and Cantonese are mostly spoken in the People’s Republic of China, Republic of China (Taiwan), Singapore and other parts of South East Asia.
Hello – Ni Hao (nee-haw)
Thank you – xièxie (shi-she)
Sorry – duìbùqǐ (du-wa-pu-shi)
Japanese also tops the rank of the world’s most spoken language taking the 9th place. Kanji is an adopted derivation of Chinese characters which is mostly used alongside katakana and hiragana.
Hello – Konichiwa
Thank you – Arigatou Gozaimasu
Sorry – Gomen nasai
Excuse me – sumimasen
Malay-Indonesian is mostly used in Indonesia and Malaysia. Although Javanese has been quite popular with 800,000,000 speakers, Malay-Indonesian is mostly used all over the two countries so it would be more advantageous to learn this instead of Javanese.
You can deal businesses in Jakarta and still use this in Sumatra during vacation when you need to.
Hello – Apa kabar?
Thank you – Terima kasih banyak
Sorry – Maafkan saya
Hindustani is the primary language of India’s crowded population, and it encompasses a huge number of dialects (of which the most commonly spoken is Hindi). The widespread of English language is a serious warning to Hindis that the language may soon be obsolete.
Hello – Namaste
Thank you – dhanyavād (da-ni-v æd)
Sorry – kṣama kījiye (kæ-sa-ma kæ-ji-ya)
Korean language, Hangul is mostly confused with mandarin characters and Nihongo. Han-ja is also a derivative of Chinese characters which was used before Hangul was created in the Joseon dynasty.
Hello – annyeonghasaeyo
Thank you – kamsahamnida
Sorry – Jwesong hamnida