Hugh Sexey Church of England Middle School
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Merry Multi-Lingual Christmas


Watch this video to see 50 different ways to say 'Merry Christmas'...

...stop when you get to the advert at the end - or just when you've had enough! 

How To Say "MERRY CHRISTMAS!" in 50 Different Languages


Looking at Christmas greetings in different languages helps to show how languages evolve across different countries and over time... and why English shares so many words with other languages!




Take the English Christmas word 'Nativity', which comes from mediaeval French (which the Normans spoke) and Latin (which the Romans spoke), and is to do with 'birth' (i.e. Jesus' birth). 


Using Google Translate (I know we don't normally suggest this, but for this it is useful!), find out how to say 'Merry Christmas' in these Latin-related languages, and look at / listen to how similar they are to our word 'nativity':


Spanish = 

Italian = 

Portuguese = 

Catalan = 

French = 

Corsican =  


Bonus question - who would you find in a 'neo-natal' ward in hospital?



These three are also quite similar to 'Nativity', except that the word for 'Christmas' comes first. And we had to mention the Celts!


Welsh = 

Irish = 

Scots Gaelic = 





Now take the English word 'Yule' or 'Yuletide'. This is an old-fashioned word for Christmas, which came from Old English (spoken by the Anglo-Saxons) and Old Norse (spoken by the Vikings), and probably the name of a Pagan winter festival long before Christianity even came to Britain.


Find out how to say 'Merry Christmas' in each of these Scandinavian languages, and look at / listen to how similar they are to our word 'Yule'

(NB they all pronounce J like Y)


Norwegian = 

Swedish = 

Finnish = 

Danish = 

Icelandic = 


4) Write all the greetings on this map of Europe (below), OR just look up where the countries are on a map.

TASK 3: 

Look up 'Merry Christmas' in these languages, which use different alphabets to ours (or open the document below.)

Choose one or more to copy out - it takes some concentration!


- Greek

- Russian

- Chinese

- Georgian

- Tamil (South Asia)


Remember that to speakers of these languages, our alphabet looks as strange to them as theirs do to us! 


TASK 4: 

Teach yourself to say 'Merry Christmas' in another language - you can choose which!

Joyeux Noël!

To record your greeting...

1) Choose a language and find out how to say 'Merry Christmas'.

2) Listen to the pronunciation lots of times, to be sure you know how to say it correctly.

You might want to write down how the words sound to help you.

3) Make a sign to hold up, with the phrase written on it in the language you have chosen.

4) Ask someone to video you saying it while holding up your sign.

5) Share your video with your teacher..


Good luck! 



Make a Christmas card in another language to give to someone else.



If you are interested, watch this video to find out a bit more about where English came from... and beyond!

Where did English come from? - Claire Bowern

When we talk about 'English', we often think of it as a single language....