Fun with Foreign Languages

My children like to cheer for the Yankees. The two major cheers of choice are “Let’s Go Yankees” and “Red Sox Stink.” And recently, my son Sullivan has asked how to say those phrases in other languages.

I’ve been able to help him out with Spanish — “Vamanos Yankees” and “Calcetines Rojas Huelen” (translating “Sox” as “socks”). However, he routinely asks me how to say these phrases in other languages — Russian, Chinese, French, German, and so on . . . pretty much every language he’s ever heard of, and he’s heard of a lot. I can’t really help him out there — sure, I can look things up on Altavista translation, but I don’t know how accurate that is (computer translation is notoriously goofy), and even if it’s accurate, I really know how to pronounce the phrases that come up.

This is where you all come in.

We’ve got a lot of readers who know foreign languages around here. So, if you happen to know how to say either or both of these phrases in another language (or languages), and aren’t ethically conflicted out of providing a translation (see Kristine Haglund Harris), I would appreciate it if you posted the translation. I would also appreciate it (since the target audience is a seven-year-old) if you could give pronunciation tips or guide, if pronunciation isn’t self-evident (which it probably won’t be). E.g., Calcetines Rojas Huelen = “Cal-say-tee-nez roe-haws well-en.”

Thanks for your assistance!

50 comments for “Fun with Foreign Languages

  1. February 25, 2005 at 12:37 pm

    Here are some more useful ones-

    Biblical Hebrew- Nelchah, Yankees! (nail chah, that’s a gutteral -ch, like “Loch”, not like “cheese”)
    Aramaic – Ne’zalah, Yankees. (nay za la and all the a’s sound like “papa”)

    Babylonian- i nillik (ee nill ick)
    Assyrian – lu nillik (loo nill ick)

    Now you can really rile up all those Babylonian-speaking Sox fans…

  2. Stew
    February 25, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    Japanese – “Yankees Ikimashoo!” (pronounced eekeymawshow)
    “Red Sox dame da yo!” (pronounced damayda yo)

    These are basic – I could teach you some more epithets, but I’ll leave it at that right now. This is fine for the kids.

  3. Nate Oman
    February 25, 2005 at 12:44 pm

    Kaimi: Does Child Protective Services Know that you are raising your children to be Yankees fans? Frankly I find it more than a little disturbing. I think that a better thing to teach your children would be:

    Yae-gee-suh pa-ee-da! (Korea. Translation: “Yankees suck!”)

  4. February 25, 2005 at 12:51 pm

    Amen Nate.

    Though a better verb, in Spanish, than oler (to smell), is lleder (to reek, though I don’t know if it’s in any dictionaries as I think it’s slang). Los Yankees lleden!

  5. john fowles
    February 25, 2005 at 12:56 pm

    Do you want a literal translation or what people in those languages would actually say in those situations? Idiomatic expressions are rarely direct translations. Rather other cultures have their own completely unique way to express the same “idea.” For example the phrase “it’s all Greek to me” is expressed in German as “das sind für mich böhmische Dörfer,” which, translated literally has nothing to do with Greek at all: “to me they are all bohemian villages.” If you tried to translate “it’s all Greek to me” from the English literally so that a German understood your point, it would sound like, well, Greek to the German.

    So I can’t really bring myself to give you a direct translation but need to figure out how the languages I am familiar with express the idiom in their own terms (meaning the same thing, of course). I’m pretty sure that Germans would understand what you meant if you said, “Die Red Sox stinken!” because they also use “to stink” in this sense, but I am not sure if that is what Germans say at a soccer match to bait the other team.

  6. Mark B.
    February 25, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    The problem with teaching scatology to children is that they may not understand when its use is inappropriate. For example, shortly after the Yankees lose four straight to the Red Sox, in an unprecendented nosedive in the post-season, is not an appropriate time to go around chanting “Red Sox stink.” It reflects badly on the children and their teachers. (In fact, that would be true even if the Yankees had just done the same to the Red Sox.)

  7. Korean guy
    February 25, 2005 at 1:28 pm

    Nate translates : Yae-gee-suh pa-ee-da! (Korea. Translation: “Yankees suck!”)

    His translation is done with a Korean dialect used in Kyung Sang Do (south eastern Korea) He must have served his mission in that area.
    I did too, but I am from Seoul.

    I will translate with standard Korean used in Seoul area.

    Let’s go YanKees! –> Yang Kiss, Jaal Hae Ra!
    Red Sox suck! –> Led Saaks Hyung Pyun Up Da!

  8. Bryce I
    February 25, 2005 at 1:30 pm

    I erased the comment I was going to make, but since Mark B. brings it up, I’ll mention that I’m with A-Rod — Yankees fans should shut up and take their medicine for a while.

    It’s tough being a Yankees and Blue Devils fan, I tell ya.

  9. Brian
    February 25, 2005 at 1:42 pm

    Of course, a literal translation of “Let’s go Yankees” in Korean would be “Yankees, Kap Shi Da!” (literally, “Yankees, let’s depart together!”). We had fun in our mission using literally translated English slang terms. For example, Bart Simpson’s popular phrase “Eat my shorts!” translates to “Ne Pan Paji Mok Uh La!” — literally, “I command you to eat my short pants!” Some of the Korean missionaries even started saying it, just because it sounded so goofy.

  10. john fowles
    February 25, 2005 at 1:45 pm

    Brian, good point. That’s pretty much what I meant in # 5.

  11. February 25, 2005 at 1:49 pm

    Bryce, I don’t want to hear about “it’s tough being a Yankee’s fan” Oh, you poor thing, you haven’t had a championship in a few years. Sob, sob, sob. Trust me, it’s MUCH tougher being a Mariners (my reason for hating the Yankees) and Seahawks fan. Ugh…

    Kaimi, you also know the Guatemalan term “suck the witch” in Spanish, though I’m not sure if it fit’s in this situation.

  12. February 25, 2005 at 1:51 pm

    …unless you meant that sarcastically, in which case… yes, it must be tough.

  13. Kaimi
    February 25, 2005 at 1:57 pm

    Speaking of Yankees – Red Sox, a story just out today is that someone bought one-day naming rights for the Fleet Center in Boston, and is planning to call it the Jeter Center.

  14. Kaimi
    February 25, 2005 at 2:11 pm

    Thanks for the pointers, guys. I’ll pass them on to an eager seven-year-old.

    Yeah, I know, it’s bad form to say “Red Sox stink” immediately after they win the World Series. But that hasn’t seemed to sink in for Sullivan. I’m a lukewarm Yankees fan myself, if at all, but Sullivan doesn’t do anything halfway, and he’s decided that he’s a Yankees fan. Specifically, he’s an A-Rod fan. (His brother decided to be a Jeter fan). It’s cute, and it’s a lot of fun watching a baseball game with two excited little boys.

  15. February 25, 2005 at 2:15 pm

    Let’s Go Mets!!

    Allez les Mets!

    A bas les Yankees! Qu’ils brulent en enfer!

  16. February 25, 2005 at 2:36 pm

    Beat (albeit creatively) by another francophone.

  17. annegb
    February 25, 2005 at 2:44 pm

    Ya lubloo tebya. I love you in Russian. I can also say, “I have a big yellow dog” and “it came to pass that” pretty fluently.

    I can also cuss in Spanish if that helps.

  18. Jim Richins
    February 25, 2005 at 3:31 pm

    The Japanese translation from Stew for “Let go, Yankees” is literal, as in

    “[come on] Yankees, let’s go [somewhere]”

    although most Japanese are familiar enough with American culture to be able to correctly understand.

    I would suggest a more appropriate translation might be:

    “Ganbatte, Yankees” (or “Ya-n-kee-su”, if you want to go completely native”).

    Ganbatte (“Ga-n-bah-tay”) is a very common expression for encouragement, meaning literally “stand firm” or “hang in there”. An alternative conjugation might be “Ganbaroo!” (“Ga-n-bah-row”), the imperative form, which conveys a greater sense of urgency (like, if the Yankees were down by 3 with 2 outs in the 9th inning).

    A traditional Japanese baseball (“bay-su-bo-ru”) fan would never say anything disparaging about an opposing team – to do so would be impolite.

  19. Ivan Wolfe
    February 25, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    Let’s see. In Lao (although this does not indicate the tones:

    Phuak haw bai, Yankees!

    as for the red sox – man amd I rusty. Where’s that Lao dictionary?

  20. Wilfried
    February 25, 2005 at 3:59 pm

    Eamus Ianques! Rubei socci puterunt!

    I couldn’t resist. Correction welcome.

  21. Bryce I
    February 25, 2005 at 4:28 pm

    Jim Richins —

    Wouldn’t the imperative be ganbare?

  22. Bryce I
    February 25, 2005 at 4:30 pm


    Not sarcastic — I’m a Yankees fan, and a Duke Blue Devils fan. It’s not easy to like a team that’s otherwise universally despised.

    I guess the only consolation is that my teams win a lot.

  23. Mark B.
    February 25, 2005 at 4:51 pm

    Of course, Bryce, you could awake from your deep sleep and see the light.

    You’re right on the Japanese. Ganbare is the lowest command form, used in military commands and toward animals and other lowlifes. Completely appropriate when addressed to those pinstriped boys from the Bronx.

    Ganbaroo is a familiar form of Ganbarimashoo — “Let’s go” (or, in the Japanese mind: “Let’s all prevail together through suffering, or, if we don’t prevail, at least let’s suffer together”).

  24. February 25, 2005 at 5:05 pm

    A direct translation into Russian would be:

    Red Sox Stink!
    Черние Носки отвратительные! (chYOR-nee-yeh nos-KEE aht-vraht-EET-el-nee-ye) — means more literally, “Red Sox are repulsive/loathsome/disgusting!” but is a lot more true to form than saying that they smell.

    Let’s Go Yankees!
    Пойдем Енкис! (pah-eed-YOM Yankees!) — literally, “Let’s go, Yankees!” as in, “Let’s go somewhere together!” There’s got to be a better way to say it, and I’m sure someone else might know one, but that’s what I’d say if I were a Russian rooting for them — and I think it’s what they say generally. Someone correct me if I’m wrong. Russian verbs that mean “to go” are notoriously obnoxious and difficult to endure.

    Not, one might say, unlike certain residents of the greater Boston area who root for the Sox. One might say. Not that I ever would…

  25. February 25, 2005 at 5:16 pm

    I can do Romanian for the first one (and it’s the idiom):

    Haide Yankees! (Hi – day Yaenkeez!).

    It has the advantage of being fun and easy to say and has that nice two-syllable, two-syllable rhythm that sports fans love.

  26. February 25, 2005 at 5:24 pm

    Arabic could be Yallah Yankees. Add in a few more yallahs for good measure. (yah-lah)

  27. Jim Richins
    February 25, 2005 at 5:28 pm

    Mark and Bryce… I stand corrected.

  28. February 25, 2005 at 6:12 pm

    I forgot to mention that Haide means “Let’s go!” or “Come on!”

    If you want to get really pumped up, substitue Yankees for Steaua (the name of one of Romania’s club teams) in the chant below:


    And those who know the world of football will apreciate this one:

    “Haide, haide, haide Rapid,
    Joaca, ca Real Madrid ” [Joace = to play, ca = like] and Rapid is the name of another football club]

  29. Mark B.
    February 25, 2005 at 6:35 pm

    Speaking of Real Madrid, what’s with Dave Checketts et al. calling that new soccer team in SLC “Real Salt Lake”. Who’s their king? Or did they mean “Really Salty Lake”? as opposed to Utah Lake, which isn’t real salty at all?

  30. Chad Too
    February 25, 2005 at 6:50 pm

    My experience in working with Japanese sports is that they tend to use the ganbaroo form with athletic cheering… sort of an “we’re all in this together” vibe.

    And I’m with Jim on the Japanese not razzing the opponents. I can’t think of a single phrase that could be the equivalent of “Red Sox stink.” Not that Ichiro Suzuki couldn’t probably come up with one…

  31. annegb
    February 25, 2005 at 7:37 pm

    Arwyn! Do you speak Russian well? I took a year in high school and a year in college. I tried reading the Book of Mormon in Russian, but I only got through 1st Nephi, that took a year. Hence, knowing, “it came to pass that” down pat.

    I needed help. Obviously. Did you go on a mission to Russia? I loved the language, but I’m sure my tenses and plurals sort of totally sucked.

    I have a book of cuss words in Russian, Italian, French, Spanish, and one other language which escapes me now. But I already knew the Spanish because my grandfather taught me. He thought it was funny to hear a little kid say cuss words, he’d been raised by a Mexican woman. I got the book so I could cuss fluently if I ever went to Europe. (You’d have to know me.)

    In case you want to cuss at the Yankees.

  32. swamp witch
    February 25, 2005 at 8:46 pm

    Bulgarian: Haide, Yankees! (Hi-day)
    Italian: Dai, andiamo Yankees! (die, an-dee-amo)
    Slovene: Greste, Yankees! (gre-stay)
    German: Gehen wir, Yankees! ( but that’s too literal).
    I even pulled out my old Wheelock and tried it in Latin: Ite, Yankees!

  33. a random John
    February 25, 2005 at 10:07 pm

    An update on the Fleet Center/Jeter Center story. Jeter was determined to be an “offensive word”, in fact, the only word that would be more offensive would be “A-Rod”. A Boston lawyer and friend of the NY lawyer put up even more money and together they gave $9,000 to rename the Fleet Center as the Jimmy Fund Center on March 1.

    Oh I almost forgot… Screw the Yankees.

  34. Julien
    February 26, 2005 at 3:46 am

    OK, in German you’d rather say, “Los geht’s, Yankees” (alternatively “Auf geht’s”, or just “Los”, and “Red Sox raus!”, and in French – as someone said before – “Allez les Yankees” and “A bas les Red Sox”, or “Les Red Sox puent” – pronounced “püh”, that works…

  35. Sheri Lynn
    February 26, 2005 at 4:50 am

    “Oohay areskay errway ahay allbay ohsgay?”

    no, nevermind, don’t pass that on…..

  36. February 26, 2005 at 5:03 am


    I speak Russian — whether I speak it well or not is entirely debatable. :) I’m a Russian studies major, and spent 6 months studying in St. Petersburg a few years ago. But you got further with the BoM than I ever did — I think I madeit through chapter 6 of First Nephi before realizing that I’d need to know a lot more Russian to even begin to understand it. Hmm. Maybe it’s time to pick it up again!

  37. annegb
    February 26, 2005 at 10:26 am

    Wo, you only made it to the sixth chapter? It took me a year, but yeah, I did it. It got easier when I stopped looking up every word in the Russian-English dictionary. I called the MTC and the guy there told me how to do it. It went a lot faster then. But yeah, I got, “and it came to pass that I, Nephi” down pat. I can say that in my sleep.

  38. Gabo
    February 26, 2005 at 1:37 pm


    You should probably teach your boy to say ‘Vamos Yankees’, as Vamonos (sic) has a different meaning, akin to ‘let’s leave’. Calcetines Rojos rather than Calcetines Rojas too.
    A good term would be Calcetines Rojos Apestan—something like Red Sox stink or Red Sox suck.

  39. February 26, 2005 at 5:46 pm

    I figure I ought to tackle it again sometime….I’ve just never had the self-discipline to keep at it when I get so much more out of the BoM in English. Because BoM Russian isn’t much at all like literary or colloquial Russian, too, it’s not so much of a help for the language. So the only time I read it was while I was in Russia — at church, for example. The utilitarian in me says I might as well wait until I plan to go back to attack it again. Meanwhile, Tolstoy and Pushkin keep me busy. :)

  40. Pink Floyd
    February 26, 2005 at 10:54 pm

    Red Sox k’pekt

    Klingon. You don’t want to know the literal translation…

  41. February 27, 2005 at 12:58 am

    The easiest way for me to read the Book of Mormon in Russian was to:

    — find a quote I really like in English
    — find that same chapter and verse in the Russian version
    — write it down a few times
    — rinse, repeat.

    After about 200 verses you get to the point where you know the majority of the words used, and can read the rest with some ease. I also found somewhere online a list of all the LDS religious words translated into Russian, which helped somewhat. I use the Russian verses as bookmarks in my English scriptures. And the Russian Articles of Faith, just for fun.

    As for a real challenge, try the Bible. It doesn’t match up with the KJV at all — the Psalms are even arranged into (slightly) different chapters, starting around Psalm 87. Drove me nuts; I suppose it matches up with whatever version the English-speaking Eastern Orthodox types use.

    I’m not sure that the “Go Yankees!” translation is correct, but it might be — I can’t find my Russian textbook anywhere (and even if I could, I don’t know that it has a chapter on sports.) My textbook, ironically, was written in part by a BYU professor — it’s the only foreign language textbook I’ve ever seen that tells you how to explain that you don’t *want* to drink alcohol at a party.

  42. anglus
    February 27, 2005 at 2:24 am

    The teams are called “los Yanquis” and “los Medias Rojas” in Spanish. “Media” is pretty much synonymous with “calcetín”, although it can also mean “stocking”, as in “medias de red”. And, since Rusty brought it up, ¡los Medias Rojas chupan la bruja! ¡Que ganen los Gringos!—los Yanquis, pues.

  43. VeritasLiberat
    February 27, 2005 at 3:29 am

    Hi to the Russian speakers!
    I’m not a native speaker of Russian either, but I did attend one or two sporting events in Moscow during my year abroad.
    So I’d say: “Slava Yanki” (Glory to the Yankees)
    “Red-Soks — chugun!” (literally, the Red Sox are pig-iron)

  44. February 27, 2005 at 8:17 am


    That would have been a wonderful textbook to have before I went abroad. The hours I spent in my broken Russian (I went as a sophomore, and could hardly tell people my name back then!) trying to explain that, no, thanks, I didn’t want any, no, really, it’s okay, no, none at all, no, I can’t, mne nelzya, why? because of my strange American religion, yeah, no, tea wouldn’t be any better, yes, please, thank you, orange juice would be just wonderful.

    And thanks for the advice on how to read it. I read the BoM in French when I was in high school in a very similar manner. Truth told? I just haven’t had the courage or desire to really tackle in in Russian. But when I do, I’ll keep that in mind!


    I never actually got to attend an event. I did ask a friend from Petersburg (native speaker) how you would say it, but she said she didn’t care about sports at all. Hmm. Poor soul. I do like “Slava Yankees!” (for some reason, they seem to like to keep the ‘s’ on the end of plurals; I suspect they would do that in this case?) better than what I came up with. And I agree with the sentiment about the Red Sox wholeheartedly. ;)

  45. annegb
    February 27, 2005 at 10:19 am

    I don’t like to read the Russian novels in English. I suppose I would feel the same way if I read them in Russian, because it’s the punctuation that annoys me. All those exclamation marks are distracting.

    That’s a good approach to reading the Book of Mormon in Russian. I was hoping some terms would become more familiar to me. And they did. Just a few.

  46. VeritasLiberat
    February 27, 2005 at 3:49 pm

    “(for some reason, they seem to like to keep the ’s’ on the end of plurals; I suspect they would do that in this case?)”

    I looked it up both ways on APORT.RU: some sites had “Yanki” (used as a plural, I guess) but many more did indeed have “Yankis” as you suggested. Thanks.

  47. VeritasLiberat
    February 27, 2005 at 4:00 pm

    Hey, Sarah, which textbook did you use?

    “it’s the only foreign language textbook I’ve ever seen that tells you how to explain that you don’t *want* to drink alcohol at a party.”

    I wasn’t LDS back then, but I didn’t drink much for other reasons (interfered with my meds). I heard that the most convincing excuse for not drinking in Russia is to say that you have an ulcer. Usually, though, it wasn’t a problem, although I went as a 23-year-old grad student and mostly hung out with adults rather than undergrads.

  48. VeritasLiberat
    February 27, 2005 at 4:01 pm

    edit: “since” rather than “although”

  49. February 28, 2005 at 1:31 am

    I’m pretty sure these are right in Polish (idiomatic):

    to cheer on a team:
    “do boju _____” doh boy-ooh
    (literally, ‘to the battle!’)

    to say a team stinks:
    “_____ cuchna” (and the a has a tail, like a cedilla) tsoo[h*]-n[a**] (*the “ch” in Polish is like in German Buch, a really hissing h, and **the a is nasalized like in French son, say an “o” but make it go through your nose)
    (literally, ‘stink’ but I think it’s okay because it’s used in this sense in Harry Potter and that’s a pretty good translation)

    and if you want to translate Red Sox literally:
    “czerwone skarpetki” chair-voh-ne scar-pet-key (the “e” at the end of “czerwone” is short like in English “bet” and the r’s are tongue flaps) (by the way, this is the diminutive of socks, appropriate if you’re making fun of them)

  50. Aaron E
    February 28, 2005 at 3:43 am

    Another Japanese option:

    retsu go yankizu, faito!

    or in old BOM-style Japanese:


    A favorite Japan website:

    My house:

Comments are closed.