This is How We Express Our Love in Uncommon Languages

This is How to Love in a Few of Our Favorite Uncommon Languages

No matter the language, country, or culture, one of the most universal and powerful phrases you can say to express feelings to another person is also one of the most basic: “I love you.” It’s what lovers say after a romantic evening, what siblings say to each other despite the unavoidable bickering, what friends say to one another, what people say to their pets and what they hope their pets think back to them.


Je t’aime, te amo, ich liebe dich…


In some cultures, I love you has a much stronger, more specific, or direct connotation than what we typically think in American culture. Men in more traditional places might refrain from using the phrase to avoid the appearance of excessive emotion. It might also be that there is no uniform approach to saying “I love you”; it could come off as expressing attraction or just a friendly, intimate gesture.


Whatever your reason for wanting to say it, what should you do if you’re in a foreign country, speaking with a non-native English speaker, or just want the phrase to have deeper meaning with a foreigner?



If you’re taking a trip to visit a friend or find your true love in this delightful Balkan nation, try to forget any of the stereotypes you may have picked up beforehand. Bulgarian men are said to be rigid and emotionless and Bulgarian women the opposite. But whether you’re thanking your dear friend for housing you or pouring out your soul, “Обичам те” is the thing to say (pronounced like “Obicham te”).


Bonus points: If you use “Ти значиш толкова много за мен” (Ti znachish tolkova mnogo za men). This translates to, “You mean so much to me.”




After spending time enjoying the luscious Croatian beaches on the Adriatic Sea with your significant other, take a sip of rakija, look deep in their eyes, and say, “Volim te”. Croats have a reputation of being romantic, so fingers crossed you hear “I ja tebe” right back.


Bonus points: Croats often use diminutives with cute animals as nicknames for their lovers. Call him lavu (little lion) or her a zečiću (little bunny), but try and refrain from doing so to anyone you aren’t romantically affiliated with.




What better place to tell your partner you love them than Georgia, the birthplace of wine. Order a pitcher of the house wine, don’t let any juice from your khinkali dribble down your chin, and profess your feelings, saying “მე შენ მიყვარხარ” (sounds like “meh shen mik-varkhar”).


Bonus points: It may be cheesy, and it may never be useful in conversation, but if you manage to tell your Georgian lover “ჩემი გული სიყვარულმა აალაპარაკ” (chemi guli sik`varulma aalaparaka), they’ll be so impressed they forget that it means “My heart speaks the language of love.”




If you find yourself spending time with your lovely Nigerian significant other tucked away in some romantic corner of Lagos, what you might want to say is, “A Hụrụ M Gị N’anya”.


Bonus points: If you really want to strum their heartstrings, “Ihunanya m bu nke gi mgbe nile” would be quite the poetic way to do so (My love is yours forever).




Indian men might have a reputation – whether true or not – of not being very expressive when it comes to relationships and romantic feelings. If you’re seeing an Indian man, it might be for the best not to expect showers of mushy words and lovey-dovey phrases, but you’ll know what he does and how he acts how he feels towards you. However, if the chance does come up, the Kannada people in the western and southwestern provinces of Goa and Karnataka say, “ನಾನು ನಿನ್ನನ್ನು ಪ್ರೀತಿಸುತ್ತೇನೆ” (Nānu ninnannu prītisuttēne).




Down in the warm heart of southern Africa, while touring Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia, or Zimbabwe, you might find yourself falling for more than just the lush nature, expansive beaches, and delectable cuisine. The right phrase can make all the difference under the romantic African stars, which, in this case, would be “ndimakukondani”


Bonus points: The brazen or courageous among you might go out on a limb and say “ndimakonda nkhope yako yokongola”, which means “I love your beautiful face”. No promises on how well that will go over.



No matter the language, even if you won’t remember these phrases, finding the right things to say and do will make all the difference in the world. And for those times where you need to translate your love for your sweetheart, Ata Translation Agency is here to help. We work with a network of over 10,000 translators to provide top-quality services in more than 300 languages. Send us your documents now for a free quote.

About the Author:

Daniel is based out of Chicago and works as a writer, editor, and translator.

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