A Staff Report from the Straight Dope Science Advisory Board

Do other languages call Earth "Earth"?

December 16, 1999

Dear Straight Dope:

Do non-English speaking countries call the Earth "Earth"?

SDStaff Jillgat replies:

Of course not, you knucklehead. This is the great thing about having your own language. You get to have your own word for everything! Except there may not be an Ibo name for "video cassette recorder" or a Navajo word for "electrolysis," in which case the English term may be used. But earth, now … most terrestrial cultures have a pretty good handle on this concept. I looked up the word "earth" on a website translator Babelfish, and granted, it's possible that in some cases the real meaning of the word they gave me could be "dirt," but I don't speak Swahili, so I can't be sure. Here's some of what I found, searching on "earth":

Afrikaans: aarde

Danish: verden

Finnish: maa

French: mondiale

German: Erde

Indonesian: dunia

Japanese: tsuchi, yochi, chi, a-su, daichi, koudo

Russian: çåìë

Swahili: kiwanja

Swedish: mull

Get the picture? So, when somebody asks YOU this question, you can tartly respond, "What on kiwanja?" and feel every bit as superior as I'm feeling now.

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