Being in a foreign place can sometimes create a sense of unease. Grasping a taste of the culture, the language, or the people, ahead of time, can cause the uneasiness to subside. Speaking another language can be quite impressive, however, it is also a way into the heart of the people with whom you interact from this "foreign" place. Knowing how to say simple phrases such as "goodnight" in different languages can be the beginning of a new relationship.
English is part of the Indo-European language family, so to say Good Night within the language family will feel similar. For example, German “Guten Nacht” or Dutch “Goede Nacht” are similar to Good Night because English is derived from Germanic languages. Language is always evolving, which is why listening to old shows from the early 20th century can sound out-dated.
To say "goodnight " in German is "guten nacht." The first word, "guten" (which means "good"), is pronounced like this--gooten. The next word is "nacht" (which means "night"); the "t" is silent, it sounds like "knock," and this is where it sounds like you have peanut butter in the back of your throat because the last "k" gives a soft, yet clearly articulated sound. “Gute Nacht” is a similar, more formal phrase.
“Goede nacht” is how to say goodnight in Dutch.
Depending on the situation you are in, there are two ways you can say "goodnight" in French. Use "Bonsoir," which sounds like "boh-swahr," only if you are departing company with someone. Use "Bonne nuit," which sounds like "bohn nwee," if you and your company will be going to sleep soon.
Japanese words are generally spoken as they appear. Use "Oyasuminasai," which sounds like "oh-yah-soo-mee nah-sigh."
If you are parting company, or heading to bed for the evening, say “Spokojnoj Nochi,” which sounds like "spah-kohy-nuhy noh-chee." This phrase may be used both formally and informally. You may also use “Poka,” a phrase used in very informal settings. It sounds like “pah-kah” and means "bye" or "see you later."
There are two ways to say “goodnight” in Hebrew. “Lilah Tov” is most commonly used; it is pronounced "lye-lah tohv" and the “h” is silent. You may also use “Chalomot Paz,” wishing someone "golden dreams" and it sounds like "cha-loh-moht pahz."
At sundown on Friday the Jewish Sabbath begins and continues until nightfall Saturday night. During this entire time, the appropriate phrase to use is “Shabbat Shalom,” it sounds like "shah-baht shah-lohm" and means “have a peaceful Sabbath.” Once the Sabbath ends you may resume use of the appropriate phrases for “Good Night.”
Use "Dobranoc,” to say “goodnight” in Polish. It sounds like "doe brah nots." There is a slight drag and emphasis on the "brah" and the "s" has a quick, soft hissing sound.
“Buona notte” (buo‧na‧nòt‧te) means GoodNight in Italian. Sometimes this is shortened to “‘notte.” Alternatively, sleep well in Italian is “Dormi bene”
Use “Buenas Noches” to say good night in Spanish
Use “Boa noite” to say good night in Portuguese. Pronounce “Boa noite” as ‘bowa noychay’
In Latin, Bonum Nocte was used to say goodnight. Notice the similarity to Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese above.
Use “selamat malam” to say good night after sunset. It translates as “safe night.”
- At sundown on Friday the Jewish Sabbath begins and continues until nightfall Saturday night. During this entire time, the appropriate phrase to use is “Shabbat Shalom,” it sounds like "shah-baht shah-lohm" and means “have a peaceful Sabbath.” Once the Sabbath ends you may resume use of the appropriate phrases for “Good Night.”
LaTasha Favors has been writing professionally since 2008. She specializes in travel- and health-related topics and has published articles on various websites, including Search-costa-rica.com and MyFrenchRealEstate.com.