Whether you call it the dunny or the porcelain throne, having access to the local facilities can be a matter of life or mess. This can lead to particularly hairy situations in foreign countries that don’t understand your frantic jibber-jabber. With that in mind, here are the phrases to flash up on your phone when nature calls.
Going to the loo is not something to be taken for granted, especially when travelling to a foreign country where you don’t know the local lingo. Fortunately, language learning app Babbel has created an international toilet guide to help travellers navigate their way to bathrooms across the globe.
Here’s how to ask where the toilet is in ten different languages. (Note: You’re probably better off showing the phrase rather than totally butchering the pronunciation.)
- Spanish: ¿Dónde están los baños?
- German: Wo finde ich die Toiletten?
- French: Où sont les toilettes ?
- Italian: Dove è il bagno?
- Portuguese: Onde é o banheiro?
- Russian: Где здесь туалет? (gde zdes’ tualet?)
- Swedish: Var är toaletten?
- Indonesian: Di mana kamar kecil?
- Mandarin Chinese: 哪里有洗手间 (nǎlǐ yǒu xǐshǒujiān?)
- Arabic: أين الحمّام؟ (ayn al-ḥammām?)
It might sound a bit silly, but this is highly essential travel knowledge. Without which, you could be left playing a very awkward game of charades. The English language might seem universal, but even between linguistically similar contexts, we see disparities; Aussies might call their toilet “the dunny”, whilst some Americans refer to it as “The John”.
In Europe, the contrast is all the more evident, where asking for the “toilet” probably won’t get you far. Just check out how you say ‘loo’ in the following languages:
- Spanish: baño
- Italian: gabinetto
- Russian: туалет (tualet)
- Portuguese: banheiro
- Turkish: tuvalet
Seemingly, there is much confusion to be had if you go into your European vacay unprepared. So before jetting off, ensure you’re well-prepared so that you won’t be caught in a sticky situation.
Steph Koyfman is a bilingual blogger and astrologer who writes for Babbel Magazine.