About “The Welcome Song”

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Number of Languages in the Song

The simple answer is 50, although the total really depends on what counts as a language. The 50 incontestable ones break down as follows:

  • 45 are extant spoken languages
  • 4 are extinct languages (ancient Egyptian, Ancient Greek, Latin, and Old Norse as spoken by the Vikings)
  • 1 is signed (American sign language)
  • 1 is an artificial language (Esperanto)

Additonally, the equivalent of 'Welcome!' in the language game, Pig Latin, is included, though this is scarecly a language.

Given that 'Welkom' means 'Welcome' in Dutch, Frisian, and Afrikaans, one could argue that the total should be increased by two. Similarly, both Czech and Slovak have the same word for 'Welcome', as do Serbian, Montenegran, Croatian, and Bosnian. We could continue down this path for many other languages in the song (the Indonesian phrase 'selamat datang' is the same in the language Malay, etc), so the total number of languages in the song could be argued to be well over one hundred.

Non-Guinness Record:

Just in case you wondered, a song containing 51 languages is a far cry from a world record!

I submitted this song to Guinness, after Bryony Growdon (see Credits) suggested it, on the off-chance that it might have been a record, and this was their response:

Thank you for sending us the details of your recent record attempt for 'Song with the most languages in its lyric'. We are afraid to say that we are unable to accept this as a Guinness World Record.

This record category was previously monitored by Guinness World Records, however it has subsequently been rested owing to the impossibility of standardising what constitutes both a language and the use of a language in the context of songwriting. As such, we are no longer interested in listing a record for this activity. For your information, the record prior to this category being rested is 277, achieved by Sai 'Psychuck' Manapragada (India) and the crowd at the Festival of India in Fremont, California, USA, on 15 August 2010.

Languages in the Song:

# Language Spoken in Native Script Transliteration (Latin alphabet) Approx Pronunciation IPA
1) English United Kingdom welcome welcome /'wεɫ•kʰəm/
2) German Germany willkommen vill-komm-en /vɪl•kʰɔmː•ə̟n/
3) French France bienvenue byan-ven-oo /bjε̃•və•nʉː/

Notes on the French:

Note the final vowel in /bjε̃•və•nʉː/. A Parisian pronunciation would be /bjε̃•və•nyː/ with the characteristically French /y/ at the end, but for the purposes of euphony in this song, please render the final vowel as /ʉ/ as in English. This will then rhyme with the word 'you' in the previous line. Singular (and feminine) is standard, as it is a ellipsis of "(Je vous souhaite/Nous vous souhaitons la) bienvenue" see: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=622040

4) Romanian Romania bun venit boon ven-eet //
5) Korean North Korea 어서 오세요 oso oseyo oh-so-say-yo /o:.'so:.sei.'(j)o:/

Notes on the Korean:

This literally means something mroe like "Welcome, please come in!", while 환영합니다 (hwangyong-hamnida) would have been more appropriate here as a translation of 'Welcome!' in this context, the temptation to marry 'oh-so-say-yo' with 'or so they say' in the lyric was irresistible! This poetic licence seems justified given the phrase "Be our guest and take a seat" that occurred a couple of lines earlier... We were already talking about 'inviting people in', so the Korean meaning is very similar!

7) Indonesian Indonesia selamat datang sla-mat da-tang //

Notes on the Indonesian:

Imagine the first 'e' isn't there. The 'a' is like 'u' in 'hut'

8) Spanish Spain bienvenidos byen-ben-ee-dhos //
9) Japanese Japan ようこそ yōkoso yoke-uh-so //

Notes on the Japanese:

The kanji is "歓迎"

10) Vietnamese Vietnam chào mừng chow mung /ʨɐ̤ːw˨˩ mɨ̤ŋ˨˩/

Notes on the Vietnamese:

The vowel in 'mừng' is pronounced almost like the 'u' in 'put'

11) Ancient Greek Greece Χαίρετε chairete ka-ee-re-te /kai•re•te/
12) Swahili Tanzania karibu ka-ree-boo //
13) Hebrew Israel ברוכים הבאים brukhim ha-baim broo-kheem a-baa-yeem /bɹʉ'xi:m aba'ji:m/
14) Cantonese Hong Kong 歡迎 fùnyìhng fun-yeng //

Notes on the Cantonese:

The 'u' vowel is like the 'u' in English 'put'; the 'i' is pronounced just like the 'e' in English 'bed'

15) Portuguese Portugal bem-vindos bay-n-veen-doosh //
16) Russian Russia добро пожаловать dobro požalovat’ dubb-roh pa-zha-la-vat /dVb.'ro p~/
17) Turkish Turkey hoş geldin hosh gel-dinn //
18) Mandarin China 欢迎光临 huānyíng guānglín hwan-ying gwang-linn //
19) Albanian Albania mirë se vjen mere-uh seh vyen //
20) Arabic Egypt أهلاً وسهلاً ahlan wa sahlan a-hh-len wa sa-hh-len //
21) Apache Arizona yaa’ ta sai’ ya ta sigh //

Notes on the Apache:


22) Czech Czech Republic vítáme vás vee-ta-may vass /vi.'ta.me ,vas/
23) ASL Czech Republic make an arc from your head to your chest //
24) Thai Thailand ยินดีต้อนรับ yin dee dtôn ráp yeen dee tonn rap //
25) Maori New Zealand nau mai now my //
26) Hungarian Hungary Üdvözlet ood-verz-let /'yd.vøz.lɛt/
27) Tamil Sri Lanka & Singapore வாங்க vaanga vang-ga //

Notes on the Tamil:

This literally means "Come in!" in the spoken (informal) register of the Tamil language. Repeating such a greeting is common in Tamil, where saying it only once might even be interpreted as half-hearted!

28) Italian Italy benvenuti ben-ven-oo-tee //
30) Cebuano Philippines maayong pag-abot mah-yong pag-a-bot //
31) Croatian1 Croatia hajde, poslušajte ovu top-loo dob-roh-dosh-leet-soo //

Notes on the Croatian1:

Although the 'h' of spoken Croatian is harsh, like the Spanish 'j', when sung it's preferable to soften it so that it will sound like the English 'h'

33) Ancient Egyptian Ancient Egypt 'em hotep' - 'welcome!' in ancient egyptian em hotep em ho-tep //
34) Latin Vatican City salvete sal-way-tay /'sal.wε.teɪ/

Notes on the Latin:

Don't forget to say the 'v' as a 'w'! For the purposes of this song, the final 'e' of 'salvete' should be identical to the English 'ay' so as to rhyme with the word 'say' earlier in the same line, and with 'way' at the end of the next line, even though in Latin it would not have been a diphthong.

37) Nepali Nepal स्वागतम् swagatam swaa-ga-tum /'swa:.ga.tʌm/

Notes on the Nepali:

The final vowel is like 'u' in English 'rum'

38) Irish Gaelic fáilte fal-sha //
43) Slovenian-stay Slovenia ostani oss-tan-ee /os.ta.ni/
44) Swedish-stay Sweden stanna stanna stan-na /stan:.a/
45) Dutch Netherlands welkom vel-kom //
46) Old Norse and Icelandic Iceland, Norway & Denmark velkomin vel-kom-in //
47) Modern Greek Greece Καλώς ορίσατε kalós orísate ka-loss or-ee-sa-tay //
48) Inuktitut Nunavut (Canadian Territory) ᑐᙵᓱᒋᑦ tunngasugitsi toong-a-soo-git-see //

Notes on the Inuktitut:

The 'ng' should be as in 'sung', not as in 'linger' (but do 'linger' on the 'ng' a bit more than in English). I chose to divide up the syllables in this unorthodox manner - "toong-a-soog-its-ee" - in order to reinforce the fact that the syllable 'its' sounds the same as the word 'It’s' at the start of the setence. The plural form of "Welcome!" is actually ᑐᙵᓱᒋᑦᓯ (Tunngasugitsi), but I used the singular here to enhance the euphony of 'in' and 'it' with 'Inuit' and 'tunngasugit'. On forvo.com, the /u/ is silent.

49) Esperanto [Artificial Language] bon venon bon ven-on //
50) Finnish Finland tervetuloa ter-ve-tu-lo-a /ter.vet:.y.lo.a/
51) Basque Basque Country ongi etorriak ong-gee et-tor-ree-ak /'on.gi e.'tor.ri.ak/
52) Lithuanian sveiki atvykę svay-kee at-vee-ke //
53) Wolof Senegal dalal ak diam da-lall ak jam //
54) Persian Iran خوش آمدید khōsh āmadīd khosh a-ma-deed //
55) Bengali Bangladesh স্বাগতম swagatam sha-go-tom //
56) Yoruba Ẹ ku abọ ay koo abo //
57) Gujarati પધારો padhāro pa-dar-ow //
58) Hawaiian Hawaii aloha a-low-ha /a.'l@U.ha/
59) Zulu ngiyanemukela nyan-ye-moo-ge-la /njan.je.'mu.je.la/
60) Morse ? .-- . .-.. -.-. dit dah dah, dit, dit dah dit dit, dah dit dah dit //