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Over on Twitter, I started a Very Important Linguistics thread about how to ask to pet someone’s dog in other languages.

I took several years of French in high school, and yet when I went to a French book fest/convention last year, I lacked this vital knowledge!

Here are the results so far, sorted by language. Pronunciation is included where provided. I can’t vouch that these are 100% accurate, and for most languages there are multiple ways of asking. Hopefully these should at least be good enough to get your point across so you can get on to the more important task of petting the dog.

Feel free to add additional languages or refinements in the comments, and I’ll update as things come in. I’m particularly interested in feedback/suggestions from native speakers. Pronunciation guidelines and assistance are also welcome.

Thanks to everyone who contributed!

Arabic

ممكن ألمس كلبك؟ (Moomkin almas kalbek?)

يمكنني أن داعب كلبك؟ (“Yumkinuni an da’aeb kelbik?” Or “kelbak” if asking a man.)

Chinese – Simplified

我可以宠你的狗吗

Danish

Må jeg gerne klappe din hund?

Dutch

Informal: Mag ik je hond aaien?

Formal: Mag ik Uw hond aaien?

Filipino

Pwede ko ba siyang hawakan?

Finnish

Saanko silittää koiraasi? And to thank if the answer is yes, Kiitos.

French

Puis-je caresser votre chien? (Or “votre chiot” if it’s a puppy)

Alternate version: “Pardon?” *Indicate dog.* “Je peux?” *mime petting* “Il-est gentille?”

German

Darf ich bitte deinen hund streicheln?

Beißt er? (“Does he bite?”)

Ilonggo/Hiligaynon

Pwede ko siya matandog?

Italian

Posso per favore coccolare il tuo cane?

Posso accarrezzare il suo cane?

Japanese

Inu o sawate mo ii desu ka? (Vowels follow the same phonetics as Spanish.)

Inu wo nadete yoroshii desu ka?

Korean

(개를) 쓰다듬어도 될까요?

(The (개를) part means dog, but since that part would be obvious from context you don’t actually need to say it.)

Latin

Licetne mihi, quaeso, canem tuum mulcere?

Polish

Czy mogę pogłaskać pana/pani pieska? (Che (very short e sound) moga po-gwa-ska-ch pani (female)/panna (male) pye-ska?)

To say thank you: Dziękuję bardzo. (dyjen-koo-yuh.)

Portugese (Brazilian)

Posso fazer carinho no seu cachorro?

Pulaar

Tinno mbodo yidi tuche rawandumaa.

Russian

Могу ли я погладить вашу собаку, пожалуйста? (Mogu li ya pogladeet vashu sobaku, pahzhaloosta?)

Можно погладить вашу собаку? (Mozhno pogladit’ vashu sobaku?)

Scots Gaelic

Tha mi airson do chù a’ shlìobadh? (Ha me air-son doh hyu ah shleeohpehk?)

Am faod mi an cù agaibh a sliobadh?

Spanish

¿Puedo acariciar al perrito?

Swedish

Får jag klappa din hund? And “Tack,” if the answer is yes.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

Comments

( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Deborah Blake
Jul. 3rd, 2018 06:43 pm (UTC)
Is this for a book or are you planning a world tour?
jimhines
Jul. 3rd, 2018 06:45 pm (UTC)
It's because despite having taken several years of French in high school, when I went to France last year, I didn't know how to ask this vital question! I could ask to sharpen my pencil, but not about petting dogs.

So I'm working to make sure nobody ever has to suffer the same ignorance I did :-)
deborahblakehps
Jul. 3rd, 2018 06:46 pm (UTC)
You're a good man, Charlie Brown.
sartorias
Jul. 3rd, 2018 07:00 pm (UTC)
我可以宠你的狗吗?


(though "chong3" is really more like spoil or dote on. Couldn't find a verb for pet)
jimhines
Jul. 3rd, 2018 07:05 pm (UTC)
Had another person offer pretty much the exact same translation over on Facebook. Updating now, thank you!
northernwalker
Jul. 4th, 2018 11:58 pm (UTC)
I am a Dog Person, so this is definitely relevant to my interests.
dulcimeoww
Jul. 14th, 2018 04:38 pm (UTC)
The Korean isn't... quite right. It should be (개를) 쓰다듬어도 될까요?

The (개를) part means dog, but since that part would be obvious from context you don't actually need to say it. The 도 + 되다 structure is used when asking permission. And the 요 is how you should end sentences when speaking politely.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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