Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

How to express hunger

Erik is nearly a head taller than Amy, despite being nine months younger.

A recent possibly Anglicism in Amy's German: she's taken to saying "Ich bin hungrig" and "Ich bin durstig", which would be literal translations of "I am hungry" and "I am thirsty" (respectively). And those are ways of saying it in German, but not that common, I would say; more common is "Ich habe Hunger" and "Ich habe Durst" (I have hunger/thirst). But presumably she's taken the adjective road so that she can use the same construction in both her languages, which is probably easier. (She also used to go through a phase where she mixed the two constructions, resulting in "Ich bin Hunger" and "I have hungry".)

And that made me think about different ways to express this:

  • The copula+adjective route, as in English ("I am hungry"). This probably works in most languages, too, even if this construction is not the most common.
  • The copula+preposition+noun route as in (I think) Maltese: jien bil-ġuħ "I [am] with-the-hunger"
  • The have+noun route, as in German ("Ich habe Hunger"), French ("j'ai faim"), Spanish ("tengo hambre"), Romansh ("jau hai fom"), etc. etc.
  • The verb route:
    • Personal verb, as in Greek ("πεινάω" - "I hunger")
    • Impersonal verb, as in German ("mich hungert" - "[it] hungers [to] me")
  • Other circumlocutions, as in Japanese (お腹が空いた・喉が渇いた o-naka ga suita; nodo ga kawaita "[my] stomach has become empty / [my] throat has become dry" for hunger and thirst, respectively)

Anything else interesting in other languages?

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