Today I decided to write an article about the unusual literal meanings of certain words, in particular, the word “kite” caught my attention. In Russian kite is called “vozdushnyi zmei”, which literally means “air snake”. I was just thinking for a second, why is this flying object for kids called like that? Snakes do not fly, moreover, without limbs snakes are attached to the ground even more than other animals. How many times I have heard different names for “kite” in other languages, I have never heard anything similar to the “snake” as in Russian. So, I was curious and I decided to ask all my colleagues who come from different countries of the world about the word “kite” in their languages, and after all I was even more surprised! Because there were not even two options out of 8 languages having the same meaning! Here is a list of words that I collected meaning “kite” in different languages:
- In Spanish “kite” is called «la cometa», which literally means “the comet.”
- Portuguese – «pipa» or «papagaio», which literally means “parrot”. Very logical, because “kites” are usually very bright and colorful like parrots!
- Italian «aquilone» means “big eagle”.
- In Dutch language, there is no special unusual name for Russian “air snake”, it is called «vlieger», which simply means “flying object”, “flyer”.
- The French version surprised me most of all, «cerf-volant» means “flying stag”! With its logic it might even compete with Russian “flying snake”.
- In Indonesia “kite” is called «layang-layang», or «layangan», both words literally mean something like “floating in the air”, “soaring”.
- Polish language does not have an unusual word for “kite”, the word «latawiec» is derived from the verb “to fly”.
- The last but not least in our list is German word «Drache», which means “dragon”.
I do not know about you, but personally I was very impressed by all these unusual meanings, only eight languages, and so many different names for the word “kite”. By the way, another word that came to my mind afterwards was a “sunbeam”, which is called like “sun bunny” (“solnechnyi zaichik”) in Russian. However, in other languages, there is no specific word for defining that, only in Russian language, as well as in Polish, we have this funny and a bit childish name “bunny” for the “light reflection”.