Translation musings: mwah mwah!

Feb 12, 2015 | Uncategorized

kissAnd so we approach another Valentine’s Day, where much, one assumes, kissing will be going on. As well as eating and drinking and maybe sitting staring at each other with nothing to say in a crowded restaurant, filled with other couples doing the same.

Moving away from such cynicism and back to the kissing… How do people kiss in other languages? Well, apart from the rubbing of noses in some far northern climes, the actual act of kissing is pretty much universal, but how is it described?

In English, I suppose mwah is the most used, even if it does conjure up images of well-dressed women air-kissing whilst holding numerous expensive shopping bags. This is a fairly common sound though – appearing also in Arabic, Hebrew, Tagalog and German, to name but a few.  The smack sound is also a popular one, for example smask in Norwegian, smack in Swedis and smac in Portuguese (as well as the rather lovely splish splash and chuac). The French do a bit of both – mouah and smack. In Chinese, however, they boh, in Japanese chu, Lithuanian pakšt and in Estonian – saving the best till last – mopsti!

What do they do in your country?


Huge thanks to the inspirations for this post – the charming illustrations of James Chapman – click the link to see him on (and click here to see his lovely animal noise ones as well).

Image credit: widiwidi @
Other information: Wikipedia