Love may be universal, but the way it’s expressed varies widely by culture.
In the U.S., we LOVE to say “I love.” We say it about family members, significant others and friends, but also about songs or products or games we like. In your sponsored child’s culture, “I love you” may be reserved for deep, romantic relationships, or it might rarely be said at all.
The customs and languages in which people express love are as beautifully diverse as the children in Compassion’s programs. To celebrate different cultures, here’s how to say “I love you” in the most common languages in countries where Compassion works.
A couple of notes: If you are a sponsor and want to write "I love you" to your sponsored child, it's best to write it in English and let the translator choose how to write it most appropriately for a child. Also note that many African and Asian language alphabets have their own unique characters that have been transliterated below.
Spanish: “Te amo” or “Te quiero”
For children living in Bolivia, Colombia, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua or Peru, the most widely spoken language is Spanish.
“Te quiero” is a casual expression of love or fondness toward someone or something. “Te amo” is deeper, often used between close friends, family members or romantic relationships.
Children who live in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda may speak Swahili or hear it frequently spoken. But African countries enjoy a huge diversity of languages; Swahili is just one of the most common. It’s among the 10 most commonly spoken languages in the world, says UNESCO.
French: “Je t'aime”
Children in Burkina Faso, Haiti and Togo may speak French. French is the official language of Burkina Faso, but only 2.2% of people speak it. The most common language spoken there is Mossi. In Togo, there are also four major African languages spoken: Ewe, Mina, Kabye and Dagomba.
English: “I love you”
If you’re reading this, you probably speak English. But we didn’t want to leave out readers who sponsor children in Ghana, where the official language is English. Uganda is another African country where English is one of two official languages. (The other is Swahili.)