Blue – Argentina
Yes, blue does exist in the English language and everyone knows what it means. But in Argentina, after the currency controls (known informally as “exchange clamp”), the parallel market started being called “blue”, and dollars bought in “caves” (grey market), “blue dollars“.
Friki – Spain and Latin America
In English, we have geek and nerd. The latter, in Spanish, would be an empollón (Spain), someone who studies a lot and enjoys it. But geeks in Spain and many Latin American countries are called frikis (from English “freak”).
The differentiation is based on geeks being more related to technology (techies or tech geeks) and frikis would be movie/TV buffs and comics/ video game lovers and fanatics. Geek Pride Day is even translated as Día del Orgullo Friki.
Smoking – Spanish, Danish, French, Russian
Those are just some of the languages that feature the term “smoking” meaning “tuxedo”. It’s even been adopted by the Spanish language as esmoquin.
Why “smoking”? It is, as you may have noticed, related to tobacco. In the XVII century, a smoking jacket was exactly that: a jacket you’d ware while smoking.
Zapping – French, Dutch, German, Spanish
In several languages, the act of changing channels to see what’s on is called zapping or even turned into a noun as in hacer zapping (doing zapping).
In English, it’s always a verb and there a few other common terms for this activity such as channel-hopping or channel-surfing.
In Dutch and German, it’s zappen; in French, zapper; and in Spanish, zapear.
Salaryman – Japan
The Japanese love their land and their language but they also love borrowing terms from English. Sometimes, they even create them.
A salaryman isn’t an English word but it doesn’t sound Japanese either. It’s a new word they’ve invented to refer to employees.
Office ladies are ofisu redi (even though it sounds like “office ready” due to the Japanese lacking the sound of the “L”). It’s often abbreviated “OL”.