Is the Term “To Forgive” or the Expression “I Forgive You” Universal or Specific to a Few Cultures?

Here is a list of various cultures and their words for “to forgive” or “I forgive you”:

Albanian prt falur
Catalan a perdonar
Castilian Para perdonar
Czech Odpoutm
Danish At tilgive
Dutch Te vergeven
English to forgive
Filipino upang patawarin
Finnish Annettakoon se teille anteeksi
French pardonner
German Ich verzeihe Dir
Hungarian n megbocs tok neked
Icelandic afyrirgefa
Irish a logh
Italian A perdonare
Maltese li nahfru
Norwegian Til  forlate
Polish Odpuszcza
Portuguese A perdoar
Romanian Pentru a ierta
Spanish Para perdonar
Swahili kusamehe
Swedish Frlta
Turkish BEN size bala
Vietnamese Ti tha th cho bn
Welsh i faddau

26 languages, 26 similar ways to communicate. This, of course, is no proof of the universality of “to forgive” or “I forgive you.” Yet, we put this term and this expression to the test and they were not defeated. At the least we can conclude that forgiveness has a place in many cultures. Here’s an even more comprehensive list of world cultures and forgiveness translations.

Thanks to these websites for translation help: Babylon translator and Translator.

For each term or expression, we translated it from the English into the other language. We then back-translated into English and retained the term/expression only if both forms of translation were consistent.

Dr. Bob

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1 comment

  1. Blayne says:

    This is a fun post. We can all communicate about forgiveness with one another despite cultural and religious differences. This is a cause for hope in the world.


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