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Growing up, I never wondered why in China, we say qie zi (eggplant in mandarin) when we take a picture. Well, saying qie zi makes you smile, right? Then when I came to college in America, I learned to say cheese, because the long eeeeee has the same effect to draw back your lips. But it wasn’t until I studied abroad in Spain and discovered that people say patata (potato in Spanish), had I started to ponder: hhmmm…all food names huh?

So I messaged friends from different countries to ask “what do you say in your language when you are taking a picture?” and here’s the fascinating result I received:

Paola: “In Mexico, we say ‘whisky’ when we want to take a picture. I’ve heard this story, and I’m not sure if it’s true, but when pictures first became popular, they were a privilege only the rich could afford and these were only take during celebrations where it was customary to make a toast with whiskey. Some photographer saw that everyone had cups of whiskey in their hands and told them to say whiskey. Since he saw that the effect drew left the impression that they were all smiling, he started using it for all his photo shoots, and soon enough the custom picked up.”

Mohammad: “In Iran, the most common one is ‘sib‘! It means apple. The way ‘i’ is pronounced here is like ‘ea’ in ‘beach’ or ‘ee’ in ‘cheese’!” Read More

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