Following my article Feeling the Heat, on the different ways to express the concept of feeling hot or feeling cold in various languages, I received a great response with suggestions of other languages to look at. Here are a few more:
In Russian, you say mne holodno (мне холодно) if you are cold and “mne zharko” (мне жарко) if you are hot. This literally means “there is cold/hot to me”. It should be noted here that these expressions are specifically for the weather or a person, and not for a thing being hot.
The German construction is similar: mir ist kalt or mir ist heiss, which translate literally as “to me, it’s cold/ hot”, or as we might put it “it’s cold/hot to me”. This seems to regard the cold or heat as outside of the person, unlike English. In fact, it would appear that English is unusual in its contruction here!
This brings us nicely onto the Slovenian expression, which is more or less the same as the German: vroče mi je, which would literally mean “it is hot to me”, and mrzlo or hladno mi je – “it’s cold to me”. In several European languages, including German and Slovene, the construction as in English “I am cold/ hot” has sexual undertones.
And now we come to a language which uses a form we haven’t seen yet. In Greek, a verb form in the passive or reflexive voice is used to say that you are hot: zestainomai (ζεσταίνομαι), which might translate as “I am heated”. But strangely enough, the cold is a different matter, and the verb used is active: kriono (κρυώνω). Obviously, we can’t say “I cold” in English, and the cold-related verbs have other connotations (such as “I chill”). So feeling hot is passive, but feeling cold is active in Greek. Perhaps this is a reminder to us to keep active when cold, so as to warm up!
Special thanks to Lucy Allen and Fed for the Russian, and once again to @KnightGhost for the Slovenian