I thought it would be really weird to say "ouch" when you accidentally stumble or hurt yourself - it felt completely unnatural. It was fascinating that different cultures have such different exclamations for pain!
Well it turns out that it's not the case. Humans all make roughly the same sound when they stub their toe, it's just that different countries write it down differently and think of it slightly differently.
I think "Huh" is similar. A "Confused grunt" noise is approximately similar in most of the world, but different languages write it down differently.
"Yet many world languages contain a separate set of words that defies this principle. Known as ideophones, they are considered to be especially vivid and evocative of sensual experiences. Crucially, you do not need to know the language to grasp a hint of their meaning. Studies show that participants lacking any prior knowledge of Japanese, for example, often guess the meanings of the above words better than chance alone would allow. For many people, nurunuru really does feel ‘slimy’; wakuwaku evokes excitement, and kurukuru conjures visions of circular rather than vertical motion. That should simply not be possible, if the sound-meaning relationship was indeed arbitrary."
The same happens with animal noises. The sound is the same, just different languages write it down differently. For instance, English "woof woof!" and Polish "hau hau!" look completely different, but there is an overlap in possible pronunciations, and that point of overlap actually does resemble the sound dogs make.
"Ouch" is what you say to express that you imagine something hurt, what people actually say is more like "ow" or "argh".
No idea how to explain the pronunciation though ...
Here's a French speaker pronouncing it: https://youtu.be/Dtta-mW6Pro?t=15
Seems to be automatic. When people are mildly stunned, they'll often go "어" (eoh).
The teacher would ask, "What's the capital of X?", and she'd respond confidently (and correctly), "Okay! The capital of X is Y."
Not sure if it was conscious on her part or not. I'm sure it came from the spotlight, since she was otherwise "normal" (not that there necessarily is such a thing).
> Everywhere this word appears to be a simple syllable with a low-front central vowel, glottal onset consonant if any, and questioning intonation.
My wife's parents have a similar thing in English as an aside. `Huh` indicates that they've heard something novel, `huh?` indicates that they didn't hear you.
In at least 3 three languages that I know (Twi & Ga, major languages in Ghana, and English), the literal meaning evokes the sense of standing or sitting under something. I wonder if it is the same in many other languages
verstehen, vergehen (active), vergehen (passive), verdammen, verabreden, verfahren, verlaufen, verfestigen, verändern, verallgemeinern, veranschaulichen, veranlassen (ver+an+lassen), verlassen, verärgern, verarmen, verbiegen, verdrehen, ...
It's hard to grasp, but I think "ver" has some subliminal meaning. The "ver" words feel different than their synonyms.
It can be broken down to 8 different cases according to Duden and there is actually some logic behind it (though not the best and most consistent :D).
The (I think most common) word for 'understand' in Japanese translates to something like 'it resolved for me'.
I too have wondered about the flavor and basic influence these kind of things must have on those who use the language. I suspect the effect is small, but there, although this particular example might be spurious.
> The word understand would be "érteni", and I'm not sure it has any interesting roots other than "ér" meaning vein or stream (potentially, did you get its meaning / source?)
It's worth noting that "érint" (the verb "touch") appears to have the same root as "ért".
An interesting thing to note is that "hypothesis" has almost the same litteral meaning as "understand". "hypo" means under/above and thesis means "to put, to place something" or "position"
In Italy, instead of saying "I don't know", you can say "boh?" with the oooo sometimes drawn out. It's something you start to understand from the context, but is by no means some kind of universal sound.
In Japan, the equivalent is "sah" with the aaaa sometimes drawn out.
Hey, yesterday you know, I want to the mall you know, and there was this sale, you know, it was totally cheap, you know, so I bought 3 pairs of shoes, you know, aren't they great!?
In Japanese you can replace every "you know" with "sah".
You can put "sah" at the end of sentence when you don't know something or are contemplating but I wouldn't translate it in that case as "I don't know". Rather more like "Hmmmm...." as in "I wonder" like the feeling this emoji is trying to express https://www.google.com/search?q=hmmm+emoji
Q. What is that thing?
A. Saa (dunno)
My guess is that the Italian "boh" is the same.
I think this sound is probably more common in languages that lack a collection of more elaborate and synonymously used words for this purpose such as in English with ["what", "pardon", "sorry", "excuse me"]. Perhaps English is actually the outlier here.
hah, but doesn't that have a different meaning? as in "i'm thinking" not "i didn't hear you etc".
What about those African languages made up of all clicking sounds?
By calling it a universal word, I guess I thought they were referring to the concept of linguistic universals , which are interesting since they might suggest something about the deeper way in which our brains work. To make a claim about linguistic universals like that I really think they should study more than 10 (31) languages.
According to this page , 44% of people speak an Indo-European language, and 96% speak a member of one of the top 10 language families. The remaining 4% includes 84 language families. I imagine there's a ton of variety there, and for understanding human language and cognition they all probably have just as much value as the larger language families.
I am unaware of any African language, or any language in general, that only uses clicking sounds. Which one are you thinking of?
I've been trying to recall where I heard a "pure clicking" language, I've a feeling it was a bushmen docu from Botswana - and it might just be that the hunters used words that only required clicks, or I misheard, etc..
Anyway, http://listverse.com/2018/08/10/10-extraordinary-languages-t... and https://www.britannica.com/topic/click-languages mention Damin, which sounds (no pun intended!) like it might have been mainly composed of clicking sounds?
Perhaps what I heard was slang/dialect tailored to the activity, which IIRC was hunting.
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