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Not all sounds like that are.

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.

If you read the full article, you’d see they specifically mention that they were studying ‘huh’ in the context of “other-initiated repair” (see the article for a definition), and they noted that ‘huh’-like words often have additional contextual uses, such as signifying a question, but those were beyond the scope of this research.

>instead of saying "I don't know", you can say "boh?" with the oooo sometimes drawn out.

In Japan, the equivalent is "sah" with the aaaa sometimes drawn out.

I've never heard "sah" used for "I don't know". Sah is similar to "you know" as in valley girl speak.

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

You must be thinking of さ instead of さあ. The latter is often used to express "I don't know" or "who knows".

You don't use it when you are trying to say you don't know something, but you can use it as an answer to a question.

Q. What is that thing? A. Saa (dunno)

My guess is that the Italian "boh" is the same.

The article doesn't say it's a universal sound, only a universal concept (but even then, it only takes one example to disprove a theory like this, and linguistics is littered with examples of "universal" things only to be disproven by some obscure language somewhere)

Happens in French too

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