Thursday, July 24, 2008

Just for fun

Did you know that Russians sneeze differently than Americans? They say "Ap-CHEE" instead of "А-CHOO." Recently I was torturing my roommate with questions about why this is so. She argued that we sneeze the way we are taught, but I thought that if it was an involuntary action there shouldn't be variation.

From wikipedia:

Some common English onomatopoeias for the sneeze sound are achoo, atchoo, achew, and atisshoo, with the first syllable corresponding to the sudden intake of air, and the second to the sound of the sneeze.

A similar linguistic approach has been taken with several other languages; in French, the sound "Atchoum!" is used; in Finnish "Atsiuh!"; in Swedish "Atjo"; in Danish "Atju!"; in Hebrew "Apchi!"; in German "Hatschie!"; in Hungarian "Hapci!"; in Polish, "Apsik!"; in Russian , "Apchkhi!"; in Turkish, "Hapşu!"; in Italian, "Etciù!"; in Spanish "¡Achú!" or "¡Achís!"; in Portuguese, "Atchim!"; in Romanian "Hapciu!" and in Japanese, "Hakushon!". In Cypriot Greek, the word is "Apshoo!", incidentally also the name of a village, which is the cause of much mirth locally.

In Howards End, by E.M. Forster, a sneeze in polite society is "a-tissue" - a nice allusion to its respective remedy.

I was wondering if perhaps coughing or clearing your throat also varies across languages. What is the Russian equivalent of "ahem"?

But of course the animal noises are the most amusing. I still laugh when I hear how a Russian horse whinnies....

"I GO GO."

Here are more examples:


  1. I think I know this one. In literature they use "кхе - кхе" (khe-khe). It actually sounds more like "гхе-гхе" (where the whole thing is a sound rather than three separate letters). Does it make any sense? :)

  2. Just remembered. I think it's kind of funny. In the Russian version of Winnie the Pooh (Винни Пух) the donkey's name is И-А (Eeh-Ah). And that's the sound donkeys make in the Russian mind.

    One sound I am not sure about. It is the sound of a frog. The way they imitate it over there is: КВА

    Do the frogs call out in that fashion? КВA?

  3. Yeah, I get it. И-А sounds like "Hee-haw," the English version. Also, frogs say "ribbit" in English, but I think the verb is thought of as "to croak." You can find them all in the table that I linked to.


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