They Found A Universal Word?

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They Found A Universal Word?

#1  Postby Sovereign » Nov 10, 2013 4:54 pm

A word like 'Huh?' —used when one has not caught what someone just said—appears to be universal: it is found to have very similar form and function in languages across the globe. This is one of the findings of a major cross-linguistic study by researchers Mark Dingemanse, Francisco Torreira and Nick Enfield, at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The study was published in the journal PLOS ONE.

It might seem frivolous to carry out scientific research on a word like 'Huh?' But in fact this little word is an indispensable tool in human communication. Without words like this we would be unable to signal when we have problems with hearing or understanding what was said, and our conversations would be constantly derailed by communicative mishaps. The research is part of a larger investigation of language and social interaction funded by the European Research Council.

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#2  Postby theropod » Nov 10, 2013 5:57 pm

Doh!

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#3  Postby Regina » Nov 10, 2013 6:35 pm

Gah! :shifty:
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#4  Postby amok » Nov 21, 2013 6:14 pm

Ow! :waah:
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#5  Postby Bribase » Nov 21, 2013 6:20 pm

amok wrote:Ow! :waah:


Nope!
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#6  Postby jaydot » Nov 21, 2013 10:19 pm

humph!
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#7  Postby reisender » Nov 22, 2013 12:39 am

OK
SpeedOfSound wrote:I also held my last puff before I went into a non-smoking Establishment and gleefully exhaled a half a cigarette inside.
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#8  Postby Ironclad » Nov 22, 2013 8:02 am

Taxi!
For Van Youngman - see you amongst the stardust, old buddy

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#9  Postby NineBerry » Nov 22, 2013 8:12 am

Häh?
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#10  Postby Briton » Nov 22, 2013 9:20 am

Tsk.
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#11  Postby Blackadder » Nov 22, 2013 1:41 pm

Haha!

and

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Last edited by Blackadder on Nov 22, 2013 1:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#12  Postby Ironclad » Nov 22, 2013 1:42 pm

Yo!
For Van Youngman - see you amongst the stardust, old buddy

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#13  Postby LucidFlight » Nov 22, 2013 2:00 pm

Uh-huh.

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#14  Postby Ironclad » Nov 22, 2013 2:04 pm

Freshnup?
For Van Youngman - see you amongst the stardust, old buddy

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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#15  Postby Zwaarddijk » Nov 22, 2013 2:09 pm

I find the sample size presented in the illustration far from convincing. Further, the distribution of the sample makes it likely some convergence area-phenomena are involved, e.g. European languages have had quite a degree of influence on each other, and the same goes for Southeast Asia. The article suggests they studied a sample of ten languages. There's six thousand in the world. Even if they added 21 languages to the sample after the original study, the map still fills me with some misgivings.

Further, it is natural a word such as this will be short, which makes it fairly likely for roughly-similar words to pop up for no other reason than the shorter the pair of words, the fewer differences they can showcase
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#16  Postby CdesignProponentsist » Nov 22, 2013 4:37 pm

Ahh!
"Things don't need to be true, as long as they are believed" - Alexander Nix, CEO Cambridge Analytica
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#17  Postby amok » Nov 23, 2013 9:50 pm

Bribase wrote:
amok wrote:Ow! :waah:


Nope!


Oh, cool! Shows what I know. I would have thought "ow" was a natural "sound/grunt" that became a word, spelled O-W in English. Hm.
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#18  Postby Saim » Nov 23, 2013 10:50 pm

I share Zwaarddijk's skepticism. Here's a good Geocurrents (a social science blog) article that takes it apart:

http://www.geocurrents.info/cultural-ge ... -important

The claim about the universality of “huh?” comes from the fact that similar sounding interjections are used for “other-initiated repair” in a variety of languages. Just how representative the list of languages with “huh?” is remains to be seen. Although the authors’ claims apply only to the specific set of languages studied, media reports greatly overexaggerated the findings. The host of the AirTalk show said that this word is found “in virtually every human language”, “in any number of languages”, and “in almost any language”. The headline of The New York Times article by Jennifer Schuessler states that it is “the syllable everyone recognizers”; the article itself states that this word is “universally understood, across all countries and cultures”. The author of the NPR article, Alva Noë, says that this word is “native to all languages”; the headline goes so far as to ask whether this one word could “unite the world”. The headline in The Atlantic states that “Huh Means the Same Thing in Every Language”, and the article itself, written by Olga Khazan, calls this expression “practically universal”. Yet, relatively solid data are available only for ten languages, which constitute about 0.1% of the world’s currently spoken tongues. The sample, moreover, is hardly representative, despite the authors’ claims, as it includes two closely related Germanic languages (Icelandic and Dutch), two closely related Romance languages (Italian and Spanish), and half of the languages considered belong to just one language family: Indo-European (and more specifically, to its “European” branches). The Americas, Africa, Australia, East Asya, and Southeast Asia are represented by one language each. No language from South Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, or North America is included in the small sample.
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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#19  Postby Imagination Theory » Nov 24, 2013 5:31 am

Zwaarddijk wrote:I find the sample size presented in the illustration far from convincing. Further, the distribution of the sample makes it likely some convergence area-phenomena are involved, e.g. European languages have had quite a degree of influence on each other, and the same goes for Southeast Asia. The article suggests they studied a sample of ten languages. There's six thousand in the world. Even if they added 21 languages to the sample after the original study, the map still fills me with some misgivings.

Further, it is natural a word such as this will be short, which makes it fairly likely for roughly-similar words to pop up for no other reason than the shorter the pair of words, the fewer differences they can showcase


:this:
Я пью за разоренный дом,
За злую жизнь мою,
За одиночество вдвоем,
И за тебя я пью, -
За ложь меня предавших губ,
За мертвый холод глаз,
За то, что мир жесток и груб,
За то, что Бог не спас.


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Re: They Found A Universal Word?

#20  Postby Goldenmane » Nov 24, 2013 6:01 am

Classic example of a shit study, misrepresented in dumbfuck journalism.

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