The Universal Word?

In the October 9, 2013 edition of The New York Times, Jennifer Schuessler reported in an article headed “The Syllable We All Recognize” that the interjection/question huh may be the most common word in the world. Say what? (an American English synonym known to have traveled abroad but whose staying power is an open question).

In a paper published in the journal PLOS One the day before the Times article appeared, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics wrote that huh is common to ten languages, among them Icelandic, Mandarin Chinese, and Murrinh-Patha, an Australian Aborigine dialect. So much for the near-universal mama and papa!

Click here to read Ms. Schuessler’s article – like the word itself, short ’n’ sweet.

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