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Nick Enfield "From ‘Huh?’ to ‘Who?’: the universal utterances that keep us talking"

Evolution, Shape

Date: 8 October 2015

Nick Enfield, The Conversation:

There's more to our discovery that every language appears to have the word "Huh?", or at least something that sounds very similar, that saw us pick up one of this year's Ig Nobel Prizes that celebrate some of the more unusual research.

"Huh?" has the same effect in every culture of getting the other person to back up and repeat or clarify what they just said, but there are other common features that emerge from our study of spoken languages.

The prize-winning paper, first published in the journal PLoS ONE in 2013, was a careful comparison of words in a small sample of the world’s languages. While our sample included diverse languages from five continents, it is a smaller sample than people usually want in a modern linguistic study.

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