Laughing, crying, and disgust in languages around the world
Interjections like oh!, ah!, or phew! are natural ejaculations expressive of some feeling or emotion. They are so called because they’re interjected (from Latin inter- ‘between’ and jacere ‘to throw’) between sentences, clauses, or words, mostly without grammatical connection. Although the interjection is often imitative, it is quite different from the onomatopoeia, which is the formation of a word from a sound associated with the thing or action being named.
How feelings or emotions are translated into words varies from language to language. This is because different languages of course have different sound inventories. Have a look at the images below to find out how to laugh, cry, and express disgust in other parts of the world.
How to express disgust in different languages
One of the ways to express strong distaste or disgust in English is by crying out yuck. The word is imitative and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), related to the verb yuck, which is taken from Canadian dialect and means ‘to vomit’. Both the verb and the interjection are younger than one might think: the OED dates them to the 1960s. Let’s find out how to be disgusted in other countries:
How to laugh in different languages
Ha ha is the ordinary representation of laughter in English (and many other languages), but if you want to express derision you may use a repeated ho ho or a tee-hee. The latter also represents a giggle or a titter. Looking beyond English, laughter is expressed quite similarly around the world:
How to cry in different languages
English translates the sound of a baby crying, or a noise resembling this, as wah-wah (also wa-wa). The OED currently cites a quotation from 1938 as the first occurrence of the noise’s written form. Another interjection related to crying is much older. Boohoo represents the sound of someone crying noisily, but can also be used as an expression of contempt. The term apparently first appeared in writing in 1528 according to the OED.