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Laughing in Many Languages

Laughter is a basic and universal human vocalisation to express positive emotions. It usually sounds something like hahaha or hohoho. In English, haha and lol (laughing out loud) are the most common ways to laugh online. But do people from other languages and cultures laugh online in the same way? Apparently, no!

Since the sound of laughter is pretty much the same in any language, some different expressions of online laughter are just due to orthography. For example:

  • Spanish – jajaja (in Spanish, j sounds like the English h)

  • Greek/Russion – xaxaxa (their x sounds like the English h)

And in languages which do not use a Roman script:

  • Arabic – the equivalent of hhhhh (because they do not write short vowels)

  • Korean – the equivalent of kk or hhh (the sound transcribed as k is highly aspirated)

  • Mandarin – the equivalent of hahaha or hehehe

Then there are others which use Roman letters to stand for something in their own language:

  • Japanese – www (warai is Japanese for laugh)

  • Indonesian – wkwkwk (w stands for gue which means I; k stands for ketawa which means laugh)

But the most unusual one, in my opinion, is this one:

  • Thai – 55555 (in Thai, the number 5 is pronounced – you guessed it – ha!)

Hahaha is not a term required in Bible translation, but this does provide a light-hearted illustration of how terms may not translate easily from language to language!

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