In the first part, I noted how many languages’ words for sneeze actually sound like sneezing. And in the second, I listed as many worldwide onomatopoetic sneeze words as I could find. It would me sense to finish this little adventure into the realm of nasal explosions with a list of how different languages respond to sneezing, I felt, but it turns out that Wikipedia is already over that one — not only with every translation of bless you you could think of but also often with the polite response to the sneezer gives to the blesser.
Some highlights, however:
- According to Wikipedia, deaf people using American Sign Language typically don’t respond to sneezes. Is that true? Does that make sense? I feel like it doesn’t, especially how the noise of the sneeze is hardly the most intrusive aspect of the act.
- Japanese people also generally don’t respond to sneezes.
- The Belarusian and Chechen responses to sneezing varies according to the gender of the sneezer.
- Wikipedia translates the Cantonese sneeze response as “a great fortunate occurrence,” which is certainly an enthusiastic way to view sneezing.
- The Czech response translates as “Bless God,” which seems counterproductive if you live in a culture where God traditionally issues all the benedictions.
- An alternative Georgian sneeze response translates as “Million dollars” — “referencing the belief that one loses money while sneezing,” Wikipedia explains.
- Germans don’t have to use Gesundheit, “health,” and can instead wish for contentment, wealth or beauty.
- The Persian sneeze response translates as “May purity be bestowed upon you,” and although that’s nice, a tissue might be a more effective means of achieving that purity.
- One of the Portuguese responses to sneezing is santinho, “little saint.”
- In Vietnamese, if the sneezer is a small child, you can say something that translates as “rice and salt.”
Finally, some people suffer from a rare disorder that causes them to sneeze uncontrollably after a large meal. No, really: It’s called snatiation, a portmanteau of sneeze and satiation.