Sunday, August 19, 2012

Sneezing Around the World

In the tail end of yesterday’s post, I wrote that Greek at some point used the word ptairo to mean “sneeze.” This is significant, just because ptairo kind of sounds like a sneeze — maybe along the lines of ptooie with a more explosive ending. So I got to thinking: Do other languages’ word for “sneeze” sound like sneezing? Using the magic of Google Translate, I’ve made a short list.

Whenever possible, I used the phonetic rendering of the word. Some languages such as Farsi, Arabic and Hebrew I left out because a phonetic spelling wasn’t offered on Google Translate. In many cases, I wasn’t sure if the word being translated was the noun or the verb — not all languages use the same word the way English does — but they’re all referring to the sudden rocketing of snot from the nasal passages.

Decide for yourself:
  • Afrikaans: nies
  • Albanian: teshtij
  • Albanian: p’rrshtal
  • Azerbaijani: asqırmaq
  • Belarusian: čchać
  • Bengali: hām̐ci
  • Bulgarian: kikhane
  • Chinese: dǎ pēntì
  • Croatian: kihati
  • Czech: kýchnout
  • Danish: nyse
  • Dutch: niezen
  • Esperanto: terni
  • Estonian: aevastama
  • Filipino: pagbabahin
  • Finish: aivastaa
  • French: éternuer
  • German: niesen
  • Greek: ftárnisma (and yes, I notice that this isn’t ptairo, but that first syllable isn’t not far off)
  • Gujarti: chīṅka
  • Hatian Creole: etènye
  • Hindi: chīṅka
  • Hungarian: tüsszentés
  • Indonesian: bersin
  • Italian: starnutire
  • Japanese: kushami
  • Korean: jaechaegi
  • Latin: sternuisse
  • Latvian: šķaudīt
  • Lithuanian: čiaudėti
  • Macedonian: kivnete
  • Maltese: tgħatas
  • Norwegian: nyse
  • Polish: kichać
  • Portuguese: espirrar
  • Romanian: strănut
  • Russian: chikhatʹ
  • Serbian: kijanje
  • Slovak: kýchnuť
  • Spanish: estornudar
  • Swahili: kuchafya
  • Swedish: nysa
  • Tamil: tum'mu
  • Thai: cām
  • Turkish: hapşırmak
  • Ukrainian: chkhaty
  • Vietnamese: nhảy mui
  • Welsh: tisian
  • Yiddish: nysn
My favorites? Czech and Turkish. The one I’m most disappointed in? Yiddish. Come on, Yiddish. With your rich library of throat-clearing sounds, I expected more from you.

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