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双语:你在用全球通行的“huh”吗

It is one of the most irritating words in the English language and it seems there is no escaping it.The word ‘huh’ is in worldwide use, a study found.

  Researchers discovered that languages spoken in countries from Ghana and Laos to Iceland and Italy all include ‘huh’, or something that sounds very like it.

  They said that while the project may sound frivolous, the word is an ‘indispensable’ part of speech.

  Without it and similar words, it would be impossible to show that we haven’t heard or understood what had been said and this would lead to constant misunderstandings.

  But while other words used in the same context, such as ‘sorry’ or ‘what’, vary widely across languages, ‘huh?’ remains unchanged.

  The Dutch researchers recorded around 20 informal conversations in each of ten languages from around the world.

  These included Siwu, which is spoken in Ghana, Cha’palaa from Ecuador, and Murriny Patha - an Australian Aboriginal language, as well as Italian, Spanish, Dutch and Mandarin Chinese.

  The tapes were analysed for words that sounded like ‘huh?’ and were used to request that whatever had just been said was repeated.

  All contained a version of ‘huh’. The word was also found in another 21 languages form around the globe that were studied in less detail.

  While there were subtle differences in each country, all had a near-identical sound.

  This is surprising because normally unrelated languages will use very different words to describe the same thing.

  For instance, the Japanese for ‘dog’ is ‘inu’, while the French is ‘chien’.

  It is thought that languages around the world have developed their own version of ‘huh?’ because the sound is quick and simple to form, as well as being easily understood.

  Or, in words of the EU-funded researchers, it is a ‘simple, minimal, quick-to-produce questioning syllable’.

  Writing in the journal PLoS ONE, they said that while the sound may seem almost primitive in its simplicity, it still has to be learnt.

  In fact, it takes children until the age of five to master its use.

  The researchers, from the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics in Nijmegen said: ‘”Huh?” is not trivial.

  ‘It might seem frivolous or even trivial to carry out scientific research into a world like ‘huh?’ but in fact this little word is an indispensable tool in human communication.’

  They also have an answer for those who claim that ‘huh?’ isn’t a word.

  They say that it qualifies because of the subtle changes made to its sound to make it fit with each language.

  It also is something we learn to say, rather than a grunt or cry that we are born knowing how to make.

  据英国《每日邮报》11月8日报道,荷兰研究人员研究发现,英语中最气人的词“huh”(哼!哈!啊!——表示疑问、惊讶或异议等)已经成为世界各种语言“不可缺少的”组成部分。

  报道称,荷兰马克斯普兰克语言心理研究院的研究人员录制了来自世界各地的10种语言,每种语言分别录制了20段口语对话,其中包括意大利语、西班牙语、荷兰语、澳大利亚的土著语言和中国的普通话,还有些语言来自加纳和厄瓜多尔等国家。

  研究人员分析录音后发现,无论是加纳和老挝,还是冰岛和意大利,其语言中都包含“huh”,或发音类似的词。而且,如果没有这类词,我们就无法表达没有听见或理解别人话语之意,而这会经常产生误解。

  虽然各种语言在表达“sorry”(对不起)或“what”(什么)等意时使用的词汇有极大差别,但“huh”却是通用的。研究人员还在未详细研究的另外21种语言形式中发现了这个词。

  这着实令人惊讶,因为一般情况下,不同的语言会用极不相同的词汇描述相同的事物。例如,dog(狗)在日语中的发音为“inu”,而法语则说“chien”。

  研究人员认为,世界各地的语言都有自己的“huh”,是因为发音快捷、简单,也容易理解。不过,它不是我们生下来就会发出的咕哝声或哭泣声,它需要学习。事实上,孩子们要到5岁才能掌握它的用法。

  研究人员表示,这个词是人类交流不可缺少的工具,因为其发声的微妙变化使它适用于每种语言。


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