Hahaha, or 555?

By Sophie Shields  

Who doesn’t love to laugh? All over   the world, people crack jokes, tell   funny stories and share moments   of laughter, both in person and virtually.   Almost everyone has experienced   LOL-ing or hahaha-ing their   way through a text conversation. But   while the sound of laughing might be universal, the way of writing it varies   considerably in every language. So   what do you do when you want to   laugh, on the internet, with people   from around the world?

More often than not, the diversity   in online laughing stems from the differences   in the writing systems across   the world. Certain languages, like   Greek, pronounce the letter “x” as   “h”, making xaxaxa the way to indicate   laughter. Other languages, such   as Spanish, often pronounce “j” as   “h”; this explains why you might   find yourself jajaja-ing when watching   a Spanish telenovella. Or if you’ve   been following the rise of Kpop and   Kdramas, you might be more familiar   with the Korean “ㅋㅋㅋ”,   pronounced as “kkk”, for laughing.   Indeed, just like English’s hahaha,   most languages use onomatopoeia   to reproduce the sound of laughing   in text.

However, there are a few exceptions   to the rule, which might leave   you jajaja-ing or xaxaxa-ing yourself.   As French speakers will well know,   laughing is often represented by the   dramatic MDR, an abbreviation of the French expression mort de rire,   dying with laughter. Japanese follows   this abbreviation trend, shortening   the word for laughing, warai, to   wwww in their texts. The funnier the   text, the more ws there are! However,   the most unique way of expressing   laughter comes from Thai where one   pronounces the number 5 as “ha”;   as such, 5555 becomes a common   way of laughing online. Interestingly   enough, when read by Mandarin   speakers, 5555 sounds like the onomatopoeia   for crying.

Laughter is an important part of our   lives. It releases feel-good endorphins   and can even temporarily relieve   pain. So whether you are hahahaing   or wwww-ing, always keep on   laughing. And remember – next time   someone texts you a “why did the   Glebite cross the road” joke, you can   always respond with a few 5555s of   your own.

Sophie Shields is a Carleton student   studying global literature and a proud   Franco-Ukrainian who is learning   German. She is the social media   coordinator for the Glebe Report.

ILLUSTRATION: HEATHER MEEK

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