This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Nuts and Bolts: the universal word.

People have made many attempts to establish universal languages, with varying amounts of failure, but how about universal words?

According to the Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, the most truly universal word is huh. The main difference between the speakers of huh in various languages is that if a question in that language goes up at the end then huh does too; but if a question goes downwards then huh follows it.

Not universal, but notably similar in many languages are such words as mama and papa; and coffee and tea. 

Coca cola and Apple must get into any nearly-universal list, too, naturally, but until apple starts meaning computer and coca cola starts meaning fizzy non-alcoholic drink then I'd say they were a bit different.

Wifi and RAM are a third category of pretty-much-universal words.

The reason I've been considering universal words is that the other day I came across a new one. I was trying to put together some Ikea cupboards. The quite long and complex international instructions were all conveyed in excellent illustrations, with only one single word involved in the whole thing.

It concerned the joining together of two halves of a hinge mechanism. You had to link them together in a certain way and push them until they locked.

And the word?


Mind you, knowing what click! meant didn't actually help all that much. 

But, hey, I got there. 

In the end.

Word To Use Today: click. The dictionary says that the word click was coined in the 1600s - but of course that would merely have been the first time anyone has found it written down, so it may be older. It's imitative, of course.

No comments:

Post a comment