Does Everyone Laugh in the Same Language?

from My Modern Met

In American English we express laughter in text as “hahaha.” But is laughter expressed the same way for people who speak other languages? It’s pretty hard to tell what language someone speaks just from their laugh. It seems as if laughter is possibly a universal component of language. Thus one may think that it would be expressed similarly with different languages. However this is not the case. Although some languages express laughter using a similar sound to English speakers, such as Spanish speakers who express laughter by saying “jajaja.” And Thai speakers use “555,” as 5 is read as a sound similar to “ha” in Thai. However in other languages such as Korean, laughter is expressed as “ㅋㅋㅋ,” which is a sound similar to kkk in English, which seems to be quite different from “hahaha.”

Perhaps laughter sounds different to Korean speakers than it does for English speakers? Would this support the Whorfian hypothesis or not? Is laughter even a part of language? I’m not so sure myself. But as you and I ponder these and similar questions about language and thought, enjoy some of these photos from a series highlighting the beauty in the differences in expression through language! I am also curious if all of these expressions of laughter are actually used as I have only heard of/encountered a few of them before (so if you speak any of these languages let me know)!

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