Hahaha, or 555?
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