What’s the most common word in the world?

A research team finds that huh? is shared by languages around the globe. But is it really a word? What are words like?

We’re also talking to Simon Tam of the Slants, on this episode of Talk the Talk.


Listen to this episode

Or subscribe via iTunes
Click here for more options: How to listen to Talk the Talk


Simon Tam from the Slants noticed that we’d talked about the band on the show, and asks if we’d like to chat. How could I resist? He tell about the rationale for the band’s name, and his byzantine battle with the US Patent and Trade Office.

Could ‘huh’ be the most common word in the world? Only if it’s a word, and I explain why I think it’s not. But it could be a good example of convergent evolution. Shame it’s the world’s only example. Or is it?

And Ben doesn’t like the Word of the Week very much. That seems to happen a lot.


Show notes

Have a listen to the Slants. And sign the petition, if you think they should prevail.
http://www.theslants.com

How do people say ‘ouch’ in other languages?
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?p=3896990

An NPR clip on this very thing.
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=1385022

Is ‘Huh?’ a universal word? Watch the video.
http://huh.ideophone.org

Read the paper.
http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0078273

NYT article
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/09/arts/that-syllable-everyone-recognizes.html?_r=0

Language Log blog post
http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=8369

A shark attack survivor is frothing’ to be alive.
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/surfers-close-encounter-with-giant-white-pointer-shark-50m-off-trigg/story-e6frg6n6-1226758458923

It’s in the Urban Dictionary.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=frothing


Show tunes

‘Kokoro (I Fall to Pieces)’ by the Slants
from the album Slanted Eyes, Slanted Hearts

‘Dance This Mess Around’ by the B-52’s
from the album The B-52’s