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.

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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.

How do people say ‘ouch’ in other languages?

An NPR clip on this very thing.

Is ‘Huh?’ a universal word? Watch the video.

Read the paper.

NYT article

Language Log blog post

A shark attack survivor is frothing’ to be alive.

It’s in the Urban Dictionary.

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