How to Sneeze in 10 Languages

Going on a trip abroad? Be a polite tourist by sneezing in the language of your host country. James Chapman drew this cartoon in response to a fascinating article in BBC News. It claims that the sounds that we make when we sneeze are entirely culturally-driven. There's no biological imperative to express a sneeze a particular way:

Inserting words into sneezes - and our responses such as "bless you" - are cultural habits we pick up along the way. So it's not surprising that British deaf people, particularly users of sign language, don't think to add the English word "achoo" to this most natural of actions.

For deaf people, "a sneeze is what it should be... something that just happens", says Swinbourne in his article.

He even attempts to describe what an achoo-free deaf sneeze sounds like: "[There is] a heavy breath as the deep pre-sneeze breath is taken, then a sharper, faster sound of air being released."

In my family, we have a quirk that we call the Farrier Sneeze. It has passed down in the male members of the family for at least 3 generations. When we sneeze, we give a little shout. We have no idea why. Perhaps it's just an involuntary custom that we've developed.

-via 22 Words


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Maybe you are related to my mom, though her shout isn't little. One doesn't want to be in a car when she sneezes. It's so loud, it'll hurts your ears!
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