Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Hello, okay, huh

The USA got its language from England, but there are three words universally recognized all over the world, and they are all American.

Okay was invented in 1839 as a misspelled abbreviation of "all correct".

Hello was invented to have something to say when answering the newly-invented telephone.

Huh is impossible to trace and seems to date back centuries, and is now used all over the world. I cannot put my finger on an American inventor in this case, but it is hard to see how such a brilliantly expressive word could spread so widely without American influence.

So please do not say that Americans have no linguistic original. Maybe our 50k other words are stolen, but we are responsible for the three most universal words.


Anonymous said...

There is no reason whatsoever to think that American "huh?" was exported to all other languages of the world. See the FAQ here:

Roger said...

While there is a recorded history of "huh" in English, the paper does not find any history of using it in other languages.