9 Dec 2011

'Tis the season to be jolly - jajajajaja jajajaja (or "the laugh seen around the world")

A chicken sounds like what??!! I was trying furiously not to laugh as my students starting making all manners of sounds. Who knew Japanese cows sounded like that? Or Chinese chickens. It was one of those odd but happy accidents in the ESL classroom when I discovered yet another thing I didn't know: different languages have different sounds for their animal uttterances. That day, the multicultural mix of my Canadian ESL classroom created a cacophony of the strangest noises ever heard by English or otherwise ears. It was hysterical.

A similar dawning of new knowledge has been slowly stretching over me as I embrace digital communication with my students. I teach adults and therefore don't struggle with some of the privacy fears and issues my colleagues have with communicating with their students via Facebook, email, or text. I share messages, updates, announcements, encouragement etc...with my students using whatever method of communication they feel most comfortable using and with which they are most engaged. It's fantastic. It was on Facebook that I first started to notice:




and the mysterious


or even



Ok, I'm not so slow that I didn't figure it out. My students are laughing! In text! In different letters or characters than in English! And not the dreaded and dreadful  lol fake-laugh! Also funny: I make kkkkkkkkk and jajajajaja sounds in my own head as I laugh along with them.

Of course, there's cool linguistic stuff here too: Spanish speakers and their "ja ja", Greek speakers and "xa xa" - small clues into the sounds of their languages (and sometimes how those sounds affect their English pronunciation!) - and the Japanese "~~~"  or Korean "^^" - western keyboard equivalents for the Chinese character 笑  (laugh). Just can't explain that kkkkkk.

And so I will live to learn and laugh another day. Thank you, my friends.

p.s. Blessed with these real AND Facebook friends who responded quickly to my plea for more examples of international laughs in text:

Alice & Janine (Swiss) - hehe or hihi
Daniel (Spanish) - jaja
Luanna (Brazilian Portuguese)- kkkkkkk
Hiroko (Japanese) - ~~~ or ^^
Hani (Arabic) - kkkkkkk
Grace (Tagalog) - nyahaha or hehe or hihi
Louis (Korean) - ^^
Dino (Chinese) - ^^
Aoy (Thai) - 555
Christine & Terry (Greek) - xa xa
Santa (North Polian) - hohoho

Please add comments or any other laughter from around the world! Happy holidays.


  1. Hi,

    In Brazil we have 2 ways to laugh: "kkkkkk" or "rssrs".

    Best regards,

    1. Thanks, Erik! I'm trying to make that "rssrs" sound right now :)