Sneezing is more complicated than you thought!

May 10, 2016 10:48 am


If you thought sneezing was just a simple sudden and involuntary spasmodic action, prepare to be surprised. Perhaps you have already discovered that the responses to a person sneezing vary across the globe: from the English ‘Bless you!’, and numerous wishes of good health (such as the Italian ‘Salute!, Polish ‘Na zdrowie!’ or Norwegian ‘Prosit‘), to the more religious ‘Jesús’ (Spanish) or ‘Guð hjálpi þér! (Icelanding – ‘God help you!’), and finally those weird and hilarious: ‘Gesundheit!‘ (German – ‘health’) or ‘Istina!’ (Croatian – ‘truth!’). These highly original expressions seem to stem from the various beliefs associated with the act of sneezing. In certain Eastern and central European countries, sneezing serves as a confirmation of the sincerity of the speaker, while other countries believe that it is the active expulsion of evil and debilitating spirits from both body and soul.

But did you know that the sound we make when we sneeze also seems to vary across Europe? Here is a short lesson in European onomatopoeia:

If your nose suddenly begins to tickle in Portugal, make sure to sneeze in Portuguese! A short and efficient ‘atchim’, may then be followed by a song of the same name. Pay attention in Spain! There are three ways of sneezing – ¡Achu! – ¡Achís! – ¡Achú!’, but whatever you do – stay consistent! The sneeze of choice in Germany is Hatschi!’, while throughout Turkey the air is expelled with a violent ‘Hapşu!’. The British ‘Achoo!’ and Swedish ‘Atjoo’, or the Bulgarian ‘Apchix! апчих!’ and Polish ‘Apsik’ seem to suggest that, though we spell them differently in different languages, we are nevertheless united by the noises we make when we sneeze. Perhaps next time you get a cold, you can try out a new style?

If you want to find out more about the way we sneeze in Europe, or see a map of the different sounds, click here.

Written by Iweta Kalinowska iveta

Communication Trainee at TermCoord


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