Saturday, January 07, 2006


Last night, I opened my refrigerator to see that my iced tea jar was nearly empty, with only a tiny bit at the bottom. I looked up, opened my arms to the heavens, and shouted, "Nooooooooo!"

A Korean friend was in the room and started laughing, so I then shouted "Aniiiiiiiiiiiiii!", which I assumed was the Korean version of the same event. He laughed again and said, "no, we don't say it like that." When I asked how he said it, he thought for a moment and replied, "we usually say 'Oh nooooooooooooo!'"

I think he's right, because I can't recall ever hearing a Korean shout "Aniiiiiiii" or even "Aniyooooooo," but I can recall hearing shouts of "Oh nooooooooooo!"

There's something visceral about elongating that vowel in "no" that transcends English. Perhaps it is connected with how deep in your chest you produce it, or how much it sounds like a plaintive wolf howl. Does anyone know of other cultures where they prefer to shout the cry in English rather than their native tongue?

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