12 April 2009


My kidney stone forced me to go to the hospital, where a doctor crammed a laser into my innermost plumbing.

Which makes me think of the word ouch, an interjection expressing unexpected pain. How is this handled in other languages? Looking at Wiktionary it appears that ai, au, and [ox] are common equivalents in Indo-European languages.

Looking up ouch in some of the hardcopy dictionaries in my collection, I found the following:

Italian: ahi
Ojibwe: yawenh
Lakota: yuŋ
Esperanto: aj, aŭ, huj

Various sources for Japanese give itai, wa' (that's a "truncated wa"), or ite. It seems to me that in the anime and jdorama programs I've watched, the Japanese sometimes say itetete – a string of te syllables, unlike anything else I have heard, but vaguely similar to the noises that some English-speakers make when shivering in extreme cold.

Many of the dictionaries in my collection do not give an equivalent for ouch, which is unfortunate but not surprising. Interjections and onomatopes are often neglected by bilingual dictionary editors.