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I often see the Esperanto laugh as "ĥaĥa" or some variation using "ĥ". I know that Esperanto is pronounced as written, but this seems like a very odd choice, laŭ mia opinio.

I have tried to verbalize that laugh, and it feels difficult to do, so I was wondering if there might be some way that I was actually mispronouncing that sound...

  • I suggest you edit your question since "ĥaĥa" is not THE "Esperanto Laugh" – Vanege Sep 18 '16 at 21:53
  • Czechs laught with ĥaĥa (spelled cha cha), I suppose that would extend to other Slavic nations. It's meant to sound more or less like the first two types here... enjoy :-) – La Vo-o Oct 25 '16 at 22:32
  • I know some people who laugh like that. – Lumo5 May 16 '17 at 14:49
  • @Lumo5 Really? Do you have a video to show what it sounds like? (Maybe like, X person in Y movie), etc. – Aubrey Lavigne May 28 '17 at 23:32
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There is no official way to laugh in Esperanto. I have read everything from ha ha ha, ahahaha, ĥaĥaĥa but the most common by far (in Telegram) is "hahaha". It sounds like "hahaha".

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Note: I do see a lot of "ĥaĥaĥa" in some Facebook groups. Is there a portugese/spanish influence?

  • 2
    Do Brazilian Esperanto Speakers laugh with "ĥ"? – Aubrey Lavigne Sep 18 '16 at 21:50
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    I think in Spanish people laugh as "jaja" and the 'j' is pronounced as "ĥ". If I remember correctly in Portuguese they actually write "kkk" for laughing! – Neil Roberts Sep 18 '16 at 22:18
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    As a brazilian, before "kkkk" was invented, people regularly used "haha", because it's close enough to the ĥ sound – Fer22f Sep 18 '16 at 23:57
  • Fake Russian accent. Since the Russian "h" isn't the Esperanto"h", this is pretty amusing. – Charlotte SL Sep 19 '16 at 5:43
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    Zamenhof wrote it with commas as Ha, ha, ha! – Andrew Woods Sep 19 '16 at 14:28
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The most formally correct way to write laughter in Esperanto is "ha ha ha". That is, the word "ha" repeating two or more times. This form is found in dictionaries. (e.g. here and here)

(There should formally be spaces between the syllables, because writing "hahaha" as one word technically implies stress on the second to last syllable: haha. Although in informal contexts, which is most of the time in Esperantujo, it's acceptable to ignore this rule in my opinion. Especially in this case, because it's not really a word.)

However, "ha ha ha" is more than an expression in the dictionary. Most of all it's an imitation of the actual sound people make when laughing. And since people can laugh in different ways, laughter can also be written using different variations, imitating the actual sound. For example, "a ha ha", "he he he", "ho ho ho", "mŭa ha ha", "ni hi hi", and yes, also "ĥa ĥa ĥa".

You say this feels difficult to pronounce to you, but that is a matter of perspective. As someone who has both an h sound and a ĥ sound in their native language, "ĥa ĥa ĥa" feels to me like a totally natural variation of "ha ha ha". In fact, I regularly use a ĥ sound when I actually laugh. Most often at the start. ("ĥa ha ha") Or, when chuckling, it might even come out as "ĥ ĥ ĥ".

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I'd write the normal Esperanto laugh as "hahaha" or "ha, ha, ha" (as Andrew commented that Zamenhof did. To me, the ĥaĥaĥa is something I use to show a fake Russian accent. Imagine the Russian "h", which is much deeper and more like something between an "h" and a "g". Maybe something like "sha, sha, sha". But notice that the ĥ here is not actually different from the normal ĥ as in "eĥo". If you want to say "ĥaĥaĥa", that's exactly how you say it, with the normal "ĥ" pronunciation.

The one thing that makes it more Esperanto is of course adding the diacritics.

I'd recommend that you laugh saying "ha, ha, ha". But I'd prefer that you simply laugh, without thinking of the sound you make. Laughter is universal. We might write it differently in the languages we use, but it isn't all that different.

  • I prefer the example that "ĥ" sounds like the "ch" in loch. Much closer to the correct sound than "sh" . It's a voiceless velar fricative. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Voiceless_velar_fricative (sound example there too) – masukomi Sep 21 '16 at 20:39
  • Please add/edit my answer! I agree with you! (however, some people pronounce the Ch in loch like a k... 😊) – Charlotte SL Sep 22 '16 at 8:41

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