This week I learnt that the American onomatopoeic expression for sneezing is a little different than the British. Or rather, in British English we have an additional one. I always hesitate to say ‘we’ because a creeping worry that maybe it’s ‘just me’ starts to wiggle in my brain. Anyway, in this case I checked the Cambridge Advanced Learners online dictionary.
It all started when I asked my husband how to spell ‘atishoo.’ He didn’t hear what I said and asked me to repeat it. But even after I had repeated it, his expression was as blank as before.
“I can’t understand what you are saying.”
I overexaggerated a fake sneeze. ” Atishoo, Atishoo! You know, the sound you make when you sneeze. How do you spell it?”
“I’ve never heard anyone sneeze like that. It’s atchoo.”
“Yes, but you can say atishoo, too.” (If only I could have produced my sister and blown some dust in her direction – that’s EXACTLY how she sneezes and the slightest speck of dust will have her atishooing all over the place.)
“I think you are making that up.” (If only I were so creative that I could invent new terms for every day things.)
I then went to the Cambridge Dictionary online and played the pronounciation. Again. And again. And again – so my computer sounded like a hayfever sufferer mid-summer. I love being able to play the pronunciation of words (‘jagUar’ not ‘jagwar’ had to be settled by Cambridge in the past!). Here’s the link to atishoo.