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Why do we say 'ow'?

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    You know you've been on TSR too long when someone hurts themselves and the first thing you think of is the title of your next thread.
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    (Original post by karateworm)
    Are there any internationals here who can tell us what the words for "ouch" or "ow" in your mother tongue are?
    http://translate.google.com/#en|hi|ouch%0A%0A%0A
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    I suspect it might be because it's something easy to say without much thought.

    Maybe we're hardwired to make noise when we experience sudden unexpected pain...perhaps it comes from a time when being attacked by wild animals was a realistic possibility and maybe a sudden noise would startle the animal enough to make it go away? Just a massive stab in the dark :confused:
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    (Original post by patrickinator)
    Hmmm. interesting question. It is definately a conscious decision. I would probably say it warns others of dangers or that you have been hurt increasing your chances of survival.
    sounds legit. would be a very good adaptation to have in a group hunter /gatherer culture, though it would be useful for any social organism that relys on others to survive.
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    "Ow" is a diphthong somewhere in the range /ɑu~au~ɐu/. The first bit is easily explained, since if you just open your mouth without any particular movement of your tongue you get a low vowel. Indeed people are just as likely to reflexively say /a:/ if they hurt themselves. This is a universal.

    The /u/ part is just the effect of you closing your mouth and rounding your lips afterwards. This is probably because you feel a need to tense your muscles, and if you want to tense your lip muscles but still let sound out you have to round them, otherwise they will close like you are saying /m/. I would say when you stretch, that is, tense as many muscles as you can, you also make either a /m/ (nasal escape) or a /u/ (oral escape).

    The second bit is probably just bull**** though.

    You probably don't say "ow" /au/, probably a much laxer approximation and you then think you said /au/ because of spelling pronunciation.
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    I don't know! But i only say it when i'm not hurt, it's like a reflex. If i accidentally hit my hand on the table "Ow." If i ACTUALLY hurt myself it's more like "SONOVAB****!!!", always awkward when there are children about.

    I also do that thing where when someone else hurts themselves i say "Ouch" in a sympathetic way. It probably comes across as patronising, actually...
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    You're letting others around you know that you suffered pain - they can then tell (roughly) the severity and cause. Seems entirely evolutionary (and sensible) to me.
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    I'd say that when we experience sudden and unexpected pain, we tend to sharply exhale from shock to start with.

    Then, because everyone's secretly a massive diva, we add sounds to that exhaling and 'ow' happens to be pretty innate because you get used to it, but if you're feeling like a massive queen then you replace that with 'MOTHER****ER!' or similar.

    When it's continual pain such as a really bad headache, we might go 'ow ow ow owwwwiee owww', or when someone bites your finger really hard for ages you might go 'Owww Charrlieeee, that hurts!', I think this is being dramatic too. You could just man up.

    On a more scientific level, for serious pain such as broken bones, I think that by screaming really loudly, you're overwhelming the brain with neural activity, somewhat dumbing down the painful sensation.
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    (Original post by Anna150)
    I don't know! But i only say it when i'm not hurt, it's like a reflex. If i accidentally hit my hand on the table "Ow." If i ACTUALLY hurt myself it's more like "SONOVAB****!!!", always awkward when there are children about.

    I also do that thing where when someone else hurts themselves i say "Ouch" in a sympathetic way. It probably comes across as patronising, actually...
    I don't know whether you're even slightly interested, but I read up on these things we have called 'mirror neurons', which effectively echo what we see other people experience in our brain. Therefore, when you see this person hurt themselves, you have a pseudo-experience of that in your brain solely (hence no actual pain comes from your arm or whatever), and you empathise with their pain by saying/thinking 'OUCH'.

    Of course, this is all my personal theorising from the reading I mentioned.
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    On thinking about it, I tend to say 'ow' when I'm not actually hurt, like if something hits me and I'm expecting it to hurt/think it should have hurt. When I'm genuinely in pain I'll make some sort of noise, sort of like "aachhhhyeee"
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    (Original post by Ice Constricter)
    We always hear others say it from a young age so we copy them to say it until it becomes an involuntary response to pain.

    And you just created a thread right? But why on earth is it called a 'thread'? We aren't sewing anything.
    Thread of discussions perhaps?
    Each thread is the same piece of string or uhm, thread, :dontknow:

    Also, it can possibly depend on cultures or where you're brought up, I mean, you get some people saying "Aaeee" etc.
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    Russian Ive heard the following used:

    OIIIII
    Blin
    Yob tvoyu
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    (Original post by Ice Constricter)
    We always hear others say it from a young age so we copy them to say it until it becomes an involuntary response to pain.

    And you just created a thread right? But why on earth is it called a 'thread'? We aren't sewing anything.
    It's a thread of conversation, but I think it's probably rooted in computer programming, where a thread is like a specific run of part of a computer program. A program can spawn multiple threads of the same code, say, one for each user of a website.
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    (Original post by This Honest)
    So you swear like the majority of us teens
    Hmm, sometimes

    If it's really bad then I just breathe in really deeply and don't say anything, it depends on whether I was surprised and hurt, that's what makes me swear (eg slipping over on ice or something).
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    (Original post by karateworm)
    Are there any internationals here who can tell us what the words for "ouch" or "ow" in your mother tongue are?
    It's not drastically different but in Germany they say 'owa' rather than just 'ow'.

    Therefore proving, I think, that it is basically part of our language, and is learnt from copying others.

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