Does Heaven Have a "Huh?"

Can you believe it? Earth may boast (according to wiki.answers.com) 23,259,475,120 dialects, but researchers have discovered in a new study that when it comes to confusion, we all speak the same language! No kidding. It turns out that our English word, “Huh?”, is about as universal as it gets. The so-called “Huh-hunters” (linguistic anthropologists) headed to remote villages on five continents and examined ten very different languages. After weeks of trust-building and observation, these scientists discovered the startlingly similar sounding “Huh?” in all the languages and dialects. In English when we interject the word “Huh?” into our conversations we are inserting a word that “plays a crucial role in conversations, according to Herbert Clark, a Stanford University psychologist who studies languages. When one person misses a bit of information and the line of communication breaks, there needs to be a quick and effective way to fix it, he said” (South Bend Tribune 11-11-13). And so we interrupt with a “Huh?” to ask for clarification or to offer our incredulity, our disbelief. Guess what—we’re not alone. These researchers found a tonally equivalent and remarkably similar word in all ten languages. “All the words had a single syllable, and they were typically limited to a low-front vowel, something akin to ‘ah’ or ‘eh.’” And “every version of ‘Huh?’ was clearly a word because it passed two key tests . . . : Each ‘Huh?’ had to be learned by speakers and [had to] follow the rules of its language” (ibid.). For example, when we English speakers ask a question, our voices rise at the end of a sentence—and that’s exactly how we speak the word “Huh?” But when Icelanders ask a question, their voices drop at the end—which is precisely how they treat “Ha?” (their equivalent of “Huh?). Confused yet? As Amina Khan put it in the Los Angeles Times, “Humans speak many languages but we may be united in our confusion” (ibid.). Indeed! So does Heaven have a “Huh?” Does God ever listen to you or me praying and find Himself having to interject a “Huh?” into our monologue? In this season of thanksgiving and gratitude, I suppose it could be a head-scratcher to be the Creator and Sustainer of the universe—who provides for our deepest needs 24/7—but who listens in on prayers that are utterly unmindful of all His blessings and are totally preoccupied with all my wants. “Huh?” “The soul may ascend nearer heaven on the wings of praise.” “We should keep in our thoughts every blessing we receive from God, and when we realize His great love, we should be willing to trust everything to the hand that was nailed to the cross for us” (Steps to Christ 104). This Thanksgiving why not take that hand in gratitude and turn our “Huh?” into “Amen.”

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