4

I am not a native English speaker, i don't understand deeply English language. So i just want to ask you this.

Many years ago, maybe before 2000, i seldom heard English people say “Uh huh”, “Uh huh” when expressing that they are understanding in a conversation. Instead, most people use "ok","ok" to express that they understand what the opposite person is talking.

But now i heard this word every where, they even use this term in country like China & many other countries (I means some Chinese people use "Uh huh" in their conversation is not rare though English is not their language).

I think “Uh huh” in other countries (especially in Asia) is a quite rude expression if u say like that to older people.

So, When was “Uh huh” invented? is “Uh huh” a formal English?

  • I find it interesting that you say Chinese people now use ‘uh-huh’ in conversations nowadays. Ten years ago, when I was living in China, several of my Chinese friends actually asked me what it meant because they didn’t understand it when they heard me use it when speaking to other friends in English. They thought it meant, “Huh, what?” and were wondering why we seemed to never understand each other! Using it in Chinese would still be very clumsy and strange for me, I think—I automatically switch to that nondescript ‘aw, aw, aw’ sound instead. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Oct 25 '13 at 17:05
  • exactly, 10 years ago, if u say "Uh huh" to a Chinese (may know a bit English) they won't understand anything. But now seem many Chinese people can understand. – UtUt Nov 16 '13 at 0:21
  • In my experience the double "ok", is not actually used by native speakers, but common in ESL. – Keith Dec 30 '16 at 5:17
6

The OED has it from a 1924 Dialect Notes:

Uh-húh, yes.

But as a part of speech, it will have been used much before that and will be hard to find in print, although I did find an 1858 in the White Cloud Kansas Chief:

"Her name is Peggy ?"

"Uh, huh."

It's often used to acknowledge to a speaker that you're still listening and paying attention, or to answer "yes" to a question.

I'd say it's definitely informal and a simple "yes" or other word should be used in the more formal settings where "uh-huh" may be considered impolite.

  • can u send me the link saying about its history as U said "The OED has it from a 1924 Dialect Notes"? – UtUt Oct 25 '13 at 10:52
  • Here's the link. It's requires a subscription, but you may be able to access through your library. I also found an 1858, see edit. – Hugo Oct 25 '13 at 11:00

protected by Mitch Dec 30 '16 at 4:18

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality or spam answers that had to be removed, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site (the association bonus does not count).

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.