So I was recently curious about the sound that people sneeze with in other languages and was surprised to notice the difference between the English onomatopoetic word "Achoo" and that of other languages in the same family. For example:
German - hatschi
Dutch - hatsjie
However some of our sibling languages are closer:
Icelandic - atsjú
Norwegian - aatsjoo
Interestingly, most of the world seems to pronounce their sneeze more like modern Germans than modern Americans (basically all of Eastern Europe, Russia and Asia will end their sneezes with a short i instead of a long o).
Does anyone have any ideas why the pronunciation differs between ending in a short i in many closely related languages and a long o in English? Presumably people talked and wrote about sneezing relatively early on before these languages broke up so there should be some sort of proto-English pronunciation that either split during a period when most of these branches hadn't extended far, or English changed its common representation of the sneeze at some point in history. Does anyone know of a time in English's history when our sneezes ended in 'i' or a time in German/Dutch history when the 'oo' was favored?
Note that the OED traces the word back to the early 19th century, always spelled ending in the 'oo' sound and not a short 'i':
Forms: α. 18–19 aitchoo, 18– achew, 18– achoo, 18– ahchew, 19 ahschoo, 19 ahshoo, 19– ahchoo, 19– atchoo, 20– aitshoo.
β. 19 achoos.