So what is it?

We have this ongoing Puzzle fest at work. Someone puts up a puzzle on the whiteboard and we all try to solve it whenever we get a chance between busy sessions of cranking code. Lends excitement, fosters debate, sometimes fierce and helps build camaraderie. Our CEO who sits in an office couple of doors away from mine, is simply amazing at solving these incredibly fast. He solved this Mensa puzzle in under 3 minutes while my office-mate and I were still trying to understand what the puzzle was all about.

Recently, I put up this one.

What is pronounced the same in ALL languages?

This “puzzle” is kind of “invented”. Googling hasn’t come up, yet, with any reference to the question, so for now, I’m taking credit for “inventing” it.

Anyways, what is the answer you ask. The answer I thought was suitable is “Your Name”. My argument is, your name is the sound your parents deemed to represent your name. Most times this is usually in your native tongue. Jim, our CEO took issue and said it’s not the case. The case in the point is Jesus. In English it is pronounced as Jee-sus. However, ask a Mexican and he will say its Hey-soos. The “J” pronounced like the English “H”. But I argued that Jesus is an English name and its still Jesus in any language. The J is an English character and Spanish just happens to use the same character to represent the sound made by English “H”. I argued that “Jim” is “Jim” in any language and if a Mexican called him Mr. Him he would take exception.

 But then you can argue that some languages do not have certain sounds. Take my name. Ramesh. The English characters R-A-M-E-S-H DO NOT represent the true sound of my name in Sanskrit or my native language Kannada. It’s just an approximation. English does not have the “Ra” sound, at least as for as I know. The “R” is rolled like the “R” sound in burrito. So is my name pronounced the same in English and Sanskrit based languages? I think my argument breaks downs and I have to concede that Jim is right.

My office-mate, Greg, has an answer that I think is way better than mine and close to ideal.


Music is the “pronounced” the same in all languages. Music theory may be different in different cultures, but the sounds that represent music in one language is the same in another.

So, dear reader, what do YOU think is pronounced the same in ALL languages? Or does this question not have a good answer?


About Ramesh Sringeri

Yet another chaos monkey. View all posts by Ramesh Sringeri

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