Around the World: Laughing Through Text

They say you learn something new every day, but today’s piece of knowledge is sure to make you smile as it did me. One of the wonders of modern technology and social media is the ability to interact with our students outside of the classroom. And through this, I’ve noticed things that I’ve never thought about before….one of my favorite being how we laugh through text.

For an English speaker like me, I prefer to use the simple ‘hahaha’. There are a few of us that prefer ‘lol’ (which, in my opinion, normally stands for I-say-I’m-laughing-but-I’m-not). I’ve even seen a few ‘hehe’s’ here and there. But a few months ago I noticed a Spanish friend using ‘jajajaja’ and it only took me a few seconds to realize it was in place of ‘haha’. It’s a clear representation of the language and I was thoroughly amazed that I’d never thought about it before.

Of course, Spanish and English aren’t the only languages that laugh differently through text. After doing my research on the matter, I noticed that I’ve been in contact with a few of them before without realizing what they meant.

For example – kkkkkkkkkkkkkkk
And the mysterious ^^ and ~~

Of course, it’s easy to explain why Spanish speakers use ‘jaja’ and Russian speakers may use ‘xaxa’ – linguistics. But textual-laughter like the Japanese “~~~”  or Korean and Chinese “^^” required a bit more research. Upon looking, I learned that they are the western keyboard equivalents for the Chinese character 笑  (laugh).

Just can’t explain kkkkkkk, wkwkwkw, and rrrrrrrr. Any help, guys?

Here are all of the examples of international laughs in text that I was able to find (credit to Fiona’s ESL Blog)…

Swiss – hehe or hihi
Spanish – jajaja
Portugese, Arabic (?) – kkkkkkk, hhhhhh
Japanese – ~~~ or ^^
Korean, Chinese – ^^
French, English – hahaha
Greek, Russian – xaxa
Indonesian – wkwkwkwk
Ukranian – rrrrrrrr

Hope you were as amused as I was. Please leave a comment or any other laughter from around the world!

Japanese Week @ University of Stirling

“The programme begins on Tuesday 19 March with a joint lecture by Japanese sculptor Hironori Katagiri and his wife and fellow artist Kate Thompson.  The couple, who actively promote sculpture in Scotland and Japan, will discuss and exhibit the work of 22 artists who were affected by the tsunami and nuclear disaster in Japan in March 2011.  They will then talk about their public sculptures installed at the University and invite their audience on a tour of their artworks around campus.

One of the highlights of Japanese Week is a symposium on Thursday 21 March, entitled ‘Japan and Scotland: a Shared History and a Shared Future’. Held in association with the Consulate General of Japan and the Japan Society of Scotland, this stimulating event will invite audience members to participate in a Q&A with the discussion panel – to debate the future collaborative opportunities that exist between the two countries.

Panellists include Professor Gerry McCormac, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University; Mr Richard Lochhead MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs and the Environment; Councillor Mike Robbins, Provost of Stirling; and Reverend Professor Stuart Picken, Chair of the Japan Society of Scotland.  After the symposium, audience members will be invited to a drinks reception and whisky tasting session.

Other events include a screening of the celebrated Japanese film, I Wish (2011); a calligraphy exhibition by one of Japan’s foremost calligraphers followed by a calligraphy workshop with students from Atomi and Waseda Universities in Japan; an Enso dance performance by the Edinburgh-based company LaNua, which gained critical acclaim at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival; a music performance by renowned chamber ensemble, Edinburgh Quartet; and a traditional Japanese tea ceremony.

The event programme is open to everyone.  Most sessions are free to attend, but some must be booked in advance (see the events pages here for further details).”

Japanese Week, University of Stirling

SSE Alpha Course Classes 2013


On 18 April 2013, Stirling School of English will be offering English classes focusing on spirituality and religious matters. Our aim is to help your English and answer any questions you may have through DVD-based learning and relaxed discussion. Classes begin at 10 am, coffee/snack break at 11:00, and end at noon. For any further information, email us at

Event: February Workshops

2012 SSE February Workshop

As some of you know, last year in February, we held a Writing Workshop for all of those contributing your story to the Stirling School of English booklet. This year, after much consideration, we have decided that instead of another year of creative writing, we are going to turn our booklet into a cook book!

The idea of putting together recipes from so many different countries and regions seemed like such a wonderful keepsake for our students and tutors as well as something to lure the attention of prospective students, workers, and sponsors.

We will be holding two different workshops at The Rock Centre for two different groups. The first workshop will be for Beginner through Pre-Intermediate classes, this Wednesday, 27 February at 11:30 at the Rock Centre. The second workshop will be for Intermediate through Advanced classes, the following week, Tuesday, 5 March at 11:30.

Classes will still be held from 10-11, then groups will combine to discuss their recipes, the layout of the cook book, and any questions they may have. We hope this will be another chance to bond with your tutors and classmates as our other events.

If you have any questions, please email

Friendships & Living Abroad

As a foreign national moving to study, work, or simply experience life in another country, things can be a bit intimidating – especially for those having to learn a new language. It’s not surprising  to find you’ve made close friendships while studying at an English School, as there are so many others that share common factors with you. And it’s wonderful to have the possibility to meet life long friends that are a long way from where they grew up. But I find that, as foreign nationals, we tend to only make friends with people in our situation and neglect the friendships we could and should be making with the rest of the country.

I think we often fear we will be rejected or feel left out, and of course there are sometimes those people that do give us a cold shoulder because of our nationalities, but the reality is that we are most often the ones that give a cold shoulder and don’t give anyone the chance to befriend us.

Since moving here 6 months ago, I’ve noticed myself accidentally doing the same thing at times. As the wife of a Scotsman, I have had the pleasure of meeting his family and friends and calling them close friends of my own. But I realize, that without my husband there as a common factor, I haven’t done a great job on my own of making friends with anyone that isn’t living abroad. And I don’t think I’m the only one.

We quickly find ourselves in a holy huddle with other foreign people living in the country, talking about all the ways in which our culture is different from Scotland’s (even though I’ll admit, it can be a terribly interesting subject).

But my point is – it is easy to learn grammar and even conversational English from your tutor at SSE, but it will come so much quicker if you throw yourself into Scottish culture with Scottish friends. I can’t see a better way to feel more at home than having friends here that will always be there for you. So get out of your comfort zone! Go for a road trip or a night out or even a day in with a group of friends who know Scotland in and out.

Abigail McCormack, Administrator/Media Manager