A sharp intake of breath through pursed lips is all it takes to say yes in northern Sweden, a tradition that has been described as the world’s strangest way to indicate the affirmative.
In other parts of the Scandinavian country, a simple “ja” does the trick, but over the years northerners have made things even simpler, to the point where they don’t even have to say anything.
Reporter Oliver Gee from The Local travelled to the region to delve deeper into the bizarre tradition, admitting that at first he thought people were either impressed by him or a little bit shocked.
But locals were very happy to explain the sound to help Gee understand a little better, with some saying that it was even better to accompany the sound with a nonchalant shrug of the shoulders. One women, from Umea, noted that it was so easy because you didn’t even have to open your mouth, while another described it as like sucking a mint.
Swedes from Stockholm and the south revealed that to some extent the sound was being used, with variations like “shoop”, “fjo” and “whoosh” being adopted. However, one commenter, Jan Reuterberg, questioned whether any of the sounds were actually easier than “ja” or a simple nod.
But Stefan Andersson was all for the northerners’ way, noting that it took less energy than an “mm”, which requires exhaling with enough power to arouse your vocal chords, whereas a simple “suup” needs only a quick intake of breath through your teeth.