Wonder Contributors

Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Kaitlyn from Ohio.  She Wonders about how people are different and how people are the same.  What an awesome Wonder, Kaitlyn!

Isn’t the world a WONDERful place? You can spin a globe and stop it at a random place with your finger and discover a whole new world filled with people from different cultures that live lives completely different from yours.

How different can other cultures be? Very different! They can eat different foods and live in different types of houses. They probably speak different languages and have beliefs and customs very different from yours.

But guess what? They can also be similar in ways you might not expect. If you look past the differences, you might be surprised to learn about the ways in which you’re just the same. Did you know you can use these similarities as a way to connect and communicate with people from all sorts of different cultures?

We sometimes call these means of communication universal languages. They’re not formal languages, of course, but they’re ways of sharing thoughts and ideas in ways that transcend mere words.

Some legends hold that, thousands of years ago, there was a single language spoken by everyone on Earth. Of course, historical evidence does not support this claim, but it is fun to think about a time when everyone may have been able to communicate in the same language.

Today, there are thousands of languages spoken around the world, and it’s never too late to learn a new language. Yet, there are some means of communication that go beyond words and allow people of wildly different backgrounds to communicate and share emotions and feelings.

For example, some people believe music is a universal language. There may be some scientific support for this idea, too. Experts have learned that, across cultures, people can recognize three common emotions in music: happiness, sadness and fear.

Music may even be able to cross the divide not only between peoples of different cultures, but also between peoples and other creatures. Music has been known to be a calming influence on all sorts of animals, for example.

So what other types of universal languages might there be? Some people believe dance is a universal language. Along with music, dancing seems to be a common interest shared by peoples all over the world. Do you think you could see a dance from another culture and make some reasonable guesses about the ideas and emotions behind it? We bet you could!

Another universal language that you might not have thought of is mathematics! If you think about it now, though, it just makes sense. The value of pi is roughly 3.14159 no matter where you are on Earth. Likewise, figuring out the value of something involves the same mathematical calculations, regardless of whether you’re counting in dollars, pesos or coconuts!

20 Join the Discussion

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars  (17 votes, avg. 4.35 out of 5)
  1. Sorry I couldn’t comment yesterday. :( I think tomorrow’s wonder is that How do you shake your eyes?

    BTW, today I’m going to film a Whelen WPS-4004 siren. They go off at 12:00.

    TJ :)

    • Remember when I said I was going to film a siren? I cannot this week, because a baby sitter is coming over from 10:30-12:30. :( :( :(

      But I will for sure next week.

      • Too bad, Wonder Friend TJ! We’re glad you’ll get another chance to film the siren! We hope you have a great time with your babysitter- be an awesome Wonder Friend (we know you ROCK) for your babysitter. Perhaps you can Wonder together about universal languages! :)

    • We’re glad to hear that, Wonder Friend Eldin! What types of universal languages do you think you would use when visiting a foreign country? How would you get around from place to place if you didn’t know that language? :)

    • Hey there, Demitrius, we sure have! We’re so happy you’re here today, Wonder Friend! Universal languages can be many things, but they all have to do with communication! Sometimes it’s a picture or a symbol, like we saw in the Wonder video! We use hand gestures, like a “thumbs up” as a universal sign for GOOD JOB! What about you, Demitrius? :)

  2. Thanks for the great wonder. We really liked your video. What a neat idea for the London Olympics with so many different cultures and languages represented!

    We’re going to try our hand at creating a Universal Language in our summer school classroom. Through pictures and colors hopefully my students will be able to create a unique language that all of their classmates will understand.

    Mrs. Nixon and class

    • We’re so happy you enjoyed our Wonder today, Mrs. Nixon’s WONDERful class! Isn’t it cool to think about how so many people from different parts of the world can communicate through pictures, smiles and hand gestures? AWESOME! :)

      We look forward to hearing about your Universal Language project this summer, Wonder Friends! Keep using your awesome imaginations! :)

  3. Hi Wonderopolis!

    Are there any translator apps for phones or i-Pads? With the video, can you use the hand signals in the booklets instead of showing the book to someone?
    We have some connections because some of us come from different cultures and countries.
    We predict tomorrow’s wonder is about jokes, pranks, trolls, riddles, sheep, tricking people, saying something that you don’t really mean,knock knock jokes, or a joker.

    • Hey Froggy 1! What a great question– there are lots of apps that offer translations from one language to another! Technology is helping us communicate with one another even if we don’t speak the same language! HOW NEAT! :)

      Hand signals are great universal signs– just like clapping or giving a “thumbs up” indicates “GOOD JOB”! We hope you have had a great time WONDERing about all your connections to universal languages. No matter where we’re from, we can find a way to communicate with others! It helps us think creatively, too! :)

      Thanks for ALL your WONDERful predictions, Froggy 1! You have been using your AWESOME imaginations today- we can tell! WOHOO! :)

  4. I find that the wonder of the day is very neat because
    a lot of languge is spoken in my family this is a lot of good
    info in my opinion this is my favorite wonder of the day.

    • Danny, we’re glad to hear about your connections to today’s Wonder! Thanks so much for visiting us and telling us about your very own family languages. We love your enthusiasm! What languages are spoken in your family? :)

  5. I think that this universal language is really cool, my dad said that if I wanted to, I could take some Spanish classes, but I’m going to Florida on June 28th and I’m seeing my Aunt Kenna, mabye she will teach me some new languages. I’m super excited about it, talk to you tomorrow! ~Alexis :)

    • How neat, Alexis! What an awesome opportunity to learn another language this summer! We hope you and your Aunt Kenna have a great time together! We bet you’ll do a lot of WONDERing while you visit her! HOORAY! :)

    • Hi Destiny! How are you? We’re glad you are here today… do you know any universal languages? Perhaps you’ve used hand gestures (like a “thumbs up”) to communicate with someone who does not speak the same language as you! What types of universal languages did you learn about today?

      Here at Wonderopolis, there are girls and boys of all ages who read and respond to our Wonder Friends’ comments! We take turns and we have a great time! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


  • Wonderopolis on Facebook
  • Wonderopolis on Pinterest
  • Print

Have you ever wondered…

  • Do you know a universal language?
  • What are some examples of universal languages?
  • How would you communicate with someone from a foreign country?

Wonder Gallery

Vimeo Video

Try It Out

Do you speak a universal language? Learn more today by exploring one or more of the following activities with a friend or family member:

  • Thinking about a universal language might have you WONDERing about how many different languages there are in the world today. Visit Languages of the World to learn more about the astounding number of languages spoken around the globe. Pick a specific language that sounds interesting and so some independent Internet research to learn more about it.
  • Is mathematics truly a universal language? Visit Math Is Fun to learn more about why some people think so! What do you think? Can you come up with a list of five ways in which math is like a universal language, as well as a list of five ways in which math might arguably not be like a universal language?
  • Up for a challenge? Imagine you’re on an airplane traveling across the world. Unfortunately, your pilot miscalculated the amount of fuel on board, and you have to make a quick landing in a foreign country. Once you’re on the ground, though, the airplane’s engine breaks and you’re stranded. There you are — a stranger in a strange land. Where are you? You quickly determine that you don’t speak the native language. The natives can’t understand you either. How will you communicate with them? Grab a friend or family member and work out ways that you might be able to communicate the following ideas or questions:
    • Where am I?
    • May I have a drink of water?
    • I’m hungry!
    • I don’t feel well.
    • Emergency! My airplane needs gas!

What do you think? Can you speak a universal language the natives will understand? Have fun coming up with ways to communicate that don’t rely on spoken language!

Still Wondering

In ReadWriteThink’s Audience, Purpose, and Language Use in Electronic Messages lesson, children explore using electronic messaging and Internet abbreviations for specific purposes and examine the importance of using a more formal style of writing based on their audience.

Test Your Knowledge

Wonder What’s Next?

Tomorrow’s Wonder of the Day might try to pull the wool over your eyes!

Upload a Photo or Paste the URL of a YouTube or SchoolTube Video.