LINGUIST List 14.2406

Fri Sep 12 2003

Qs: 'Yes' in Langs; Clipped Compound Words

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  1. Steve Parker, the word meaning 'yes'
  2. Stefan Th. Gries, In search of complex clippings ...

Message 1: the word meaning 'yes'

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 01:32:14 +0000
From: Steve Parker <>
Subject: the word meaning 'yes'

When I worked in Peru I noticed that the word for 'yes' in many
Amazonian languages displays striking phonetic
similarity. Specifically, it tends to contain a glottal consonant
and/or a nasalized vowel, as in the English affirmation grunt
''uh-huh''. Since then I have collected similar forms in more than 400
languages all over the world. I would like to increase my database, so
I am asking for more examples of 'yes' which contain either an /h/
and/or a glottal stop and/or a nasalized vowel. The information I
request is (1) name of language, (2) country where spoken, and (3)
transcription of the word meaning 'yes', preferrably in as much
phonetic detail as possible. Also, if the word violates one or more
otherwise regular phonotactic constraints of the language, I would
like to know that. For example, it may be the only word containing
that particular consonant or a nasalized vowel, etc. Thank you very

Steve Parker
Summer Institute of Linguistics
Papua New Guinea 
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Message 2: In search of complex clippings ...

Date: Wed, 10 Sep 2003 15:21:25 +0200
From: Stefan Th. Gries <>
Subject: In search of complex clippings ...

Dear colleagues

I am looking for examples of what has been called "complex clippings" or
"clipped compounds", i.e. cases where a new word is formed out of the
beginnings of two other words. Textbook examples include the following:
- comintern (communist + international);
- Amerind (American Indian);
- modem (modulator + demodulator);
- cyborg (cybernetic + organism); and
- agitprop (agitation + propagande).
Does anybody have additional examples and/or can point me to references or
collections of such coinages? Thanks in advance; I'll post a summary.


Stefan Th. Gries
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IFKI, Southern Denmark University
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