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Query Details

Query Subject:   aural vs visual dominance in language learning
Author:   David Harris
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Pragmatics

Query:   Mon, 29 Mar 1999 14:54:11 -0500
David Harris
Question about exclamations/interjections

Question about exclamations/interjections:

I am interested in exclamations and, to some degree, interjections. I'd like to get some insight into the variety of semantic functions they have in the various languages of the world, ie. what kinds of meanings are typically covered and what typically isn't. English, for example, has exclamations for demanding someone's attention (Hey!), making a sudden realization/catching someone in the act (Aha!), expressing surprise (Wow!), reaction to pain (Ouch!/Ow!), reaction to cold (Brrrr!), pleasure (Mmmm...), getting back at someone (Ha!), and many of others. I'd like to know if someone has attempted to comprehensively list all the various exclamations found in English (including clicks, whistles, gestures, and whatever other extra-verbal varieties might exist) and in other languages. I managed to track down a Spanish-English Dictionary of Exclamations in the library, but it seemed to place more emphasis on real words and phrases that are used in exclamatory fashions such as ''Praise the Lord!'' Otherwise, there doesn't seem to be much
out there.

I'm also interested in the crossover between exclamations and interjections, i.e. words that can be used independently but which have meaning within a sentence, as well. For example, in English, the word ''Ha!'' is often used to express the concept of besting someone else or, perhaps, to express pleasure at someone else's bad luck. This can be inserted into a sentence like the following: ''I told Mom that you hit me and now she says I can hit you back so ha!'' or ''I knew he had a way with women, but wow!'' Incidentally, I guess ''wow'' used as a verb would apply here, too, as in ''You really wowed them with that speech about Arctic vacation destinations.''

Durbin Feeling's Cherokee-English dictionary has a small section on exclamations. It seems that many of the items mentioned there double as independent forms (which, I believe, qualify as exclamations) and items used in phrases (which are, I believe, interjections). ''Hv'', for example, ('v' is pronounced as a nasalized schwa rhyming with the male form of the French indefinite article 'un') which pretty much means the same thing as English ''huh'' can be used as a clitic on the end of nouns and verbs or as an
independent item. The former is similar to the meaning in English ''Pretty good, huh?'' while the latter means the same as (and sounds almost the same as) independent English ''Huh?''

Any help you can give me would be much appreciated. Thanks,

-David Harris,
Washington, DC
LL Issue: 10.464
Date posted: 29-Mar-1999


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