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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more

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Query Details

Query Subject:   Formula for addressing absent reply
Author:   Jan Lindström
Submitter Email:  click here to access email

Linguistic LingField(s):  Anthropological Linguistics

Query:   Dear Linguists,
I would be interested in formulaic expressions from different languages (and dialects) that deal with the problem of an absent reply in a dialogue. That is, when A says ''Hello'' and B does not react to this, whereupon A can comment on B's conduct with some kind of suitable formula.

This subject was raised in a language column in a Finnish newspaper, where the formula seemed to be dialectal, for instance: ''Olis tainnu suu kulua jos ois vastannu'' 'It might have worn his/her mouth, if he/she had replied'.

Are such formula known from other languages? For example as a reaction to an absent second-pair greeting or an absent answer to a question?

Many thanks in advance
Jan Lindstr??m
Docent in Scandinavian lgs
University of Helsinki
LL Issue: 15.2560
Date posted: 14-Sep-2004


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