Conversational Noises

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Conversational Noises

Post by JoeFlapjack » Sun Jan 27, 2008 5:57 pm

I have been working on conversational noises and cannot find a comprehensive online listing, or "correct" spellings. The easy ones are things like "Hmmm" (as in ponder), "Mmmm" (as in tastes good), "Uhhh" (as in converstional pause or misunderstanding) -- you get the idea.

First, is there a term (other than 'conversational noises') that defines these type of "words"? I do not think "onomatopoeia" is correct, as it is an imitation of an existing sound, rather than the sound itself.

Second, is there some listing or guide to common American English noises and their spelling?

Examples include:

"tsk, tsk, tsk" or "tisk, tisk, tisk"
"Pfft" or "Phfft" or "Pffft" (as in "pfft, it vanished")
"Pthffft" or "Thffft" (as in the Bronz cheer)
"phht" or "phfff" (as in "Phht, that cannot be true")
"Mnnn" or "Hmmn" (as in "Mnn, that was a low blow")

Many thanks

Conversational Noises

Post by Tony Farg » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:29 pm

What a really interesting topic.
There are loads of them...
oohffff (that's a surprise)
uerrh? (pardon)
mmm (yes)
ah-ah (no)
Hard to spell, though.
I await somebody's erudite response to Joe's query.mmmm? (ok?)

Conversational Noises

Post by dalehileman » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:31 pm

Joe you've probably been there already, but if not you might try something like this ... gle+Search

Apparently it all fits on one line but if not my abject apologies

Conversational Noises

Post by Tony Farg » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:38 pm

dale, I just went to your link. What help was it meant to be please?

Conversational Noises

Post by p. g. cox » Sun Jan 27, 2008 6:56 pm

Dale, I found a useful site for shortening those long URLs into manageable ones.
Signature: Pete.

Conversational Noises

Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun Jan 27, 2008 7:54 pm

JoeFJ, Try searching under various permutations and combinations of the following and you will find quite a bit on what you are looking for:

Non-lexical or nonlexical, non-word or nonword vocalizations or conversational sounds .

Also, try including a few examples such as hmm, uh-huh, psst, phew, tsk tsk, ugh, aha, . . . in your search.

I did find these vocalizations/sounds discussed under the heading (and thus as an implied subset of), ‘paralanguage,’ although, strictly speaking it does not appear to be a ‘vocal feature’ as defined below:

PARALANGUAGE [1955-1960]: Vocal features that accompany speech and contribute to communication but are not generally considered to be part of the language system, as vocal quality, loudness, and tempo: sometimes also including facial expressions and gestures. (Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary)

Ken G – January 27, 2008

Conversational Noises

Post by JANE DOErell » Sun Jan 27, 2008 9:24 pm

At Tostmasters we called them "vocal hesitations". Google has a few hundred hits on the phrase.

The people who do transcriptions from audio to paper have to deal with these vocal hesitations a lot. I don't know what they call them but I have seen mention of such things in discussions of transcriptions.

Conversational Noises

Post by dalehileman » Sun Jan 27, 2008 10:07 pm

Tony, a suggested means or approach

pg: Yes I know about that service but if it occupies only a single line, why bother

Conversational Noises

Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon Jan 28, 2008 3:51 am

.. ho Joe .. the Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar tells us ..
interjection A minor word-class whose members are outside normal clausal structure, having no syntactical connection with other words, and generally having emotive meanings.

Example: aha, alas, eh?, oops, sh!

Several interjections involve sounds that are not among the regular speech sounds of English, e.g. those represented in writing by tut-tut, which is actually a sequence of alveolar clicks, or ugh, in which gh represents a voiceless velar fricative /x/ (as in the Scottish pronunciation of loch).
.. so I had a further look for lists and spellings and found that contributors to various websites get their interjections mixed up with their exclamations .. an example of this is the list provided at Wiktionary ..this is a mixed list but the vast majority are not interjections within the meaning put forward by the Oxford definition quoted above ..

.. the following may be useful for you it is from A Collection of Word Oddities and Trivia, p17 ..
There are 148 interjections in MWCD10. The complete list: adios, ah, aha, ahem, ahoy, alack, alas, all hail, alleluia, aloha, amen, attaboy, auf wiedersehen, aw, ay, bah, begorra, bejesus also bejeezus, bingo, bleep, boo, by or bye, bye-bye or by-by, cheerio, cheers, ciao, crikey or crickey, cripes, dear, egad or egads, eh, eureka, faugh, fie, fore, gad, gadzooks, gar, gardyloo, gee, gee whiz, gesundheit, glory or glory be, golly, gosh, gramercy, ha, ha-ha, hail, hallelujah, haw, heads up, heigh-ho, hem, hep, hey, hey presto, heyday, hi, hip, hist, ho, ho hum, hollo also holloa or holla, hoot or hoots, hosanna also hosannah, hot dog, howdy, hoy, huh, humph, hup, hurrah also hurray, hut, jeepers also jeepers creepers, jeez, jingo, la, lackaday, lo, lo and behold, lordy, marry, my word, od or odd, oh, ooh, oops, ouch, ow, pardie or pardi or pardy, phew, phooey, pip-pip, pish, poof, pooh, prithee, prosit or prost, pshaw, quotha, rah, rats, righto, roger, selah, sh, shalom, shalom aleichem, shoo, shoot, so long, touche, tush, tut, tut-tut, ugh, uh-huh, uh-oh, uh-uh, view halloo, viva, voila, waesucks, wahoo, welcome, well, wellaway, whee, whoopee, why, wilco, wirra, wisha, woe, wow, yech or yecch, yikes, yippee, yo, yoicks, yoo-hoo, yuck also yuk, yum-yum, zap, zooks, zounds, zowie.
In addition, MWCD10 says these words are often used interjectionally: adieu, au revoir ball, bam, bang, bon voyage, bosh, bother, botheration, boy, brava, bravo, come on, f***, fudge, go to, good-by, goodness, hard cheese, hard lines, hello, here, huzza, indeed, Jove, know, like, man, mean, my, nerts, no sweat, peace, period, rather, right on, rot, shuck, silence, skoal, so, son of a b****, son of a gun, there, timber, truly, whatever, whew, whisht, whist, whoop, whoosh.
MWCD11, published in 2003, added the interjection OY, which it dated to 1892.
The Oxford Dictionary of English, published in 2003, added the interjection BADA BING (also "bada bing bada boom") as an exclamation to emphasize that something will happen effortlessly and predictably.
The OED2 lists 168 interjections, some with alternate spellings. The interjections with the most recent first citations are YEUCH (1979), YUCK (1966), KAY (1959), and ROG (1955) [Philip Bennett].
.. again some of these words seem to fall into the exclamation catergory but it's their list .. and Joe if you really want to salivate over interjections I can give you the following abstract ..
Abstract. The paper is concerned with the most important aspects of English interjections, giving a more detailed account of the difference between exclamations and interjections, the formal characteristics of the latter, their sentence position and the meaning implications of this part of speech. The analysis is complemented with a comprehensive list of interjections that are used in the English language with corresponding explanations of their meaning.
Source: FACTA UNIVERSITATIS. Series: Linguistics and Literature Vol. 3, No 1, 2004, pp. 17 – 28.
.. well mate that seems like it is a good start for you ..

WoZ of Aus 28/01/08

PS .. if any WWs have several days and want to go mindnumbing mad then take a look at the Word Oddities and Trivia site I referenced above .. who ARE these people and what do they do with their lives ???? ..

Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."

Conversational Noises

Post by MamaPapa » Tue Jan 29, 2008 10:01 pm

I would describe such a word used this way as an "onomatopoetic interjection" --- a word formed in imitation of a natural sound and interjected in a phrase or sentence. I think the key here is "word". Where the speaker vocalizes an emotional interjection that really does imitate a natural "your, ahem, slip is showing" to discreetly clear the throat or "uh-uh, don't touch that" to a child near a stove. I highlight "word" because I believe there are many instances where sounds creep into conversations but are not vocalized sounds intentionally or unintentionally fostering the conversation : The asthmatic who wheezes when he talks, abrupt and sometimes odd consonant-word-endings caused by ill-fitting dentures, or lisps and speech impairments, to name just a few.

Expounding on Jane's comment above: It is a real sore-spot for court reporters and the like who must PRECISELY transcribe testimony. Here, court reporters use a 3-second count for pauses---which are then transcribed as 3-dots (if longer than 6 seconds they type the word "pause"). They can't type breathing, teeth-chattering, or teeth-sucking sounds as those are not allowed in transcript. However, most other vocalizations are recorded. I have one transcript where the defendant (in an harassment suit, no less) utters "rarrrr". [He also made a simultaneous hand gesture like little cat claws; however, the gesture had to be/was requested by the prosecution to be noted in the record]. This did not help his case!
Signature: Mama

Conversational Noises

Post by Phil White » Wed Jan 30, 2008 11:18 am

I'm not sure "onomatopoetic" or "onomatopoeic" fit here. "Uh-uh" or "tsk-tsk", for instance, are transcriptions of sounds that stand for themselves. The sound "uh-uh" is onomatopoeic of nothing. "Wheee" is onomatopoeic of, for instance, a whistle, but "uh-uh" is a sound that does not represent anything else in the natural world.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

Conversational Noises

Post by gdwdwrkr » Wed Jan 30, 2008 1:03 pm

Except "grunting".

I watched a man use "Tsss" as a signal between himself and his children. In public, it was an elegant code which worked well and had obviously been backed up by good discipline.
Two sounds are useful for communication with dogs and cats: "Tssss" through clenched teeth for 'no', 'go', and 'bad...don't do that', and "[inhaled kissing sound through tightly pursed lips]" for 'yes', 'come', and 'good'.
Try them. Your pet will understand them almost immediately. (Use them very sparingly on spouse, though...)

Conversational Noises

Post by Liam - Galway » Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:30 pm

A bit off the point, but this posting reminded me of the great Victor Borge & his phoenetic punctuation routine. For anybody who never saw him perform this, would highly recommend checking it out. A version with Dean Martin is on Youtube ( apologies, but as somebody who struggles to find the on-off button on a pc, I can't put in a link)....

Conversational Noises

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Jan 30, 2008 10:39 pm

It's here Liam
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

Conversational Noises

Post by Forum Admin » Thu Jan 31, 2008 12:13 am

Liam, Bob,
May the fleas of a thousand camels infest your enemies in perpetuity!

That was beautiful. A wonderful, nostalgic half hour watching some of the other Borge clips as well.
Signature: Forum Administrator and Site Administrator

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