Discourse particle

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In linguistics, a discourse particle is a lexeme (word or phrase) or particle that adds no direct semantic meaning in the context of a sentence, having rather a pragmatic function: it indicates the speaker's attitude, or helps structure their interactions with other participants in a conversation. Discourse particles are primarily a feature of spoken language; in written language they indicate an informal or jocular tone.

Examples[edit]

Examples in English:

  • Used to heighten the speaker's attitude; often one of disagreement or surprise:
    • well; for example, used in "Well, I wouldn't say that." or "Well, look who it is!"
    • you know (often spelled "y'know" or "ya know"); for example, in "It's not as easy as that, y'know."
  • Used to diminish the effect of otherwise exaggerated or intense language:
    • like; for example, used in "It can drive some parents, like, insane."[1]

"Huh" — the universal syllable[edit]

Research has shown that the word/syllable "Huh" is perhaps the most recognized syllable throughout the world, including variations of "mama" and "papa."[2] It is an interrogative. This crosses geography, language, cultures and nationalities.[3] See Huh Wiktionary.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Lotozo, Eils (September 4, 2002). "The way teens talk, like, serves a purpose". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  Citing Siegel, Muffy E. A. (2002). "Like: The Discourse Particle and Semantics". Journal of Semantics 19 (1): 35–71. doi:10.1093/jos/19.1.35. 
  2. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (November 9, 2013). "The Syllable that Everyone Understands". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013. 
  3. ^ Dingemanse, Mark; Torreira, Francisco; Enfield, N. J. (2013). "Is "Huh?" a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items PLoS ONE 8(11): e78273". doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078273. 

References[edit]

  • Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard (1998). The Function of Discourse Particles: A study with special reference to spoken standard French. Philadelphia: Benjamins. ISBN 1-55619-815-9.