In the broadest sense of the word, a vocable is any meaningful sound uttered by people, such as a word or term, that is fixed by their language and culture. However, use in the broad sense is archaic. The term is currently used for utterances which are not considered words, such as the English vocables of assent and denial, uh-huh /əˈhʌ/ and uh-uh /ˈʌ̃ʔə̃/, or the vocable of error, oh-oh /ˈʌʔoʊ/.
Such non-lexical vocables are often used in music, for example la la la or dum dee dum, or in magical incantations, such as abra-cadabra. Many Native American songs consist entirely of vocables; this may be due to both phonetic substitution to increase the resonance of the song, and to the trade of songs between nations speaking different languages.
Vocables are common as pause fillers, such as um and er in English, where they have little formal meaning and are rarely purposeful.
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