a linguistic universal--huh?

W Brewer brewerwa at GMAIL.COM
Sun Nov 10 01:01:42 UTC 2013

Seem to recall some old discussion of <artikulatorische Ruhelage>, the idea
that every phonological system has a <resting place> for the pullmonic
airstream squished by busy articulators (as manifested in the hesitation
sound); and that the Ruhelage varies by language. For me it's the schwa;
for German it's supposedly closer to epsilon; usw. And -- lo & behold -- we
may have stumbled upon an Urartikulatorischeruhelage (? */proto-schwa/),
not just for proto-Indo-European, nor just for Nostratic, but all the way
back to when our larynges dropped (ontologically at 7 years of age) and set
our tongues to wagging. Huzzah! Gnomebusters have done it again!
Cf. the paralinguistic ways of saying 'yes' & 'no' in English: uh~-huh~ /
mmh-hmmh, etc.  BTW, for me <mmh> means 'I'm listening, keep talking', or a
concomitant with exertion of the sphincter muscle in defecation; for
Taiwanese <mmh> means a definite 'yes'. OTOH, for me, the reduplicated
<mmh-mmh> means definitely <no>. All this primoridal grunting never met the
approval of my grandmother (<Hey!> 's fuh hosses!!).

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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