[Lingtyp] Uncertainty over the use of the term "vocative" in this instance

JOO, Ian [Student] ian.joo at connect.polyu.hk
Tue May 11 00:24:59 UTC 2021

Perhaps "sentence-final particle":


From Hong Kong,
On 11 May 2021, 2:11 AM +0800, Thomas Diaz <tsdiaz at buffalo.edu>, wrote:
Hello all,

I am writing a grammatical description of a language called Heyo, a Torricelli language spoken in northwestern Papua New Guinea, for my dissertation. I have come across a clitic =o that I am not sure what to call. I am currently calling/glossing it as a vocative, as it can serve a vocative function as in the two following examples.

'hey, boy!'

'hey, Tawaks!'

However, its distribution is wider than a true vocative insofar as it can occur at the end of an indicative clause, like the following example (I am simplifying the glosses for the sake of clarity).

naraha'aiun wat=o! habu darai=o!
it.strike.me<http://it.strike.me> COMPL=VOC FUT run=VOC
'It has struck me! I will run away!'

The example is made up of two clauses that, if one simply deleted the "vocative" clitic =o, would be standard indicative clauses. It is clear that the clitic serves to make the utterance more sonorous, analogous to the lengthening of stressed syllables when calling out in English. But I am not certain what would be a term for this form that would not be confusing to a reader.

Thank you ahead of time for any input. I can try to provide more information if something needs clarification.


Thomas S. Diaz (He/Him)
PhD Candidate
Department of Linguistics
University at Buffalo (SUNY)
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