[Lingtyp] pain interjections

Alex Francois alex.francois.cnrs at gmail.com
Wed Jan 18 18:31:53 UTC 2023

Dear Maïa,

Mwotlap (Oceanic, north Vanuatu) has four interjections for expressing

   - *awē*  [a'wɪ]
   - *awō*  [a'wʊ]
   - *awuu * [a'wu:]
   - *lageh* [la'ɣɛh]

The first three *awē* *– **awō – awuu* are similar in their forms and

   - they occur either alone, or utterance-initially
   - they can be intensified either by lengthening their final vowel (→
   *awēēē*   ~  *awōōō*  ~  *awuuu*)
   or by adding an intensifying /h/ (→ *awēh ! ~ awōh !*)

The fourth one *lageh* is a bit different, being utterance-final ;  it
cannot be lengthened.

That said, these interjections share similar semantics:  they all colexify
*pain* (including violent pain) together with different forms of *strong

   - intense surprise  – including pleasant surprise (“Wow, great!”
   - annoyance
   - intense sadness – (as in mourning)
   - hilarity  – (as in laughing hard)

I just created these dictionary entries for you today, with examples from
my corpus  (including a couple with audio links):

   - *awē
   <https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/a.htm#%E2%93%94aw%C4%93> —* *awō
   <https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/a.htm#%E2%93%94aw%C5%8D> — awuu
   <https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/a.htm#%E2%93%94awuu> —* *lageh
   <https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/l.htm#%E2%93%94lageh> *
   - the combination *awō lageh
    is also common, with the same array of meanings.

Finally, I also wrote the entries for *kēh
<https://marama.huma-num.fr/Lex/Mwotlap/k.htm#%E2%93%94k%C4%93h>* ~ *ēkēh
but these are apparently used to express disappointment or sadness
(“alas!”) rather than pain.


Alex François
LaTTiCe <http://www.lattice.cnrs.fr/en/alexandre-francois/> — CNRS–
–Sorbonne nouvelle
Australian National University
Personal homepage <http://alex.francois.online.fr/>

---------- Forwarded message ---------
From: PONSONNET Maia <maia.ponsonnet at cnrs.fr>
Date: Wed, 18 Jan 2023 at 05:13
Subject: [Lingtyp] pain interjections
To: lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org <lingtyp at listserv.linguistlist.org>

Dear all,

I am starting a study on pain interjections and the phonetic material they
are made of.

Before I begin excavating individual lexical resources, I thought I'd put a
request to the list.

Would you be able to share the forms of pain interjection(s) in the
languages you know?

All I need is the form, with its *phonetic transcription *and any *prosodic
information*; as well as its *semantic scope *(is it just pain or does it
also express other experiences eg surprise, fear...?). If you can flag
a published source where the interjection is documented this is ideal.

Also, if you can point to references containing lists of interjections (eg
grammars), this will be extremely useful too.

Many many thanks for your contributions, it is wonderful to be able to rely
on such a knowledgeable and generous community.

With kind regards,


Maïa Ponsonnet

Chargée de Recherche HDR @ CNRS Dynamique Du Langage

14, avenue Berthelot, 69007 Lyon, FRANCE  -- +33 4 72 72 65 46

Adjunct @ University of Western Australia

+ + + + +

Co-rédactrice en chef du *Journal de la Société des Océanistes*

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