[Lingtyp] Truc, machin and friends

Randy J. LaPolla randy.lapolla at gmail.com
Fri Mar 10 06:44:24 UTC 2023

Dear Raffaele,
In Tagalog there is a word kuan that is used when you can’t think of the name of someone or something. 
There is also the use of ano ‘what’ in some cases when you can’t think of something. 
Sometimes they are used together (Ano, kuan, . . .), used when you are trying to get someone’s attention but can't remember their name, but there ano seems to be mainly getting the person’s attention.
I don’t know of any work on kuan, even though it is quite common in discourse, but there is a paper on ano in the Journal of Pragmatics called "Beyond questions: Non-interrogative uses of ano ‘what’ in Tagalog” (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0378216622000078).

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Professor Randy J. LaPolla(罗仁地), PhD FAHA 
Center for Language Sciences
Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences
Beijing Normal University at Zhuhai
A302, Muduo Building, #18 Jinfeng Road, Zhuhai City, Guangdong, China

https://randylapolla.info <https://randylapolla.info/>
ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-6100-6196    


> On 9 Mar 2023, at 2:08 AM, Raffaele Simone <raffaele.simone at uniroma3.it> wrote:
> Dear friends and colleagues,
> I am preparing a paper on that group of general-generic words that are used to designate entities whose name you do not know or do not remember, or whose name you do not want to remember or that, simply, have no name in a language. 
> I’m referring to “nouns” like French "truc" and "machin", Italian "coso", "arnese", "aggeggio", or, for people, Italian "tizio", "tipo", Spanish "tío", “fulano”, English "dude" etc. They form apparently a special word class and implement a particular way of designating.
> The situation in the European languages I am familiar with seems very fragmented and discontinuous: some languages do have sets of dedicated or semidedicated words for that function, but most don’t, as far as I see.
> Does any of you have examples from other languages and, if any, bibliographic references?
> Thanks,
> Raffaele
> ==============
> Emeritus Professor, Università Roma Tre
> Hon C Lund University
> Membre de l'Académie Royale de Belgique
> Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de France
> Accademico (corrispondente) della Crusca
> Prix de l'Institut de France-Fondation Bonnefous 2022
> ===============
> Attività e pubblicazioni // Activity and publicationshttp://uniroma3.academia.edu/RaffaeleSimone
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