Date: Thu, 21 Mar 1996 07:48:05 -0500
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
Subject: Re: your mail
Since I use 'jeetchet' in my beginning classes as an example of allegro
speech processes and specifically relate it to 'did you eat yet,' I am
surprised to find it on a list of 'non-words,' particularly since the
'jeet' part requires, at least for me, an 'underlying' 'did.'
I will avoid extensive discussion of the more philsophical question about
the word status of some of the other items on this list, but I think one
would like to distinguish several levels here, at least, for example:
1) Pseudo-imitatives which have clearly have the status 'word' (e.g.,.
cock-a-doodle-doo' and 'oink' (which no self-respecting rooseter or pig,
respectively, would ever say).
2) A middle category of items which appear to be 'conventionalizing,'
derived from 'sounds' but not yet fully lexicalized. Judgments here are
difficult since they may be further along in the process for some than for
others. For me, for example, 'blech' is such an item (while the similar
'yuck' belongs to category one.
3) 'Semanticized' noises; i.e., noises whose ',meanings' are clear but seem
to lack (or resist) lexicalization. (E.g., the 'mmmmmmmm' which means
'tasty,' or, to take an example of the same semantic terriory which surely
exists in 2) (or perhaps 1 for some) above, 'yum.'
Morphological tests help me a bit with these. For example, I can attach
bound morphemes (plural, past tense, etc...) to category one freely (He
oinked yeasterday; He let out three loud oinks). I have a lot of trouble
doing this to category 2 (*He bleched yesterday, as opposed to 'He went
'blech' yesterday.') The last (*He 'mmmmmmmed' yesterday) is really bad for
me. (This is what helps me clear up 'yum.' I don't like 'he yummed'
yesterday, but it's not as horrible as 'he mmmmmmmed' yesterday, so I would
put 'yum' in 2) and 'mmmmm' in 3).
When I say 'I don't like these,' of course, I do not refer at all to the
possibility of 'pseudolexicalizing' them (like any stretch of noise) in
GGGGGmmmmppph. (The noise a real pig makes)
gleep- my brain is melting
bleh, blech, yuck(and similar derivatives)-that's disgusting
humph- what nonsense
jeet?- You eat yet?
I'm sure there's many others.
Dennis R. Preston
Department of Linguistics and Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu