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Toward a Universal Form for 'Yes': Or, Rhinoglottophilia and the Affirmation Grunt

Steve Parker
Journal of Linguistic Anthropology
Vol. 6, No. 1 (JUNE 1996), pp. 85-95
Published by: Wiley on behalf of American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/43103152
Page Count: 11
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Toward a Universal Form for 'Yes': Or, Rhinoglottophilia and the Affirmation Grunt
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Abstract

Based on a corpus of 297 attested words for 'yes' collected from 44 countries, I propose a basic universal template or canonical form for this lexical item having the pattern /he?e/. In the accompanying discussion I show how the diverse language-specific variants can be derived from this theme through the optional selection of a handful of simple, natural phonological modifications. In the conclusion I suggest a functional explanation for this phenomenon by appealing to the notion of minimal articulatory gesture.

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