Para-Linguistic Usages of Clicks (Feature 108)
While only a few languages in southern Africa have click sounds (velaric ingressive consonants) in ordinary words, many languages can use clicks as para-linguistic, interjection-like gestures. Such usages are not systematically described by linguists, but they show interesting patterns.
In some languages, clicks may have only logical meanings, i.e. ‘no’ or ‘yes’. In others, they may have only affective meanings, i.e. meanings such as disapproval, surprise, negation or affirmation. English is such a language (the alveolar click is sometimes spelled “tsk” or “tut”). There are also languages where clicks can have both logical and affective meanings, and finally, some languages do not have paralinguistic clicks at all.
Click sounds are consonants that are articulated with two closures in the oral cavity. After the pocket of air enclosed between these two closures is rarefied by a sucking action of the tongue, the release of the forward closure produces the characteristic click sound (phoneticians describe clicks as having velaric ingressive airstream mechanism.) See http://homepage.ntu.edu.tw/~karchung/Phonetics%20II%20page%20four.htm for links to sound files.
How to write clicks in the example fields.
|1||Clicks may only express logical meanings||‘Yes’ and/or ‘no’, e.g. Hebrew, Sardinian (’no’), San’ani Arabic, Somali (’yes’)|
|2||Clicks may only express affective meanings||English, German|
|3||Clicks may express both logical and affective meanings|
|4||No paralinguistic clicks||This value should be chosen if clicks are not reported to occur in the speakers’ behaviour, at least not with logical or affective meanings.|
|5||Other||(Please give details in the “General comments” field.)|