In linguistics, a discourse particle is a lexeme (word or phrase) or particle that adds no direct semantic meaning in the context of a sentence, having rather a pragmatic function: it indicates the speaker's attitude, or helps structure their interactions with other participants in a conversation. Discourse particles are primarily a feature of spoken language; in written language they indicate an informal or jocular tone.
Examples in English:
- Used to heighten the speaker's attitude; often one of disagreement or surprise:
- well; for example, used in "Well, I wouldn't say that." or "Well, look who it is!"
- you know (often spelled "y'know" or "ya know"); for example, in "It's not as easy as that, y'know."
- Used to diminish the effect of otherwise exaggerated or intense language:
- like; for example, used in "It can drive some parents, like, insane."
"Huh" — the universal syllable
Research has shown that the word/syllable "Huh" is perhaps the most recognized syllable throughout the world, including variations of "mama" and "papa." It is an interrogative. This crosses geography, language, cultures and nationalities. See Huh Wiktionary.
- Lotozo, Eils (September 4, 2002). "The way teens talk, like, serves a purpose". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles> Citing Siegel, Muffy E. A. (2002). "Like: The Discourse Particle and Semantics". Journal of Semantics. 19 (1): 35–71. doi:10.1093/jos/19.1.35.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Schuessler, Jennifer (November 9, 2013). "The Syllable that Everyone Understands". The New York Times. Retrieved November 9, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
- Dingemanse, Mark; Torreira, Francisco; Enfield, N. J. (2013). "Is "Huh?" a Universal Word? Conversational Infrastructure and the Convergent Evolution of Linguistic Items PLoS ONE 8(11): e78273". doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0078273. Cite journal requires
- Hansen, Maj-Britt Mosegaard (1998). The Function of Discourse Particles: A study with special reference to spoken standard French. Philadelphia: Benjamins. ISBN 1-55619-815-9.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>