How do you spell a sneeze?


About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Colin McIntosh

sneezeNot everything we say forms part of the regular English repertoire of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and so on. Some can barely even be described as words, since they don’t follow the typical rules of English spelling. What do you say when you want to announce your presence discreetly to someone who hasn’t noticed you come in? In English you would make a kind of throat-clearing noise. Or when you want to express disapproval of something so bad that it doesn’t deserve a comment? You can pull down your tongue quickly from behind your teeth, causing air to be sucked into your mouth and making a kind of high, sucking, clicking noise. These sounds belong to what linguists callparalanguage: not the regular system of words with their semantic meanings, but a system of noises (and also movements and facial expressions) that communicate meaning in a different…

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