Who Gives a Grunt?


Anil has a very good question, an obvious one that I never really considered, a general question about a specific phenomenon. He wonders, "Why are some words not in the dictionary? For example, the ubiquitous yes/no grunts "U-HUH" and "UH-UH" and the common comic book onomatopoeias "POW! BAP! BAM!" are not in any of my dictionaries. But neither I nor my local library has OED or Web 2 or 3. Are they in any of these? Is there a chapter in a book somewhere--or in Word Ways--that satisfactorily Discusses this issue? DO dictionaries have the right (or power) to obliterate a used word? (And why do we only use used words anyhow? Can't we afford new ones?)

The grunts are especially interesting. I once suspected they might be common to all languages. (They are readily recognized but not widely used in Australia.) I was about to speculate that, since yes and no are arguably the most fundamental of all concepts, these two might be the oldest surviving "words" in all of human language! Stereotypic caveman grunts. Then I finally did find them, in "The Facts on File Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins," by Robert Hendrickson (Revised Edition, 1997, Facts on File Inc.: New York (EWPO); my paperback book club edition is called QPB EWPO). I learned to my disappointment but amusement that, instead of being my fancied caveman first words, they are pure Americanisms dating back to "at least the 1830s" according to S. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Who Gives a Grunt?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.