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Jamaican-style patois and derivations thereof seem to be on the rise again in British cities after a lull (I remember it being very popular in the 70s and early 80s). While on a trip to London I was struck by what native speakers of that idiom refer to as kissing teef [sic] - a sound made to indicate disapproval by sucking the tongue through clenched teeth.

This is analogous (I think) to 'tutting' in British English which although not strictly speaking a word, has become one and is included in the OED. Do these parts of speech have a name? And can anyone offer other examples of these in English or any other languages?

UPDATE: Just found an academic paper on the subject which refers to them as oral gestures.

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I know exactly what you mean, and have been trying to find an appropriate term. All I can come up with is paralanguage and inserts, but they both describe features different from those you have in mind. –  Barrie England Oct 11 '12 at 11:39
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You can add "oral gestures" as an answer to your own question. –  coleopterist Oct 11 '12 at 15:59
    
Surely we can do better than 'oral gestures'? That just sounds wrong. –  5arx Oct 11 '12 at 16:53
    
Sticking one's tongue out or baring one's teeth also constitute 'oral gesture', yet I feel they are a different order of communicative expression to teef[sic] kissing. –  5arx Oct 11 '12 at 21:50
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2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Perhaps non-verbal interjection?

There are a number of expressions in American English that approximate a not-quite-verbal expression for disapproval.

  • tsk-tsk (when expressed as a a sucking sound made by pulling the tongue away from the roof of the mouth)
  • mmm-mmm (a short repeated humming sound, the second of which is descending in tone; a rising in tone indicates warning)
  • feh (a voiced exhale beginning with an F sound)
  • heh (a voiced exhale beginning with an H sound)

UPDATE: The original poster's addition of a possible name for the type of expression, oral gestures, is interesting. Several of the examples I list above are often accompanied by a negative head shaking.

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+1. Can I add the (southern?) American 'mmm-hmm' which, to my UK English-accustomed ears indicates a sort of grim resignation. I'm thinking of wise old African-American women in films now. –  5arx Oct 11 '12 at 21:46
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"Tch-tch-tch", which is commonly used to express disagreement/dissatisfaction.

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I don't think this answers what part of speech the other expression occurs in. –  Matt Эллен Oct 11 '12 at 11:12
    
What is "the other expression" ? –  mishr Oct 11 '12 at 11:20
    
"sucking the tongue through clenched teeth" - most definitely not the same as tch –  Matt Эллен Oct 11 '12 at 12:01
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