5

What is it called when one expresses "Yes", "No", or "I Don't Know" without using words - just humming their response? You know, when someone responds with a low note than a high note for Yes or "Ah-huh!"; a low note and a slightly lower note for No or "Nuh-uh"; or a low note, a high note, and a low note for I don't know.

1

In a sentence, it's often called a grunt or murmur of assent.

A related question is How to describe making sounds with your throat?

0

I believe the word falls into the category of paralanguage. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/paralanguage

-1

Wikipedia describes 'Vocables' as "utterances which are not considered words."

vocable n.

A syllable or sound without lexical or referential meaning, vocalized as part of a song or sung melody. - OED Definition 2

  • This would be an excellent answer - well explained, and links to references - but the only problem is that the OP didn't ask about all non-word utterances, they specified "humming", i.e. mm-mmm. – Chappo Oct 1 '18 at 23:25
  • @Chappo I interpreted the question to include all non-word utterances, as some of the given examples ("Ah-huh," and "Nuh-uh") are not humming. – evn Oct 5 '18 at 0:41

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.