What the author calls humming is a vocal phenomenon consisting of nasal voicing, accompanied by an occasional [h]-type noise, and having independent, well identifiable discourse functions. A series of experiments has been designed to study one group of such communicative vocal phenomena. The results demonstrate that the three basic types analysed ('yes', 'no', 'question') differ in their temporal complexity and their melodic pattern. Humming that means 'yes' differs from the plain indication of attentiveness mainly in terms of repetitiveness, whereas it differs from interrogative humming in the value of the upstep interval involved. These vocal phenomena have independent meaning that is attached to a (prelingual, monorhemic, and motivated) complex of both segmental and suprasegmental structure, as opposed to verbal signs in which segmental structure carries what is called their basic meaning and suprasegmental structure has a mere shading function.
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