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In the English language, as in others, there are a variety of interjection words. Among these are some comprising an open syllable, like yeah and no. Others end in stop consonants, like yep (or yup) and nope. In conversational speech, these words often seem to be realized with no audible release on the /p/ - something like [p̚ʔ].

I think the correspondence of no and nope is clear; nope carries the same onset, nucleus, and definition as no yet adds an extra phoneme at the end. This is only slightly less clear with yep and yeah/yes, and I think they are part of the same phenomenon.

The creation of the words with the additional unreleased bilabial stop can easily be interpreted as speakers instinctively closing their mouth at the end of a short utterance, which produces an automatic [p̚]. Is this analysis correct?

Does something like this happen in other languages; if so, is it common? I am especially interested if it occurs in any languages and dialects that otherwise don't usually have unreleased word-final plosives or phonemic /p/.

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    "In conversational speech, these words often seem to be realized with no audible release on the /p/ - something like [p̚ʔ]" If there is no audible release, there is no yep and yup.
    – Lambie
    Jan 27, 2023 at 20:35
  • They emphasize the Y/N by closing the lips to mime completeness. It's essentially a phatic gesture, not a suffix or morpheme.
    – jlawler
    Jan 27, 2023 at 22:21
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    Similar things definitely happen in other languages. Just within Germanic, we have for example Swedish ja/nej (neutral) and japp/nepp (informal), which are almost identical in formation to their English counterparts (and also frequently have unreleased [p̚] at the end); or Danish jeps/niks (informal), which are similar, but add an additional -s at the end (and has a velar instead of a labial in the negative). Jan 27, 2023 at 23:34
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    @Sverre I am looking for languages that have interjections or discourse markers ending with a closing-of-the-lips gesture, especially ones that correspond to another word without that gesture.
    – Graham H.
    Jan 28, 2023 at 18:36
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    @Lambie This disagreement is getting nowhere. You don't seem to be aware that a plosive with no audible release is not the same as no sound at all. [p] ≠ [p˺] ≠ [Ø]. You also try to substantiate your misunderstanding by falsely claiming that the only difference between "yeah" and "yep" is the /p/. This is false since the vowel in "yeah" is more open and likely longer and more front than the one in "yep."
    – Graham H.
    Jan 30, 2023 at 19:21

3 Answers 3

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French has “ouaip” (vs. neutral-register “oui”) for “yes”. I don’t know how often it is used. My impression is that French word final consonants are released more often than English ones.

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    Also, even oui / ouais exemplifies the closed/open distinction that probably is the key distinction here. Jan 30, 2023 at 15:38
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In Classical Arabic the word for “no” is /lā/, but in many contemporary dialects it is pronounced /la’/, with a final glottal stop.

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In Hindi, no is nahin (nəɦiː), while nope is na (nʌ). 'Na' is sort of used with a similar cadence with which one would say 'yup' in English- I would go so far as to say that it's 'yup' minus the p and converting the y to an n. I hear it quite a lot in informal speech.

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