A Dictionary of Unorthodox Oral Expressions for English Learners and Teachers

To learn a language successfully, one needs to incorporate terms which are used commonly by native speakers but cannot be found in dictionaries. Words like uh-huh, oops, ouch, and brrr, are some examples of these terms. These expressions, commonly categorized under such linguistic labels as interjections (Ameka, 1992), alternants (Poyatos, 2002), and response cries (Goffman,1981), are what Dr. Lynn Henrichsen (1993) and Rebecca Oyer (1999) termed Unorthodox Oral Expressions (UOEs). These utterances are considered unorthodox because many of them are not formal or standard English words. Because of that, “we do not consider them part of the productive system of English,” so English dictionaries and textbooks rarely include these words (Luthy, 1983, p.19). Also, they are used mostly in informal speech rather than in formal written English. Hence, non-native English learners usually don’t have the opportunity to learn these informal utterances in English classes (Chittaladakorn, 2011; Oyer, 1999).Though unorthodox, these expressions are important for English language learners (ELL) to learn so that they will be able to carry out more natural and native-like conversations and understand what these utterances mean when native speakers use them. Because UOEs are so under-taught and there are so few teaching UOEs, there is a great need for a UOE dictionary that includes not only pronunciation and meaning, but also the syntactic features and semantic and pragmatic functions of these expressions. This project includes the creation of an online UOE dictionary to fill that need in English language acquisition.

Thesis Author: Ting, Eewen

Year Completed: 2013

Thesis Chair: Lynn Henrichsen

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