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Conversational Language (#14), by Dennis Oliver

 

Conversational Language (#14):
Informal Variations on "No"

 

In conversational American English, several variations on
"No" are commonly heard:

 

Hm-umm

It's difficult to show the pronunciation of this variation by
using normal writing. It's made with the mouth closed, and
the vowel is nasal (made through the nose). There's a glottal
stop (a kind of "catch" in the throat) between the two parts.

Note: The first "h" is important. If the "h" is not pronounced
at the beginning of the first syllable but is pronounced at
the beginning of the second syllable, people will understand
"Yes," not "No."

 

Huh-uh, Uh-uh

These variations are also difficult to show with normal
writing. They're made with the mouth slightly open.
The vowels are also nasal, and there's also a glottal stop
between the parts.

 

Nope

This variation is very casual. It rhymes with "hope."

 

Nah

This variation is even more casual. It's pronounced "naeh";
the vowel is the same as the vowel in "hat" or "nap."

 

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Special Notes:

 

1.   The variations on "No" which are shown above are
appropriate and commonly heard in casual, very
friendly conversation but are not normally written
(except in very informal letters, comics, etc.)
     
2.   "Nope" and "Nah" are particularly casual. It's fine to
use these variations in very relaxed conversations
with friends, but they should not be used when polite
language is appropriate. In such situations, "Yeah"
"Yep" would seem too casual and disrespectful.
     
3.   "No" can also be shown by using a gesture--not
words. You can show "No" by shaking your head
from side to side.

 

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