Hofstetter: Nonlexical moans in board games

Hofstetter has published ‘Nonlexical ‘moans’: Response cries in board games’.


This article examines nonlexical vocalizations in board game interactions, focusing on “moans.” Moans are prolonged, voiced, response cries. Moans react to game events where the player has suffered in some way. Despite the complaint-relevant nature of moans, game actions are never withdrawn in response to a moan, Moans are treated as laughable, while lexical complaints invoke arguments and apologies. This article suggests that moans are a manifestation of managing Bateson’s play paradox in that they denote suffering but also willingness to continue play and a validation of the prior event. Moans are suggested to be a contextualization cue for “this is play.” Given the relative unconventionality of the form of moans, these tokens are suggested as evidence that lack of conventionalization may be a members resource rather than a problem. The article analyzes a corpus of 34 hours of video-recorded board game play (169 tokens) in English (Canadian, American, and British).

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