Keevallik and Ogden have edited a special issue on Sounds on the margins of language – non-lexical vocalizations, response cries, whistles, breathing, and other ‘liminal signs’ (as Dingemanse writes in his discussant review of the special issue).
What do people do with sniffs, lip-smacks, grunts, moans, sighs, whistles, and clicks, where these are not part of their language’s phonetic inventory? They use them, we shall show, as irreplaceable elements in performing all kinds of actions—from managing the structural flow of interaction to indexing states of mind and much more besides. In this introductory essay we outline the phonetic and embodied interactional underpinnings of language and argue that greater attention should be paid to its nonlexical elements. Data are in English and Estonian.