2.5.2. Inventory and "semantic" description
An attempt to realize the inventory of Latin interjections, on the basis of the examples conserved in these fragments of ancient Latin grammars, suggests another leitmotif that will accompany the treatment of interjections in the following centuries. Although considered an immediate and direct expression of emotions, often as incidental enounces, the examples provided by the grammarians represented in the corpus do not respect all the times the boundaries posited by such definition. In the investigated fragments, a series of onomatopoeic words are treated as interjections. Such examples may conform sometimes to our definition if considered from the angle of their syntagmatic distribution, but semantically and semiotically they have a completely different status. Onomatopoeic words are iconic signs, motivated by an imitative intention of the speaker (the emitting source of the message), and not by his intense emotional experience .
The approach adopted by Latin grammarians to the inventory and semantic description of interjections does not differ much from those used in contemporary grammars. Each interjection is taken to express one or more affective states, the statement being most of the times sustained by examples. The inventory of Latin interjections, as gathered from the examples in the corpus, and confronted with the definitions proposed in three bilingual dictionaries (Quicherat L., Daveluy (1885), Dictionnaire latin-francais, Paris, Hachette, Gherghe Gutu, (1983, Dictionar latin-român, Bucuresti, Editura Stiintifica si Enciclopedica, Italo Lana, 1987 (1978), Vocabolario della lingua latina: italiano –latino, latino –italiano, Torino, Paravia) is as follows:
Aaha: is mentioned by Cominianus (apud Charisius), as an interjection of pain; by Iulius Romanus (apud Charisius) as an interjection of joy. Given the antonymic functions suggested by the two authors cited in the same place, we have to assume that the distinction was made on contextual and suprasegmental bases: intonation, duration, height. It would be also useful to analyse the precise collocation and the actualization of the aspiration noted by the graphic form. The interjection is mentioned under the forms ah, aha in VLL, where is defined as an interjection of pain, or of astonishment. DLR considers these two forms equivalent of a, which is treated by VLL in a separate article. DLR lists three different affective values for the interjection a, namely pain, admiration and indignation. In DLF, the primitive base is considered to be the form aha, whose classic version is ah, while a can sometimes be used instead of ah. The two semantic values mentioned by DLF are pain, and less often astonishment.
Attat: is mentioned by Charisius, Diomedes, Priscian, Donatus (Ars Minor), Sergius, Dositheu as an interjection expressing fear. There is no controversy regarding the semantic and functional value of this interjection, however Charisius indicates also a compound form, attatatae, formed on the same root, by reduplication. DLR lists two forms, attat and the reduplicated version attatae, and without giving any indication as to their meaning, translates them into Romanian by vai!, and ah!. VLL records three forms: attat, attatae, and attatatae, described as expressions of fear or surprise. According to DLF, the two forms attat and attate would be responsible of expressing astonishment, and could be translated into French by Eh! Mais.
Au: is mentioned by Priscian among the interjections containing unarticulated sounds and by Charisius, which does not give any explanation on its function, only a few illustrative contexts from which it is possible to deduce that it is an expression of pain. Neither VLL specifies any reference to the interjection's meaning, however translates it into Italian by ah!, oh!, ahimè! , which are the Italian versions repeated very often for most of the interjections. DLR mentions a version hau! , for which two equivalent interjections in Romanian are suggested: oh!, and au!. DLF offers semantic information for this item, and explains its prototypical use as an expression of surprise, also for aversion. A less prototypical use would fulfill a phatic function, in contexts where it is centred on the destinator of the message and on the channel. The equivalent French interjection suggested by DLF would be Ho! Ha! Hola!.
Babae: is mentioned by Comminianus (apud Charisius), by Iulius Romanus (apud Charisius), by Diomedes, "Probus" (Instituta Artium 670-671) and Dositheus as an interjection expressing admiration. An unvoiced labial occlusive version papae is present in some authors such as Remmius Palaemon (apud Charisius), who however does not provide any further indication on the semantics or contexts of use for this variant. The same is mentioned by Iulius Romanus, Diomedes and "Probus" or Donatus (Ars Minor), as an expression of admiration, alternative to babae. In De Smaragdi Arte a third form is present, papa, related by the anonymous author to the vocative of the noun pater. In DLR, babae is defined as an expression of approval and admiration, and it is translated into Romanian by various formulas such as oh!, foarte bine!, de minune. The unvoiced variant papae is explained as an expression of wonder, and translated by ei dracie! ("what a hell"). VLL suggests the same functional dissociation and indicates as Italian equivalent for babae (expression of admiration) the very common interjections ah! and oh!, while the unvoiced variant papae is translated by expressions of wonder such as caspita!, capperi!. DLF does not perform such separation and views the two variants as simple alternative expressions of admiration, translated by the French oh!, Ha!, Fort bien!, Amerveille!, respectively Oh!, Oui-da!, Diantre, Peste!. DLF provides also supplementary etymological information, by relating the two Latin interjections to the Greek oxiton terms: babai, papai.
Eho – is mentioned by Diomedes, who attributes to it a phatic and conative value (vocantem) and by Charisius, who illustrates it with an example from Naevius (Agitatoria), without any further indication on its semantics. However, the context offered as example confirms the phatic and conative function proposed by Diomedes. VLL confirms the two values attributed by Diomedes, while DLR adds an interpolative value to those already discussed. DLF specifies the conative and phatic functions as appeal, calling, warning, invitation. A compound interjection, ehodum, is mentioned by all three dictionaries.
Ei – is mentioned by Priscian as an expression of pain, by Donatus as an expression of fear, and by Charisius, who is illustrating its use with an example from Naevius (Tarentilla), without, however, commenting on its functional role in the given context. The fact that, the illustrative context being highly general, does not help in indirectly disambiguating the value of the interjection, proves the importance of knowing the codified meaning of interjections. DLR and VLL confirms this value and function; the former adds the version hei. In DLF ei is not enlisted.
Eia – is mentioned only by Diomedes, who attributes to it a hortative value, thus the interjection can be subsumed to the conative function. In De Arte Smaragdi, eia is present in the syntagms eia tu eia fac tu fac, considered an expression of warning or menace. The anonymous author however does not specify which of the elements is responsible for this meaning. DLR and VLL confirm the hortative value of the interjection, and mention, in addition, an expressive function, whose referent would be the feeling of pain. A variant heia is present in DLR. In DLF the main function is the expressive one, with the referent feeling of surprise, while the conative function is secondary.
Em – is mentioned by Charisius and Donatus. The former introduces two illustrative contexts, and, although he does not give any semantic or functional indication, the quotations confirm the "demonstrative" value proposed by the latter. According to Diomedes, the interjection em functions as an attention getter, whose role is to underline, in anticipation, an aspect that the speaker would like to outline or get confirmed by the hearer. In equivalent contexts, Charisius mentions also the variant hem, without relating it however to em. The examples provided by DLR and VLL confirm the same value, but no explicit semantic or functional indications are given. DLF does not list the interjection em.
Euge – is mentioned by Diomedes as a prise marker, and by the anonymous author of De Arte Smaragdi who attributes it the expressive value of joy; the illustrative context mentioned by him (euge bone serve et fidelis!), however would confirm rather Diomedes' position. In collocation with uha, according to the same anonymous author, the interjection would mark an ironic key of interpretation of the subsequent enounce. Both DLR and VLL confirm the value attributed by Diomedes and add the function of ironic stance marker. DLF mentions only the expressive value of prise.
Euhoe – is mentioned by Priscian as an example of interjection containing a sonus illiterates; "Probus" relates it to the bachic frenzy. Charisius offers a few illustrative contexts, without further indications on the interjection's function; however, in the same contexts the name of Bachus is mentioned. From such data, one may conclude that euhoe is probably a very specialized, ritual interjection and perhaps a poetic item. DLR specifies that euhoe is the bacchantes' cry, which may be use with an interjectional value. The interjection is not mentioned by VLL or DLF.
Evax – is mentioned by Charisius, Priscian, Donatus (Ars Minor, Ars Grammatica) and Dositheus as a mark of a positive affective state: happiness, joy, exaltation. In Dositheus' examples it is combined with the interjection va or is present in the antonymic syntagm va heu – an expression of pain. The particle va is characterised by other authors, such as "Probus" or Pompeius, as ambiguous, but belonging rather to the domain of joy and happiness than to that of sorrow. Charisius mentions it in a short illustrative example, without further explanations. Both DLR and VLL seem to treat it as a mark of approval, as it results from the romance equivalents provided by the two dictionaries: bene, bravo. DLF attributes it the expressive function, with the referent feeling of joy.
Heu – is mentioned by Remmius Palaemon (apud Charisius) without further semantic indications, by Comminianus (apud Charisius), Iulius Romanus (apud Charisius), by "Probus", by Donatus (Ars Minor, Ars Grammatica), by Sergius and in De Arte Smaragdi as an expression of pain. There are also several variants proposed by the various authors: Remmius Palaemon (apud Charisius) presents the variant eheu, as interjection of pain; "Probus" mentions the syntagms eheu ve; Donatus in Ars Grammatica suggests the variant heia; in Dositheus, the interjection is present in the collocation vae heu; in De Arte Smaragdi two reduplicated variants are mentioned heu heu, respectively ieu ieu. Diomedes relates the interjection heu to the sounds of moaning, establishing almost an iconic valence for it, and thus a metonymic relationship is possible between the indexical and iconic value. Heu is confirmed as an expressive interjection whose referent feeling is pain by DLR, VLL and DLF.
O – is mentioned by Charisius, Priscian and Pompeius as an interjection of pain. Priscian admits, for some of its occurrences, also an optative value. The examples provided by DLR, DLF and VLL, as well as the explanations offered by the latter suggest a much larger range of affective states: wonder, pain, joy, happiness, surprise, indignation, desire.
Phy – is mentioned by Diomedes and Priscian. The former considers it to be a mark of irony, in the collocation phy hui. Prisician does not offer any indication as to the use or function of this interjection, but merely list it among the cases of interjections containing soni illiterati. DLR records also the variant phu, and defines it as an expressive interjection whose referent feelings would be admiration or surprise. For VLL phy is an interjection of approval or wonder, while DLF explains it as a mark of admiration.
St – is mentioned by Charisius and Diomedes; as usual, the former does not provide any semantic explanation for the interjection. However the illustrative context is able to confirm the conative value of a request for silence, proposed by Diomedes, and suggested also by the recent sources DLR, VLL, and DLF.
Va – is mentioned by Diomedes, "Probus" (Instituta Artium 670-671), by Pompeius and Dositheus as expression of a positive affective state. However there is no general agreement among these authors as to the specific positive feeling denoted by the interjection. According to Diomedes the referent feeling is pleasure, while the others mention joy or happiness. Pompeius expresses his hesitation as to the precise semantic categorization of the interjection va, and considers it an ambiguous expression, however closer to a positive affective state rather than to a negative one. In the fragment from Dositheus, va is present only in collocation with another interjection, evax, the two items reinforcing reciprocally their meaning. In VLL, the interjection is present only in the forms vah, and vaha whose translation is extremely ambiguous: ah!, oh!. DLF mentions an interjection vah, derived from a more primitive form vaha, an expressive interjection with a wide range of referent feelings: wonder, pain, joy, anger, contempt, menace. DLR mentions the following values for vah: wonder, anger, joy, pain, contempt.
Vae – is mentioned by Diomedes, "Probus", Dositheu as expression of pain. In the fragment from the anonymous author of the Instituta artium, the interjection vae, in a form presenting the monophthongued e, instead of the diphthong ae, is present in the collocation eheu ve, both interjecions being defined as marks of pain. Dositheus mentions the collocation heu vae. Such interjectional groupings, formed by several equivalent items, could be subsumed to the tendency of popular Latin to cumulating forms with equivalent functions, in order to contribute to expressivity. It would prove again the participation of interjections to language evolution phenomena that characterize the other word classes. The examples provided by DLR, VLL and DLF sustain the referent feeling of pain suggested by the ancient grammarians.
There are also a series of interjections, mentioned by only one author, for which it is difficult to confirm the semantic or functional values proposed.
Mentioned only by Diomedes:
Apage – is described as having the conative function of an interdiction. DLR, VLL and DLF ascribe to it the function of a rejection and translate it by Romance imperatives such as it: Vattene!, rom: lasa-ma, du-te de aici, fr: ote, retire, arrière, loin d'ici or the Italian interjection via!. From DLF data, it results that apage is actually an old imperative, as far as there is also a plural form apagete, functioning as interjection.
Age – is mentioned by Diomedes together with eia, among the interjections having a hortative value. Indirectly, the author suggests the grammatical conversion of an imperative to an interjection, which however did not lead to the loss of the original conative value and probably of the specific illocutionary force of hortative acts. DLR and VLL confirm the interjectional value attributed to the imperative age. DLF however mentions only the imperative, to which ascribes, for some contexts, an expressive function of showing indignation.
Mentioned only by Charisius: fufae, tax pax, mu, cuccuru.
The author ascribes to the interjection fufae an expressive function related to the sensory perception, whose referent is the reaction of repulsion when sensing a bad smell. In addition, he discusses some aspects pertaining to the phonic and graphic shape of the interjection, more precisely the evolution of the sonus intermedius, which has been ambiguously adapted in Latin to i or u, as well as the evolution of the voiceless aspirate labio-dental consonant φ, adapted from Greek to the Latin system as ph or even f. This reminds of a similar discussion of Priscian in relation to the interjection phy. VLL and DLF do not record the interjection. DLR however seems to confirm the expressive function and its negative valence, with the referent feeling of disgust.
As to the other interjections tax pax, mu and cuccuru, the author does not offer any explanations, only a few contexts of its use. VLL confirms the interjectional value for cuccuru, but without any further details; DLR does not mention at all the form. DLF declares that the use of this interjection has been obscured through time, and contemporary scholars could not define it properly. For the interjection mu, DLR and VLL both suggest as its referent the most insignificant sound emitted by a person; its romanian translantion is cîrc. DLF however records it as an archaism, relates it to the yelping of a dog, and defines it as an exclamation of pain. Tax pax is not defined as an interjection but as an onomatopoeia reproducing the noise of hitting something. In DLF tax is related to a wipe‘s noise.
Mentioned only by Priscian:
A – is mentioned as an expression of pain and illustrated with some examples from Virgil's Bucolicae (see also aaha).
Mentioned only by Sergius:
Bach – is an expression of joy; the form is not recorded in DLR, DLF or VLL.
Bobax – is the expression of a rejective reaction toward something that is considered unacceptable. The form listed by DLR and VLL, bombax has an epistemic-expressive function, with the referent attitude of incredulity. In DLF bombax is considered an expression of astonishment.
De Arte Smaragdi (fol. III, De interiectione) is a late document, which makes much use of Christian writings for its illustrative examples; very often lexical phrases, probably not transparent anymore to the author, are confounded with interjections:
Hua – is defined as an expression of joy, and exemplified with the quotation: "Hua calefactus sum, vidi focum!". The form is not recorded by DLR or VLL, or DLF.
Tuto – with a conative function of interdiction, is related by the anonymous author with the Germanic totto, having the same meaning. Contemporary dictionaries does not mention it.
Hoie – an expression of wail and pain, is not recorded either by contemporary sources.
Secondary interjections are not well represented; some authors however present very succinct lists with examples, and rarely with semantic and functional explanations.
Pro Iuppiter – is mentioned by Charisius in two illustrative contexts, for the two different affective states that, according to the author, this interjection may express: joy and anger. The examples and Charisius' interpretation of them outlines a feature specific to interjections, namely the double source, codified and contextual, of their mode of signifying. DLR and VLL confirm the interjectional value of the preposition pro, and offers some illustrative contexts, among which pro Iuppiter.
Utinam – is mentioned by Dositheus in collocation with o, which ascribes it an optative value. In De Arte Smaragdi a distinction is drawn between an adverbial value of utinam, when postponed to a verb, and an interjectional one in other contexts.
Infandum – is mentioned by Priscian, also by Diomedes among secondary interjections (together with mi, ellum, amabo, nefas, pro nefas, malum, miserum, infandum), as well as by Sergius (together with pro dolor, pro pudor). The interjectional value of infandum is not confirmed by DLR, VLL or DLF.
Nefas, pro nefas is mentioned by Diomedes as an expression of anger; Sergius provides a few examples in order to illustrate the uses of this interjection. DLF and VLL do not list any interjectional value for nefas; DLR however mentions its use in exclamations.
Some of the elements listed among interjections by ancient grammarians do not function actually as indexical signs, but rather as iconic signs, having an imitative, onomatopoeic role. Charisius includes among interjections elements such as trit, explained as imitating the sizzle of a corn mush, or bat which reproduces in epic writing the sound of trumpets. Priscian and Diomedes include among interjections the onomatopoeia of laughter: hahahe or ha ha hae. In De Arte Smaragdi, the onomatopoeia ha ha ha is erroneously interpreted as a mark of fear; the author is actually giving an allegoric interpretation of the entire enounce.
DLR = Gheorghe Gutu (1983), Dictionar latin-român, Bucuresti, Editura Stiintifica si Enciclopedica.
VLL = Italo Lana, 1987 , Vocabolario della lingua latina: italiano / latino, latino / italiano, Torino, Paravia.
DLF = Quicherat L., Daveluy (1885), Dictionnaire latin-francais, Paris, Hachette.
GL = Keil Henricus, 1961 , Grammatici latini, Hildesheim, Olms.
Names of authors present in Keil's anthology, who dealt with interjection, in chronological order and as they appear in the anthology:
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- Remmius Palaemon, apud Charisius;
- Cominianus, apud Charisius;
- Iulius Romanus, apud Charisius;