Thinking forward very distantly, it would be fun but also probably unavoidably self-indulgent to write an archaeology of “ugh.” (See an earlier post on this page about “wow.”) Maybe, most immediately, in the contemporary use as text-affect interjecting messages with a mood spectrum oscillating between low-level disgust and sighing frustration / exhaustion / irritation, i.e. an attempt to make tone legible. Also, though, as it slides into bodily noise, e.g. when Edgar Allan Poe encrypts a cough as “‘Ugh ! ugh ugh!—ugh ugh ! ugh l—ugh ! ugh I ugh !— ugh ! ugh ! ugh !—ugh ! ugh ! ugh !'” The empirical question is then whether it “began” as bodily noise and only recently came to work the way it does now.

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