Psst! A verb?

loladamore

Senior Member
English UK
Hello there,

Something came up in the Spanish-English forum yesterday that still has me thinking. There is a verb in Spanish (chistar) which means to attract someone's attention by making the sound chist or chis. I think that the function of the onomatopoeic chis(t) is equivalent to the English interjection psst!

Here comes the question:

We have an interjection, but do we have a way of expressing the idea of 'attracting someone's attention by saying psst'? (A shorter way than this?)

Cheers.
 
  • 1234plet

    Senior Member
    Denmark; Danish
    No, it wouldn't be "annoy" according to me. It would more likely be... Hmm, I don't know. You use 'Psst' when you want to tell someone something and to get their attention, right?
    I don't know what that would be. It could be 'to interrupt' but it also couldn't.
    Maybe it depends on the situation?

    Haha, but the 'to pssster' is good. You have to invent that one.
     

    Lee Sing

    Senior Member
    English from England
    It's rather like the French word 'tutoyer'. We have to paraphrase around the subject to get the exact meaning as we don't have a precise word for it.
     

    Hockey13

    Senior Member
    AmEnglish/German
    No, it wouldn't be "annoy" according to me. It would more likely be... Hmm, I don't know. You use 'Psst' when you want to tell someone something and to get their attention, right?
    I don't know what that would be. It could be 'to interrupt' but it also couldn't.
    Maybe it depends on the situation?

    Haha, but the 'to pssster' is good. You have to invent that one.

    I was joking :) . I'm saying that it is annoying to me when people do that.

    I'm 95% sure that the only existing phrase is "to attract attention" as was stated in the original post.
     

    1234plet

    Senior Member
    Denmark; Danish
    Yeah, it really should be invented!!

    "I don't like when you pssst me."
    "But I'm only psssting you when you're not looking at me."
    Haha, how did we ever survive without that word?!
     

    loladamore

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Thank goodness for that. I came back to the thread only to find it closed. I felt rather pssted off about it. Now it's open again!

    So, it's not just me, then. It would be marvellous if we had a verb such as to psst or to psster. I prefer the latter, as it is reminiscent of pester, which is appropriate seeing as it is annoying to be pssted - or should that be psstered!
    Hang on - is it psster or pssster?
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    In my opinion, "psster" is unnecessarily long and, besides, it misses one s. I prefer pssst, with absolutely three esses (at least). Just a few hours ago I psssted the waiter to get my bill. If I had only pssted, she probably hadn't heard.
     

    fenixpollo

    moderator
    American English
    What a lovely question!!!!!

    "He wasn't looking my way so I surreptitiously pssted him"
    In my opinion, "psster" is unnecessarily long and, besides, it misses one s. I prefer pssst, with absolutely three esses (at least). Just a few hours ago I psssted the waiter to get my bill. If I had only pssted, she probably hadn't heard.
    It sounds to my ear like you urinated on the waiter.

    You know how "gesticulate" is a fancy word for "talk with your hands"? There ought to be some fancy linguistic or sociological term for the practice of calling someone's attention like this.

    I'm also amazed that Spanish has backformed the verb, but not English -- which is usually so insidious in that respect! :rolleyes:
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Urinating needs an "i" between p and s. I didn't do it.

    Gesticulating is another question. After having psssted the waiter I made a gesture like writing with my right hand forefinger to my left hand palm, and immediately she knew that she should write the bill for me. No words needed, unless you count "pssst" as a word.
     

    geve

    Senior Member
    France, French
    What about "I hissed his attention", "I hissed him up"? I'm sure you can come up with a phrasal verb that will perfectly express the concept... That's what phrasal verbs are for for god's sake!! :rolleyes:
    It's rather like the French word 'tutoyer'. We have to paraphrase around the subject to get the exact meaning as we don't have a precise word for it.
    It doesn't seem that strange that there wouldn't be a word for a concept that doesn't exist in a language... whereas psssting is pretty universal isn't it?
     

    Hakro

    Senior Member
    Finnish - Finland
    Sorry, Gève, in my vocabulary "hissing" isn't the same as "psssting". I love words that are so specified that you can use them only in certain circumstances. You can hiss anywhere but psssting is restricted in restaurants and similar situations.
    OK, Fenixpollo, also in Finnish "pssst" sounds like pissing, but it's generally used here in restaurants, not only in the toilets. And I have found that it works in other countries, too.
     
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