Publication Type:

Book Chapter


Encyclopedia of Language & Linguistics, Oxford, p.743-746 (2006)




formulaic language, Indexicality, interjections, language functions, onomatopoeia, particles, routines, speech acts


Interjections are words that conventionally constitute utterances by themselves and express a speaker's current mental state or reaction toward an element in the linguistic or extralinguistic context. Some English interjections are words such as yuk! ‘I feel disgusted,’ ow! ‘I feel sudden pain,’ wow! ‘I feel surprised and I am impressed,’ aha! ‘I now understand,’ hey! ‘I want someone's attention,’ damn! ‘I feel frustrated,’ and bother! ‘I feel annoyed.’ Such words are found in all languages of the world. This article surveys the different uses and definitions of the term ‘interjection’ and the different types of interjections that are found in the languages of the world. It also explores the relationship of interjections to other pragmatic devices such as particles, discourse markers, and speech formulae.