1932

Abstract

Interjections, the words that come between sentences, are easily overlooked and usually treated as peripheral to the language sciences. This review surveys work from disparate disciplines that suggests an inversion of perspective: from interjections as marginal items to interjections at the heart of language. Around one out of every seven turns in conversation is an interjection, and the most common ones are not the involuntary exclamations that typically feature in examples; instead, they form a small set of agile and adaptive interactional tools that streamline everyday language use. Continuers like help people co-construct complex interactional structures, repair initiators like help people calibrate mutual understanding on the fly, and change-of-state tokens like display knowledge as it evolves in interaction. Interjections emerge as words that help us talk and think, scaffolding the complexity of language as we know it. The review critically considers received views of interjections as primitive grunts, affect bursts, or symptoms of strain and provides a number of alternative ways of thinking about interjections.

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2024-01-16
2024-04-19
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