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Interjections (from latin interiectio , ball '; German sensation words, exclamation words ) form a traditionally distinguished in linguistics word types and are sometimes the particles allocated in a broad sense. They are defined as single words or fixed word combinations, which are unchangeable (non-inflectable) in their form and are used syntactically unconnected as sentence-valued (holophrastic) utterances. Lexically they have no meaning in the strict sense. In contrast to delay sounds (such as Er or um ) However, they express a specific sensation evaluation or will attitude of the speaker or transmit a directed call to the receiver or a signal of the contact or avoidance. The exact meaning often depends on the intonation , which in the interjection hey , for example, together with other factors in the context of the utterance, decides whether it is a greeting (hello hey) , questioning something (hey?), An invitation to omit (hey!) or a consolation or coziness sound ( hey drawn out and with a falling accent ).


  • Symptominterjektionen: Oh , aha, oh, au, ugh, oops, hurray , oops, yikes, nanu, oha, oh la la, pooh, sic , well, oops, wow, grr
  • Prompt words (Appellinterjektionen) and greeting words: ey, hey, hello , heda, huhu, bye , prost , pst, ahoy , na
  • idiomatic request for confirmation: gell (applicable, valid), woll (probably), ne, nich, wa (not true)
  • Lure and scare sounds (interjections of appeal to animals): putt-putt, beep-beep, kitty-kitty, hü-hott, sch-sch-sch, ps-pssss, husch-husch
  • Imitations of noises and sounds ( onomatopoeia ): puff, dong, klong, ratchet, hui, bang, boing, bums, rum, fump, blub-blub, snap, hatschi, tandaradei
  • Conversational words and particles of affirmation or negation as well as delay sounds , if they have a communicative function, e.g. B. to express a doubt: uh, uh, uh, hm, mei (Bavarian) , well, well, well, mhm, yes , no , okay , good, exactly, right, eijeijeijei
  • Inflective : groan, sigh, throw up
  • From words of other parts of speech: cool , human, man, thunderstorm , health, my goodness, damn it, oh god, gentlemen, old man


Interjections are a typical characteristic of orality, that is, they occur particularly in spoken language and also serve as a stylistic device for fictitious orality in written communication and literary language. As a type of expression with a special expressive or appellative function, interjections relate to the speech situation with the speaker and recipient and typically simulate or replace non-verbal or paraverbal communication actions such as reflex sounds (pain, surprise, etc.), laughter, facial expressions and gestures .


Following on from Wilhelm Wundt (1904), a distinction is made according to lexical and genetic criteria:

  • "Primary interjections" that have arisen from animal or human natural sounds also include other onomatopoeia . They do not belong to any other part of speech, nor are they derived from any other part of speech.
  • "Secondary interjections", which consist of words with a conceptual meaning, especially nouns, or word combinations ( phraseologisms ) and also belong to or are related to other types of words. Secondary interjections are subject to a more or less pronounced delexicalization: the meaning that constitutes the use of the words in other parts of speech takes a back seat to the expressive or appellative meaning of the interjection or even fades completely.


  • Primary interjections: ach , ouch, ugh , o , hä ?, haha
  • Secondary interjections: man, crap, shit, for thunderstorm, good Lord, my goodness, go, come


Interjections are syntactically unconnected, independent utterances that do not have the structure of a sentence. If they are not used on their own but in conjunction with a sentence, they are usually placed in front of it in German and in most other languages ​​or occasionally followed by a corollary:

  • Huh, are you serious?
  • Hey, open up!
  • Shit, the door won't open!
  • Brr, is that cold!
  • That's disgusting, yuck.

In a similar emphatic function, they can also be placed in front of a particularly emphasized part of a sentence within a sentence, whereby this type of position can be poetically motivated in German as well as appear colloquially.

  • I have now, ah! Philosophy (...) studied ( Goethe , Faust I , opening monologue )
  • I can't fucking explain everything to you all the time!
  • Since she just has him zack! cut one down.

Not syntactically connected, but combined in the position, interjections also occur in connection with pronouns , names and noun phrases and in connection with other interjections or conversation particles:

  • Ugh, you pig.
  • Oh, Peter, come down here.
  • Oh, he , I know him well.
  • Oh, you dear child.
  • Oh yes, I've heard that too.

If, on the other hand, interjections are syntactically integrated, they pass into other types of words and thus tend to be lexicalized. Adverbially integrated interjections that characterize a movement or locomotion onomatopoetically in terms of their speed or intensity are particularly common in German :

  • But now hop to bed.
  • Whoops, was he back.
  • That can't be done so quickly .

Similarly, interjections that express an evaluation are often used like adjectives for the evaluative predication of a thing:

  • that's Pooh, that's yuck, that's bah, that's baba .

In addition, there are nominalizations with which interjections are integrated into the sentence as acoustic quotations:

  • It went on with a big holter dipolter .
  • Your woes and woes get on my nerves.
  • With a hunch he was back.
  • With a loud thud , he fell into the water.

Animal sounds

The animal sounds listed here are a small collection of the most common animal sounds, or onomatopoeia, in a language comparison of German , English and Czech .

animal German English Czech
dog woof / woof woof woof / wow wow / bow wow haf / haf haf (large) / ňaf ňaf (small)
cat meow meow / meeow mňau
bird beep tweet pip
mouse beep squeek
cow muh moo
frog quack croak kvák
duck quack / nag nag quack kvák
Rooster kikeriki cock-a-doodle-do kykyryký / kikirikí
chicken gack gack pock pock kokodák
ass iah íá
sheep uh bah
cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo kuků

Comics and Chat

The language of comics in particular has produced an abundance of borrowed, translated, and newly invented interjections. They have also entered into other language areas and have been further developed , especially in the language of Internet chat . In addition to onomatopoeia in the narrower sense, which imitate noises and non-verbal utterances, secondary interjections play an important role in comics. In German-language comics, they appear morphologically, especially in the inflective - also jokingly called ericative in allusion to the name of the comic translator Erika Fuchs . This is an infinite and uninflected verb form, which, in analogy to the basic form of English verbs, is formed as an infinitive without -n or -en (sigh, yawn, smooch) and is used like an interjection. In a form that has been further developed in the chat forums, it also appears as a complex inflective, namely in conjunction with additional clauses, but then without a grammatical subject (hit-the-table, take a look) .

Lexically, inflectives in comic and chat language are usually not real onomatopoeia , but are formed from words that are merely derived from sound imitations (klirr, hum) , or they are so-called circumscribing onomatopoeia, which also include the Stamm after no longer imitate an acoustic phenomenon, but only name it and insofar only imply the sound itself (sigh, cough, dribble) .

In addition, there are interjections in which such an indirect reference to an acoustic phenomenon is no longer given. Rather, they name actions that are not characterized by a specific sound (cuddling, hugging, knotting, thinking) . Interjections of the latter type, together with circumscribing onomatopoeia, are known as descriptive interjections. With descriptive and complex interjections in the inflective, the original meaning of the individual words remains constitutive for the meaning of the interjection and does not take a back seat, as is the case with secondary interjections.

Designations and brand names

Interjection words are also used to form terms, especially brand names.

  • Vifzack, Wiffzack - from vif ("bright, agile, agile") and zack, interjection for fast - "very active, briskly acting person"
  • HUI - fast internet, brand name from around 2010
  • Hui machine - toys, magic trick
  • WOW air - low-cost airline, flight operations discontinued in 2019


  • Vincent Balnat & Barbara Kaltz: Old and New for Interjection . In: Kärnä, Aino & Stephanos Matthaios (eds.). The adverb in grammarography , vol. 2. (= Contributions to the history of linguistics , volume 18.1). Nodus publications, Münster 2008, pp. 135–162.
  • Armin Burkhardt: interjection . In: Gert Ueding (Hrsg.): Historical dictionary of rhetoric . Vol. 4. WBG , Darmstadt 1998.
  • Konrad Ehlich: Interjections (= Linguistic Works , Volume 111). Max Niemeyer, Tübingen 1986, ISBN 3-484-30111-2 .
  • Norbert Fries: The part of speech "interjections". In: David Alan Cruse et al. a. (Ed.): Lexicology: an international handbook on the nature and structure of words and vocabulary. 1st half band. de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2002, ISBN 3-11-011308-2 , pp. 654-657.
  • Janie Noëlle Rasoloson: Interjections in contrast: using the example of German, Malagasy, English and French (=  work on language analysis , volume 22), Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1994, ISBN 3-631-47581-0 (also dissertation University of Dortmund 1993).
  • Martin Reisigl: Secondary interjections: a discourse-analytical approach (= work on language analysis, 33), Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1999, ISBN 3-631-32973-3 .
  • Dagmar Schmauks : The visualization of interjections in advertising and comics . In: Zeitschrift für Semiotik 26, 2004, pp. 113–128.
  • Ernst Schwentner: The primary interjections in the Germanic languages . Winter, Heidelberg 1924.
  • Jürgen Trabant : Do the interjections belong to language? In: Harald Weydt (Ed.): Particles and Interaction . Niemeyer, Tübingen 1983, pp. 69-81.
  • Harald Weydt, Klaas-Hinrich Ehlers: Particle Bibliography: International Language Research on Particles and Interjections . Peter Lang, Frankfurt am Main a. a. 1987, ISBN 3-8204-9250-X .
  • Wilhelm Wundt : Völkerpsychologie: An investigation of the development laws of language, myth and custom. 2., revised. Edition. Vol. 1–2: The language. W. Engelmann, Leipzig 1904.

Web links

Wiktionary: interjection  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Duden> vif, accessed March 29, 2019.
  2. Drei HUI Flat 30, accessed March 29, 2019.