UCL Working Papers in Linguistics 12 (2000)

Interjections, language and the ‘showing’/ ‘saying’ continuum


Historically, interjections have been treated in two different ways: as part of language, or as non-words signifying feelings or states of mind. In this paper, I assess the relative strengths and weaknesses of two contemporary approaches which reflect the historical dichotomy, and suggest a new analysis which preserves the insights of both. Interjections have a natural and a coded element, and are better analysed as falling at various points along a continuum between ‘showing’ and ‘saying’, where showing is relatively natural behaviour, and saying is properly linguistic.

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