Christine Lovatt

If you’ve ever played the game of trying to talk on a subject for two minutes without saying um or er, you will realise just how much a part of our everyday speech is the interjection.

The um, er variety are called ‘filled pauses’ giving the speaker time to think of the right words. It’s unusual to be able to speak off the cuff without saying well, you know, or other seemingly meaningless words.

The official definition of an interjection is a word used to express a particular sentiment; it may be an abrupt remark, an aside or an interruption, but it often reveals how the speaker feels.

In fact, any words that are not part of a sentence, especially if they take an exclamation mark, may qualify as interjections, eg dear me, sorry, excuse me, phew, ouch, ugh, oops and right!

SpeakerSometimes our conversation could be madeup entirely of interjections; Yoohoo, cheers, hurray, thanks, wow, nice, damn, strewth, hell! A new one I’ve noticed recently is Meh! which seems to mean ‘so what?’

Speakers might sometimes be annoying, such as young people who repeatedly use y’know, like, I mean, actually but imagine what a strange world we would live in if we had no interjections and only spoke in fully formed sentences. It would seem most unnatural if we could never say hi, uh-oh, mm-hmm, bless you and yum. Yikes!

Next time you’re having a conversation, make a note of all the interjections you use. I’m sure you would all have quite a variety of expressive utterances, which you can write and tell us about! I intend to do the same.

Happy Puzzling! (does that count?)