Laughter Interjections

Contributions to a Lexical Anthropology of Humour (with special reference to Danish)

  • Carsten Levisen Roskilde University


The purpose of this paper is threefold. Firstly, it seeks to fill a gap in the literature on interjections by suggesting that ‘laughter interjections’ (words such English haha or hehe) make up an important type of interjections that has so far not been accounted for in cross-linguistic work on interjections. Secondly, it argues that laughter interjections are thick with cultural meaning, and that they can play an important role for an “emic turn” in humour studies. Third, it develops a case study on “Danish funniness” with a point of departure in the Danish paradigm of laughter interjections. The paper explores humourous discourse from the perspective of these culturally specific expressive words, and provides high definition analysis of two Danish laughter interjections tøhø and hæhæ, using the Natural Semantic Metalanguage technique of explication. The general framework of the study is Lexical Anthropology, an approach to meaning analysis that combines insights from lexical semantics and linguistic anthropology.

How to Cite
Levisen, C. (2019). Laughter Interjections. Scandinavian Studies in Language, 10(1), 110-130.