Die Interjektion boah in Alltagserzählungen:

Eine Annäherung anhand von Face-to-Face- und Instant-Messaging-Kommunikation

  • Matthias Meiler
  • Ilham Huynh


This paper examines conversational data of German everyday narratives in audiovisual footage of face-to-face encounters and in log files of Facebook’s instant messenger. The qualitative analysis is focused on the interjection boah as a means of narrative activity, paying special attention to its multimodal form and its media dependent functionality. The preliminary findings show that boah is used to signal to the communication partner the utterer’s noticing of something unexpected: be it an observed object or event, a communicative action, or a recalled memory. On a phonetical level, it is possible to distinguish two forms of boah: a marked form and an unmarked form. Which of these two forms is instantiated in interaction depends on the intensity of unexpectedness (or the enactment of unexpectedness). In everyday narratives, the marked form is often found to be expressed by the recipient. In contrast to the face-to-face data, our instant messenger data shows that, here, almost without exception boah is only used by the storyteller. This conspicuous finding can be explained by the specific temporality of instant messaging which results from the structural media conditions that instant messengers or e. g. internet relay chats similarly impose on the use of communicative means like interjections. We finally discuss how this dialectic relation between communicative function and mediality prompts further analyses of other communicative means, for example, the pattern of everyday narratives itself.

Meiler, M., & Huynh , I. (2020). Die Interjektion boah in Alltagserzählungen: : Eine Annäherung anhand von Face-to-Face- und Instant-Messaging-Kommunikation. Linguistik Online, 104(4), 15-57. https://doi.org/10.13092/lo.104.7289