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Lesson Transcript


Antoni: What are interjections?
Dewan: And are they commonly used in Afrikaans?
Antoni: At AfrikaansPod101.com, we hear these questions often. Imagine the following scenario: Ben Lee is talking with his friend, Alet Oosthuizen, about a new video game. He says,
"I love this new video game!"
Ben Lee: Sjoe, ek is mal oor hierdie nuwe videospeletjie!
Ben Lee: Sjoe, ek is mal oor hierdie nuwe videospeletjie!
Alet Oosthuizen: Ja, dit is ongelooflik!
Antoni: Once more with the English translation.
Ben Lee: Sjoe, ek is mal oor hierdie nuwe videospeletjie!
Antoni: "Wow, I love this new video game!"
Alet Oosthuizen: Ja, dit is ongelooflik!
Antoni: "Yes, it's incredible!"

Lesson focus

Antoni: In this lesson, we will be talking about the use of interjections in Afrikaans. Let me quickly explain what an interjection is.
For your information, the Afrikaans word for interjection is:
Dewan: tussenwerpsel.
Antoni: In both the English and Afrikaans versions of the word "interjection," the prefix refers to something that is placed between things. In English, the prefix is "inter." The "-jection" part of the word refers to the fact that it is something that is inserted. The full word refers, of course, to words that are inserted into a sentence, between other words.
Yes, most words in a sentence are inserted between other words, but, unlike other words, interjections are not grammatically related to any other part of the sentence that they happen to occur in. Because they don’t depend on the sentence for meaning; they can also stand on their own.
Interjections are sometimes also called "exclamations," and you will see the reason for this when we look at the examples a bit later. Many of them express strong emotions such as surprise, anger, excitement, and happiness.
Interjections are also a very broad grammatical category because they encompass greetings, exclamations, curses, hesitation markers, and more. For this reason, they can overlap with other categories such as fillers and discourse markers.
In the dialogue for this lesson, you already heard one example of an Afrikaans interjection. Let’s listen to that again.
[Recall 1]
Antoni: Do you remember how Ben says, "Wow, I love this new video game?"
(pause 4 seconds)
Dewan: Sjoe, ek is mal oor hierdie nuwe videospeletjie!
Antoni: Can you identify the interjection in this sentence? Remember, it is a word that can stand on its own and express a strong feeling.
(Pause 4 seconds)
Antoni: The interjection in this sentence is
Dewan: sjoe
Antoni: and it is close in meaning to the English word "wow." It is often used in situations where the person wants to express wonder, surprise, or any of quite a wide range of emotions and responses. It is a very versatile interjection.
Another extremely versatile and very common interjection in Afrikaans is the word
Dewan: lekker.
Antoni: This word originally meant "delicious," "tasty," and "pleasant," but it has also come to mean "cool" or "great." Let’s hear it in the context of a short conversation. Here is someone saying, "I am on holiday today!":
Dewan: Ek het vakansie vandag!
Antoni: And this is the response:
Dewan: Lekker, man!
Antoni: In this case, it would mean "great, man!" or "cool, man!"
Not all interjections express positive emotions though. Listen to this short exchange between two passengers on a train. The first one says "Ouch! You stood on my toe!" or
Dewan: Eina! Jy’t op my toon gestaan!
Antoni: And the other passenger responds with "Sorry!" or
Dewan: Jammer!
Antoni: This word, as I said, means "sorry," which, unlike the other, positive interjections we’ve mentioned thus far, expresses regret. The first passenger also used an interjection which expresses a negative feeling. Did you notice? It was
Dewan: Eina!
Antoni: which means "ouch!". As you can imagine, this is also a very common interjection.
Now, let’s look at some other feelings we can express with Afrikaans interjections. We can start with "surprise." In English, we sometimes say "what?!" when we are surprised, and it is the same in Afrikaans. This is the Afrikaans equivalent:
Dewan: Wat?!
Antoni: One could also use this next word in Afrikaans to express surprise or incredulity:
Dewan: Nooit!
Antoni: It means "never!" or "no way!" If you are disappointed, you can use an expression like:
Dewan: Ag nee!
Antoni: which means "oh no!" or you can say
Dewan: Ai tog!
Antoni: This one doesn’t translate directly into English, but it carries the meaning of "oh no!" There are other interjections that utilize the word
Dewan: tog.
Antoni: It translates directly to "yet" when used in a sentence but doesn’t have a direct translation in any of these interjections. This next one, for instance, means something like the English "aw," or "what a shame," when one expresses sympathy. It sounds like this:
Dewan: Foeitog.
Antoni: and a related interjection is
Dewan: Siestog.
Antoni: Let us illustrate how you'd use this very common interjection. For instance, this sentence,
Dewan: Siestog, hy het onlangs sy werk verloor.
Antoni: means: "What a shame, he's lost his job recently." Interestingly, these two interjections can also express adoration for something cute and cuddly, such as a kitten or a small baby. In this instance, you would often add an interjection to the interjection, and it would sound like this:
Dewan: Ag foeitog! Kyk die oulike katjie!
Antoni: This means: "Aw! Look at the cute kitten!" I'm sure you heard the added
Dewan: Ag.
Antoni: There is no direct translation for either of these interjections, but they are both very commonly used in Afrikaans.
Great! You have now learned how to express quite a few feelings in Afrikaans just by using interjections.
Antoni: In this lesson, you learned that the Afrikaans word for "interjection" is
Dewan: tussenwerpsel.
Antoni: We also mentioned that an interjection is a word or expression that can stand on its own, separate from a sentence, but that can also be used in a sentence even though it has no grammatical relation to any of the other words in the sentence. Interjections are used to express strong feelings and are so grammatically diverse that they include fillers, discourse markers, and curses, among other grammatical categories.
Expansion/Contrast (Optional)
Antoni: We mentioned earlier that interjections also come in the form of greetings. Here are three that you might find useful. Perhaps the most well-known of these is the simple
Dewan: Hallo!
Antoni: which, in case you didn’t get it, means "hello." The word
Dewan: Totsiens!
Antoni: is also a common one, and it means "goodbye." In English, we sometimes say "good day" as a greeting and, in Afrikaans, the corresponding greeting is
Dewan: goeie dag,
Antoni: but it can be shortened to the simple interjection:
Dewan: dag.
Cultural Insight/Expansion (Optional)
Antoni: Afrikaans people are quite fond of beer, brandy, wine, and the South African version of the barbecue, which is called a
Dewan: braai.
Antoni: That’s why, if you are traveling in South Africa and encounter some Afrikaans speakers, you might well be invited to a
Dewan: braai,
Antoni: and you will almost certainly find yourself drinking some alcohol with them, unless you don’t drink. This means that you are likely to witness an Afrikaans person raising their glass of alcohol and saying
Dewan: Gesondheid!
Antoni: This is the Afrikaans way of toasting, and the word simply translates to "health." It is similar to saying, in English, "To your health!" South African wines and beers happen to be very good, and Afrikaans people are very hospitable, so you are likely to have a great time at a
Dewan: braai.
Antoni: Perhaps, while you are there, you will also find an occasion to use some of the other interjections you have learned in this lesson.


Antoni: Do you have any more questions? We’re here to answer them!
Dewan: Totsiens!
Antoni: See you soon!
Credits: Dewan (Afrikaans, Pietermaritzburg), Antoni (English, synthetic voice)