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Recently there has been an increased interest cross-linguistically in how speakers use interjections in everyday interaction. A particularly productive line of inquiry deals with what are known as change-of-state tokens, interjections with which speakers claim that there has been a shift in their cognitive state such as their knowledge, understanding, attention, etc. In this paper I explore the variability of the Dutch interjection oh /o/. Focusing on its use in response to informing turns, I argue that as a free-standing particle speakers use it to claim that the information in that prior turn was in some way unexpected: either because it contradicted what the speaker claimed he or she knew, or because it contradicted some presupposition that was encoded in an earlier question. I subsequently discuss the most frequent ways in which oh is combined with other turn components, showing how it is used to respond to announcements of valenced news, to do now-remembering, and to make claims of now-understanding. In closing I show that when oh prefaces additional turn components such as oké, each component deals with a different action-implication of the ongoing sequence and that oh is used to receive the information being conveyed.

Original publication




Journal article


Tijdschrift voor taalbeheersing


Amsterdam University Press

Publication Date





363 - 390