Sunday, August 06, 2006

August 6: Interjection Day

Today is the anniversary of the British release of the Beatles album Help!, the soundtrack of their second film by the same title.

The title song, like most Beatles songs, is credited to the Lennon-McCartney song writing team, but it was primarily a Lennon composition. John Lennon explained that the song was written during the height of Beatlemania and was a literal cry for help.

The covers of both the British and the American albums show the Fab Four standing with their arms outstretched to signal semaphore letters. Strangely the letters do not spell out H - E - L -P; instead, they spell N - V - U - J.

The Beatles second film, a James Bond spoof, was not as well received as their critically acclaimed first film A Hard Day's Night. The music of the film, however, revealed the Beatles maturing songwriting talent with such songs as "I've Just Seen A Face," "Ticket to Ride," "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," and "Yesterday." The varied tempos of the songs and the lyrics, more sophisticated than those on previous albums, showed that the Beatles were moving beyond "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah."

The words help and yeah are both interjections: words or phrases that express emotion but have no grammatical connection to the rest of a sentence. One of the most overlooked and underrated parts of speech, interjections are an important part of the way we communicate.

The book ZOUNDS! A Brower's Dictionary of Interjections is a catalog of over 500 interjections, their definitions and origins. Where else can you learn that there are a total of 109 two-letter words allowable for Scrabble, and that 23 of those two-letter words are interjections:

ah, aw, ay, bo, eh, er, fy, ha, hi, ho, io, lo, my, oh, oi, ow, sh, st, ta, um, ur, ou, yo

The book, written by Mark Dunn and illustrated Sergio Aragones, gives fascinating and funny background explanations for each interjection. Here is a small A-Z sample of some of the interjections featured:

I declare
my bad
no soap
very well
way to go
zounds (1)

Today's Challenge: Wow! The Iterjection Hall of Fame!
Read each of the famous interjectios below and see if you can identify the name of the person or character who made it famous.

1. "Eureka!"

2. "Badabing-badaboom"

3. "Stuff and nonsense!"

4. "Bah! Humbug!"

5. "Fiddle-dee-dee !"

6. Leapin' lizards!"

7. "Nanoo, nanoo"

8. "Dyn-O-Mite!"

9. "Bully!" (1)

Quote of the Day:

CLAUDIO. O! what men dare do! what men may do! what men daily do, not knowing what they do!

BENEDICK. How now! Interjections? Why then, some be of laughing, as ah! ha! he!
--William Shakepeare, from Much Ado About Nothing, Act IV, Scene 1.

Answers: 1. Archimedes 2. Tony Soprano 3. Alice, in Alice in Wonderland 4. Scrooge 5. Scarlet O'Hara 6. Little Orphan Anne 7. Mork, from "Mork & Mindy" 8. Jimmy Walker from "Good Times" 9. President Theodore Roosevelt

1 - Dunn, Mark and Sergio Aragones. Zounds!: A Browser's Dictionary of Interjections. New York: St. Martin's Griffin, 2005.

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