News and Tribune


July 12, 2013

STAWAR: A sound interjection


 Cartoonist-writer Roy Crane, the creator of the Buz Sawyer comic strip, was the first to draw in interjections such as “bam,” “pow” and “wham,” adding a new dimension to how the comics portrayed action. Advertisers also frequently use onomatopoeic interjections as in Alka-Seltzer’s famous “Plop, plop, fizz, fizz” jingle and Kellogg’s Snap, Crackle, and Pop, catch phrase for Rice Krispies cereal.

Onomatopoeic interjections often show up as catch phrases on television shows such as “Beep, Beep,” “Zoiks,” “Waka, waka, waka,” “Haw-Haw” and “Bazinga.” “Yada yada yada” is the title of one of the most popular Seinfeld sitcom episodes. Aired in 1997, the plot has George’s girlfriend Marcy saying “yada yada yada” whenever she wanted to shorten her stories or to cover up something (like the fact that she was a kleptomaniac). 

“Yadda yadda yadda” dates back to at least the 1940s and was used frequently by comedian Lenny Bruce among others. In a 2009 TV special “TV’s 50 Funniest Phrases,” The Paley Center for Media named it as television’s funniest phrase, supplanting the previous winner, “D’oh” from “The Simpsons.”

A “Wah wah woh wah wah” trombone effect was used on the Peanuts television specials whenever Charlie Brown’s teacher was speaking. This is an excellent example of how effectively sound can be used to communicate fairly complicated things, like how incomprehensible the world of adults can be for children.

Interjections also provide a lot of color for our speech, making it both more expressive and more lyrical and well, yada yada yada.

— Terry L. Stawar, Ed.D., lives in Georgetown and is the CEO of LifeSpring the local community mental health center in Jeffersonville. He can be reached at Checkout his Welcome to Planet-Terry blog and podcast at

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