NPO 3FM interview with Marlou Rasenberg on the use of "HUH?!" in the Dutch language
In the interview on radio NPO 3FM, Marlou answers the question where words like “huh” come from. She explains how these words arose from the need to deal with conversational problems. If a speaker says something that you did not hear or understand, then as a listener you need to be able to quickly and without much effort signal that problem (for example by saying “huh?”). The speaker can then repeat the prior turn, so you can continue the conversation in a quick and smooth manner. Research has shown that worldwide languages have a word that sounds like “huh” (in Dutch: “hè”) which has precisely this function: to repair problems in conversations (Dingemanse, Torreira & Enfield, 2013).
In her PhD project, Marlou studies how people deal with problems with hearing and understanding, and how co-speech gestures are used to repair such problems.
Listen to the interview (in Dutch) here.