In many languages there are words or sounds that function as attention-seeker.

For example you might say hey yo,

And this causes people to turn their heads towards you.

In Persian there is آهای as another example.

Please note that my question is not about interjections, as they are part of a conversation which is after attention is given.

My question is about when other people are doing their things and minding their own business and suddenly someone comes and shouts like "hey everyone" to turn their heads. Similar to shouting.

Is there a technical linguistic term for this?

1 Answer 1


I'm not aware of a term specifically covering expressions that express a desire for others to pay attention, but you may find it useful to analyse them in the domain of speech acts.

Under Austin's analysis, such expressions would be analysed as speech acts, where the illocutionary act intends one or more people to pay attention to the speaker, with the expressions themselves, for example "Yo listen up!", being the corresponding locutionary act.

So while I’m not aware of a specific term, if you really had to specify the set of such expressions, you could consider referring to them as “speech acts with the illocutionary content of drawing attention”.

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