Common Backchannels

Australian English: yeh, hm, mhm, oh, ah, right [9]

British English: yes, m, no, yeah, really [8]

Cantonese: hm (嗯), hmm (呣), hai (係), am (啱), huh (嗬) [17], mm, ho yeh, hai, hai la [13]

Czech: mm hm, uh huh, jo, tak jo [13]

Dutch: uh-huh, okay, ja, hela, jawel, nee, nou, zo [10, 1]

Egyptian Arabic: ah, mmm, laughter, tayeb, aiwa [5]

Hungarian: mhm, uh-huh [14]

Finnish: joo, nii [11]

Italian: si, okay, eh, eh si, mm, aha [15]

Korean: mhm, n, ney, yeh, a, ah [6]

Mandarin Chinese: ao, ai, dui [4]

Persian: Xob, Bale, Hâ, Hmm, Doraste, ee, Âre, Âhâ, doruqmigi

Polish: mhm, tak, aha [19]

Slovak: mhm, no, uhhuh, ano, jasne, hej [16, 18]

Swedish: ja, m, nä, va, nej, jo, jaha, aha, okej, just [2]

Swiss German:eh hn, ae-aeh, ehm, eh [13]

Vietnamese o', u', vang [7]


[1] Feedback in Second Language Acquisition, Jens Allwood. in Adult Language Acquisition: Cross Linguistic Perspectives, II: The Results, Clive Perdue, editor. pp 196-235. Cambridge University Press, 1993.

[2] Investigating Communicative Feedback Phenomena across Languages and Modalities, Loredana Cerrato. KTH Ph.D. Thesis, 2007.

[3] Non-and Quasi-lexical Realizations of "Positive Response" in Korean, Polish, and Thai. Maciej Karpinski, Janusz Klesta, and Emilias Szalkowsa. in Speech Prosody 2006.

[4] English Backchannels in Mandarin Conversations: A case study of superstraum pragmatic `interference'. Hongyin Tao and Sandra A. Thompson. Journal of Pragmatics 16, pp 209-223. 1991.

[5] A Prosodic Feature that Invites Back-Channels in Egyptian Arabic. Nigel Ward and Yaffa Al Bayyari. Perspectives on Arabic Linguistics, Volume XX, pp 187-206, Mustafa Mughazy (ed.), John Benjamins, 2007.

[6] Identifying Units in Interaction: Reactive Tokens in Korean and English Conversations. Richard F. Young and Jina Lee. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 8, 2004, pp 380-407.

[7] Prosody of Vietnamese from an Interactional Perspective: o', u', and vang in Backchannels and Requests for Information. Kieu Phuong Ha, Journal of the Southeast Asian Linguistics Society, 3, 2010, pp 56-76.

[8] Conversational Style in British and American English: The case of backchannels. Gunnel Tottie, in English Corpus Linguistics, Karin Aijmer and Bengt Altenberg (eds.), Longman, 1991, pp 254-271.

[9] Xudong Deng, personal communication,

[10] The MultiLis Corpus - Dealing with Individual Differences in Nonverbal Listening Behavior. Iwan de Kok and Dirk Heylen. COST 2102 Training School 2010, pp 362-375.

[11] Responding in Conversation: A study of response particles in Finnish. Marja-Leena Sorjonen. Benjamin Cummings, 2001.

[12] Persian Back Channel Responses in Formal versus Informal Contexts. Shahla Sharifi and Mahnaz Azadmanesh. Linguistic Discovery 10:2, pp 109-118, 2012.

[13] TIMSS Video Study Transcription/Translation Manual, 1999.

[14] Prosody patterns of feedback expressions in Hungarian spontaneous speech. Alexandra Marko, Maria Gosy, Tilda Neuberger. Speech Prosody 2014.

[15] The intonation of backchannels in Italian task-oriented dialogues: cues to turn-taking dynamics, information status and speaker's attitude. Savino Michelina. in Proceedings of the 5th Language and Technology Conference: Human Language Technology as a Challenge for Computer Science and Linguistics, Poznan (Poland) 25-27 November 2011, p.370-374.

[16] The prosody of backchannels in Slovak. Stefan Benus. Speech Prosody 2016.

[17] Zijian (Jason) Ding (link), personal communication, 2022

[18] S. Ondáš, E. Kiktová and M. Pleva, "Slovak dialogue corpus with backchannel annotation," 32nd International Conference Radioelektronika, 2022, pp. 1-4.

[19] Bottom-up discovery of structure and variation in response tokens (‘backchannels’) across diverse languages. Andreas Liesenfeld and Mark Dingemanse. Interspeech 2022.

back to BackChannel Facts