Chapter published in:Imperative Turns at Talk: The design of directives in action
Edited by Marja-Leena Sorjonen, Liisa Raevaara and Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
[Studies in Language and Social Interaction 30] 2017
► pp. 271–295
Negotiating deontic rights in second position
Young adult daughters’ imperatively formatted responses to mothers’ offers in Estonian
This study looks at offer sequences in Estonian with an analytical focus on answers in the imperative form. “Telling someone to do something” has traditionally been considered an initiating action, typically an order. In this study, however, Estonian speakers are shown to produce “orders” in second position, i.e., in response to an initiating action. These imperative responses are grammatically fitted to first actions in at least two ways. First, they reuse the verbs in the first actions, thus constituting one type of verb repeat response that is common in Estonian conversation. Second, they are grammatically restricted to positions after turns formatted in 1st person, termed my-side offers in this study. With the adjacency pair my-side offer – imperative response participants are shown to navigate the landscape of interpersonal deonticity. It is a crucial feature of my-side offers that the speaker defines the future from her own perspective, formulating what she herself will do, albeit with clear consequences and obligations for the recipient. The originator of the offer thus claims deontic rights over the future course of activities that concern both parties, and displays a strong expectation of acceptance by the other. Imperative responses, however, challenge these rights. Instead of merely accepting the offer, they redefine the current speaker as the deontic authority. The analysis is based on phone calls between mothers and young adult daughters – a relationship where entitlement to services, as well as respective deontic rights, can be an issue. It is overwhelmingly mothers who produce offers in these calls, and daughters who answer them in the imperative form. The paper argues that the daughters thereby reclaim agency and rights to independently decide upon their future in the ongoing process of becoming a responsible adult.
Keywords: imperative, echo answers, responses to offers, offer sequence, deontics, agency, repeating, grammar in interaction, Estonian, mother-daughter relationship
Published online: 18 August 2017
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In press. “Making up One’s Mind in Second Position: Estonian no-preface in Action Plans.” In At the Intersection of Turn and Sequence: Turn-initial Particles across Languages ed. by John Heritage, and Marja-Leena Sorjonen Amsterdam/Philadelphia John Benjamins.
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Cited by 4 other publications
No author info given
Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth, Marja Etelämäki & Marja-Leena Sorjonen
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