Chapter published in:Between Turn and Sequence: Turn-initial particles across languages
Edited by John Heritage and Marja-Leena Sorjonen
[Studies in Language and Social Interaction 31] 2018
► pp. 191–224
A-prefaced responses to inquiry in Japanese
This study explores the stances communicated by two turn-initial particles in Japanese, a and eh, when they are used to preface responses to inquiry. The particle a comes close in its usage to oh in English and is often used to acknowledge the receipt of new and/or unexpected information. Eh is similar to a in that it indicates that the information being received is unexpected; however, it is often employed in contexts where its producer problematizes or resists what the prior speaker has just said, such as in other-initiated repair and disagreements. We compare the workings of these two particles in the context of prefacing responses to inquiry and show that, while a-prefaced responses generally embody moves that are affiliative with the prior speaker, eh-prefaced responses convey more disaffiliative stances. Based on our findings, we suggest that there is a division of labor between a-prefacing and eh-prefacing of question responses in Japanese and that what is performed by one particle in one language (oh in English) may be carried out by two particles in another (a and eh in Japanese).
Keywords: responses to questions, “change-of-state” token, Japanese, affiliative stance, disaffiliative stance, resistance, particle a , particle eh , shift in orientation, division of labor
Published online: 19 July 2018
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