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. 339–370
Calibrating an agnostic epistemic stance in Swedish conversation
The case of okej-prefacing in calls to the Swedish Board for study support
Conversation analytic research on turn-initial particles has by and large examined turn-initial items that are language (or language family) specific such as the English well, the Finnish niin, the French voilà, and the German naja. This chapter by contrast, explores the turn-initial use of a word that was imported as a loan from English to Swedish, namely okay, in Swedish okej. The data is drawn from interactions between clients and administrators at the Swedish Board for Study Support. I have analyzed telephone calls where clients are inquiring about how to apply for a new loan or negotiating the payback of an existing loan. The discourse marker okej ‘okay’ is recurrent in these materials. Okej can be used by itself as a first pair part, a second pair part, or a sequence closing third. It can also be embedded within larger turns. This chapter is based on a collection where okej is used as a turn preface. By analysing the sequential context, action implementation, and sequential trajectory of okej-prefaced turns, I show that okej-prefacing is used by call takers as an agnostic marker by registering the information provided by the caller without either endorsing it as true or dismissing it as false.
Keywords: conversation analysis, epistemic stance, financial aid counselling, Swedish telephone conversation
Published online: 19 July 2018
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