Browsing by Author "Koivisto, Aino"

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  • Koivisto, Aino (Helsingin yliopisto, 2011)
    This study describes the use of utterances ending in the conjunctions "ja" (‘and’), "mutta" (‘but’) or "että" (‘that’/‘so’) in Finnish conversation. It argues that in spoken interaction, these conjunctions are not only used as linking elements but also as final elements in interactional and linguistic units. In contrast to more traditional views, the study shows that final conjunctions do not always indicate incompleteness or project continuation, but that they can also form recognizable points for turn-transition. In these contexts they can be reanalyzed as final particles that leave some aspect of the turn implicit. The data for the study consist of audio-taped telephone conversations and videotaped service encounters. Situated within the framework of conversation analysis and interactional linguistics, the study discusses the interactional uses of conjunction-final turns and their recognizability as possibly complete units in talk-in-interaction. The analysis of conjunction-final utterances focuses on 1) participant orientation, and 2) their recurrent contexts of use. The results show that the recipients of conjunction-final utterances often treat them as sufficient and complete in their contexts by displaying understanding or agreement. When the same speaker continues after a pause, it is not always clear that the continuation was "planned" in advance; it can also be reactive to lack of expected uptake. In these cases, a turn can be analyzed as potentially complete even if the same speaker decides to continue after a pause. In the light of these observations, the study confirms the incremental nature of spoken language. All the final conjunctions under examination have recurrent and recognizable contexts of use. Most typically, a conjunction-final utterance is produced in the service of some earlier claim by the same speaker. The conjunction-final utterance may 1) specify the earlier claim with a detailing list ("ja"), 2) legitimize it by presenting grounds ("että") or 3) partly back down from it by making a concession ("mutta"). Together with the earlier claim, conjunction-final utterances form recognizable discourse patterns that are used for argumentative purposes. In these contexts, conjunctions are used to relinquish the floor instead of functioning as turn-holding devices. In conclusion, the study discusses the emergence of conjunctions as final particles – how their development can be explained. Conjunction-type final particles emerge from recurring situations in which the future course of the conjunction-final turn-so-far is clear enough to remain unsaid, to be left to inference. More specifically, this ability to leave something to inference often lies in the fixed discourse patterns that are conventionalized and predictable and thus reducible.