Dialogipartikkelien tehtävistä

  • Marja-Leena Sorjonen
Avainsanat: keskusteluntutkimus, partikkelit


On the use of response words (englanti)

2/1999 (103)

Marja-Leena Sorjonen (Research Centre for the Languages of Finland; .fi)


The article begins by discussing the treatment of response particles (dialogue particles, Hakulinen forthcoming) in earlier research and outlining parameters relevant for the study of such particles. Based on a core corpus of 84 telephone calls, the article examines the Finnish particles niin and joo ('yeah, yes' in some of their central usages) when given as responses to affiliation-relevant utterances by the previous speaker. The discussion is based on the author's PhD dissertation (Sorjonen 1997a).

Response particles can form an utterance, a turn at talk and a verbal action by themselves. Until recently, they have been largely absent from linguistic studies, which reflects the centrality of clauses as units of linguistic research. Particles have, however, been discussed in interactional studies covering different disciplines. An early and to some extent still prevailing approach is that of backchannel or feeback studies, which treat response particles as a unified class (e.g. Yngve 1970; Duncan 1972). More recent studies within or informed by the conversation-analytic approach have formed a turning point in that they analyse different responses with respect to their placement within the unfolding activities (e.g. Jefferson 1984; Schegloff 1982; Heritage 1984; Gardner 1997).

Within Finnish linguistics, little research on response words has previously been undertaken. They have nevertheless been mentioned in some of the early dictionaries of Finnish and, later, in textbooks and grammars for learners of Finnish. Affirmative responses were discussed as early as 1945, by E. A. Tunkelo in Virittj, and subsequently in a number of Master's theses in the late '60s. The first more extensive discussion was by Hmlinen in 1976. These early studies, however, mainly provided labels for functions and illustrated them with examples, and responses were treated as an undifferentiated functional class with possible dialectal and/or register variation. More recent work based mainly on conversation analysis has begun to explore the use of response particles in more detail (Hakulinen and Sorjonen 1986; Sorjonen 1988, 1996, 1997a, in press; Hakulinen 1989, 1993a,b; Raevaara 1993; Tainio 1996; Kangasharju 1998; Kurhila forthcoming; Routarinne forthcoming).

Niin is an original Finno-Ugric word which belongs etymologically to the paradigm for the demonstrative pronoun se 'it; that' as its instructive (instrumental) case form 'thus, so' in the plural. Its status as a case-marked, inflected element, however, faded early on, and it is now understood as an uninflected particle. In sentence-internal usages it comes close to the English particle so (e.g. 'She did it so (i.e. that way)'; 'I'm so glad'). Niin has moved out of the demonstrative paradigm and clause structure so that it can also occur as an utterance of its own. By contrast, the particle joo is a loan word from Swedish and has acquired distinctive conventions of use in Finnish. As turns in their own right, niin and joo are used, for example, as responses to polar questions, as claims of agreement with a position displayed by the speaker of the previous turn, and as continuers (see Sorjonen 1997a).

As responses to utterances that make relevant a display of affiliation by the recipient, the particles niin and joo behave differently. The article discusses cases in which the affiliation-relevant utterance of the previous speaker is an account of that speaker's position. The affiliation is made relevant by inviting the recipient to display recognition of the logic or point of what the speaker has said. A recurrent feature of the accounts is the 'zero person construction' (Laitinen 1995), often translated into English as the generic 'one' or 'you', through which the speaker situates her or his experience in the larger cultural frame of experience.

In these contexts, the particle niin displays affiliation with the prior turn by claiming to recognize the rationale of what the coparticipant has said, to see the other's point. Niin thus claims generic access to what the coparticipant is talking about and indicates that the speaker is familiar with this type of experience. By contrast, the particle joo receives the prior turn as merely understood. Through joo, the recipient thus rejects the coparticipant's offer to share experiences: joo keeps the participants' worlds apart. Joo can be treated as a display of disaffiliation by both of the participants in their subsequent conversation. The history of niin as a member of the demonstrative paradigm and as an anaphoric element is evident throughout it uses discussed here: niin looks backward, and its function as a display of recognition of the state of affairs described by the coparticipant is tied to the anaphoric use of se.


joo (kieli: suomi, sivulla: 170)
niin (kieli: suomi, sivulla: 170)

tammi 2, 1999
Sorjonen, M.-L. (1999). Dialogipartikkelien tehtävistä. Virittäjä, 103(2), 170. Noudettu osoitteesta https://journal.fi/virittaja/article/view/39153