Being Equivocal

Auli Hakulinen and Marja-Leena Sorjonen

in Emotion in Interaction

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199730735
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199950034 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Studies in Sociolinguistics

Being Equivocal

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This chapter explores the Finnish expression /voi että/, which is used as a response cry. It lacks referential meaning but is not devoid of meaning: it has become conventionalized as an index of affect display. /Voi että/ is part of a larger paradigm of phrasal affective responses. It is the most “open” one initiated with the interjection /voi/: there is no characterizing element but the interjection is followed by /että/, used elsewhere e.g. as a subordinating connective (’that’). This response merely voices recognition of the co-participant’s prior turn as one that has made an affective response relevant and that displays attunement to that affect. The chapter argues that by deploying a response type that expresses an affective stance but does not make the stance lexically explicit, the recipient orients to the ambivalence of the sequential implications and/or affective character of the prior talk.

Keywords: response cry; sequential ambivalence; phrasal affective response; ambiguity of valence

Chapter.  11168 words. 

Subjects: Sociolinguistics

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