Eeto-prefaced Responses in Japanese Conversation

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  • 「ええと」によって開始される応答
  • 「 エエト 」 ニ ヨッテ カイシ サレル オウトウ

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In this study we examine one of the most frequently occurring vocal markers in Japanese, eeto, which has been traditionally depicted as a mere "filler", in the attempt to reveal how it is instead employed as an interactional resource. By focusing on eeto as it is produced in the initial position of a turn responding to information-seeking or information-confirming types of questions, and analyzing in detail the interactional environments in which these eeto-prefaced responses occur, we argue that it is not a mere "time-buyer" or an epiphenomenon of the speaker's cognitive process, but that it publicly marks an interactional stance of the respondent. That is, eeto is an interactional resource that question-recipients can use in initiating their response, in order to display that they take the preceding turn as a question that is difficult to answer in some way or another and that they are nonetheless working to provide something hearable as an appropriate answer to the question. Thus using eeto at the outset of an answer to a question is a procedure that establishes intersubjectivity between the questioner and the respondent and ensures the progression of the on-going interaction when the progressivity of the talk seems temporarily hampered.


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