Publication of the month: January 2018

Marking “commitment to undertaking of the task at hand”: Initiating responses with eeto in Japanese conversation

Emi Morita, Tomoyo Takagi

Journal of Pragmatics

 

Eeto is one of the most frequently occurring Japanese vocal markers. Often characterized as a mere time-buyer, or “filler”, this token has been frequently said to reflect ongoing internal cognitive processing or reflection. Examining naturally occurring instances of eeto by focusing on its occurrences at the beginning of responses to information–seeking questions, however, we found that eeto-prefaced responses all provide a carefully constructed answer in contexts where the responses might otherwise be heard as not aligning in the most straightforward way. We argue that eeto affords Japanese conversationalists a way through which they can project the maximally prosocial stance of interactional commitment to undertaking the task at hand. Rather than a marker of an internal processing state, eeto, we argue, is instead a useful linguistic resource to publically display a respectful stance toward the questioner while the respondent is carefully building an appropriately contextualized response.

Middle School Group Credit: Donna Cleveland, flickr
Middle School Group
Credit: Donna Cleveland, flickr

Morita E. & Takagi T., Marking “commitment to undertaking of the task at hand”: Initiating responses with eeto in Japanese conversation“. Pragmatics, (2018). (Netherlands).

 

 

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