TWO DIFFERENT INTERACTIVE FUNCTIONS: COMPARING SINGLE AND REPEATED ACHA (OKAY) IN URDU CONVERSATION By: Ajesha Sobail and Habib Ullah Pathan.
Abstract This paper shows that achAPound (okaj) carries a distinct function from acha achAPound (acha)in Urdu interaction. The paper argues that both these forms of acknowledgment token acha (okaji) should not be considered same since thej have separate interactional functions. The single acha (okqy) functions simpiy as an acknowledgment token or continuer that encourages the cpeaker to continue with the current course of action b5 diiplqying alignment. On the other hand acha (acha) shows attainment of required level of information and suggests speaker to stop the current action by moving ahead to the next matter of talk. Repeated acha (okay) though is an indication for the halt of current course of action; however in a wqy it helps in the progression of conversation as it is a signal for the speaker to move to ahead in conversation showing understanding and agreement with the speaker. Hence repeated acha (okay) function as dis (continuer) in Urdu interaction.
The data consist of audio and video recording of every day conversation among native speakers of Urdu with a total running time of almost eight hours. This paper contributes to the works that single and repeated response tokens perform variant functions in interaction. Moreover unlike English and German (Stivers 2004; Golato and Fagyal 2008) repeated tokens are observed the intense form of single acknowledgment tokens in Urdu interaction.
Keywords: Urdu conversation interactive functions acknowledgement tokens
Previous work on acknowledgement tokens or continuers in English and other languages demonstrated systematic functions in interaction (Jefferson 1984; Zimmerman 1993; Gardner 1998; 2001; Sorjonen 2001; Stivers 2004; Golato and Fagyal 2006; 2008 Sohail 2010). The listener provides support and feedback to the speaker to show continued attention (Fries 1952 p.49 Schegloff 1982:78; Fujimoto 2007 p.38) and to keep the conversation going smoothly (Dittman and Llewellyn 1967 p.342). The selection of these tokens exhibit how listeners understand and receive talk (Gardner 2001) and stance towards the deployed information.
Research has shown that when these acknowledgment tokens are repeated on certain occasions during conversation they function differently than their single forms.Stivers (2004) argues that repetition of acknowledgment tokens or multiple sayings in English such as "no no no `c "alright alright alright" or "wait wait wait" occur in a systematic way in conversation. Stivers (2004) claims that these multiple sayings perform the opposite function to single acknowledgment tokens in the conversation; that is instead of helping in the progression of the current course of action they signal closure of current sequence. Similar findings are reported by Golato and Fagyal (2008) in German conversation. They claim that single "ja" and double "jaja" with different intonation contours (`jaJa ja'ja) should not be considered as the intense form of same action.Ja is used as a continuer or confirmation marker in German conversation while jaja (`jija orja"ja) indicates that
the speaker has continued too long and should stop the current course of action. Therefore single and double acknowledgment tokens or sayings are two different forms of acknowledgment tokens and can perform different interactional functions.
In Urdu the common acknowledgment tokens are hmm .sa.hz/thile (right) harn/ji (yes) bilkul (certainly) and acha (okay) (Sohail 2010).These acknowledgement tokens however vary in the degrees of involvement and `level of resiliency' (Jun 2009; Sohail 2011). For instance hmm is the weakest acknowledgment token as it is lexically empty (Mazeland 1990). On the other hand bilkul (certainly) is the strongest acknowledgment token and shows high involvement and resiliency. Like hmm acha (okay) does not convey a positive or negative stance on the part of its producer. The uniqueness of acha (okay) is that it shows reception of new or newsworthy information and exhibits change in information' (Gardner 2001) or change of state of knowledge or information (Heritage 1984; Heritage 1998).
This paper claims that single and repeated acha (okay)appears in different sequential environments intending to perform diverse functions in interaction. However repeated acha (okay)is the intense form of the single ac/id (okay);since it discontinues the current course of matter for moving to the next one in order to promote.
2. Data and Method
The data consist of 26 everyday ordinary conversations between native speakers of Urdu (family and friends) recorded in the United Kingdom and Pakistan. Audio and video recordings were made with a total running time of almost 8 hours. The data have been analyzed using the methodology of conversation analysis. The fragments presented here are selected on the basis of their accurate representation of the whole data- set. In the fragments the examples of single and repeated ac/id (okay) are marked with an arrow and are written in bold to highlight them from the surrounding conversation.
The fragments are transliterated in Urdu adopting the transcription system presented by McGregor (1992). The orthographic transcriptions broadly follow the conventions developed by Gail Jefferson (see e.g. Sacks Schegloff and Jefferson 1974). To give a better understanding of Urdu conversation each transliterated line of Urdu script is followed by idiomatic English translation. Since English is the medium of instruction in most educational institutions attended by Urdu speakers it is normal practice for Urdu speakers to switch over to English words during Urdu conversation. At places in conversation where speakers have used English words which cannot be presented properly in transliteration conventions; these are presented in English orthography and in italic. Sentences are not indicated by capitalization or full stops.
The punctuation marks used in the present study are comma and question mark. In the English translation question marks are used at the end of a question and commas are used to break different components of the turn to make the meaning explicit. In the next section (3) we will discuss in detail the comparison of two forms of ac/id (okay): single and repeated by enhancing the sequential placement and subsequent treatment to distinguish them from each other.
3. Interactional Functions of achAPound and achil achAPound (acha) Fragment 1 exemplifies a string of acknowledgment tokens appearing in conversation between two friends. In the selected piece of conversation Al is the primary speaker and Bi is the listener who acknowledges talk with different single acknowledgment tokens.
(1) CON1 04:17:10 1 Al: zarAPound iski ke'r karo nAPound agar isko masl'APound hai take care of her if she has a problem2 (0.3)3Al: yAPound to baccthik rahe to ko'i farq nahirh [pa.rtAPound or if the child is healthy it does not make any difference4 Bl: [less than ko'i farq nahiril pa.rtagreater than [less than doesnot make anydifferencegreater than 5 Al: sardiyurhmerh baccurli kAPound barAPound mukil hotAPound hai in winters it is very difficult for children6 Bl:- hmm7 Al: cotAPound bacaAPound khAPound s kar specially of a young child8 Bi: ( ) 9 Al: garmiyA1/4rii ke bacce bare asan hote hairh children born in summers are easy to take care of10 Bl:- hAPound rhha[haha yes ha [haha11 Al:- [hAPound rh [yes12 Al: haniya pall hoi hai mairhne garmiyurh merh I have brought up Haania in summers13 Bl:- achAPound okay14 Al: pata bhinahirhcalAPound haniya mujhe yad bhi nahirh I did not have any problem and do not remember15 (0.2)16 Al: hania maim ne pall kese hai how I brought Haania up17 B1:- hmm18 Al: lekin fAPound timAPound 'bdullAPound h par `bdullAPound h par bhi nahirli but on Fatima and Abdullah not on Abdullah19 (0.1)20 Al: fAPound mAPound par merh ne ban mehnat ki [hoi hai] I have really worked hard on Fatima21 B1:- [hmm]
In the selected piece of conversation speaker B 1 acknowledges speaker Al's opinion with hmm (line 6) concerning the difficulty of taking care of young children in the winter (line 5). Further speaker Al passes on her view on the basis of her personal experience that children born in summers are very easy to look after (line 9) which is acknowledged with ha/i followed by laughter (line 10). This conveys a higher level of resiliency and involvement than hmm. Speaker Al acknowledges speakerby acknowledgment with bath (line 11) in overlap with speaker Bl's laughter (line 10). It is followed by information that her daughter Haania was born in the summer (line 12) to strengthen her previous claim. This information is new to speaker by and is therefore acknowledged with acha (okay). Since acha (okay) presents reception of new/newsworthy information it also signals the speaker's interest in getting to know more about it. Hence achAPound (okay) displays higher involvement in the conversation with neutral affect.
Later on speaker Al continues with the detail of her experiences of bringing up her children that displays acha (okay) encourages the speaker to add more on the current topic (14-20).
In fragment 1 speaker Bi uses three different types of acknowledgment tokens hmm bath and achAPound (okay). These exhibit varying degrees of involvement and a high level of resiliency in the conversation. The choice of an acknowledgment token also depends on the current status of the listener towards the event and the content of the prior turn. For instance hmm (line 6) and bath are used to acknowledge speaker Al's views on the effects of weather in taking care of young children. hmm is a weak acknowledgement token displaying less involvement. When the first view of speaker Al is acknowledged with hmm the next complementary remark is acknowledged with a stronger acknowledgment token to show more involvement with higher level of resiliency and positive stance. This works against a possible perception by her co-participant of her disinterest in the conversation. It is noted that the first sequence of the new information is acknowledged with acha (okay) (line 13) in
Urdu to exhibit reception of new information and displaying interest in getting to know more about it unlike oka5 in English which signal `some degree of topic or activity shift' (Beach 1993 p.341; Gardner 2007 p.323) . Like hmm acha (okay) does not convey a positive or negative stance on the part of its producer.
In the case of first two acknowledgment tokens hmm (line 6) and ham (line 10) the other acknowledgment tokens e.g. .sa.hzi .thik or bilkul that show `a claim of prior knowledge' (Gardner 2007 p.329) with different degrees of involvement and positiveness can occur. However achAPound (okay) cannot occur in these places becauseacha (okay) is only used to acknowledge new information. Acknowledgment tokens then should align with the prior turn (Stivers 2004) and the status of the listener towards the event. It is claimed that if the acknowledgment token is inappropriate according to the demand of the situation it creates dis alignment in conversation and can also check the flow of conversation which is evident in the next fragment.
(2) CON1 08:30:18 1 Al: yah farah kitnAPound barAPound pAPound rlar hai farah how big the Farah parlor is Farah2 Bl:- hmm3 Al: dekhAPound hovA hai have you seen it4 Bl: - ha::riiI yes5 Al: hAPound rii is se karAPound i thi men jAPound nne vail ne ilfarcl merii yes one of my acquaintances in Alford dyed her hair from that6 Bl:- hmm
Speaker Al puts forth her appreciative remark on the grandness of the Farah parlor (line 1) which is responded to by speaker Bl with hmm (line 2). To acknowledge the appreciative remark with hmm which is a weak and neutral acknowledgment token is inadequate in the present context as it presents less involvement to the point that speaker Al questions whether or not speaker Bi is familiar with the parlor (unfamiliarity being one basis for an evidently weak assessment). The query is responded to by the short agreement token with rising intonation (ha::thI) to give confirmation. Itis proposed that speaker Al's appreciative remark requires an acknowledgment token of high positive affect like hAPound iii/ji (yes)or bilkul (certainly) to match the speaker's strong
appreciation. Thus it is proposed that while acknowledging multi-turn activities of talk speakers vary the resiliency level with the selection of different acknowledgment tokens according to the content of the prior turn to maintain alignment in conversation. In addition acknowledging talk with inadequate responses creates dis alignment and disruption in the conversation.
The selection of a particular acknowledgment token also depends on the `in formativeness of the prior turn' (Mazeland 1990 p.253 Jefferson 1981) and the speaker's current status towards the event (Jefferson 1984; Stivers 2008). If either of these two factors are not taken into consideration choosing an acknowledgment token can result in dis alignment in the conversation as noted in fragment 2 (line 2). Similarly it is observed that replacing achAPound (okay) with other acknowledgment tokens also appears inappropriate due to the peculiar characteristics it possesses in Urdu and can lead to dis alignment.
In fragment 3 speaker Al is the main speaker who recommends to speaker Bl a medicine for her son who has a cold. The whole conversation revolves around the medicine including where to get it and its benefits.
(3) CON1 00:56:09 1 . . .Al: vo le APound o nAPound bits se vo isko pilAPound ti rahAPound karo roz rat ko ek camac diya karo bring that one from Boots; give that daily one tea spoon to her2 Bl: kiya what3 Al: hani laiman aur: (0.2) galaisrin ka sirap hotAPound hai the syrup of honey lemon and glycerin
4 Bl:- acha okay5 Al: bA1/4ts valorhke pas nAPound at Boots6 Bl:- achAPound okay7 Al: vo is se yah (0.1) mere bacortiko zarAPound sa bhi [hotAPound thAPound with that (0.1) if my children get slightest symptoms8 Bl: [kiya fAPound rmasi par ho ga [will it be in the pharmacy9 Al: hathyah bUts p hi nAPound yes at Boots10 Bl: - achAPound okay11 Al: buts kAPound apna hai yah it is (a product) of Boots12 Bl: achAPound bA1/4ts kAPound apna hai okay it is (a product) of Boots13 Al: hAPound rh yes14 Bl: thik right15 Al: vo tumko mil (.) ja'e gAPound alf par you will get that from shelf16 Bl:- achaacha okay okay17 Al: vo (0.1) roz rat ko ekti spun de diya karo give that daily one tea spoon at night18 Bl: hmm19 Al: bace ki chAPound tisAPound f rahti hai us se the chest of a child remains clear with that20 .B1: mairhbas yah hi (0.1) itni (.) iske liye to itni chotA1/4 keliye change ki hairh nA pahle pairasi.ta (.) kAPound lpol thi phir aibrA1/4fin le kar ai phir kal (.) phir
22. maim ne kahAPound itne chote bace ki kharhsi ki bhi koi [sirap nahiri} I oniy this one (0.1) so much (.) for him so for chotoo I changed so many medicines firstly it was Paraceta (.) Calpol then I brought Ibuprofen then yesterday (.) then I thought that there is no cough syrup for such a young child
23 Al: [tAPound im lagtAPound hai] [takes time]24 .Al: vaise bhi kharhsi ko yah (0.1) cest (.) clear hone merh tAPound im [lagta hai even then for cough (0.1) chest (.) to clear [takes time
25 .B1 [bilkul [certainly
26. Bi: phir merh ga'i udhar to: tesko to vahArh fAPound rmasist ne phir us ne yah di us
27. ne kahAPound is meriikharhsi ki to nahirh hai lekin is se yah k khariisi aur
28. flu ko ra (.) hotAPound hai thorAPound sa bace kAPound relief ho jata hai then I went to Tesco there the pharmacist gave that and said that it is notbasically for cough but with that the cough and flu of a child is relived to some extent
29 .Al: nahirti to unse yah puch lena k meriiyah car partic sal ke bace ko de sakti huth no ask him if you can give this to a child aged four to five
31 Bi: kiya what32 Al: vo yah hani laiman vAlAPound the honey lemon one
33 Bl:- acha okay
34 Al: agar vo de sakti ho to buhat achAPound hai if you can give it then it is really very effective
35 Bl:- acha acha okay okay36 Al: phir yah hai kski cestsAPound f ho ja'e gi then his chest will be cleared
37 Bi: APound j to band hai kal maim jAPound kar [( )] dekhum gi today it is closed I will tomorrow [( )] search for it38 Al: [harh] [yes]39 Bi: us [ke A1/4par likhAPound hovAPound hoga] is it written on it40 Al: [kal nahirh parsA1/4rh khulnAPound hai] [not tomorrow it will open day after tomorrow]
The fragment begins with speaker Al's vague reference to something speaker Bi could give to her child (line 1). Speaker Bl seeks clarification about the unclear recommendation (line 2). The conversation moves to a description of the place the recommended syrup can be found (line 3- 15). This is acknowledged three times with acha (okay). It is interesting to note that these single tokens are used to acknowledge the prior turn (lines 4 6 and 10) in order to encourage the speaker to continue talking. Nevertheless when Speaker Al attains the required level of information it is acknowledged with acha acha (line 16) to shift the discussion from the details of the syrup to the next matter of the topic under consideration by displaying sufficient understanding and agreement with the speaker. In this manner repeated ac/id (okay) functions exactly opposite to single ac/id (okay): instead of encouraging discussion on the current matter repeated ac/id (okay) tries to shift talk to the next matter.
This is evident from the talk following ac/id ac/id (line 16) in which speaker Al suggests to speaker Bl the time and dose of the syrup (line 17) instead of discussing the details of the syrup.
Further when speaker Al gives a vague account of the enquiry speaker Bi should make to the pharmacist (line 29-30) speaker Bl seeks clarification about the unspecified reference (line 31). Thereon speaker Al mentions the same syrup that she referred to earlier in the conversation (line 32) which is acknowledged with ac/id (okay) (line 33) and an indication to know more about it. Speaker Al further advises that if she can give that syrup to her child then it would be beneficial for him (line 34). This is acknowledged by speaker Bi with achci acha (line 35) to exhibit a heightened claim that `I am with you'/'I understand' or `I agree' for moving the discussion ahead. It is suggested that acha (okay) responds to `complete chunks of news' (Gardner 2007:329) while athAPound acha (acha) occurs on the completion of a whole chunk of news.
In fragment 4 speaker b16 and speaker c16 are husband and wife. Speaker c16 (wife) is a Pakistani student. Speaker cl6 (husband) in the selected piece of conversation enquires from speaker bl6 about the updates of their visa extension.
(4) CON16 06:45:51 1 bl6: paspo.ts vagairAPound ki foto kapiyarh rakhirh hairh aplae kiya hai have you kept the copies of the passports etcetera You have applied 2 cl6: hAPound rhvo to paihle se pa.ri ho'i thirh yes they are already present 3 bl6: uar sure4 c16: hrh merh ne [rakhi] hairh yes I kept them5 b16: - [achAPound ] [okay]6 b16: maim to clar giya thAPound maim ne kahAPound pata nahirh kapiyarh apiyAPound rii bhi7 rakhi hairh k nahirh khudAPound nAPound khuvAPound stAPound ko'i mishaip ho ga'e paspo.ts8 gum ho jaiarh I was afraid that you have kept the copies etc or not God forbid if something happens and the passports are lost 9 cl6: nahirh nahirh maith nerakhi ho'i hairh no noI have kept them
10 b16: (to vize) vize ke bhi aur [y paspo.ts] ki [bhi ( )] (so visas) of visa and [or passports] [as well ( )] 11 c16: [hAPound rii] [merAPound khiyal hAPound rh pa.ri ho'i 12 hairh [yes] [I think yes they are there 13 b16:- achAPound acha okay okay 14 b16: cab yah to.sahi hai to (0.2) baqi unhurh neko'i (0.2) aitrAPound to15 nahirh kiya documents vagairAPound thikthe well that is fine (0.2) besides did they raise any objection on thedocuments etcetera they were correct 16 c16: nahirh nahirh documents bas ek vo NOC kAPound k rahe the niya 17 NOC no nodocument they only were demanding a new NOC18 b16: NOC matlab yunivarsiti se NOC means from the university19 c16: nahirh nahirhno objakn sartifiket no nono objection certificate20 b16: konsAPound which one21 c16: from emplojer from the employer22 b16:- achaacha okay okay23 c16: vo to APound hir hai us merhkafi der lag jati hai agar mairliunse kahurh24 vo bhi idhar maim ne k diya hai dekhairhkab tak reond karte25 hairh that is obvious it takes time if I ask them it will take too much time I have told them here let us see when they will respond 26 b16: hmm
In fragment 4 speaker b16 is concerned about whether or not his wife has kept the copies of their passports as she has recently applied for visa extensions by submitting the original passports to the embassy. In this regard he asks different questions to make sure that the records have been kept properly (line 1-12) worrying about the misplacement of original passports. When speaker b16 gets the confirmation that his wife has kept the copies of the documents (line 12) he acknowledges her confirmation with ac/id ac/id (line 13). This makes a heightened claim that `I am with you'/'I understand' or `I agree'.
Later speaker b16 evidently seems unclear on the matter of the NOC issues an inquiry (line 20). Speaker c16 simply informs about the document (line 21). In acknowledging line 21 with ac/id athd (line 22) speaker b16 is displaying that she is satisfied by speaker c16's turn. This shows agreement and results in the advancement of the conversation rom NOC to the updates of the visa process (line 23-25). It is worth noticing that the first series of ac/id ac/id (line 13) is produced after a question and the second time (line 22) after problems in reaching a shared understanding. This supports the claim that ac/id ac/id (ac/id) demonstrates a heightened claim of `I agree'/'I am with you'/'understand'.
Fragment 5 involves two friends and shows two series of ac/id ac/ia (ac/id) delivered by same speaker where a shift/move to the next matter is resisted.
(5) CON1 04:45:14 1 Bi: APound p ki hAPound lAPound its bilkul hi khatam (0.2) khatam nahirh hogairhk lag nahirh2 rahirli your highlights are completely disappeared (0.2) are they disappeared or invisible (from here)3 Al: yah lo lAPound it hai ((while moving her head)) it is low light ((while moving her head))4 Bi: achAPound udhar se a rahi hairh okay they are visible from that side5 B 1: - achAPound achAPound achAPound okay okay okay
6 Al: yah lo lAPound it hai asal merh(keeps moving her head) it is low light in actual 7 Bl: - acha acha acha okay okay okay 8 Al: vo karti hairh( ) kambakhtairh they do it ( ) damned ones 9 Bl: hAPound rii yes
Fragment 5 begins with speaker Bi's inquiry about the invisibility of highlights in speaker Al's hair (line 1-2). In response to that speaker Al corrects (line 3) speaker Bl on her inquiry (line 1-2) that her hair is dyed with lowlights rather than highlights. During the verbal clarification speaker Al keeps moving her head to show her hair to speaker Bi from different angles. When speaker Bl has the first view of her lowlight she accepts that they are visible from the other side (line 4). It is noted that speaker Al's continuous movements of her head made the hair dye more visible. Speaker Bl produces achAPound achAPound acha (line 5) to indicate that she has seen the lowlight and now she can stop moving her head.
Speaker Al repeats her statement (line 6) and by showing her hair from other angles displays that she is still not satisfied that speaker Bl has had a clear look at her hair. Speaker Bi once again acknowledges her statement with acha achAPound acha (line 7) to express her satisfaction on the sight of her lowlights to shift/move the conversation ahead. In the next turn speaker Al starts blaming the beauticians (line 8) which evidently displays initiation of the next matter of the topic by exhibiting progression of conversation. The sight of lowlights is acknowledged both the times with achAPound achAPound ac/id (line 5 and 7) to signal the listener's satisfaction at the amount of information received and preparedness for the shift in talk to occur.
It can be seen in fragment 5 that the satisfaction of the listener is not merely important for the shift to the next matter; it is vital that the main speaker should be satisfied with the amount of information delivered on the matter being discussed. It is argued that the first series of ac/id ac/id ac/id exhibits a sign of satisfaction from speaker Bl on having sight of hair a signal for speaker Al to stop showing her hair and to shift/move to the next matter of the topic under discussion.
Nonetheless speaker Al still feels that speaker Bl has not had a proper look at her hair from all angles and therefore she continues talk on the current matter. The subsequent acknowledgment with achAPound acha acha (line 7) makes a claim that speaker Bl has had full sight of speaker Al's hair. By the next turn (line 8) after the second series of athd ac/id ac/id speaker Al stops and tires to give an account of her decision for having lowlights done by incompetent beauticians. It is therefore evident that ac/id ac/id ac/id signals the appropriateness of a shift to a next matter at the point when the speaker is satisfied with the received information.
Nonetheless if the shift/move is resisted by the main speaker then another series of ac/id ac/id ac/id may occur to move the conversation ahead (as in fragment 5 line 7). Thus ac/id athd (ac/id) provides a heightened claim of agreement and understanding with the speaker to satisfy the speaker that the conversation can move on.
To conclude single ac/id (okay)is used to acknowledge talk and help in the progression of conversation by displaying alignment with the ongoing activity according to the state of knowledge and status of the speaker towards the event. On the other hand ac/id ac/id (athd) encourages the speaker to progress conversation by shifting/moving the current matter to the succeeding by expressing understanding/ agreement with the speaker on the attainment of the desired level of information. Along these lines it is argued that `single sayings and multiple sayings of a given token do not perform same interactive functions' (Golato and Fagyal 2006) in conversation. It is noted that ac/id ac/id (ac/id) is the `upgrade of single acknowledgment tokens' (Stivers 2004) demonstrating acute action of single items (Muller 1996) or `a more intense version of same action' (Golato and Fagyal 2008 p.1) in ordinary Urdu conversation. This suggests that ac/id ac/id (ac/id) has greater `power'
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|Publication:||Kashmir Journal of Language Research|
|Date:||Jun 30, 2013|
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