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Academic Paper


Title: Ah-prefacing in Kiswahili second pair parts
Author: Sigurd D'hondt
Institution: Ghent University
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis; Pragmatics
Subject Language: Swahili
Abstract: This article presents a conversation-analytic account of the various usages of the Kiswahili particle ah as it is routinely employed in naturally occurring Kiswahili conversation. Adopting a strategy reminiscent of the one Heritage and others adopted for English oh, it is argued that the seemingly disparate uses of this “language-specific object” represent various context-specific particularizations of a single semantic core. The basic claim is that ah constitutes a response cry that indexes to the other interlocutors the speaker's negative evaluative stance toward a particular issue. In this capacity, it frequently occupies the turn-initial position of a second pair part. Depending on the specifics of the sequential environment, the “object” of the indexed stance is traceable to either the particular item that is being talked about or the action performed in the preceding first. In the former case, the particle is used to demonstrate the speaker's affiliation with the previous speaker. In the latter case, it is used to demonstrate his disaffiliation with the previous speaker. (Kiswahili, particle, stance, second pair parts, turn-initial position, conversation analysis, comparative perspective)

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 40, Issue 5, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .



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