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Eller hva(d)

The two interrogative pronouns hva and hvad 'what', both of which are represented as ’hvad’ in written language, often appear in a construction with eller, forming the recompletor eller hva(d). Recompletors appear at the end of utterances which are already complete and could have ended without the recompletors. The recompletors eller hva(d) is used to request that the conversation partner confirms what was postulated in the utterance in which the recompletor appeared. The following excerpt illustrates this specific use: Pelle and Bjarne are talking on the phone and Bjarne has just returned home from a trip which he had to write a feature on:

AULing | DTKOK | 43 ((phone))

01   P:     hva var d' du  sku    ↑lave på den  tur egentlig→
            what was it 2SG should  make on that trip actually
            'what was it actually you had to do on that trip'
02          var det refe↑ra eller hva
            was it             summary  or    what
            'was it a summary or what'
03          (0.3)
04   B:     nej det noget     der hedder    f:eature↘
            no  it  something REL is.called feature
            'no it’s something called a feature'
05          (.)
06   B:     en en >skrivemåde     der hedder   < feature↘
            a  a  way.of.writing REL is.called feature
            'a a way of writing that’s called feature'

After having asked the question var det referat ‘was it a summary’, Pelle adds the recompletoreller hva to his utterance to emphasize that he wants a confirmation on whether it was a summary or not. His assumption is afterwards rejected by Bjarne in line 04.

This recompletor can both appear as eller hva or eller hvad, and there doesn’t seem to be a difference in meaning between the two. However, eller hva is the most frequent form of the recompletor.

Sources and further reading

Brøcker et al. (2012). A thorough run-through of four phenomena in Danish talk in interaction, including the spoken language’ different variations of the written language hvad.

Hansen and Heltoft (2011: 606). The big piece on Danish grammar. On page 606 some of the functions of hvad are described, also in the spoken language, though still insufficient in comparison to the description on this website.

Jørgensen (2015). A more elaborating description of the different variants of hvad in the spoken language.

Jørgensen (2011b). Short, popular scientific article on sprogmuseet.dk on the four spoken language variants of hvad.

Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974) is a famous scientific article on turn taking. They have introduced the term recompletor which is used in this entry.

Steensig (2011) is a book on talk in interaction where the term recompletor is explained further.

Related entries

Forms > Phrases > Other constructions

Functions > Actions > Questions and answers > Request for confirmation

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