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Hvar (what3)

The word hvad (’what’) in written Danish covers different forms with different functions in spoken Danish. One of these forms is hvar.


Hvar [ʋɑ] is used both as a repair initiator and a recompletor. As a repair initiator, it begins the process that resolves potential problems in conversation, and it never occurs with other words – it constitutes a complete utterance on its own. However, unlike the other repair initiator hvad (‘what2’), using hvar usually shows that the problem is simply auditory. Here is an example:


AULing | GUITAR | 66 ((telefon))

01   A:     [så de:t da en fest der ve' noget↘
02   ?:     [(det)
03   B:     hvar
04   A:     det var da en fest der vill' noget→
05   B:     ne:j en fest der sluttede klokken ti


As a recompletor, hvar is used on its own at the end of an utterance that could have been completed without it. The function of this recompletor seems to be slightly different than that of the recompletor eller hva (‘what1’) or eller hvad (‘what2’), and often occurs in a context marked by smiling, laughter and/or irony.


Further reading

Brøcker et al. (2012). A thorough description of four phenomena in the grammar of Danish spoken language – one of which is the different variations of what in the written language is represented as hvad.


Drew (1997). Article about repair markers, especially markers of the same type as hvar that do not point to a specific problem (open class repair markers).


Hansen og Heltoft (2011: 606). The major work on Danish grammar. On page 606, some of hvad's functions are described. The description includes hvad's function in spoken language but is inadequate compared to the description on this website.


Jørgensen (2011a). A more thorough description of the different variants of hvad in spoken language.


Jørgensen (2011b). A short, popular science article from sprogmuseet.dk about the four spoken language forms of hvad.


Sidnell (2010: 118). Introductory book about conversation analysis. Page 188 provides an overview of different types of repair.



Former  > Ordklasser  > Interjektioner og partikler

Handlinger > Igangsættende handlinger > Anden-initieret reparatur

Handlinger > Igangsættende handlinger > Anmodning om bekræftelse

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