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Ikk as a request for response

The word ikke ’not/right’ in written Danish has a variety of forms in talk-in-interaction, such as ikk, ikkå, ikkås, ing and ikke. These variations can partly be explained by dialectal differences. In writing, ikke is normally used as an adverb placed centrally in a sentence e.g. penge er ikke det afgørende for os ’money is not the decisive thing for us’. In talk-in-interaction, however, ikke also often acts as a tag, placed after a completed utterance. This can be seen the example below, in which Lis tells Asta that she was stuck in traffic on the highway:

Samtalebanken | sam2 | samfundskrise | 668 ((ansigt-til-ansigt))

01   L:     tænkte    det var dog mæ̲rkeligt=så ku      jeg se
            think.PST it  was DOG weird=then   can.PST 1SG see
            ‘thought it was really weird then I could see


02          ∙hhhh *ø:h* nogle blink→
            ∙hhhh *u:h* some  flash
            ’uh some flashes’

03          ((Lis looks at Asta when she says some))

04   A:     °ja°→

05          (0.5)

06   L:     ude     i  det fjerne   >ikkås<→
            out.STA in DEF distance >right<→
            ‘out in the distance right’

07          ((Lis kigger på Asta under hele denne ytring))

08          (0.2)

09   A:     ja

10          (0.3)

11   L:     tænk        sig  så   var det bare en ∙nhhh ja  *bare å bare*→
            imagine.IMP REFL then was it  just a  ∙nhhh yes *just and just*→
            ‘imagine, then it was just a, well, I’m saying just but’

12          ∙hhh det var så to biler der var slæbt ind i
            ∙hhh it be.PST then two car.PL which is.PST.PL drag.PST into
            ‘there were two cars which were dragged into’

13          midterrabatten↘
            ‘the median strip’

In line 6 Lis continues her utterance from lines 1-2 by adding ude i det fjerne ‘out in the distance’. Technically, the utterance is finished at this point, but Lis adds a tag in the shape of ikkås. This is then followed by a short pause and Asta then answers ja ‘yes’, before Lis continues her story in line 11. The use of ikkås in this case seems to elicit some type of response before Lis can continue her story.

Thus, ikke can be used to pursue a response from the recipient. This is also called response elicitation. Sometimes, though, a response after ikk is not necessary. This is especially the case in storytellings, in which it is already clear that the speaker will continue after finishing an utterance.

Ikk can also be used to elicit a response in other contexts, if the recipient is not saying anything at a time where it would otherwise be expected to. In that case the tag ikke does not come directly after the utterance but delayed like in example 2 below. This example is from a police interrogation where the police officer (P) interrogates Morten (M) about some breaking-and-enterings.

Samtalebanken | Sam3 | politiforhoer | 86 ((lydoptagelse))

01   P:     næh men du  ka  huske    du  løb     da   der   kom     vagtmand↘
            no but 2SG can remember 2SG run.PST when there come.PST security.guard↘
            ‘no but you can remember you ran when security came’

02          ((unknown participant clears throat))

03   M:     det  ka  jeg godt↘=
            that can 1SG well↘=
            ’I can’

04   P:     så   ka  du fandeme ogs  huske    hvem du  har  været sammen   med↘
            then can 2SG damn   also remember who  2SG have been  together with↘
            ‘then you can dammed well also remember who you were with’

05          (1.1)

06          ((2 seconds background noise from a radio))

07   P:     ikk

08   M:     jeg har  været alene om    det→
            1SG have been  alone about it→
            ‘I have been alone about it’

In line 5 it would be expected that Morten contributed with some type of response to what was said in line 4. However, this does not happen and after a long pause the police officer adds ikk with rising intonation. After this Morten makes a contribution in line 08. So, ikk is used to elicit a response after a pause where an expected response should have come.

Sources and further reading

Jensen, Clausen og Pedersen (2019) provides a more thorough investigation of the postpositioned tag ikke.


Forms > Word classes > Interjections and particles

Forms > Sentences > Other sentence constructions

Functions > Actions > Questions and answers > Request for confirmation

Functions > Actions > Request for action > Request for response

Functions > Turn taking > (Post-)Possible finish