Jojo after positively formulated utterances
The answer token jo, which we have translated as ‘yes2’, normally occurs after negatively formulated utterances, that is, utterances which contain a negative tag or a clause negation, like here:
Heinemann 2015 | TH/S2/49/Fie & Ester/posd55
01 Ester: så’n har det jo ikk’ været altid
‘so has it jo not been always’
03 Fie: jorvh
05 Fie: så’n har det været længe=
‘so has it been for long’
However, the doubled version of the response token, jojo, has been shown to occur in the opposite context, namely after positively formulated utterances where it can have a special function. Jo ‘yes2’ is here produced twice directly after each other and by the same speaker. Additionally, jojo always initiates a response to either an assessment, claim or a suggestion.
When a speaker says jojo it typically predicts that they are going to express disagreement with what the other person has just said, or that they are going to reject their argument. As a rule, the disagreement is initiated with a men ‘but’ immediately after jojo, like in the below example:
Lund 2017 | Karstens lejebolig
01 A: de er flyttet [her i weekenden]
‘they have moved this weekend’
02 S: [så er Karsten] lidt misundelig
‘then Karsten is a bit envious’
03 A: a:rh det tror jeg=
‘arh I think so’
04 A: =men a:rmen han bor jo os mega lækkert (.) me:n:
‘but but he lives yes2 also really nice but’
06 S: ↑jojo men [a'så det ville svare til]
jojo but well it.N will.PST answer.INF to
‘jojo but well it would be like if he owned’
07 A: [til en lidt anden pris]
‘at a slightly different price’
08 S: han havde huset selv jo.
he have.PST house self PRT
‘the house himself’
The conversation participants are here talking about a common friend, who has just bought a house, and Storm (S) claims that the friend’s brother Karsten must be a little envious about this house purchase (line 2). Through a men a:rmen ‘but but’ and the subsequent assessment that Karsen jo os [bor] mega lækkert ‘yes2 also lives really nice’ (line 4), Ask expresses an implicit counterargument, which states that Karsen doesn’t have reason to be envious. Hereafter Storm utters a ↑jojo followed by another counterargument ↑jojo men a’så det ville svare til han havde huset selv jo↘ ’jojo but well it would be like if he owned the house himself’ (lines 6-8).
Storm’s counterargument in lines 6-8 suggests that Karsten should be envious of his brother, in spite of the fact that he lives in a nice place himself, because Karsten doesn’t own his house. Through ↑jojo and what comes after, Storm rejects Ask’s assessment in line 4 as a valid argument that Karsten shouldn’t be envious of his brother’s new house.
Jojo men ‘jojo but’ can be compared to other Danish disagreement-initiators such as ja men ‘yes but’, nej men ‘no but’ and variants hereof. Even so, jojo is special because it by itself indicates a coming disagreement. It happens first of all through the use of the marked positive form jo ‘yes2’ outside its normal area of occurrence (after negatively formulated utterances). Secondly, the double-up of the form, jojo, hints that the counterpart has just said something irrelevant, inappropriate, or unnecessary.
Sources and further readings
Heinemann (2015) is about negations in Danish talk-in-interaction.
Lund (2017) is a thorough description of jojo in the beginning of answers to positively formulated utterances.