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In talk-in-interaction, a speaker often repeats something that she or another participant has said; and such repetitions very often have systematic or grammatical functions. These will be described in this part of the grammar.

  • Of own expressions
  • Of others' expressions

General information about repetitions

When looking at a conversation transcript, one quickly sees that many repetitions occur. The participants repeat a word or a couple of words they have just said, they repeat parts of the others’ utterances, or they repeat all of an utterance. It often seems somewhat random or messy, as if the speakers are just “stuttering”, do not speak “fluently”, or are “insecure”.

But as a matter of fact, most repetitions have a function, and they occur systematically in specific contexts. This is why we regard them as being a part of the grammar of talk-in-interaction.

This part of the grammar takes the forms as its starting point, and since repetitions can occur in many different forms (long, short, simple, complex) of different grammatical categories, we have decided to look at the repetitions separately. We have divided the repetitions according to whether they repeat something the speaker herself has said, or something another participant has said.


Further reading

Nissen (2015) is about how repetitions are used in conversations between Danes and Danish-speaking foreigners. Nissen shows how repetitions serve several functions – understanding checks, replacement suggestions and replacement. She also shows that the prosody of repetitions and their function are related.

Schegloff (1996) also deals with the different functions of repetitions, but especially how speakers can confirm insinuations by repeating them.

Betz et al. (2013) describes repetitions in third-position in German. In their study, they focus on repetitions in repair and requests of information.