University of Oulu

Oloff F (2022) The Particle Jako (“Like”) in Spoken Czech: From Expressing Comparison to Mobilizing Affiliative Responses. Front. Psychol. 12:662115. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.662115

The particle jako (“like”) in spoken Czech : from expressing comparison to mobilizing affiliative responses

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Author: Olof, Florence1
Organizations: 1Languages and Literature, Faculty of Humanities, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 7.6 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Frontiers Media, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-09-16


This contribution investigates the use of the Czech particle jako (“like”/“as”) in naturally occurring conversations. Inspired by interactional research on unfinished or suspended utterances and on turn-final conjunctions and particles, the analysis aims to trace the possible development of jako from conjunction to a tag-like particle that can be exploited for mobilizing affiliative responses. Traditionally, jako has been described as conjunction used for comparing two elements or for providing a specification of a first element [“X (is) like Y”]. In spoken Czech, however, jako can be flexibly positioned within a speaking turn and does not seem to operate as a coordinating or hypotactic conjunction. As a result, prior studies have described jako as a polyfunctional particle. This article will try to shed light on the meaning of jako in spoken discourse by focusing on its apparent fuzzy or “filler” uses, i.e., when it is found in a mid-turn position in multi-unit turns and in the immediate vicinity of hesitations, pauses, and turn suspensions. Based on examples from mundane, video-recorded conversations and on a sequential and multimodal approach to social interaction, the analyses will first show that jako frequently frames discursive objects that co-participants should respond to. By using jako before a pause and concurrently adopting specific embodied displays, participants can more explicitly seek to mobilize responsive action. Moreover, as jako tends to cluster in multi-unit turns involving the formulation of subjective experience or stance, it can be shown to be specifically designed for mobilizing affiliative responses. Finally, it will be argued that the potential of jako to open up interactive turn spaces can be linked to the fundamental comparative semantics of the original conjunction.

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Series: Frontiers in psychology
ISSN: 1664-1078
ISSN-E: 1664-1078
ISSN-L: 1664-1078
Volume: 12
Article number: 662115
DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.662115
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 6121 Languages
Funding: The data collection and preliminary analyses have been supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation (funding scheme Ambizione, project number 148146, 2014–2016). The publication fee for this contribution has been paid by the University of Oulu (Faculty of Humanities, Research Unit of Languages and Literature).
Copyright information: © 2022 Oloff. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.