8.8. Examples of final detachments from oral corpus

8.8.3. Final detachments: discourse in elaboration

In this section we will consider examples which contain explicit markers of elaboration of discourse: repairs (on reference, agreement etc.), hesitation markers, truncated utterances, false starts, inconsistencies which clearly make reference to the editing and repair processes. The major part of these phenomena do not cause problems in communication: either the speaker makes some (self-initiated) repairs, or he/she doesn’t, but generally it does not affect the transmission or the reception of the message.

The first example in this section (110) is a request for information by phone to a travel agency.


V: /----/ (1.0) Euroopa Liidus kehtib see haigekassa European Union.INE apply.3sg DEM health_insurance_fund.GEN tõend et vaata et eesti kodanik on siin

certificate that look.IMP that Estonian citizen be.3sg here

aigekassas arvel =ja.hhhhhh ja ja teatud kulud health_insurance_fund.INE account.ADE and and and certain expense.pl


hüvitatakse. (1.0) aga see on ka piiratud, (0.2) need hüvitamised reimburse.IMPS but DEM be.3sg also limit.PPP DEM.pl reimbursement.pl sest (0.6) sest seal on oma vastutused ja ma=i tea because because there be.3pl own responsibility.pl and I NEG know.NEG.1sg

mis seal veel kõik sees on et üldiselt soovitatakse what there more all inside be.3sg that generally recommend.IMPS ikkagi võtta ütleme aigekassast tõend.

PRTCL take.INF say.1pl health_insurance_fund.ELA certificate

V: ‘In the European Union this certificate of Social Security is valid proving that an Estonian citizen has Social Security here and certain expenses will be reimbursed, but it is also limited, these reimbursements, because there are parts to be paid by the patient and I don’t know what else is included there, so that generally it is advised to take this certificate from the Social Security.’


The inconsistency between singular and plural pronouns does not seem to cause difficulties for the interpretation of detachment constructions: on the contrary, this construction allows, given the proximity of the pronoun and the lexical element, this type of repair without major readjustments. Since the pronoun see used in the main clause can receive a somewhat broader reading, the lexical element helps to focus again on the main lexical element and reiterate the appropriate term (need hüvitamised, ‘these reimbursements’). Both constituents are separated by a micropause.

Another example illustrates how the speaker leaves at the end of the utterance a longer lexical element (in the partitive case) which is preceded by a somewhat hesitative rhematic constituent where the pronoun seda occurs three times. In this excerpt the participants are discussing until what date it is acceptable to offer new year’s greetings (and actually extending this period until St. John’s Eve, after which one could already begin to wish a good end of the year).


K: $ see on ‘Taluri ‘variant v(h)õi. $ hehe DEM be.3sg Talur.GEN version Q

T: ei old ‘Talur, ma ei mäleta kesse ütles NEG be.NEG.PST.3sg Talur I NEG remember.NEG.1sg who say.PST.3sg see oli mingi (.) ‘muus raadios. (.)

DEM be.PST.3sg some another.INE radio.INE

K: ah ‘nii (.) ‘Talur ka ‘ükspäev seda seal (.) ‘heietas ikka ah right Talur also one_day DEM.PART there ramble.PST.3sg PRTCL


seda (.) seda ‘uue ‘aasta soovimist= ja. (5.5) DEM.PART DEM.PART new.GEN year.GEN wishing.PART and K: ‘Is this Talur’s version?

T: No, it wasn’t Talur, I don’t’remember who said it, it was something, on another radio station.

K: Ok, some days ago Talur was also rambling about wishing a happy new year and..’


The referent of the detached constituent (wishing a happy new year) is present throughout this excerpt, and the final detachment marks the end of this development (followed by a longer pause and thematic shift). From the formal point of view, the speaker first introduces a pronoun in the main clause and then tries to formulate the lexical element that will be a nominalization of the previously mentioned verb. This example could be associated with those which use the detached constituent to mark the end of a longer sequence and a thematic development.

Another example below (112), from the same type of conversation, is formally a typical detachment construction. It contains, however, several editing mechanisms and the detached lexical element itself is specified (from a more general pakett to a more specific kindlustus).


H: ää=‘jah, ja üldse= et ‘mida see nagu:::: ‘hõlmab endas=

yes and generally that what DEM like include.3sg self.INE see ‘pakett või=see ‘kindlust[us=e]e=.hhhh

DEM package or DEM insurance

H: ‘Yes and in general what does it include, this package or this insurance?’


Based on this type of example it can be noticed that the formulation is clearly made in two stages: at first, the speaker concentrates her efforts on the main clause, the predicate, whereas the demonstrative see leaves open the largest possible referential field (as there is no gender marking in Estonian) and following this, the lexical element will be specified. It is possible, sometimes, for the speaker to use the linguistic possibilities offered by this construction (and repair mechanisms) in order to put forward both lexical elements, by which one replaces the other. We can also note the smooth transition from the main clause to the detached elements.

With regards to the persistence of referents in the subsequent discourse in this type of request, the examples confirm the general tendency of the referents of final detachments not to remain topical in longer sequences. Detachment


constructions used in questions allow a referent to be picked up at a ‘local’

level, without many costs in terms of referent introduction, to handle it at the same level (question-response) and typically, to pass on to the next items.

In some cases, the function of the pronoun seems to be as a support (placeholder) in order to gain time to find the appropriate referent and avoid perturbances in speech flow (Keevallik 2010: 159). This function can be extended to the majority of the examples in this section, as the presence of dif-ferent repair mechanisms allows the formulation and elaboration effort in discourse to be seen and to take note of the possible role of detached con-structions. Nevertheless, the main functions of detached constructions should not be limited to repairs only. It is, however, clear that the specific form of detachments allows several types of repairs of central importance in discourse elaboration: grammatical agreement and lexical changes on a paradigmatic scale, assuring at the same time a more or less smooth flow of discourse.

In example (113) the pronoun seda can be either considered as forming part of the main clause (due to the pause and hesitation that follow) or functioning as adnominal demonstrative, followed by an effort by the speaker to recall the exact lexical element.


A: tead= sis= nad läksd nii ‘närvi seal, (0.8) ‘Eiki tahtis know.2sg then they go.PST.3pl so angry there Eiki want.PST.3sg

‘vaadata telekast seda (1.0) ee ‘Surematut, (.) Ann tahtis look.INF television.ELA DEM.PART Immortal.PART Ann want.PST.3sg vaadata vaprad ja ilusad, (.) mingi (.) ‘üks on kanal kahes, teine look.INF bold and beautiful like one be.3sg channel two.INE other on ‘kolme pealt. (1.0)

be.3sg three.GEN ADV

A: ‘You know then they got so angry there, (0.8) Eiki wanted to watch on TV this (1.0) ee Immortal, [Ann] wanted to watch Bold and Beautiful, the one is on Channel Two, the other on the third channel.’


The latter seems more plausible, as typically the main clauses are grammatically complete (although the exact reference may remain unclear), but here, placing the pronoun at the end of the clause announces more to come – moreover, in this utterance the reference can not be known to other participants without the lexical element, as the speaker introduces it as unknown information.

Another example of detachment constructions (114) shows a specifying structure where the main clause contains already mentioned referents, but their mention has taken place six turns before the actual mention: the speaker L reiterates more explicitly the idea that has been present during the conversation,


that the theatre has been built during the first period of independence, underlining the fact that at this time, the quality of construction work was better than in Soviet times.


L: need olid ju eesti ajal ehitatud-e need DEM.pl be.PST.3pl PRTCL Estonian.GEN time.ADE built.PPP DEM.pl see-see vana osa ja-a uus osa siis tehti ju nii korralikult this this old part and new part then make.PST.IMPS PRTCL so correctly need müürid olid nii võimsad. (2.08) mhhhh

DEM.pl wall.pl be.PST.3pl so stout.pl.

((ohkab, autoiste krägiseb)) ((sigh, car seat crackles))

mis teha. (...) se= nõukogude-e aeg tegi palju halba.

what do.INF DEM Soviet time do.PST.3sg a_lot harm.PART

L: ‘They were built in the Estonian period these this this old part and new part, at that time very good work was made, these walls were so stout. Mhhh, what to do (…), this Soviet time did a lot of harm.’


The main clause introduces a plural demonstrative pronoun (need), it will be repeated at the beginning of the detached construction and then replaced by the pronoun see, which carries the marks of editing (repetition of the pronoun) and determines two subsequent elements (vana osa ja uus osa ‘old part and new part’). The detached construction at the beginning of the sequence serves to illustrate the position of the speaker who describes the good quality of construction at this time, leading to a general conclusion at the end of the sequence (Soviet time being harmful).

In the next example (115), we can see multiple repairs in a response to a yes/no question. The speaker E asks if the person in question is married.

Speaker A gives an affirmative response, by saying that she has already been married for a long time, then starts another idea, referring to a certain person with whom she is not married, but after a second attempt to name the person (noh selle) abandons this strategy and tries to identify her actual husband (the father of her youngest children), but this utterance will also remain incomplete.

This example cannot be classified as a prototypical final detachment either:

formally speaking, in a final detachment, the case marking would be present already in the main clause (sellega).

185 (115)

E: =kule kas [Na’talja::] (.) ‘Madarik. mis ta on ‘abielus= vä.

listen Q Natalja Madarik what she be.3sg marriage.INE Q L: [{-}] ((näitab))

[{-}] ((shows)) (0.3)

A: ta on jaa? selle: (.) ta=n ‘ammu ju vata=ta=i=

she be.3sg yes DEM.GEN she=s long_time PRTCL look she NEG ‘ole ju ‘sellega ‘abielu- (.) noh selle (0.7) ta=on be.NEG.3sg PRTCL DEM.COM marriage- PRTCL DEM.GEN she be.3sg

selle: (.) noh nende ‘viimaste laste ‘isaga.

DEM.GEN PRTCL DEM.pl.GEN last.pl.GEN child.pl.GEN father.COM E: ‘Listen, this Natalja Madarik, is she married or what?

L: ((shows))

A: Yes, she is with this, she is married a long time ago, look she is not married to him (.) that (0.7) she is with this one (.) the father of her last children.’


At the end of this section an example (116) will be considered where the main clause and the detached element occur in two different turns. Between the two the second speaker gives an acknowledgment marker mhmh. Based on the examples of the corpus, it can be said that this type of construction where the speaker receives a feedback from the other participant after the main clause seems to not be frequent in spoken Estonian. Moreover, the first clause can be considered as complete from the grammatical point of view, but there are still some lexical inconsistencies regarding the reference: the participants are talking about queues, when the speaker H says that ‘now it is three times a week’ and probably realises that ‘queue’ is not a felicitous term to be associated to this expression about frequency and after some editing markers finds another term aeg ‘reception time, time slot’. In this sense the whole utterance of the speaker H at the end of the sequence serves to make a lexical repair (queue pro time slot), as in the main clause she has talked about ‘three times a week’ which is not compatible with the notion ‘queue’.


J: kell üks jah? (.) ja siis lähme sinna seal ei ole o’clock one yes and then go.1pl there.ILL there NEG be.NEG.3sg

mingit järjekorda vaja kinni panna.=

any.PART appointment.PART need ADV book.INF

H: =ma arvan et on ikkagi vist mingi järjekord seal st vähemalt=

I think.1sg that be.3sg still maybe some queue there at_least


The participants continue using the same term järjekord ‘queue’ which is mentioned several times in the immediately preceding turns, but as we can see, the predicate in the main clause makes the use of this term inadequate and leads to the research of another term to use in the detached construction. The pronoun ta is less frequent when referring to an inanimate referent (here also a rather abstract element) and this might also be a reason for the speaker to want to make a repair in order to specify the referent.

The examples discussed in this section showed that the pattern of final detachment construction is indeed one possible means of balancing the inconsistencies during the discourse elaboration process in spontaneous oral language. The repairs concern different entities in discourse: the agreement of lexical and resumptive elements, and the semantic adjustment of the lexical element (hyponyms, hypernymes).

vata tol korral ku me tegime mäletad, look.IMP.2sg DEM.ADE time.ADE when we make.PST.1pl remember.2sg

J: jah siis oli päris pikk järjekord.

yes then be.PST.3sg quite long queue

H: mhmh. (.) a nüüd on noh ta kolm päeva nädalas. (.) uhuh but now be.3sg PRTCL he three day.PART week.INE

J: mhmh.=

uhuh. =

H: =see järje[kord] onju= ja, või (.) see (.) aeg. (0.8) ja: (.) noh (1.5) DEM qu[eue] PRTCL and or DEM time and PRTCL

ma ei tea (.) neli tundi ka I NEG know.NEG.1sg four hours also

J: [mhmh.]


J: ‘At one o’clock yes, and then we’ll go there. there is no need to book an appointment.

H: I think that there is still a kind of queue at least, that time we did it you remember?

J: Yes, then was quite a long queue.

H: Uhuh (.) but now it is three times a week (.) J: Uhuh

H: this queue, right, or (.) this (.) time slot (0.8) and (.) well (1.5) I don’t know (.) four hours it is.’



Im Dokument MARRI AMON Initial and final detachments in spoken Estonian: a study in the framework of Information Structuring (Seite 180-187)