The Role of Listener’s Response Tokens Mm and Oh: The Case of Ga

Ruby Otoo


This paper aims to examine the functions of ‘Oh’ and ‘Mm’ as used in Ga, a Kwa language that is spoken in the southern part of Ghana. There has been linguistic research in Ga and there is still the interest to study the language. Currently, to the best of our knowledge, there is no study we know of, that specifically explores response token in Ga from the point of linguistics. The two response tokens mm and oh as found in natural conversation recorded in Ga   form the basis for linguistic analysis in this study. We chose the two tokens because of their contribution to meaning and various contextual nuances they reveal. Response token is referred to as the verbal and non-verbal behavior of listeners in response to his or her co-conversationalist’s talk. These tokens could be particles such as, right, yes, yeah, mm…, oh, and connectives such as, so, because and but . The aim of the research is to: (i) analyze the role of “Mm” and “oh” in the Ga language. (ii) analyze errors in using the particles if there is any. We adopt the conversational analysis coupled with the descriptive and interpretive approach in analyzing the study. After the analysis, oh is used as pure surprise and a mitigator while mm is used as a brief request for clarification and agreement of what the speaker said. However, the study identified an error in the use of oh.

Keywords: Backchannel, listener’s response, response token,

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ISSN (Paper)2224-5766 ISSN (Online)2225-0484

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