Nå (rising intonation)

2014.09.24 | Samtalegrammatik.dk

The Danish particle has many different functions. Among these is the free-standing (oh), i.e. a that constitutes a turn and has rising intonation.


functions both as a) answer receipt and b) information receipt.

a) When a speaker poses a question, and receives an answer, the speaker can use as a receipt of the answer. This receipt is also a continuer; the interactional turn will transition to the other speaker.

b) When a person receives previously unknown information that might be surprising or unexpected, that person can utter  as a receipt of information or news. 


An example of nå with rising intonation is:

Samtalebank | Samfundskrise | 1043 ((face-to-face))

01   AST:   fordi de har jo oss øh: dyr arbejdskraft
            because they have PTC also uh: expensive labour
            because they also have uh: expensive labour
02          men nu har de så været heldige å få sån
            but now have they then been so lucky to get such
            but now they have been lucky to get
03          nogen s:tuderende fra u- ukraine eller
            some students from u- ukraine or
            some s:tudents from u- ukraine or
04          landbrugsstuderende→
            agricultural students
            agricultural students
05          (1.0)
06   AST:   som [bor]→
            that live
            who live
07   LIS:       [kars]ten [å: ]→
                  name    and
                 karsten  a:nd
08   AST:                 [ja:]→
09          (.)
10   AST:   som [bor] nede i deres øh:m
            that live down in their uh:m
            who live down in their uh:m
10   LIS:       [nå:]
11   AST:   de har bygget nyt stuehus↘
            they have built new main building
            they’ve built a new main building
12   AST:   å så ?hhhh i den (.) længe der hvor de havde
            and then  in that part there where they had
            and then ∙hhhh in that (.) part where they had
13          haft bolig→
            had housing
            been living
14          (0.4)
15   LIS:   m[m: ]↗
16   AST:    [der] er (.) de så kommet til å bo↗
              there are   they then come to to live
               there (.) they’ve then ended up living
16          (0.4)
17   LIS:   nå:↗
18          (0.4)
19   LIS:   ne:j det var fi:nt↘
            no   that was fine
            oh how lovely

References and further reading

Den Danske Ordbog (online Danish dictionary) on  

Femø-Nielsen (2002) provides a concise overview of the different functions of nå

Heritage (1984) is an extensive analysis of the function of oh in English

Local (1996) is an extensive analysis of the prosodic features of oh in English

Steensig (2001) an extensive section on prosodic features of Danish

Steensig m.fl. (2013) contains a section with our more thorough analysis of nå with both rising and straight intonation


Forms > Word classes > Interjections and particles > Nå (Rising)

Forms > Sounds > Prosody > Nå (Rising)



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