Identifying a French-specific laughter particle
Aspirated sounds placed in a stream of talk prior to the onset of laughter are oriented to by interactants as minimal-equivocal laugh particles. These particles are available to carry out various interactional tasks, signalling an opportunity for co-participants to co-ordinate their laughter, to join in an episode of shared laughter for example. They may also contribute to keying actions as non-serious.
The analysis of data from my corpus of French talk-in-interaction has revealed several instances of a voiceless palatal fricative following a word-final high front vowed [i]. This sound will be shown to occupy interactional slots generally associated with minimal-equivocal laughter particles. From evidence of its placement in sequences of turns keyed as non-serious, accompanying dispreferred actions, and in a terminal position in interactional sequences, the voiceless palatal fricative will be shown to be oriented to by French speakers as a minimal-equivocal laugh particle.(Received November 2000)
(Revised March 2001)