Multimodal expressivity of the Japanese response particle <i>Huun</i>

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Of the half a dozen non-lexical response particles in Japanese sharing significant properties with <i>Oh</i> in English, this chapter focuses on a single feature of one such particle <i>Huun</i>, namely that of displaying involvement with ongoing talk without topical engagement, while making relevant a topic shift. A multimodal approach is taken to demonstrate that a free-standing <i>Huun</i> can be enlisted to withhold an explicit evaluative stand while simultaneously displaying attentiveness, if not profound affective alignment, with current talk, partly through harnessing its potentially rich expressivity. Participant reactions suggest the particle may even be treated &#8220;as if&#8221; a fully fledged, lexicalized turn. Furthermore, multimodal resources can be combined with the occasioning of <i>Huun</i> to gradually lead to topic attrition.


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