A frequently used form of of selfrepeat was described in 2004 by the American sociologist/linguist Tanya Stivers. She showed that speakers of English, and a few other languages, often repeat part of their response to show that the project that the other speaker is doing is inappropriate. This may sound a bit strange, but it is rather straightforward. It may look as follows:
Kim: You might lose her?
Mark: No no no. We won't lose her. She's gonna quit Shelton Birch.
Mark answers Kim's question by saying no three times in quick repetition. These three no's have a single intonation contour, meaning that only one of the three carries prosodic emphasis. That's an important characteristic, because speakers can repeat no giving each occurance its own accent. But that has a totally different meaning, or function. Stivers calls the type of repeat that Mark uses a "multiple saying" and it is used to show that the question should not have been asked.
In Dutch we can also find such multiple sayings and they seem to have the same function:
Lisa: Ben je hard aan het leren of niet? ('Are you studying hard or not?')
Floor: Ja, ik heb zo college. Maar ik moet nog even voorbereiden. ('Ja, I have class in a moment. But I still have to prepare.')
Lisa: Hoezo? Heb je een tentamen dan? ('Why? Do you have an exam?')
Floor: Nee nee nee. Gewoon werkgroep voorbereiden. ('No no no. Just prepare a seminar.')
Daphne: Moest jij wel naar school dan? (`Did you have to go to school then?')
Natalie: Nee nee nee. Ik was vandaag vrij. Moest wel een opdracht maken. ('No no no. I was free today. Did have to do an assignment.')
This type of multiple saying in Dutch has two interesting characteristics: first, it's always the response particle ja or nee (`yes' or 'no'), and second, the first of the three particles is always emphasized in some way. That can be done in various ways: the vowel can be pronounced longer, the pitch can rise before it falls on the other two particles, and/or the first particle is pronounced louder. One reason to make the first particle more important than the other two, is that they all neatly fit in one intonation contour. But it could also be the case that the first is a response to the question, and the rest follows for a different reason.
But multiple sayings such as these are not just used to respond to questions. They can also be used in response to a request, to show that the request wasn't necessary:
Daphne: Laat het dan in ieder geval weten als je iets in gedachten hebt of zo. Wat ik dan moet doorgeven. ('At least let me know when you have something in mind. What I should pass along.')
Natalie: Ja ja ja. Ik laat je gewoon weten. ('Yeah yeah yeah. I'll let you know.')
Daphne makes a request, after which Natalie shows with a multiple saying that that request wasn't necessary. She does not say, unlike Lisa earlier, why she considers the request inappropriate, but we can deduce it from the context: Natalie has already committed at an earlier point in the conversation to think about what she wants.
The repetitions mentioned are limited to ja or nee, but according to Stivers it should also be possible to repeat other words in a similar manner, or even complete sentences – e.g. "Wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute." Furthermore, words can be repeated more than three times. My linguistic intuition tells me that we should find such cases in Dutch, but I haven't run in to any yet. I'm also curious whether deviating patterns have different function. Stivers does not say much on it, but if we are loyal to Grive, then every ja should have added meaning. So if anyone runs into them, drop me a line.