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A textbook will be made available via Minerva, together with the audio and video samples which are used for expository purposes. The textbook will be complemented with a number of published texts, the choice of which depends on the projects of the individual students. The first part of the course 7 lectures concentrates on the analysis of spoken interaction. Students will present an analysis of a data set of their own selection in the course of December and submit an essay by the end of exam session.

What do we mean by interaction or co-present interaction? While drawing on these and other ideas from Goffman, conversation analysts tend to emphasize the fact that interaction is the arena for human action. In order to accomplish the business of everyday life—for instance checking to see that a neighbor received the newspaper, updating a friend about a recent event, asking for a ride to work—we interact with one another.

Conversation analysis seeks to discover and describe formally and in a rigorous, generalizable way the underlying norms and practices that make interaction the orderly thing that it is. For instance, one fundamental aspect of the orderliness of interaction has to do with the distribution of opportunities to participate in it. How, that is, does a participant determine when it is her turn to speak, or her turn to listen?

Conversation Analysis: Comparative Perspectives (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics)

Another aspect of orderliness concerns the apparatus for addressing problems of hearing, speaking, or understanding. How, that is, do participants in conversation remedy problems that inevitably arise in the course of interaction and how do they do this in an effective yet efficient way, such that they are able to resume whatever activity they were engaged before the trouble arose?

A third aspect of orderliness has to do with the way in which speakers produce, and recipients understand, stretches of talk so as constitute them as actions by which they can achieve their interactional goals. A final aspect of the orderliness of interaction has to do with the way these actions are organized into sequences in such a way as to construct an architecture of intersubjectivity—a basis for mutual understanding in conversation. Each of these four domains of conversational organization will be briefly sketched out and ways in which research in each area connects with the concerns of linguists and other scholars of language will be highlighted.

We can begin by noting, as the authors of Sacks et al. For instance, turns could be pre-allocated so that every potential participant was entitled to talk for two minutes and the order of speakers was decided in advance by their age, gender, status, first initial, height, weight, etc. There are speech exchange systems as Sacks et al. But there are reasons that such a system would not work for conversation.

If, for instance, we imagine that in such a system participants A, B, C, D each get an opportunity to talk and in that order, what will happen if B asks A a question? B now has to wait for C and D to speak before A can answer. But what if C and D also ask A a question? Or what if D does not hear the question that B has asked and so on?

We need not review all the possibilities here.


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We can already see, in light of these considerations and common sense, that turn-taking for conversation must be organized locally , by the participants themselves. As Sacks et al. Specifically, in English, turn constructional units TCUs can be lexical items, phrases, clauses, and sentences. We can see how this works in example 1. Debbie is able to position her talk at line 02 so that it begins just as Shelley reaches possible completion and, in the case of line 04, just before Shelley reaches possible completion.

The precise timing of these starts thus provides evidence for the projectability of possible completion of a TCU. At the same time the fact that participants target these points as appropriate places to begin their own talk indicates that such points are treated as transition-relevant. Points of possible completion constitute transition relevance places TRPs , which are, as Schegloff , p. For current purposes the most important of these techniques are those by which a current speaker selects a next speaker. A basic technique in this respect involves combining an address term or other method of address such as directed gaze with a sequence-initiating action such as a question, request, invitation, complaint, and so on.

Consider 2 , in which Michael and Nancy are guests for dinner at the home of Shane and Vivian. In the fragment below, Michael addresses his talk to Nancy by using her name or a short from of it and produces a question that is also a request. In this way he selects her to speak next, which she does at line According to Sacks et al. These rules apply at the first transition relevance place of any turn. It also allows us to see why and to predict where many cases of overlap occur. Consider 3. Parky apparently means to agree with this elaboration and produces a turn line 06 that is, again, precisely timed to begin at just the point that Old man reaches possible completion with no gap and no overlap.

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Overlap of the kind produced here provides further evidence of the projectability of possible completion and, moreover, of the fact that participants orient to such possible completion as transition relevant. Two implications of what has so far been said are first, the turn-taking system for conversation operates over only two turn constructional units at a time: current and next. Second, a current speaker is initially entitled to produce only one TCU and at the first point of possible completion transition to a next speaker becomes a relevant possibility. Thus, if a current speaker is to talk for more than one TCU, some effort to secure additional opportunity will have to be made.

One set of practices involves foreclosing the possibility of another self-selecting at possible completion by, for instance, reducing the extent and recognizability of that point of possible completion. Another practice involves issuing a bid to produce a longer stretch of talk. If the other participants buy in and provide a go-ahead response to such a bid, the result is to effectively suspend the association between possible completion and transition relevance for the duration of the telling. But the system described by Sacks et al. This analysis of turn-taking draws upon basic ideas about language structure.

For instance, in their description of the turn-constructional component, the authors of Sacks et al.

Conversation Analysis: Comparative Perspectives (Studies in Interactional Sociolinguistics)

Other research has addressed the question of whether the turn-taking system described by Sacks et al. Stivers et al. Focusing on transitions between Yes-No or polar questions and their responses, Stivers et al. Answers were produced with significantly less delay than non-answer responses. Within the set of answers, those that were confirmations were delivered with less delay than those that were disconfirmations.

When a response included a visible nonverbal component this was produced with less delay than those responses without. Finally, in 9 of the 10 languages studied, responses were delivered faster if the speaker was looking at the recipient while asking the question.

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This study then also provides strong evidence that turn-taking for conversation is organized in ways that are independent of the language being spoken. Repair can be initiated either by the speaker of the repairable item or by some other participant e.

What is INTERACTIONAL SOCIOLINGUISTICS? What does INTERACTIONAL SOCIOLINGUISTICS mean?

Likewise the repair itself can be done either by the speaker of the trouble source or someone else. Thus we can identify cases of self-initiated, self-repair see [4] , other-initiated, self-repair see [5] and self-initiated, other-repair, etc. We can immediately see that the components of the repair episode a, b, c cluster in one turn in 4 , whereas in 5 they are distributed across a sequence of three turns.

When repair is initiated by a participant other than the speaker of the trouble source, this is typically done in the turn subsequent to that which contains the trouble-source by one of the available next-turn-repair-initiators NTRI. At one end of the scale, NTRIs such as what? Question words such as who , where , when are more specific in that they indicate what part of speech is repairable e.

The power of such question words to locate trouble in a previous turn is increased when appended to a partial repeat. Repair may also be initiated by a partial repeat without any question word. Recent research has sought to describe the linguistic practices and resources used in initiating repair from a cross-linguistic, comparative perspective. Although such a format again includes no explicit indication of which participant is responsible for the trouble, it nevertheless suggests that the one initiating repair takes responsibility for finding a solution.

And, finally, by displaying an understanding candidate of what has been said, it thereby shows that its speaker is knowledgeable in this respect and has heard what was said.

Conversation analysis comparative perspectives | Sociolinguistics | Cambridge University Press

A basic question addressed by research within linguistic pragmatics concerns how saying something can count as doing something. Much of the work in this area has drawn on the ideas of John Searle and others who have argued for a solution to the problem based on a theory of speech acts.

While there are different versions of the theory, some common assumptions seem to be that actions are relatively discrete and can therefore be classified or categorized. Applied to interaction, the theory suggests that recipients listen for cues or clues that allow for the identification of whatever act the talk is meant to be doing e. Moreover, the theory seems to presume a closed set or inventory of actions that are cued by a delimited range of linguistic devices. On this formulation, the basic problem to be accounted for by scholars of interaction is how participants are able to recognize so quickly what action is being done see Levinson, As we have already seen, participants in interaction are able to respond to prior turns with no waiting, no gap, and so on indeed they routinely respond in overlap.

Operating with the standard assumptions of psycholinguistics i. These accounts appear to involve a presumption about the psychological reality of action types that is somewhat akin to the psychological reality of phonemes. That is, for the binning account to be correct, there must be an inventory of actions just as there is a set of phonemes in a language. Each token bit of conduct would be put into an appropriate pre-existing action-type category. The binning approach thus also suggests that it would be reasonable to ask how many actions there are.


  1. Conversation Analysis, Comparative Perspectives by Jack Sidnell | | Booktopia.
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  8. But we think that to ask how many actions there are is more like asking how many sentences there are. For the most part, formulations are not required to ensure the orderly flow of interaction. Participants respond on the fly and infer what a speaker is doing from a broad range of evidence.

    However, on occasion such as in some cases of reported speech and in some cases of third position repair , a speaker formulates, using the vernacular metalinguistic terms available to her, the action that she or another participant is understood to have accomplished e. And, of course, in various kinds of post hoc reporting contexts and in scholarly analysis, persons outside of an interaction routinely formulate the actions that were done within it.

    But, while this is no doubt true insofar as the terms in which it formulates the problem are adequate, e. Add to Wishlist. Ships in 10 to 15 business days.