CONVERSATION ANALYSIS (i) WHAT IS CONVERSATION?

PRELIMINARY ISSUES
Conversation as a discourse type has been defined by Cook (1989) in the following way: It is not primarily necessitated by a practical task. Any unequal power of participants is partially suspended. The number of participants is small. Turns are quite short. Talk is primarily for the participants and not for an outside audience.
CA is the study of recorded, naturally occurring talk-in-interaction. CA is only marginally interested in language as such, but first and foremost in language as a practical social accomplishment. Its object of study is the interactional organization of social activities. CA aims at discovering how participants understand and respond to one another in their turns at talk, with a central focus on how sequences of actions are generated. Throughout the course of a conversation or talk-in-interaction, speakers display in the ‘next’ next’ turns an understanding of what the ‘prior’ prior’ turn was about. That understanding may turn out to be what the prior speaker intended, or not. This is described as next-turn proof procedure and it is the most basic tool used in CA to ensure that analyses explicate the way in which the participants themselves orient to talk, not based on the assumptions of the analyst.

WHAT IS CONVERSATION ANALYSIS?

Look at the following interaction and comment on how participants display their understanding of what is going on. 1.Mother: Do you know who’s going to that 2. Rus: Who? 3. Mother: I don’t know! 4. R: Oh, probably Mr. Murphy and Dad said Timpte an’ some of the teachers.

TASK

meeting? Mrs.

The starting point is the observation that conversation involves turn-taking and that the end of one speaker’s turn and the beginning of the next latch on to each other with almost perfect precision. Overlap of turns (when two or more participants talk at the same time) occurs in about 5% of cases and this suggests

Basic notions: 1. Turn-taking mechanism

OVERLAPPING RULES .g. They signal that one turn has come to an end and another should begin. COMPONENTS OF TURN-TAKING 2. Features of turn-construction units: A. who dominates the conversation in terms of number of turns taken. then C must stop speaking.that speakers know how. The number of parties can change COMPONENTS OF TURN-TAKING a) if C (current speaker) selects N (next speaker) in current turn. single words (e. studies revealed the operation of a system: one speaker drops out rapidly as soon as one speaker thus ‘gets into the clear’. ‘What ?’) or phrases. clauses. b) if C does not select N. length of turns) There is no strict limit to turn size. in the course of a turn-construction unit. given the extendable nature of syntactic turn-constructional units. and N must speak next. when and where to enter. then any other party self-selects. what sort of unit it is and at what point it is likely to end. ‘Hey!’.g. despite the rules. Transition relevance place – at the end of each unit there is the possibility for legitimate transition between speakers. turn construction units Turns at talk can be seen as constructed out of units which broadly correspond to linguistic categories such as sentences. then C may (but need not) continue. TURN-TAKING RULES Where.. projectability – it is possible for participants to project. B. There is no exclusion of parties. overlapping talk occurs. 1. and no other party self-selects. first speaker gaining rights to the next turn C) if C has not selected N. Turn distribution (e. he typically recycles precisely the part of the turn obscured by the overlap.

whereby the speaker who ‘upgrades’ most. on the production of a first pair part. ideally. Example: (Levinson1983) A: Can I have a bottle of Mich? Q1 B: Are you over twenty-one? Ins 1 A: No. Example: Question/answer Greeting/greeting Invitation/acceptance(declination) Offer/acceptance (refusal) BASIC TURN TYPES These sequences are called adjacency pairs because. wins the floor. the second becomes relevant and remains so. Rose: Why don’t you come and see me some/times 2. etc. Bea: / I would like to 3. (uppgrading = increased amplitutde.) How do you explain the overlap in the following example? TASK 1. But that need not be the next turn in the series of turns making up some particular conversation. the two parts should be produced next to each other. slowing tempo. even if it is not produced in the next turn.If one speaker does not immediately drop out. there is available a competitive allocation system. A1 = insertion sequences where the topic is different from that of the main sequence: INSERTION SEQUENCES (Pre-sequences) SIDE SEQUENCES . Ins. Rose: I would like you to Adjacency pairs One of the most noticeable things about conversation is that certain classes of utterances conventionally come in pairs. The point is that some classes of utterances are conventionally paired such that. The next turn in an adjacency pair ‘sequence’ is a relevant second pair part. lengthened vowels.2 B: No.

. when P is a little better. (1. -return B: Thanks.E. but I’ I’m waiting for my 2. Compliment A: That’ That’s a nice shirt. of which one is termed preferred response (because it occurs more frequently). -refusal (dispreferred) B: Thanks. I was talking to the cat. . I like yours too. 3. (1. I didn’ didn’t see it.denial (preferred) B: I didn’ didn’t do it. PREFERENCE ORGANIZATION friend .g: Father (on the phone to university: So i think i’ll be in tomorrow. and the other dispreferred (because it is less common). I think it makes me look old -agreement (preferred) B: It’ It’s quite nice. Hold on S (5) F: The damn cat was fixing to sit on the baby’s face. Blame A: You broke the glass . and the speaker of the first part may infer a reason for the absence. Mother: Yes NOTICEABLE ABSENCE PREFERENCE ORGANIZATION OF ADJACENCY PAIRS An inferential aspect of adjacency pairs stems from the fact that certain first pair parts make alternative actions relevant in second position. isn’ isn’t it? -shift B: Judy found it for me. -acceptance (preferred) B: Thanks -rejection (dispreferred) B: Well. The absence of a second pair part is most often treated participants as a noticeable absence .admission (dispref) B: Sorry. Example in a question/answer sequence: Child: Have to cut these Mummy. Offer A: Like a lift? -acceptance (preferred) B: You saved my life. 1. And if you could tell the ethics committee…HEY STOP THAT RIGHT AWAY Secretary: You want me to stop WHAT? F: Sorry. In some adjacency pairs there is a choice of two likely responses.5) Child: Won’t we.3) Child: Won’t we Mummy.

substantive faults in the contents of what someone has said. Repair types The repair system embodies a distinction between 1) the initiation of repair (marking something as a source of trouble). and 2) the actual repair itself. from --.Can you elucidate the misunderstanding involved in the following conversation between a Western tourist in a museum in Japan and a Japanese attendant? (Mey. and 2) repair initiated by other. 1993:266) T: Is there a toilet around here? A: You want to use? T: Sure i do A: Go down the steps.to any of the forms of what is commonly called ‘corrections’ – that is. such as overlapping talk. Discuss the following exchange: (Two secretaries meet in the hallway of their common office) A: B: Would you like a piece of apple cake? Have you got some? TASKS Repair is a generic term used in CA to cover a wide range of phenomena. TASKS 2. . Consequently. there are four varieties of repair: REPAIRS THE ORGANIZATION OF REPAIRS SELF-INITIATED SELF-REPAIR . There is also a distinction between 1) repair initiated by self (the speaker who produced the trouble source).seeming errors in turn-taking.

→Roger: he is? Hh eh heh 5 Dan: Well he is. such as a quizzical look. Other NTRIs may be words like ‘What?’. Watts on. The recipient of a trouble-source turn both initiates and carries out the repair. EXAMPLE 1. Roger’s turn (4) is an example of what is called a ‘next-turn’ repair initiator (NTRI). EXAMPLE: In the following example there is an explicit correction which is then acknowledged and accepted in the subsequent turn: 1 Milly: and then they said something about Kruschev has leukemia so I thought oh it’s all a big put on. OTHER-INITIATED-SELF-REPAIR SELF-INITIATED OTHER-REPAIR OTHER-INITIATED OTHER-REPAIR . This is closest to what is conventionally understood by ‘correction’. the one that wrote /that piece 2 A: / Dan Watts. The speaker of a trouble source may try and get the recipient to repair the trouble – for example if a name is proving troublesome to remember.→ Jean: Breshnev. 2.→ N: No I don’t think. EXAMPLE: In the following example the first speaker’s reference to his trouble remembering someone’s name initiates the second speaker’s repair. I can’t think of his first name. EXAMPLE: 1 Ken: Is Al here today? 2 Dan: Yeah. 1 B: He had this uh Mistuh W-m whatever. or even non-verbal gestures.0) 4.Repair is both initiated and carried out by the speaker of the trouble source. I: Is it flu: you’ve got? 2.I refuse to things have all these Repair is carried out by the speaker of the trouble source but initiated by the recipient. 3 (2.

THE PREFERENCE FOR SELF REPAIRS TASKS Identify types of repairs N: She was givin’ me a:ll the people that were gone this year I mean this quarter y’ /know Y: / yeah L: an’ but all of the door ‘n things were =I mean y’ know they put up y’know paper stuff. /h C: /yes A: is oh one seven five night A: /seven five ni:ne.1 2 3 (./ ((Smiley voice)) C: /seven five what. or display the speaker’ speaker’s sensitivity to the appropriateness of self-repair. (.) 5 6 A: There are several ways in which turns are designed to facilitate self-repair. the brown paper.4) TASK taped up= that kinda TASK TASK please on .)/ yes one eight one eight. A: Lissana pigeons (0. Consider the following extract from a call to the British Airways flight information service and try to analyse it: A: the time for you.7) B: Quail I think ____________________________________ A: Have you ever tried a clinic? B: What? A: Have you ever tried a clinic? A: flight information can I help y/ou? C: /yes could you give me an ETA BA three six five from Bordecks? (0.

) yeah .A: three six five from bordoh? (.

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