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Linguistic Society of America

Response Cries
Author(s): Erving Goffman
Reviewed work(s):
Source: Language, Vol. 54, No. 4 (Dec., 1978), pp. 787-815
Published by: Linguistic Society of America
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/413235 .
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RESPONSE CRIES
ERVINGGOFFMAN
University
Un
vers tyof
of Pennsy
Pennsylvania
van a
Utterances
U
erancesarehousedno
are housed not in
n paragraphs
n turns
but in
urnsaat talk-occasions
a k occas ons implying
mp y ngaa
paragraphs,bu
he floor,
well as an aalternation
are
erna onoof takers.
hemse vesare
akers Turnsthemselves
temporary
emporarytaking
ak ng oof the
oor as we
n runsmarked
n o two-party
nked in
runs marked
naturally
na
ura ycoup
coupled
ed into
Interchanges
erchangesare linked
wo par yinterchanges.
n erchangesIn
ooff by some sor
sort oof topicality.
he body oof
hese topical
op ca runs make up the
op ca y One or more oof these
a conversa
conversation.
on Th
Thiss interactionist
ew assumes that
n erac on s vview
ha every u
utterance
erance iss a sstatement
a emen
he nex
next speaker
what the
he pr
establishing
es
ab sh ngthe
speaker'sswords as a rep
reply,
y or a rep
prior
or speaker
replyy too wha
has just
not sstand
mixture
x ureoof bo
both.
h U
and by themhem
us es
established,
ab shed or a m
Utterances,
erances then,
hen do no
en make no sense when so heard
heard-but
bu are cons
constructed
ruc edand
and
selves-indeed,
se
ves ndeed they
hey ooften
timed
med too suppor
he cclose
ose soc
of speech turn-taking.
social
a co
he
collaboration
abora on o
nature
ure the
support the
urn ak ng In na
n verba
ound in
or such
verbal interplay,
spoken word iss on
onlyy found
n erp ay be
being
ng integrally
n egra ydes
designed
gned for
collective
co
ec vehab
habitats.
a s However
h s papercons
considers
derssome
some rogu
utterances
erancesthat
ha appear
However,this
roguish
shu
too vviolate
o a e this
h s interdependence,
he sstream
ream oof behav
behavior
oraat pecu
unn erdependence en
entering
er ng the
peculiar
ar and un
natural
na
ura p
ec sbu
but no d
with
h
communicative
ca veeeffects
places,
aces produc
producing
ngcommun
paper begins
dialog.
a og The paperbeg
ns w
a spec
ass oof spoken sen
sentences
encesand
and ends w
with
h a spec
ass oof voca
vocalizations-the
za ons he
special
a cclass
special
a cclass
first
rs failing
he second failing
not to.*
o*
a ng too qua
communication,
ca on the
qualifyy as commun
a ng no

11. To be aall aalone,


in
n the sense of be
one to be a SOLITARY
being
ng out of ssight
ght and sound
of everyone
n another way-name
one in
SINGLE,a party of one
one,
everyone, iss not to be aalone
way-namelyy as a SINGLE
a person not in
n a WITH
n some pub
WITH,a person unaccompan
soc a y by others in
publicc
unaccompanied
ed 'socially'
n stores
undertaking
undertak
ng ((itself
tse f often crowded)
crowded), such as ssidewalk
dewa k traff
traffic,
c shopp
shopping
ng in
stores, and
restaurant dining.1
restaurantd
n ng 1
Allowing
A
ow ng the locution
ocut on 'in
n our soc
WEas a
society'-and,
ety -and incidentally,
nc denta y the use of WEas
means of referr
referring
ng to individuals
nd v dua s w
without
thout spec
specifying
fy ng gendergender-itt can be sa
said
d that
when we members are so
solitary,
tary or at least
east assume we are
are, we can have occas
occasion
on to
make pass
passing
ng comments aaloud.
oud We k
kibitz
b tz our own undertak
rehearse or re
relive
ve
undertakings,
ngs rehearseor
a runrun-in
nw
with
th someone
someone, speak to ourse
ourselves
ves judgmenta
judgmentallyy about our own do
doings
ngs
(offering
(offer
ng words of encouragement or b
blame
ame in
n an ed
editorial
tor a vo
voice
ce that seems to be
that of an overseer
overseer, rather than ourse
ourselves),
ves) and verba
n our
verballyy mark junctures in
physical
phys
ca do
doings.
ngs Speak
Speaking
ng aud
audibly,
b y we address ourse
ourselves
ves as the so
solee intended
ntended rec
recipipents of our own remarks
remarks. Or
Or, speak
speaking
ng in
n our own name
name, we address a remarkto
remark to
someone who isn't
sn t present to rece
receive
ve it.
t Th
Thiss iss se
self-communication,
f-commun cat on spec
specifically
f ca y
SELF-TALK.
SELF
TALKA
Although
hough a conversa
conversation-like
on ke

exchange oof speaker


speaker-hearer
hearer

roles
ro
es may

sometimes
somet
mes occur
occur, th
thiss seems unusua
unusual:: eeither
ther we address an absent other
other, or we
address ourse
ourselves
ves in
n the name of some standard-bear
standard-bearing
ngvo
voice.
ce Se
Self-talk
f-ta k of one type
seems rare
rarelyy answered by se
self-talk
f-ta k of the other type
type. I m
might
ght add that the vo
voice
ce or
name in
n wh
which
ch we addressa
address a remarkto
remark to ourse
ourselves
vescan
can bejust
be just what we m
might
ght proper
properlyy
* I have incorporated,
ncorpora ed w
without
hou spec
specificcacknow
acknowledgment,
edgmen a large
argenumbero
numberof sugges
suggestions,
ons bo
both
h
generaland par
genera
particular,
cu ar prov
provided
dedby
by John Carey
Carey,Lee Ann Draud
Draud, John Fough
Fought, Roche
Rochel Ge
Gelman,
man
Allen
A
en Gr
Grimshaw,
mshaw Ga
Gail Je
Jefferson,
erson W
William
am Labov
Labov, G
Gillian
an Sanko
Sankoff, Joe
Joel Sherzer
Sherzer, and W
W. John
Smith.
Sm
h I am gra
grateful
e u too this
h s commun
communityyoof he
help;
p w
with
h it I have been ab
ablee too progressfrom
rom theft
he
too p
pillage.
age Commen
Commentsson
on broadcas
broadcasters'
ers talk
a k are based on a sstudy
udy in
n progress
progress.
1 Th
Thiss easy con
contrast
ras concea
concealss some comp
complications.
ca ons A WITH
WITH-aa par
partyy oof more than
han one
one-can
can be
solitary
so
ary too,
oo as when a lone
one coup
couplee p
picnics
cn cs on a deser
deserted
ed beach
beach. S
Strictly
r c y speak
speaking,
ng then,
hen a SSINGLE
NGLE
iss a par
partyy oof one presen
present among oother
her par
parties,
es whereas a so
solitary
ary individual
nd v dua iss a par
partyy oof one

with
w
h no oother
her par
parties
espresen
present.
787

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788

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

use in addressing a remark to someone else, or what another might properly use in
talking to us. It is not the perspective and standards that are peculiar, or the words
and phrases through which they are realized, but only the fact that there are more
roles than persons. To talk to oneself is to generate a full complement of two
communication roles, speaker and hearer, without a full complement of roleperformers; and which of the two roles-speaker or hearer-is the one without its
own real performer is not the primary issue.
Self-talk could, of course, be characterized as a form of egocentricity-developmentally appropriate in childhood years, and re-appearing later only 'in certain
men and women of a puerile disposition' (Piaget 1956:40). Common sense, after all,
recommends that the purpose of speech is to convey thoughts to others; and a selftalker necessarily conveys them to someone who already knows them. To interrogate, inform, beseech, persuade, threaten, or command oneself is to push against
oneself, or at best to get to where one already is, in either case with small chance of
achieving movement. To say something to someone who can't hear it seems equally
footless.
Or worse, self-talk might appear to be a kind of perversion, a form of linguistic
self-abuse. Solitary individuals who can be happily immersed in talking to themselves need not seek out the company of their fellows-a convenience that works to
the general detriment of social life. Such home consumption in regard to the other
kind of intercourse qualifies either as incest or masturbation.
A more serious argument would be that self-talk is merely an out-loud version of
reverie, the latter being the original form. Such a view, however, misses the sense in
which daydreamingis differentfrom silent, fugue-like, well-reasoneddiscussion with
oneself-let alone the point (on which Piaget 1962:7 and Vygotsky 1962:19-20
seem to agree) that the out-loud version of reverie and of constructive thought may
precede the silent versions developmentally. It misses, too, the fact that both the
autistic and constructive forms of 'inner speech' are considerably removed from
facially animated talk in which the speaker overtly gives the appearance of being
actively engrossed in a spirited exchange with invisible others, his eyes and lips alive
with the proceedings.
In any case, in our society at least, self-talk is not dignified as constituting an
official claim upon its sender-recipient-which is true, incidentally, also of fantasy,
'wool gathering', and the like. There are no circumstances in which we can say
I'm sorry, I can't come right now; I'm busy talking to myself. And anyway, hearers
ordinarily do not REPLY to our self-talk, any more than to the words spoken by an
actor on the stage, although they may REACTto both. Were a hearer to say, What?,
that would stand as a rebuke to conduct, not a request for a rerun, much as when a
teacher uses that response to squelch by-plays occurring at the back of the room;
or, with a different intonation, it could mean that the self-talk had been misheard
as the ordinary kind, a possibility which could itself induce a reply, such as Sorry,
I was only talking to myself.
Indeed, our society places a taboo on self-talk. Thus it is mainly through selfobservation and hearsay that one can find out that a considerable amount of this
sort of thing goes on. Admittedly, the matter has a Lewis Carroll touch: the offense
seems to be created by the very person who catches the offender since, it is the

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RESPONSE CRIES

789

nto an improper
which
ch transforms itt into
one. (So
selffwitnessing
w
tness ng of the deed wh
mproper one
(Solitary
tary se
talkers
ta
kers may occas
themselves
ves term
nd themse
self-talk
f-ta k w
with
th a
terminating
nat ng a spate of se
occasionally
ona y ffind
self-directed
se
f-d rected reproach; but in
n do
THEMSELVESso, they seem to be catch
doing
ng so
catching
ng THEMSELVES
sometimes
somet
mes emp
self-talk
f-ta k to do so
fact, the m
point
nt of fact
so.)) In po
misdoing
sdo ng iss not so
employing
oy ng se
n pub
much tied
n pub
ed up w
with
h do
public.
c We are aall,
publicc as CONTINUING too do it in
doing
ng it in

itt seems
ourselves
ves on one occas
occasion
on or
owed to be caught stopp
seems, aallowed
talking
k ng to ourse
stopping
ng ta
another.
another
theirr limits.
m ts Str
speaking,
ng
Expectedly,
Expected
y there are quest
Strictly
ct y speak
questions
ons of frames and the
oud at
etter to a mach
mirror,
rror and pray
machine,
ne rehears
play
ay to a m
rehearsing
ng a p
praying
ng aaloud
dictating
d
ctat ng a letter
our beds
bedside
de are not examp
self-talk;
f-ta k; but iff others unexpected
unexpectedlyy enter the scene
examples
es of se
of such so
tt e uneasy and look
ook for another type of work
work.
still fee
feel a little
abor we st
solitary
tary labor,
n wh
which
ch the butt iss made vu
vulnerable
nerab e by hav
routines
nes in
having
ng
Similarly,
S
m ar y there are comedy rout
with
th someone who iss h
hidden
dden from genera
to susta
sustain
n a fu
discussion
scuss on w
ew
full-blown
-b own d
general vview.
comicc gestures by wh
which
ch someone caught ta
And there are we
well-known
-known com
talking
k ng to
delict
ct into
nto a yawn
himself
h
mse f attempts to transform the de
nto the just-acceptab
yawn, or into
just-acceptablee
behind
nd these rrisible
ssues of
vocalizations
voca
zat ons of wh
s b e issues
ng ng 2 But beh
humming,
ng or ssinging.2
whistling,
st ng humm
failss to attempt to concea
adultt who fa
conceal h
hiss se
frame iss the ser
serious
ous fact that an adu
self-talk,
f-ta k
n troub
or at least
trouble.
e
east to des
desist
st qu
quickly
ck y upon the appearance of another person
person, iss in
attribute
bute fa
failure
ure in
n decorum here to
Under the term verba
verbal ha
hallucination,
uc nat on we attr
'mental
men a illness'.3
ness 3

self-addressed
f-addressed remarks we
well into
nto adu
adultt life,
Given
G
ven the so
solitary's
tary s recourse to se
fe and
talk
k iss obv
transitional
t ona feature of pr
ggiven
ven that such ta
obviously
ous y not mere
merelyy a trans
primary
mary
socialization
soc
a zat on ((if,
natural phase of ch
childhood
dhood deve
f indeed,
ndeed a natura
development),
opment) one iss enshift
ft from a deve
nteract ona approach
couraged to sh
developmental
opmenta to an interactional
approach. Se
Self-talk,
f-ta k
when performed in
n its
ts apparent
habitat-the
tat-the se
apparentlyy perm
permissible
ss b e hab
self-talker
f-ta keraall aalone-is
one- s
ts initial
n t a and natura
natural provenance
by way of be
being
ng a m
mimicry
m cry of someth
something
ng that has its
in
n speech between persons; th
thiss in
n turn implies
social
soc
a encounter
mp es a
encounter, and the arrangement of part
ch encountersare
encounters are susta
sustained.
ned (Such transp
participants
c pantsthroughwh
through which
transplantation,
antat on
restricted
cted to dev
deviant
ant act
writer
ter does itt when he
note, iss certa
note
certainly
n y not restr
activity;
v ty; thus a wr
n the body of h
hiss own ssingle
entire
re paragraphfrom
ted
quotes, in
quotes
ng e sentence
sentence, an ent
paragraph from a ccited
n one form someth
text-thereby pseudomorph
pseudomorphically
ca y depos
depositing
t ng in
something
ng that in
n nature
belongs
be
ongs to another
another.))
With
W
th se
self-talk,
f-ta k then
then, one m
might
ght want to say that a sort of impersonation
mpersonat on iss occurafter
we
can
best
rring;
ng;
aall,
compliment
comp
ment or upbra
upbraid
dourse
ourselves
ves in
n the name of someone
other than the se
selff to whom the comments are d
directed.
rected But what iss intended
ntended here
iss not so much the mere ccitation
tat on or record
recording
ngof
of what a mon
monitoring
tor ng vo
voice
ce m
might
ght say
say,
or what we wou
would
d say to another iff ggiven
ven a chance
chance, but a stage-actedvers
stage-acted version
on of such
2
Nor shou
should
d the
he oppos
ssue be neg
oppositee framing
ram ngissue
neglected.
ec ed A man talking
a k ng too h
himself
mse aat a bar may
he bar
cause the
bartender
endertoo think
h nk h
him
m drunk
not pecu
drunk, no
peculiar;
ar if he wan
wantss too con
continue
nue dr
drinking,
nk ng he may
suffer
su
ermore
more hardsh
rom the
he first
rs imputation
han the
he second
hardship
pfrom
mpu a onthan
second. (In
In an instance
ns ancerepor
reported
edtoo me
me,
a bar
bar-room
roomse
misframed
s ramedas
as hav
oo much
had too
self-talker,
a ker m
having
nghad
much, temporarily
emporar yso
solved
ved this
h s threat
hrea too h
hiss
he tavern's
drinking
dr
nk ngrrights
gh s by re
retreating
rea ngtoo the
avern stelephone
e ephone boo
booth
h too do h
hiss se
self-talking.)
a k ng
3 I leave
eaveopen
he ques
he individual
open the
question
on oof whe
whether
herthe
nd v dua who engagesin
n verba
verbalha
hallucination
uc na ondoes
does
n order too crea
so in
createeaa d
disturbing
s urb ngimpression,
mpress on or does so in
n ignorance
gnoranceoof the
he eeffects,
ec s or indiffernd er
ence too them,
n sp
about them.
hem or in
spitee oof concern abou
hem I leave
eave open too
oo the
he ques
question
on oof whe
whether,
her in
n
unabashedself-talk
a kas
as a na
natural
ura index
ndexoof aalientation,
treating
rea ngunabashedse
en a on we have (in
n our soc
society)
e y any good
or our induction.
nduc on
grounds for

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790

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

nto the ongo


ts recept
a de
be t on
version
on of its
ongoing
ng
delivery,
very aalbeit
reception.
on What iss set into
onlyy vague
vaguelyy a vers
nteract ona
wholee interactional
text iss not mere
theirr an
animator
mator aalso-indeed,
so- ndeed the who
merelyy words
words, but the
thiss end we br
n wh
which
ch such words m
splitt
briefly
ef y sp
spoken. To th
might
ght get spoken
arrangement in
characterwho ta
talks
ks and the characterto
characterto whom such
ourselves
ourse
ves in
n two
two, project
projecting
ng the characterwho
n
directed.
rected Or we summon up the presence of others in
words cou
could
d be appropr
appropriately
ate y d
nvo ves the lifting
them. Se
order to say someth
then, involves
Self-talk,
f-ta k then
ft ng of a form of
something
ng to them
n a spec
ts emp
ts natura
natural p
interaction
nteract on out of its
special
a way
employment
oyment in
way.
place,
ace and its
consideration
derat on of the so
n th
thiss way recommends cons
Self-talk
Se
f-ta k descr
described
bed in
ong a
soliloquy,
oquy long
fashionable.4
onab e 4 An actor comes
feature of Western drama
drama, aalthough
currentlyy fash
though not current
hiss
sometimes
mes at enormous length,
ength d
divulging
vu g ng h
stage center and harangues h
himself,
mse f somet
with
th we
Thiss behav
inner
nner thoughts on a pert
behavior,
or
well-projected
-projectedaud
audibility.
b ty Th
pertinent
nent matter w
rulee aga
of course
application
cat on of the ru
course, iss not rea
exception
on to the app
against
nst pub
publicc
reallyy an except
selff when no one iss around; we
self-talk.
se
f-ta k The so
talking
k ng to se
reallyy ta
soliloquizer
oqu zer iss rea
members of the aud
audience
ence are supernatura
supernatural, out-of-frame eavesdroppers
eavesdroppers. Were a
world
d to approach
would
d aud
characterfrom the dramat
characterfrom
dramatized
zedwor
approach, our speakerwou
audibly
b y (to us)
even now doth come
come. To the appearself-direct
se
f-d rect a warn
soft, I see that Jeffrey evennow
warning:
ng: But soft
would
d stop so
continue
nue
ance of innocent
then-and wou
nnocentbus
business
nessthen-and
soliloquizing.
oqu z ng Were he to cont
has
the
instructed
nstructed
him
h
m
to
fail
fa
to
notice
not
ce
the
to se
it
t
because
be
would
d
self-talk,
f-ta k wou
script
scr
pt
of
all
a
the
rest
us
have
seen.
seen
whom
approaching
approach
ng ffigure
gure
n pr
nvo ves a mock-up of conversat
conversation
on and a
oneselff in
Now, iff ta
Now
private
vate involves
talking
k ng to onese
ts comp
thiss recast
recasting
recast
ng of its
complementarity,
ementar ty then the product
production
on of th
recasting
ng on the stage
stage,
nvo ves a further insetting,
in
n the b
bloated
oated format of a so
soliloquy,
oquy obv
obviously
ous y involves
nsett ng and a
transformed. The same cou
could
d be sa
transformation
transformat
on of what has aalready
ready been transformed
said,
d
advertisement
sementfeatur
ve mode
modelss
incidentally,
nc denta y about a pr
printed
nted advert
featuring
ngrea
realistically-posed
st ca y-posedlive
nner speech in
well-articulated
-art cu atedinner
n brokennto we
broken-line
neba
balloons
oons
whose sent
sentiments
ments are cast into
n the p
world
d
above the
theirr heads-prov
heads-providing
d ng a text that the other ffigures
gures in
pictured
ctured wor
from the cont
balloon
oon
can'tt see
can
continuous-line
nuous- ne ba
real peop
see, but we rea
peoplee can
can, as d
distinguished
st ngu shedfrom
another.
for conta
containing
n ng words that one ffigure
gure open
openlyy states to another
crucial
a feature of human commun
communication.
cat on Behav
Behavior
or and
Here, I be
Here
believe,
eve iss a cruc
tua zed- n the etho
appearance are rritualized-in
ethological
og ca sense-through such etho
ethologicallyog ca ystandardization
zat onof
of intensity,
oosendefined
def
nedprocesses
processes as exaggerat
exaggeration,
on stereotyp
stereotyping,
ng standard
ntens ty loosenetc. In the case under quest
contextual requ
ing
ng of contextua
requirements
rements etc
question,
on however
however, these
communication
cat on arrangement
transformations
transformat
ons occur to a form of interaction,
nteract on a commun
arrangement, a
believe
eve that any ana
self-talk
f-ta k (or for
standard set of part
standardset
participant
c pantaalignments.
gnments I be
analysis
ys s of se
thiss nonthat matter
matter, any other form of commun
communication)
cat on) that does not attend to th
transformation
on iss un
linguistic
ngu st c sense of embedd
embedding
ng and transformat
unlikely
ke y to be sat
satisfactory.
sfactory
self-talk
f-ta k prov
22. These parab
text. F
parables
es about se
provide
de entrance to a mundane text
First,
rst
within
th n wh
definitions:
def
n t ons: By a SOCIALSITUATION
which
ch two or
SOCIALSITUATION, I mean any phys
physical
ca area w
n vvisual
nd themse
themselves
ves in
sua and aura
aural range of one another
more persons ffind
another. The term
bodies
es that are present
restriction
ct on iss
GATHERING can be used to refer to the bod
present. No restr
n the ssituation:
n
implied
mp ed about the re
relationship
at onsh p of those in
tuat on: they may aall be involved
nvo ved in
n the sense of be
the same conversat
conversational
ona encounter
ratified
f edpart
of the
encounter, in
being
ng rat
participants
c pantsof
4I
It iss nevernecessary
n nove
never necessaryin
novelss and com
he au
author
horcan
can open up a charac
character's
er shead
comics,
cs where the
head
n o the
he ideas
so the
he readercan
readercan peer into
deas it con
n the
he
contains;
a ns technologically,
echno og ca y it iss no longer
ongernecessary
necessaryin
commercial
a make
make-believe-movies
be eve mov es and television.
competing
compe
ng modes oof commerc
e ev s on In these
hese latter,
a er a vo
voicece
over eeffect
ec aallows
ows us too en
enter
er into
n o the
he inner
nner thoughts
shown ssilently
hough s oof a charac
character
ershown
en y mus
musing.
ng

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o STOR T m nd Cond on

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791

same state of ta
n an encounter wh
whilee others are not
n
talk;
k; or some may be in
not, or are in
ad
different
fferent one; or no ta
talk
k may be occurr
Some, aall, or none of those present
occurring.
ng Some
definable
nab e as together in
n terms of soc
social
a part
n a WITH
e in
WITH.
may be def
participation,
c pat on i.e.
most every k
kind
nd of mayhem can be comm
n soc
committed
tted in
social
a ssituations,
tuat ons
Although
A
though aalmost
one cclass
ass of breachesbears
breaches bears spec
social
a ssituations
tuat ons as such
e on the soc
social
a
such, i.e.
specifically
f ca y on soc
kinds.
nds In a word
organization
organ
zat on common to face-to-face gather
word, aalthough
gatherings
ngs of aall k
though
delicts
c s are SITUATED
SITUATIONAL. We owe
social
a
SITUATED, on
many de
owe, too any soc
onlyy some are SITUATIONAL

n wh
which
ch we ffind
ssituation
tuat on in
nd ourse
evidence
dence that we are reasonab
ve to what
ourselves,
ves ev
reasonablyy aalive
iss aalready
n it-and
t-and furthermore to what may ar
schedulee or
arise,
se whether on schedu
ready in
mmed ate act
action
on iss requ
will be readyus, we w
unexpectedly.
unexpected
y If need for immediate
required
red of us
ready-iff
not mob
mobilizable.
zab e A sort of commun
communication
cat on tonus iss implied.
mobilized,
zed then mob
mp ed If
n the ssituation,
should
d not have far to go to respond
addressed by anyone in
tuat on we shou
respond,
iff not to rep
n aall, a certa
certain
n respect and regard iss to be shown to the ssituation
All in
tuat on
reply.
y A
at large.
demonstrations
ons conf
confirm
rm that we are ab
ablee and w
nto
arge These demonstrat
willing
ng to enter into
the perspect
n
collaborate
aborate in
present, iff no more than iss requ
perspective
ve of the others present
required
red to co
the intricacies
talk
k and pedestr
of ta
traffic.
c In our soc
ntr cac esof
then, itt iss genera
pedestrian
antraff
society,
ety then
generallyy taboo
in
n pub
wind
nd percept
belch
ch or pass w
drunk, to be
publicc to be drunk
doze, or
perceptibly,
b y to daydream or doze
to be in
nd
with
th respect to cclothing
cosmetics-and
cs-and aall these for the same
oth ng and cosmet
disarray
sarray w
conventional
ona reperto
reason. These acts compr
reason
comprise
se our convent
repertoire,
re our prescr
prescribed
bed stock of
ack of respectfu
veness in
n and to the ssituation;
'symptoms',
symptoms for demonstrat
tuat on;
demonstrating
ng a lack
respectful aaliveness
theirr inhibition
the
nh b t on iss our way of 'doing'
do ng presence
presence, and thereby se
self-respect.
f-respect And the
with
th sound; aud
audible
b e indicators
nd cators are involved
nvo ved as we
demonstration
demonstrat
on can be made w
well as
vvisual
sua ones
ones.
n a centra
n character
It iss p
central sense
tuat ona in
plain,
a n then
then, that se
self-talk,
f-ta k in
sense, iss ssituational
character, not
merelyy ssituated;
mere
kes d
tuated; its
ts occurrencestr
occurrence strikes
orientation
entat on of the
directly
rect y at our sense of the or
speaker to the ssituation
tuat on as a who
whole.
e Se
Self-talk
f-ta k iss taken to involve
nvo ve the ta
talker
ker in
na
ssituationally
tuat ona y inappropriate
nappropr ate way
way. D
self-talk-like
f-ta k- ke other 'mental
Differently
fferent y put
put, our se
menta
symptoms'-is
symptoms
- s a threat to intersubjectivity:
ntersubject v ty: itt warns others that they m
might
ght be
wrong in
n assum
assuming
ng a jo
mutual intelligibility
jointly-maintained
nt y-ma nta ned base of ready mutua
nte g b ty among
aall persons present
present. Understandab
self-talk
f-ta k iss less
ess an offense in
Understandably,
y se
n pr
private
vate than in
n
public;
pub
c; after aall, the sort of se
self-mobilization
f-mob zat on and read
readiness
ness itt iss taken to d
disprove
sprove iss
not much requ
required
red when one iss aall aalone.
one
Thiss genera
Th
general argumentmakes
argument makes sense out of a cons
considerable
derab enumberof
number of m
minor
nor deta
details.
s
In a wa
waiting
t ng room or on pub
publicc transport
transport, where itt iss ev
evident
dent that little
tt e persona
personal
attention
attent
on to pedestr
pedestrian
antraff
trafficciss requ
required
red(and
(and therefore less
ess than a usua
usual amount of
aaliveness
veness to the surround)
surround), read
reading
ng iss aallowed
owed in
n our soc
society,
ety aalong
ong w
with
th such se
selffwithdrawal
w
thdrawa to a pr
printed
nted wor
world
d as th
thiss makes poss
possible.
b e (Observe that read
reading
ng itself
tse f
iss institutionalized
nst tut ona zed as someth
something
ng that can be set as
aside
de in
n a moment
moment, shou
should
d a reason
present itself-something
tse f-someth ng that can be p
picked
cked up and put down w
without
thout ceremony
ceremony.
Thiss def
Th
definition
n t on does not ho
hold
d for aall our p
pleasures.)
easures ) However
However, chuck
chuckling
ng aaloud
oud to
ourselves
ourse
ves in
n response to what we are read
reading
ng iss suspect; th
thiss can imply
mp y that we are
too free
freelyy immersed
mmersed in
n the pr
printed
nted scene to reta
retain
nd
dissociated
ssoc ated concern for the scene
in
n wh
which
ch our read
reading
ng occurs
occurs. Interest
Interestingly,
ng y iff we mouth the read words to ourse
ourselves,
ves
making
mak
ng the mouth
mouthings
ngs aud
audible,
b e we w
will be taken to be unschoo
unschooled,
ed not unh
unhingedngedunless,
un
ess of course
course, our genera
general appearance implies
mp es a h
high
gh educat
educational
ona status and
therefore no 'natural'
natura reason for unconta
uncontained
ned read
reading.
ng (Th
(Thiss iss not to deny that

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A u ub
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LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

n the
nvested in
some mumb
mumbled
ed read
reading
ng ggives
ves the impression
mpress on that too much effort iss invested
sheer task of read
ow a seem
tuat on at large.)
reading
ng to aallow
arge )
seemlyy reserve for the ssituation
n ta
talk
kw
with
th others
In pub
owed to become rather deep
nvo ved in
others,
public,
c we are aallowed
deeplyy involved
block
ock traff
trafficcor
or intrude
ntrude on the sound preserve of
thiss does not lead
ead us to b
providing
prov
d ng th
with
th one other implies
ablee
talk
kw
others; presumab
presumablyy our capac
capacity
ty to share ta
mp es we are ab
to share itt w
with
th those who see us ta
conversation
on
too, we can conduct a conversat
So, too
talking.
k ng So
aaloud
oud over an un-boothed street-phone wh
ther turn
whilee eeither
ow of
turning
ng our back to the fflow
n an abstracted way
trafficc or watch
will not be
pedestrian
pedestr
an traff
watching
ng itt in
way, and the words w
natural
thought improper.
mproper Even though our co-part
sua y present
co-participant
c pant iss not vvisually
present, a natura
one can be taken to ex
available
ab e as to where
exist,
st and an account
where, cogn
accounting
ng iss ava
cognitively
t ve y
thiss iss a fam
familiar
ar p
which
ch others can see
Moreover, th
gone. Moreover
speaking,
speak
ng we have gone
place
ace to wh
themselves
themse
ves trave
which
ch we can be du
should
d events
recalled,
ed shou
traveling,
ng and from wh
dulyy reca
warrant.55
warrant
with
th some impunity,
n pub
Observe aalso
so that we can
address words in
can, w
mpun ty addresswords
publicc to a petanimal
ma can apprec
affective
ve eelement
ement of
presumablyy on the grounds that the an
presumab
appreciate
ate the affect
the ta
se In any case
occasions
ons a fu
talk,
k iff noth
case, aalthough
nothing
ng eelse.
though on these occas
full-fledged
-f edged
sn t present to rep
ear that no imagined
words, itt iss cclear
recipient
rec
p ent isn't
replyy to our words
mag ned person or
aalien
en agency has captured our attent
attention.
on On the other hand
hand, to be seen wa
walking
k ng
down the street a
alone
one wh
whilee SILENTLY
conversation
on w
with
th an absent
gesticulating
gest
cu at ng a conversat
other iss as much a breach as ta
oud to ourse
evidence
dence
talking
k ng aaloud
ourselves;
ves; itt iss taken to be ev
of aalienation,
ts aud
audible
b e counterpart
enat on just as much as its
counterpart.
emitt (somet
Finally,
F
na y there are the words we em
(sometimes
mes very loudly)
oud y) to summon another
into
nto ta
talk.
k A
outside
de of ta
with
th actua
Although
though such speak
speaking
ngbeg
begins
ns by be
being
ng outs
talk
kw
actual others
others,
its
ts intended
ntended rec
recipient
p ent iss likely
ke y qu
quickly
ck y to conf
confirm-by
rm-by rritualized
tua zed or
orientation,
entat on iff not
verbal rep
existence
stence of the requ
by a verba
reply-the
y-the ex
required
redenv
environment,
ronment do
doing
ng so before our
utterance iss comp
completed.6
eted 6 A summons that iss open
openlyy snubbed or apparent
apparentlyy uneave us fee
n
detected, however
detected
however, can leave
feeling
ng that we have been caught engag
engaging
ng in
ke ta
something
someth
ng like
talking
k ng to ourse
ourselves,
ves and moreover very not
noticeably.7
ceab y 7
5 I once saw an ado
adolescent
escen b
black
ackggirl
make her maleecompan
n laughter,
r makeherma
companion
onco
collapse
apse in
augh er on a busy
rom h
him
m too a litter
downtown
down
ownsstreet,
ercan
can in
n wh
which
chshe
she had sp
ree by mov
moving
ng away from
spied
ed a p
plastic
as c toy
oy
he phone up too her mou
mouth
h and ear wh
whilee letting
n the
he cord rema
remain
n in
he can
phone. Ho
phone
Holding
d ng the
e ng the
canand then,
ew the
he pass
nad
dissociated
ssoc a edmanner
manner(as
hen ha
half-turning
urn ngas if too vview
passing
ngparade
paradein
as one does when
anchored too an open telephone
oud and lively
n o the
he
e ephone k
kiosk)-she
osk she pro
projected
ec edaa loud
ve y conversa
conversation
on into
act 'puts
on' pub
n a ra
rather
herdeep
mouthpiece.
mou
hp ece Such an ac
pu s on
publicc order in
deep way
way, sstriking
r k ngaat itss accommo
accommoose read
dative
da
ve cclose
without
hou much awareness
readings-ones
ngs ones we aall ord
ordinarily
nar ysuppor
support w
awareness.
6 A
small ch
child
d can be repea
summoned with
h a loud
pet or a sma
pe
repeatedly
ed ysummonedw
oud cry when it iss no
not in
n ssight,
gh
with
w
h some d
n range
disturbance
s urbancetoo persons in
but a 'mental'
men a cond
condition
on iss no
not ord
range; bu
ordinarily
nar yimputed.
mpu ed
understood
ood that
ha the
he words are mere
whistle
s ewou
Typically
Typ
ca y it iss unders
merelyyaa ssignal
gna (aa toy
oy wh
would
d do
do) too come
n o vview
ew too rece
receive
veaa message
not too come into
home, or too come into
home
message-but
bu no
n o pro
protracted
rac edconversa
conversation
on
from
rom whereverthe
he ssignal
heard.
gna iss heard
7 Such an occurrenceis
s bu
but one instance
ns anceoof the
he dep
deplorable
orab ecclass
ass oof occas
occasions
ons when we throw
hrow
ourselves
ourse
ves full-face
n o an encoun
encounter
erwhere
u ace into
where none can be deve
developed-as
oped as when we respond too a
summons that
ha was mean
meant for
or someone beh
behind
ndus
us, or warm
warmlyygree
greet a total
o a sstranger
rangerm
mistakenly
s aken y
taken
aken too be someone we know we
well, or (as
as has aalready
ready been men
mentioned)
oned m
mistakenly
s aken yrep
replyy too
someone'ss se
someone
self-talk.
a k The sstandard
andardsstatement
a emen by wh
which
ch the
he individual
nd v dua whom we have improperly
mproper y
setss us rright-e.g.
m aafraid
entangled
en
ang edse
gh e g Sorry
Sorry,II'm
ra dyou
you've
ve ...-itself
se has an uneasyex
uneasy existence.
s ence Such a
remark iss fully
within
h n a conversa
u y housed w
conversational
ona exchange that
ha was never proper
properlyyes
established,
ab shed
and itss purpose iss too deny a re
ha iss itself
se requ
relationship
a onsh pthat
required
redfor
or the
he remarktoo be made
made.

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

RESPONSE CRIES

793

self-talk
f-ta k iss a ssituational
tuat ona impropriety
To say that se
mpropr ety iss not to say that itt iss a
audible
b e breach of decorum
decorum,
more, i.e.,
more
e than any other aud
self-talk
f-ta k iss not someth
such as an uncovered
audible
b e yawn
uncovered, aud
something
ng we
Desisting
st ng from se
yawn. Des
n the
theirr
owe our fe
fellow
ow conversat
conversationalists
ona sts as such; i.e.,
e itt iss not owed to them in
them. C
n a spec
encounter, and thus on
Clearly
ear y
onlyy to them
capacity
capac
ty as co-part
co-participants
c pants in
specific
f c encounter
avoidance
dance
itt iss owed to aall those in
n ssight
us, prec
precisely
se y as we owe them avo
ght and sound of us
himself
mse f
talk
k to h
nd v dua who beg
sounds. The individual
of the other k
kinds
nds of improper
begins
ns to ta
mproper sounds
n the encounter
n a conversat
whilee in
wh
encounter will cause the other part
conversational
ona encounterw
participants
c pantsin
n the
n the same way
to th
think
nk h
him
m odd; but for the same reason and in
way, those not in
conversational
ona
think
nk h
him
m odd
odd. Here the conversat
will aalso
so th
within
th n range of itt w
encounter but w
ts
outside
de its
s L
Like
ke a sna
snail caught outs
tuat on is.
social
a ssituation
ccircle
rc e iss not the re
relevant
evant un
unit;
t; the soc
ratified
f ed states of
outside
de of rat
outside
de of conversat
conversations,
ons outs
shell, words are here caught outs
she
thiss fact on
onlyy because the words
talk;
ta
k; one iss saved from the linguistic
ngu st c horror of th
talk
k iss no more conversathemselves
themse
ves ought not to have been spoken
fact, here ta
spoken. In fact
different
fferent part
reflects
ects adverse
asts longer,
ttional
ona than a be
belch;
ch; itt mere
adverselyy on a d
onger and ref
merelyy lasts
of persona
personality.
ty
delict-no
ct-no
CONVERSATIONALde

he lay
ormu a on
But oof course the
PUBLIC. Bu
ONESELFIN PUBLIC
So a ru
rule:
e No TALKING TO ONESELFIN
ay formulation

tellss us where to start d


of a ru
rulee never gets to the bone; itt mere
digging.
gg ng In linguistic
ngu st c
merelyy te
communication.
cat on
rulee of commun
n pub
oneselff in
No ta
phrasing,
phras
ng 'No
talking
k ng to onese
public'
c iss a prescr
prescriptive
pt veru
ess
ess neat
The descr
rule-the
e-the pract
descriptive
pt ve ru
practice-is
ce- s likely
ke y to be less
neat, and certa
certainly
n y less
available,
ava
ab e aallowing
ow ng ((iff not encourag
encouraging)
ng) var
variously-grounded
ous y-groundedexcept
exceptions.
ons The framenvo ved iss not recorded
work of normat
normative
ve understand
understandings
ngs that iss involved
recorded, or ccited,
ted or
nformants It must be p
n summaryform
available
ava
ab e in
summary form from informants.
pieced
eced out by the studentin
n part by uncover
uncovering,
ng co
collecting,
ect ng co
collating,
at ng and interpreting
nterpret ngaall poss
possible
b e except
exceptions
ons
to the stated ru
rule.
e
others.
33. An unaccompan
unaccompanied
ed man-a ssingle-is
ng e- s wa
walking
k ng down the street past others
with
w
th
him
h
m
evidence
ev
dence
who
views
v
ews
Hiss genera
H
manner
have
dress
and
general
provided
prov
ded anyone
social
a
to the ssituation,
of h
hiss sobr
venessto
nnocent intent,
suitable
tab e aaliveness
sobriety,
ety innocent
ntent su
tuat on and genera
general soc
stumbles.
es
Hiss left
eft foot str
strikes
kes an obtrud
competency. H
competency
obtruding
ng p
piece
ece of pavement and he stumb
continues
nues on
on.
ess eff
himself
mse f more or less
He instantly
catches himself,
nstant ycatchesh
mse f rrights
ghtsh
efficiently,
c ent y and cont
hiss competence at wa
Theretofore, h
Theretofore
walking
k ng had been taken for grantedby
granted by those who
him
m in
n th
saw him,
sawh
thiss connect
connection.
on H
Hiss tr
m conf
confirming
rm ngthe
theirrassessmentof
assessmentof h
tripping
pp ngsudden
suddenlyy
well
casts these imputations
nto doubt
mputat ons into
doubt. Therefore
Therefore, before he cont
continues,
nues he may we
n some act
with
th the laws
aws of mechan
mechanics.
cs The
actions
ons that have noth
engage in
nothing
ng to do w
hiss repuremedial
remed
a work he performs iss likely
med at correct
ke y to be aaimed
correcting
ngthe
the threat to h
tation,
tat
on as we
well as h
hiss posture
posture. He can pause for a moment to exam
examine
ne the wa
walk,
k as iff
intellectually
nte ectua yconcerned
concerned (as competent persons w
with
th the
theirr w
wits
ts about them wou
would
d be)
to d
discover
scover what in
n the wor
world
d cou
could
d poss
him
m to fa
falter-the
ter-the implipossibly
b y have caused h
mp cation
cat
on be
se wou
would
d certa
have stumb
too. Or he can address
being
ng that anyone eelse
certainly
n yhave
stumbled,
ed too
a wry little
tt e sm
himself
mse f takes the who
smilee to h
wholee incident
nc dent as a
himself,
mse f to show that he h
that can hard
touch the secur
joke-something
joke-someth
ng qu
quite
teuncharacter
uncharacteristic,
st c someth
something
ngthat
hardlyytouch
security
ty
he fee
feelss in
n h
hiss own man
manifest
fest competency
competency, and therefore warrant
warranting
ng no ser
serious
ous
hiss lurch,
account. Or he can 'overplay'
account
overp ay h
urch com
comically
ca y extend
extending
ng the d
disequilibrium,
sequ br um
deviation
at on from norma
thereby concea
concealing
ng the actua
actual dev
normal ambu
ambulatory
atory or
orientation
entat on w
with
th
cclowning
own ng movements
movements, implying
mp y ng a persona obv
obviously
ous y not h
hiss ser
serious
ous one
one.

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

794

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

nward state
externalizes
zesaa presumed inward
In br
state, and acts so as to make
brief,
ef our subject externa
which
ch presumab
t He te
rcumstanceswh
tellss a little
tt e
the spec
discernible
d
scern b ethe
presumablyyproduced
produced it.
special
a ccircumstances
mse f easy to assess by aall those in
n the gather
tuat on He rendersh
rendershimself
story to the ssituation.
gathering,
ng
theirr assessment
assessment. He presents an act spec
na
even as he gu
specialized
a zed in
guides
des what iss to be the
DISPLAY-aa commun
nformat on-a DISPLAY
communication
cat on in
n the
conventional
convent
ona way for prov
providing
d ng information-a
sense. The behav
behavior
or here iss very an
animal-like,
ma - ke except
ngu st c sense
ethological,
etho
og ca not the linguistic,
animal
ma seems to respond to iss not so much an obv
obvious
ous b
bioothat what the human an
which
ch itt wou
would
d ord
maintain
nta n
reputation
on wh
ordinarily
nar ytry
try to ma
logical
og ca threat as a threat to the reputat
social
a competence
nd v dua in
n a very
in
n matters of soc
competence. Nor iss itt hard to catch the individual
sometimes
mes made rright
ook-the hasty
standard look-the
surreptitious
t ous survey somet
hasty, surrept
ght after comdiscreditable
scred tab edeed
deed. The purpose iss to see whether w
eet ng d
witnessing
tness ng has
mitting
m
tt ng a ffleeting
remedial
a act
action
on iss therefore necessary; and th
thiss assessment itself
tse f iss
occurred and remed
with
th the same
done qu
remedy, iff necessary
necessary, can be prov
provided
ded w
quickly
ck y enough so that a remedy
will be necessary
necessary.
dispatch
d
spatch as when there iss no doubt from the start that itt w
(or
instead
nstead
of
as
a
n a choreographedaccountHowever,
However
supplement
supp
ementto)
to) engag
engaging
ng in
available,
ab e our subject may utter a cry of wonderment
sua y ava
wonderment, such as
ing
ng that iss vvisually
he
renders
world!
wor
d!
accessible
access
b
eto
the
to w
what he chooses
n
witnesses
tnesseswhat
What in
readilyy
read
Again,
Aga
n
hiss inward
nward state
directs
rects attent
attention
on to what produced it;
to ass
thiss
state, and d
t; but th
assign
gn to h
arge yaud
auditory.
tory Moreover
Moreover, iff non-voca
non-vocal gestures
gestures, in
n conjunct
display
sp ay iss largely
ttime
me the d
conjunction
on
audible
b e scene
scene, can
can'tt conven
conveniently
ent y prov
provide
de the requ
required
red informawith
w
th the vvisible
s b e and aud
nformawill be the indicated
nd cated aalternative.
ternat ve An individual
nd v dua who sudden
self-talk
f-ta k w
suddenlyy
ttion,
on then se
onlyy gr
grimace
mace and cclutch
utch at h
hiss heart iff there iss an open
hiss tracks need on
nh
stops in
stopping,
ng consequent on h
remembering
ngthat
hiss feet; but the same stopp
hiss remember
that he
manholee at h
manho
someplace
ace eelse,
se iss more likely
ke y to be accounted for by words
was supposed to be somep
words.
matter, the more extended the se
self-remarks
f-remarksw
will
(Presumably,
(Presumab
y the more obscure the matter
ess likely
ke y the individual
nd v dua w
will be to offer them
them.))
have to be-and perhaps the less
ngu st cs in
n some
I am argu
arguing
ng here that what iss part of the subject matter of linguistics,
examination
nat on of our re
relation
at on to soc
social
a ssituations
tuat ons at large,
arge not
require
re the exam
sense, can requ
sense
conversations.
ons Apparent
Apparently,
y verba
verbalizations
zat ons qu
quite
te outs
outside
de of
relation
at on to conversat
merelyy our re
mere
play
ay much the same ro
rolee as a choreographed b
bitt of non-voca
non-vocal
conversations
conversat
ons can p
ke other ssituational
tuat ona acts of propr
propriety
etyand
and impropriety
Together, they are like
mpropr ety
behavior.
behav
or Together
entire
re surround
surround, and in
accessible
b e to the ent
n a sense des
designed
gned for it.
in
n that they are access
t
oth ng than speech
speech. But un
unlike
ke cclothing
oth ng or cosmet
cosmetics,
cs these
ke cclothing
They are more like
vocal or in
pantomime-are
me-are to be interpreted
n pantom
nterpreted as bear
bearing
ng on a
displays-whether
d
sp ays-whether voca
with
th a limited
m ted course in
n ttime.
me (What we wear can certa
certainly
n y be
event, one w
passing
pass
ng event
attitude
tude to the soc
social
a occas
occasion
on at hand
hand, but hard
hardlyy to
nd cat on of our att
taken as an indication
during
ng the occas
occasion.)
on ) Necessar
Necessarily,
y iff unant
unanticipated
c patedpass
occurring
ngdur
passing
ng
specific
spec
f c events occurr
markermust be emp
employed
oyed that can be introduced
ntroducedjust
just at
addressed,a markermust
events are to be addressed
occurs, and w
withdrawn
thdrawnwhen
when concern for the event has ended
ended.
the moment the event occurs
prohibition
b t on aga
against
nst pub
publicc se
self-talk,
f-ta k and that
44. I have argued that there iss a proh
display
sp ay character-yet aalso
rulee have a d
so that there are soc
thiss ru
social
a
breachings
breach
ngs of th
self-talk.
f-ta k Indeed
Indeed, the very force wh
which
ch leads
eads us
could
d expect se
which
ch one cou
n wh
ssituations
tuat ons in
n aalmost
most aall ssituations
tuat ons m
might
ght itself
tse f cause us to indulge
ndu ge in
self-talk
f-ta k in
to refra
from se
n
refrain
nfrom
ones.
ones
exceptional
ona
In
this
th
s
light,
ght
consider
cons
der
now
greater
greaterdeta
in
n
certain
nexcept
detail
during
dur
ngcerta
self-talk
se
f-ta k
n wh
which
ch exposed se
self-talk
f-ta k iss frequent
frequentlyy found
found.
a few env
environments
ronments in

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

RESPONSE CRIES

795

When we are 'informed'


nformed of the death of a loved
oved one (on
accident
dent are we
(onlyy by acc
nce th
thiss verb implies
n pass
brief
ef
'told',
to d ssince
might
ght be conveyed in
mp es that the news m
passing),
ng) a br
nto tears wou
would
d certa
amiss
ss in
n our soc
fflooding
ood ng out into
certainly
n y not be am
society.
ety As one m
might
ght
so sanct
self-talk
f-ta k iss aalso
sanctioned.
oned Thus Sudnow (1967:141)
expect, itt iss just then that pub
expect
publicc se
n hosp
describes
descr
bes the ggiving
hospitals:
ta s:
v ng of bad news in
neither
herdoes
does the
he doc
doctor
or w
withdraw
hdrawfrom
rom the
'While
Wh e no sympa
he scene
made, ne
sympathy
hyges
gestures
uresare made
or examp
he telegram
he room
doctor
or
room, as
as, for
example,
e does the
e egramde
delivery
veryboy
eav ng the
aaltogether
oge herby
by leaving
boy. The doc
ha he have some con
contained
a ned and that
control
ro over itss progress
iss concerned that
ha the
he scene be con
progress,
him
m ou
out into
n o the
he ha
hall. In near
or examp
o ow h
he first
rs genu
that
ha it no
not, for
nearlyy aall cases the
example,
e follow
genuine
ne
he per
he re
relative.
a ve Dur
n a ed by the
hereiss
remarkswas initiated
During
ng the
period
od oof cry
interchange
n erchangeoof remarkswas
crying,
ng if there
"talk".
a k" Examp
are: "I can
can't be
believe
eve it",
"It'ss just
relatives
a ves frequently
not fair",
" "I
Examples
es are
us no
a r"
any, re
any
requen y "
"Goddamn",
"Goddamn"

"Not John ... no ..."


"No
not responded too as they
not
" These remarks are no
hey are no

addressed too anyone


remains
ns
punctuated
ua edby
hey are punc
by cry
crying.
ng The phys
anyone. Frequen
Frequently,
y they
physician
c anrema
ssilent.'
en

The common-sense exp


strike
ke at our se
selff so
nform ngs str
explanation
anat on here iss that such informings
is
s
thereafter
reasonable-an
reasonab
e-an
that
self-involvement
se
fnvo
vement
excusable
excusab
e
immediately
mmed
ate
y
vviolently
o ent y
n the gather
se in
Whatever the
imposition
mpos t on of our own concerns upon everyone eelse
gathering.
ng Whateverthe
ass of
convention
on seems to estab
establish
sh a cclass
of'all-too-human'
a -too-human cr
case, convent
case
crises,
ses to be treated
as someth
which
ch anyone not d
nvo ved shou
should
d st
still apprec
directly
rect y involved
something
ng wh
appreciate;
ate; they ggive
ve
us vvictims
ct ms the pass
attention,
on
passing
ng rright
ght to be momentary centers of sympathet
sympatheticc attent
and prov
uncontro ed we do dur
provide
de a legitimate
eg t mate p
place
ace for anyth
anything
ng 'uncontrolled'
during
ng the
occasion.
occas
on Indeed
self-containment
f-conta nment dur
Indeed, our utter se
during
ng such moments m
might
ght create
uneasiness
uneas
ness in
n others concern
concerning
ng our psycho
psychological
og ca hab
habitat,
tat caus
causing
ng them to wonder
how respons
tuated concerns d
responsive
ve we m
might
ght be to ord
ordinary
nary ssituated
directly
rect y involving
nvo v ng
them.
them
Not aall env
environments
ronmentswh
which
ch favorse
favor self-talk
f-ta kare
are convent
understood to do so
so.
conventionally
ona yunderstoodto
For examp
nds that he has a page or line
example,
e a pod
podium
um speaker who sudden
suddenlyy ffinds
ne
hiss text
will somet
sometimes
mes eelect
ect to sw
switch
tch from
missing
m
ss ng from h
text, or a fau
faulty
ty m
microphone,
crophone w
audience
ence to ta
full sentence of bew
talking
ta
k ng to the aud
talking
k ng to h
himself,
mse f address
addressing
ngaa fu
bewilderderhiss own ears and (apparent
hiss own benef
ment, chagr
ment
chagrin,
n or anger for h
(apparently)
y) h
benefit,
t aalbeit
be t
n broadcast ta
room. Even in
half-audibly
ha
f-aud b y to the room
talk,
k when speakers lose
ose the
theirr p
places,
aces
theirr scr
nd themse
themselves
ves w
with
th incoherent
ncoherent texts or improperly
misplace
m
sp ace the
scripts,
pts or ffind
mproper y
n th
thiss way
functioning
funct
on ng equ
equipment,
pment they may rad
radically
ca y break frame in
way, seem
seeming
ng sudtheirr backs on the
theirr ob
sustain
n the ro
rolee of speaker-to-andenlyy to turn the
den
obligations
gat ons to susta
audience.
aud
ence It iss h
n sotto-voce
highly
gh y unprofess
unprofessional,
ona of course
course, to engage in
sotto-voce, se
self-directed
f-d rected
remarks underjust those m
remarksunder
conditions
t ons wh
which
ch ensurethe
microphonic
crophon c cond
ensure theirr aud
audibility;
b ty; but
broadcasters may be more concerned at th
thiss po
point
nt about show
showing
ng that some part of
them iss shocked by the h
n some way not respons
hitch,
tch and in
responsible
b e for it,
t than about
decorum. A
solee sourceof
maintaining
ma
nta n ngbroadcast
broadcasting
ngdecorum
Also,
so be
being
ng the so
source of mean
meaningful
ngfu events
for the
theirr listeners,
feel that the fu
full text of the
theirr subject
steners they may fee
subjective
veresponse
response iss better
than no text at aall. Note that other soc
social
a ssituations
tuat ons prov
provide
de a speaker w
with
th an
audience
aud
ence that iss capt
captive
ve and concerned
concerned, and thereby encourage se
self-talk:
f-ta k: dr
drivers
vers
of buses
cars can shout unf
buses, tax
taxis,
s and pr
private
vatecars
unflattering
atter ngjudgments
judgments of other motor
motorists
sts
and pedestr
when they have passed out of range
pedestrians
answhen
range, and fee
feel no compunct
compunction
on about
oud to themse
n the presence of the
themselves
ves in
theirr passengers
talking
ta
k ng aaloud
passengers. After aall, there iss a

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

796

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

n wh
n traff
sense in
which
ch a contretemps in
trafficcvvisibly
dent ca y impinges
mp nges on everyone
s b y and identically
in
n a veh
vehicle
c e ssimultaneously.8
mu taneous y 8
The fact that dr
waitt unt
theirr remarks
until the apparenttarget
drivers
vers may actua
apparent target of the
actuallyy wa
which
ch iss aalso
so suggestedby
cannot hear them po
ocat on for se
self-talk,
f-ta k wh
suggested by
points
nts to another location
the
he lay
erm MUTTERING
Frustrated
Frus
ra ed by someone
someone'ss au
mutter
er words
MUTTERING.
ay term
authority,
hor y we can mu

of comp
complaint
a nt under our breath as the target turns away
away, out of apparent conversattional
ona earshot
structuralequ
stick
ck
earshot. (Here iss a structura
children
dren do when they st
equivalent
va ent of what ch
out the
theirr tongues
theirr thumbs to the
theirr noses
theirr admon
admonisher
sherturns
turns
noses, just as the
tongues, or put the
n the very interstice
sub-vocalizations
zat ons res
reside
de in
nterst ce between a state of ta
talk
k
away.)) These sub-voca
away
and mere co-presence-more spec
n the trans
transition
t on from the ffirst
rst to the
specifically,
f ca y in
n mutter
second. Here funct
second
function
on seems p
muttering,
ng we convey that aalthough
plain:
a n: in
though we are
ne estab
now go
with
th the line
established
shed by the speaker (and author
ong w
going
ng aalong
authority),
ty) our sp
spirit
rt
has not been won over
on. The d
over, and comp
compliance
ance iss not to be counted on
display
sp ay iss
aaimed
med eeither
ther at th
third
rd part
n such a way that we can
tse f but in
parties
es or at the author
authority
ty itself,
said
d about
ntent and the author
authority
ty can fe
deny our intent,
feign
gn not hear
hearing
ng what we have sa
him.
h
m Aga
thiss iss a form of commun
communication
cat on that hard
ts the linguistic
model of
Again,
n th
hardlyy ffits
ngu st c mode
speaker and addressed rec
recipient;
p ent; here we prov
provide
de a rep
replyy to the speaker that iss
him
m to th
third
rd part
ourselves.
ves Instead of be
displaced
d
sp aced from h
parties,
es or to ourse
being
ng the rec
recipient
p ent
of our rep
n t a speaker becomes mere
merelyy the object or target of our response
response.
reply,
y the initial
Like
L
ke tongue-st
me- m ted commun
ast
communication,
cat on enter
muttering
ng iss a ttime-limited
tongue-sticking,
ck ng mutter
entering
ng as a 'last
word', a post-term
word
post-terminal
na do
dollop
op to a just-term
just-terminated
nated encounter; itt thus escapes
escapes, for
incidental
nc denta reasons
n pub
self-talk.
f-ta k
reasons, the injunction
njunct on aga
against
nst pers
persisting
st ng in
publicc se
self-talk
f-ta k in
n one k
kind
nd of interstice
Consideration
Cons
derat on of se
nterst cerecommends
recommends its
ts cons
consideration
derat on
in
n others
others. For examp
moment'ss fr
example,
e iff we are stopped for a moment
friendly
end y chat just before
establishment
shment or turn
entering
enter
ng or leaving
eav ng an estab
turning
ng down a street
street, we may prov
provide
de a
one-sentence descr
business
ness we are about to turn to; th
thiss account serves
description
pt on of the bus
as a rat
rationale
ona e for our w
evidence
dence that there are other ca
callss upon
withdrawing,
thdraw ng and as ev
thiss utterance iss somet
our ttime
time.
me Interest
sometimes
mes postponed unt
until the
Interestingly
ng y enough
enough, th
moment when the encounter iss just end
n wh
which
ch case we may mumb
mumblee the
ending,
ng in
account ha
half-aloud
f-a oud and somewhat to ourse
ourselves.
ves Here aga
self-talk
f-ta kthat
that iss located
ocated
again
n iss se
talk
k and mere co-presence; aga
transitionally
trans
t ona y between a state of ta
again,
n se
self-communif-commun cation
cat
on iss se
thiss ttime
me because the commun
self-terminating,
f-term nat ng aalthough
though th
communicator,
cator not the
ear that the se
hearer, iss mov
hearer
moving
ng away
away. Here itt iss inescapably
nescapab y cclear
self-talker
f-ta ker iss prov
providing
d ng
verbal information
verba
nformat on to others present
standard arrangementpresent, though not us
using
ng the standardarrangementa rat
ratified
f ed state of ta
talk-for
k-for do
so.
doing
ng so
it
t
must
be
allowed
a
owed
that
when ccircumstances
rcumstancesconsp
Finally,
F
na y
conspire
re to thrust us into
nto a
course of act
action
on whose appearancem
raise
se quest
appearancemight
ght ra
questions
ons about our mora
moral character
or se
self-talkers.
f-ta kers If we stoop to p
self-respect,
f-respect we often prefer to be seen as se
pick
ck up a
coin
co
n on a busy street
well identify
its
ts
street, we may we
denomination
denom
nat on to ourse
dent fy
ourselves
ves aaloud,
oud
8

Of course
O
here w
will be occas
occasions
ons oof equ
cense for
or non
course, there
equivalent
va en license
non-verbal
verba ssigns,
gns bo
both
h voca
vocal and
n aall manner oof gr
gesticulatory.
ges
cu a ory In trying
ry ng on a shoe
shoe, we can engage in
grimaces
maces and obscure sound
soundor these
hese ssigns
evidence
dence oof fit; and such information
ings,
ngs for
gns prov
provide
de runn
running
ng ev
n orma on iss the
he oofficial,
chief
e
c a ch
concern (at
ha momen
he transaction,
a that
moment) oof aall par
parties
es too the
ransac on including
nc ud ng the
he shoe cclerk.
erk S
Similarly,
m ar y
a spor
h e e iss free
ree too per
sportsman
sman or aathlete
perform
orm an enormous flailing
a ng abou
about when he flubs;
ubs apar
apart from
rom
oother
her reasons for
or this
h s license,
cense he can be sure (if anyone can
can) that
ha h
hiss ccircumstances
rcums ances are fully
u y
aattended
ended and apprec
appreciated
a ed by everyone who iss wa
watching
ch ng the
he ac
action.
on A
After
er aall, such cclarity
ar y oof
intent
n en iss wha
what spor
about.
sportss are aall abou

Th

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o STOR T m nd Cond on

RESPONSE CRIES

797

ourselves
ves no longer
ssimultaneously
mu taneous y express
onger need the
expressing
ng surpr
surprise,
se even though we ourse
information:
nformat on: the street iss to be framed as a p
place
ace of passage
might
ght be to
passage, not-as itt m
a ch
child
d or a bum-a hunt
bits
ts of refuse
refuse. If what we thought was a
hunting
ng ground for b
coin
co
n turns out to be a worth
feel urged to externa
worthless
ess sslug,
externalize,
ze through
ug then we may fee
sound and pantom
foolss we have made of ourse
ourselves.9
ves 9
pantomime,
me that we can laugh
augh at the foo
mistaken
staken for our own
door-handlee of a car we have m
own, and d
discovering
scover ng our
Trying
Try
ng the door-hand
self-directed
f-d rectedremarkthat
remark that proper
careful to b
blurt
urt out a se
properlyy frames our
mistake,
m
stake we are carefu
n order to deny
act for those who w
attentiveness
veness in
witness
tness it,
t advert
nadequate attent
advertising
s ng inadequate
that we are th
thieves.
eves
With
W
th these suggest
self-talk
f-ta k iss to be found
found, we can take a second
suggestions
ons of where se
children
dren engage in
n itt because they aren
aren'tt yet
look
ook at the convent
conventional
ona argument that ch
nto the modest
modesties
es of se
socialized
soc
a zed into
self-containment,
f-conta nment the propr
persondom.
proprieties
et es of persondom
Piaget's
aget s pos
position,
t on long
Vygotsky, respond
Vygotsky
ong ago prov
provided
ded a
responding
ng to what he took to be P
lead
ead ([1934] 1962:16):
what ccircumstances
rcums ancesprovoke it, we
'In
In order too de
what causes egocen
determine
erm ne wha
a k wha
egocentric
r c talk,
n much the
he same way P
but we added a ser
he ch
children's
dren sac
activities
v es in
series
es
did,
d bu
Piaget
age d
organized
organ
zed the
child
d was ge
oof frustrations
rus ra onsand
and d
difficulties.
cu es For instance,
ns ance when a ch
draw, he
getting
ng ready too draw
needed. In oother
nd that
he co
color
or he needed
her
would
wou
d sudden
ha there
herewas
was no paper
paper, or no penc
pencil oof the
suddenlyyfind
hiss free
him
m face
ree ac
ace prob
words, by obs
words
activity
v y we made h
problems.
ems
obstructing
ruc ngh
he coe
coefficient
c en oof egocen
ound that
n these
hese d
difficult
cu ssituations
ua ons the
mos
ha in
'We
We found
egocentric
r c speech aalmost
or the
hesameage
n compar
n compar
with
hP
normalfigure
same age, anda
and also
so in
doubled,
doub
ed in
comparison
sonw
Piaget's
age snorma
gurefor
comparison
son
hese prob
child
d wou
would
d try
with
w
h our figure
or ch
children
drenno
not facing
gurefor
ac ng these
problems.
ems The ch
ry too graspand
grasp and too
himself:
mse "Where
he penc
blue
ue penc
n talking
"Where'ss the
remedy the
he ssituation
ua on in
a k ng too h
pencil?? I need a b
pencil.
wet it w
with
h wa
will become darkand
ook
Never m
h the
he red one and we
dark and look
mind,
nd II'll draww
draw with
water;
er it w
like
ke b
blue."'10
ue " 10
n under
The implication
he con
or ch
mp ca on iss that,
ha for
children,
dren the
contingencies
ngenc es are so grea
great in
undertaking
ak ng

will be ent
discounted
scounted as
ke hood so strong that they w
any task
task, and the likelihood
entirely
re y d
will be seen as just
fail (or indeed,
reasonably-intentioned
reasonab
y- ntent oned persons iff they fa
ndeed that they w
9P
he sstreet
matter.
er Penn
Pennies
esand
and even n
nickels
cke s
Picking
ck ng money ooff the
ree is,
s oof course
course, a comp
complicated
ca ed ma
we m
well forego,
he doub
doubt cas
conduct iss oof moreconcern
more concern too us than
han the
he money
cast on our conduc
might
gh we
orego if the
money.
n a shop
he same sma
n change when pay
or some
but there
small sums in
here a
(We
We accep
accept the
paying
ng for
something
h ng in
shop, bu
he oofficial
n our ssight
ransac oniss the
c a bus
business
nessaat hand
Should
dano
another
herin
money transaction
hand.) Shou
gh dropsucha
drop such a co
coin,
n
well be inclined
we m
nc ned too re
retrieve
r eveand
and re
return
urnit: we area
are allowed
he
owedaa d
distractive
s rac veor
orientation
en a ontoo the
might
gh we
n the
walk
k on
h s iss pa
he interests
n eres soof oothers.
don't re
retrieve
r eveour
our
ground we wa
groundwe
on, so long
ong as this
patently
en yin
hers (If
I we don
own sma
small co
hen we run the
he rrisk
sk that
ha oothers
hers w
will do so for
or us
he consequen
coins,
ns then
us, and the
consequentnecess
necessityy
oof show
he sum iss large
as beyond the
heru
ruleeoof finders-keepers,
showing
nggra
gratitude.)
ude IIf the
argeenough
enough too qua
qualifyyas
nders keepers
we m
might
gh qu
quickly
ck ygglance
ance around too see if we have been seen
seen, care
carefully
u yre
refraining
ra n ngfrom
rom say
saying
ngor
or
se Cover
Covertaalso
so maybe
act wheneverwe
gesturing
ges
ur ngany
anything
h ngeelse.
may be our ac
wheneverwe spy a co
coin
n oof any denom
denomination
na on
too see if any add
additional
ona ones are no
not too be found.
ound
10P
hiss rep
Piaget,
age as h
replyy (1962:3-4)
1962 3 4 too a read
reading
ngoof Vygo
Vygotsky's
sky s MS sugges
suggests,
s apparen
apparentlyymean
meant
refer
ertoo speech (or
herbehav
'egocentricity'
egocen r c y too re
or any oother
behavior)
or that
ha d
did
d no
not take
ake into
n o cons
consideration
dera onthe
he
he oother
n some way
her in
perspective
perspec
veoof the
way, and on
onlyy incidentally
nc den a y (if aat aall) too speech no
not open
openlyy
addressed too oothers,
he latter
a er be
what Vygo
hers the
being
ng wha
Vygotsky
sky descr
described,
bed and wh
which
ch I ca
call 'self-talk'.
se a k
Piaget's
P
age s concep
concept oof egocen
egocentricity
r c yhas
has led
ed too ano
another
her con
confusion,
us on a failure
a ure too d
discriminate
scr m na etwo
wo
matters:
ma
ers taking
he po
ew oof the
ak ng the
point
n oof vview
he oother
her in
n order too d
discover
scoverwha
what h
hiss aattitude
udeand
and ac
action
on
will be
w
or onese
oneself or identifying
be, and accep
accepting
ngfor
den y ngw
with
h the
he perspec
perspective
veoof the
he oother.
her The cclassic
ass ccon
con
us ra eshow
how fully
he first
rs form
operation
opera
on illustrates
u y the
orm oof sympa
sympathy
hymaybe
may be requ
required
redand
and producedw
producedwithout
hou
leading
ead ng too the
he second
second.

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

798

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

offer some vo
voicing
c ng of what
ways preparedto offersome
fooling
foo
ng around anyway)
anyway), that they are aalways
self-talkative.11
f-ta kat ve 11
are about. An adu
earnto
to skate m
adultt attempt
they areabout
might
ght be equa
equallyy se
attempting
ngto learn
Some loose
oose genera
descriptions
pt ons of p
places
aces for
might
ght be drawn from these descr
generalizations
zat onsm
n pub
self-talk.
se
f-ta k F
remark to ourse
ourselves
ves in
First,
rst when we address a remarkto
public,
c we are likely
ke y to be
in
n sudden need of re-estab
n the eyes and ears of w
witnesses
tnesses as
ourselves
ves in
re-establishing
sh ng ourse
trifled
f ed w
with;
th; and an express
honest, competent persons not to be tr
honest
expression
on of chagr
chagrin,
n
n th
this-at
s-at least
east estab
etc. wou
would
d seem to he
wonderment, anger etc
wonderment
help
p in
establishing
sh ng what our
n th
thiss case they can
can'tt be susta
ourselves
ves are
sustained.
ned Second
Second,
are, even iff in
expectations
expectat
ons for ourse
one cou
could
d argue that se
self-talk
f-ta k occurs rright
ght at the moment when the pred
predicament
cament of
the speaker iss ev
n a fflash,
evident
dent to the who
wholee gather
ash or can be made so-assur
so-assuring
ng
gathering
ng in
that the utterance w
will come as an understandab
understandableereact
reaction
on to an understood event;
itt w
will come from a m
mind
nd read
mind
nd that has not dr
drifted
fted from the ssituation,
tuat on a m
readilyy
tracked. The aalien
tracked
n ha
en wor
world
d ref
reflected
ected in
talk
k iss therefore spec
hallucinatory
uc natory ta
specifically
f ca y
outside
de the prec
avoided;
avo
ded; and so too iss some of the impropriety
talking
k ng outs
mpropr ety of ta
precincts
ncts of a
ratified
rat
f ed conversat
understandab e here mere
conversation.
on Nor iss 'understandable'
merelyy a matter of cogn
cognition.
t on
To qu
another'ss ccircumstances
rcumstances ((itt seems) iss to be ab
ablee to p
quickly
ck y apprec
appreciate
ate another
place
ace
ourselves
ourse
ves in
n them empathet
assurance another can
Correspondingly,
ng y the best assuranceanother
empathetically.
ca y Correspond
have that we w
n a vers
will understandh
m iss to offer h
himself
mse f to us in
version
on w
with
th wh
understand him
which
ch we
can identify.
out under pressure
self-talk
f-ta kas
as someth
blurted
urtedout
something
ng b
dent fy Instead of th
thinking
nk ng of se
pressure,
better be thought of as a mode of responseconstant
readied
edfor
for those
then, itt m
then
response constantlyy read
might
ght betterbe
n wh
which
ch itt iss excusab
me and p
ccircumstances
rcumstances in
excusable.
e Indeed
Indeed, the ttime
place
ace when our pr
private
vate
reaction
react
on iss what strangerspresent
occasion
on when se
self-talk
f-ta k
strangerspresent NEED to know about iss the occas
iss more than excusab
excusable.12
e 12
55. It was suggested above that
that, when an unaccompan
unaccompanied
ed man stumb
stumbles,
es he may
self-talk
f-ta k instead
hiss case by means of se
nstead of ssilent
ent gesture
present h
gesture. However
However, there iss
another route to the advert
advertisement
sementof
of se
emitt one or two words of
self-respect.
f-respect He can em
Hell!! or Sh
Shit!
t! Observe that these ejacu
exclamatory
exc
amatory imprecation,
mprecat on such as He
ejaculatory
atory
ke the po
which
ch one individual
nd v dua
expressions
express
ons are noth
nothing
ng like
pointed
nted shout of warn
warning
ng wh
ke an open
n
directed
rected broadcastto
broadcast to aall in
might
m
ght utter to and for another-nor even like
openlyy d
ke a street-vendor
shriek
ek for he
street-vendor'sscry
Talk
k in
n the ord
sense iss
hearing,
hear
ng like
cry or a shr
help.
p Ta
ordinary
narysense
ssue In no immediate
mmed ate way do such utterances be
apparentlyy not at issue.
apparent
belong
ong to a
conversational
conversat
ona encounter-a rritually
ratified
f edstate
state of ta
talk
k embrac
ratified
f edpart
tua yrat
embracing
ngrat
particicFirst
rst speaker
one. F
pants-or to a summon
summoning
ng to one
speaker'ss utterance does not off
officially
ca y
11Cook
er a more compe
We have found
account: 'We
ound
Cook-Gumperz
Gumperz & Corsaro (1976:29)
1976 29 ooffer
compelling
ng accoun
children
dren cons
that
ha ch
verbal descr
he r behav
consistently
s en y prov
provide
de verba
descriptions
p ons oof their
behavior
or aat var
various
ous po
points
n s in
n
n that
ha it cues oother
her interactants
n erac an stoo wha
spontaneous
spon
aneous fantasy
an asy in
what iss presen
presentlyyoccurr
occurring
ngas
as we
well as
or p
n o and expand
provides
prov
des poss
possibilities
b es for
plugging
ugg ng into
expanding
ng upon the
he emerg
emerging
ng soc
social
a even
event.' The
authors
au
hors imply
ha if a fantasy
world
d iss too be bu
built up dur
mp y that
an asy wor
during
ng JO
JOINT
NT p
play,
ay then
hen words aalone
one are
he resourcethat
likely
ke y too be the
ha mus
must be emp
employed,
oyed and an open recoursetoo se
self-talk
a k then
hen becomes
an eeffective
ec ve way too flesh
esh ou
out wha
what iss supposed too be un
or aall the
unfolding
o d ng for
he par
participants
c pan sin
n the
he
fantasy.
an asy
A pure
certain
a nac
purelyycogn
cognitive
veinterpretation
n erpre a onoof cer
action-oriented,
on or en ed se
self-directed
d rec edwords
words('non-nominal
non nom na
so been recen
expressions')
express
ons has aalso
recentlyyrecommendedby
recommendedby Gopn
Gopnik
k (1977:15-20).
1977 15 20
12
Understandably,
Unders
andab y sstage
age so
soliloquies
oqu es occur on
onlyy when the
he charac
character's
er spersona
personal feelings
ee ngsabou
about
hiss ccircumstances
h
rcums ancesareexac
are exactlyywha
what we memberso
membersof the
he aud
audience
encemus
must be pr
privy
vy to,
o too be proper
properlyy
n the
he un
drama.
positioned
pos
oned in
unfolding
o d ngdrama

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

RESPONSE CRIES

799

ot wh
establish
estab
sh a sslot
which
ch second speaker iss under some ob
obligation
gat on to ffill:: there iss no
ratified
rat
f ed speaker and rec
ones), but mere
merelyy actor and
mag nary ones)
recipient
p ent (not even imaginary
witness.
w
tness To be sure
nvo ved; but itt iss one that interrupts
sure, an interjection
nterruptsa course
nterject on iss involved;
of phys
utterance.
action,
on not an utterance
physical
ca act
wholee
ourselves
ves (or the wa
walk,
k or the who
When, unaccompan
When
trip
p and curse ourse
unaccompanied,
ed we tr
ourselves.
ves Therefore
wide
w
de wor
Therefore, a
ourselves;
ves; we appear to address ourse
world),
d) we curse TO ourse
self-talk
f-ta k
Like
ke the pub
tolerated
erated se
nvo ved L
kind
k
nd of se
publicly
c y to
self-remarking
f-remark ng seems to be involved.
n a gather
considered,
dered imprecations
styled
ed to be overheard in
gathering.
ng
mprecat ons seem to be sty
aalready
ready cons
n the individual's
nd v dua s
n th
thiss regard: when no one iss present in
Indeed, the sty
Indeed
specific
f cin
styling
ng iss spec
omitted.
tted If women and ch
children
dren are
ke y to be om
surround, the express
surround
quite
te likely
expression
on iss qu
hiss cr
cries
es accord
self-communicator
f-commun cator iss qu
malee se
quite
te likely
ke y to censor h
accordingly:
ng y:
present, your ma
present
n a foundry iss likely
avoid
d that
stumbles
es in
a man who utters Fuck! when he stumb
ke y to avo
n a day nursery
nursery. If itt iss apparent that on
onlyy very
trips
ps in
particular
part
cu ar exp
expletive
et ve iff he tr
failed
ed to do)
whispered
spered
do), then wh
cclose-by
ose-by persons can see what we have just done (or fa
will be
witnesses
tnesses are far away
away, then shouted sounds w
expletives
exp
et ves are poss
possible;
b e; iff w
Sacks' term)
nvo ved (to use Harvey Sacks
term), and so qu
quickly
ck y
design'
gn iss involved
required.
requ
red 'Recipient
Rec p ent des
tuat on iss be
sustained,
ned
monitoring
tor ng of the ssituation
being
ng susta
on-going
ng mon
applied
app
ed as to suggest that on-go
arises
ses wh
which
ch requ
t Of course
thiss adjustment when the moment ar
course,
requires
res it.
just th
enabling
enab
ngjust
n the convent
our vocalization
zat on in
conventional
ona
me to encode ourvoca
in
n any case we w
will have takenthe
taken the ttime
oca one)-a feat that iss instannstanlexicon
ex con of our language
ke y to be the local
(which
ch iss likely
anguage (wh
n add
sometimes
mes by b
taneouslyy accomp
taneous
accomplished,
shed even somet
bilinguals
ngua s who
who, in
addition,
t on must
theirr w
witnesses.13
tnesses 13(Th
select
ect the
theirr imprecations
generallyy se
genera
mprecat ons from the language
anguage of the
(Thiss iss
np
not to say that b
won'tt use a harsh imprecation
bilinguals
ngua s won
mprecat on from one language
anguage in
place
ace
n use; fore
of a less
ess harsh one drawn from the language
anguage in
foreignness
gnness apparent
apparentlyy serves
behavior
or whose
as a m
mitigation
t gat on of strength
strength.)) S
Significantly,
gn f cant y we have here a form of behav
blurted
urtedout
very mean
meaning
ng iss that itt iss someth
something
ng b
out, someth
something
ng that has escapedcontro
escaped control;;
and so such behav
thiss impulsive
behavior
or very often iss and has; but th
mpu s ve feature marks not the
conventionalized
ona zed
limits
m ts to wh
which
ch the utterance iss soc
socially
a y processed
processed, but rather the convent
adhere.
which
ch itt iss ob
styling
sty
ng to wh
obliged
ged to adhere
n a var
It iss p
rcumstances Rac
plain
a n that ssingles
ng es use imprecations
mprecat ons in
variety
ety of ccircumstances.
Racing
ng
turnstilee before itt automat
unsuccessfullyy to enter a turnst
unsuccessfu
automatically
ca y ccloses,
oses or a door before itt
iss locked
ocked for the even
evening,
ng may do it;
t; com
coming
ng up to what has just now become a
with
th a curse
brick
br
ck wa
frustration
on and chagr
curse. (Others
exhibit
b t frustrat
wall, we may exh
chagrin,
n often w
(Others,
of the prec
rush we have made
formulated
ated a poss
nd
having
hav
ng formu
possible
b e read
reading
ngof
precipitous
p tousrush
made, can ffind
theirr interpretation,
that our imprecations
mprecat ons are a way of conf
confirming
rm ngthe
nterpretat on putt
putting
ng a per
period
od
to the behav
the little
tt e vvignette
behavioral
ora sentence we have p
played
ayed out
out, br
bringing
ng ngthe
gnette to a cclose,
ose
and convert
too
converting
ng us back to someone eas
easilyy d
disattendable.)
sattendab e ) Precar
Precariously
ous ycarry
carrying
ngtoo
fall. When the horse we have bet on
many parce
parcels,
s we may curse at the moment they fa
iss nosed out at the ffinish
n sh line,
ne we may damn our m
misfortune
sfortune wh
whilee tear
tearing
ng up our
nce our cause for d
ttickets;
ckets; ssince
disappointment,
sappo ntment anger
anger, and chagr
chagrin
n iss amp
amplyy ev
evident,
dent or
at least
cense to wa
wail to the wor
east eas
world.
d Wa
easilyy surm
surmisable,
sab e we have license
Walking
k ng aalong
ong a
carries
es a record-break
snow now turned to sslush,
na
wintry
w
ntry street that carr
record-breaking
ngsnow
ush we are in
n open pr
position
pos
t on to cry God! in
private
vate response-but as itt happens
happens, we do so just at
the po
mind
nd
point
nt of pass
passing
ng another-the cause of our remark and the state of our m
13 I
It wou
would
d be interesting
whether
heror
or no
not b
children
drenwho
n eres ngtoo know whe
bilingual
ngua ch
who se
self-talk
a k se
select
ec the
he
code likely
n their
hers in
he r presence
ke y too be emp
employed
oyed by oothers
presence.

Th

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A u ub
o STOR T m nd Cond on

800

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

being perfectly plain and understandable. It might be added that the particular
imprecations I have used so far as illustrations seem in our society to be the special
domain of males: females, traditionally at least, use softer expressions. As is now
well known, this gender convention is not impervious to rapid politically-inspired
change.
Finally, I want to note that although imprecations and extended self-remarkscan
be found in much the same slot, do much the same work, and indeed often appear
together-raising the question as to why they should be described separatelyjudgment should be reserved concerning their equivalence. Other questions must be
considered first.
6. The functioning of imprecations raises the question of an allied set of acts that
can be performed by singles: RESPONSECRIES, i.e. exclamatory interjections which

are not full-fledgedwords. Oops!is an example. These non-lexicalized, discreteinterjections-like certain unsegmented, tonal, prosodic features of speech-comport
neatly with our doctrine of human nature. We see such 'expression' as a natural
overflowing, a flooding up of previously contained feeling, a bursting of normal
restraints, a case of being caught off-guard. That is what would be learned by asking
the man in the street if he uses these forms-and, if so, what he means by them.
I am assuming, of course, that this common-sense view of response cries should
give way to the co-occurrence analysis that sociolinguists have brought to their
problems. But although this naturalistic method is encouraged by sociolinguists,
here the subject matter moves one away from their traditional concern. A response
cry doesn't seem to be a statement in the linguistic sense (even a heavily elided one),
purportedly doing its work through the concatenated semantic reference of words.
A remark is not being addressed to another-not even, it seems, to oneself. So, on
the face of it at least, even self-communication is not involved, but only a simpler
sign process whereby emissions from a source inform us about the state of the
source-a case of exuded expressions, not intentionally sent messages. One might
better refer to a 'vocalizer' or 'sounder' than to a speaker. This, of course, is not
to deny the capacity of a well-formed, conventionally-directed sentence to inform
us about the state of the protagonist who serves as its subject, nor to deny that the
speaker and protagonist can be the' same'-for indeed, through the use of 1stperson
pronouns, they routinely are. But this latter arrangement brings us information
through a message, not an expression. This route is fundamentally different from
and less direct than the one apparently employed in response cries-even though,
admittedly, such cries routinely come to be employed just in order to give a desired
impression. Witnesses can seize the occasion of certain response cries to shake their
heads in sympathy, cluck, and generally feel that the way has been made easy for
them to initiate passing remarks, attesting to fellow-feeling; but they aren't obliged
to do so. A response cry may be uttered in the hope that this half-license it gives to
hearers to strike up a conversation will be exercised; but, of course, this stratagem
for getting talk started could not work if an innocent reading were not the official
one. Expectedly, the circumstances which allow us to utter a response cry are often
just the ones that mitigate the impropriety of a different tack we could take, that of
opening up an encounter by addressinga remarkto an unacquainted other; but that

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RESPONSE CRIES

801

fact doesn't relieve one of the necessity to distinguish between this fully social sort
of comment and the kind that is apparently not even directed to oneself.
A response cry is (if anything is) a ritualized act in the ethological sense of that
term. Unable to shape the world the way we want to, we displace our manipulation
of it to the verbal channel, displaying evidence of our alignment to the on-going
events; the display takes the condensed, truncated form of a discretely-articulated,
non-lexicalized expression. Or, suddenly able to manage a tricky, threatening set of
circumstances, we deflect into non-lexicalized sound a dramatization of our relief
and self-congratulation in the achievement.
7. Consider now some standard cries:
7.1. THETRANSITION
DISPLAY.Entering or leaving what can be taken as a state of

marked natural discomfort-wind, rain, heat, or cold-we seem to have the license
(in our society) to externalize an expression of our inner state. Brr! is a standard
term for wind and cold upon leaving such an atmosphere. (Other choices are less
easily reproduced in print.) Ahh! and Phew! are heard when leaving a hot place for
a cool one. Function is not clear. Perhaps the sounding gives us a moment to orient
ourselves to the new climatic circumstancesand to fall into cadence with the others
in the room; these are not ordinarily taxing matters, and thus do not ordinarily
require a pause for their accomplishment. Perhaps the concentration, the 'holding
ourselves in' sometimes employed in inclement places (as a sort of support for the
body) gets released with a flourish when we escape from such environments. In any
case, we can be presumed to be in a state of mind that those already safe might well
appreciate (for after all, weather envelops everyone in the vicinity), and so selfexpression concerning our feelings does not take us to a place mysterious to our
hearers. It appears that, unlike strong imprecations, transition displays in our
society are not particularly sex-typed.
7.2. THESPILL
CRY.Here the central examples Oops! and Whoops!are phonetict
ally well-formed, although not in every sense words. They are as much (perhaps
even more) the practice of females as males. Spill cries are emitted to accompany
our having, for a moment, lost guiding control of some feature of the world around
us, including ourselves. Thus a woman, rapidly walking to a museum exit, passes
the door, catches her mistake, utters Oops!, and backtracks to the right place.
A man, dropping a piece of meat through the grill to coals below, uttersOops!, and
then spears the meat to safety with his grill fork.
On the face of it, the sound advertises our loss of control, raising the question of
why we should want to defame ourselves through this publicity. An obvious possibility is that the Oops! defines the event as a mere accident, shows we know it has
happened, and hopefully insulates it from the rest of our behavior-indicating that
failure of control was not generated by some obscure intent unfamiliarto humanity,
or some general defect in competence. Behind this possibility is another: the expression is presumably used for MINOR
failings of environmental control. So, in the face
of a more serious failure, Oops! has the effect of downplaying import, and hence
implication as evidence of our incompetence. (It follows that, to show we take a
mishap VERYseriously, we might feel constrained to omit the cry.) Another reason

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802

LANGUAGE,

VOLUME 54, NUMBER

4 (1978)

for (and function of) spill-crying is that, since a specific vocalization is involved,
we necessarily demonstrate that at least our vocal channel is functioning-and
behind this, at least some presence of mind. A part of us proves to be organized
and standing watch over the part of us that apparently isn't watchful. Finally, and
significantly, the sound can provide a warning to others present that a piece of the
world has gotten loose, and that they might best be advised to take care. Indeed,
close observation shows that the oo in Oops! may be nicely prolonged to cover the
period of time during which that something is out of control.
Note that, when we utter Oops! as we slip on the ice, we can be making a plea to
the cclosest
osest other for a steady
hand, and ssimultaneously
steadying
ng hand
mu taneous ywarn
warning
ng others to watch
rcumstances sure
vocalizations.
zat ons When in
n
out; these ccircumstances
surelyy open up our surround for voca
fact there iss no danger to onese
ANOTHER'S
S
loss
oss of
oneself,
f we may respond to ANOTHER
momentary
control w
contro
him
m a warn
with
th an Oops!a
n troub
readied
ed
so-prov d ng h
trouble,
e a read
Oops!also-providing
warning
ng that he iss in
framework w
within
th n wh
which
ch he can def
define
ne the m
established
shed
mishap,
shap and a co
collectively
ect ve y estab
cadence for h
hiss ant
anticipated
c pated response
response. That some sort of he
help
p for others iss thus
intended
ntended seems to be borne out by the fact that men seem more likely
ke y to oops for
another when that other iss a ch
child
d or a fema
definable
nab e as someone for
female,
e and thus def
whom respons
taken. Indeed
toddler
er and
Indeed, when a parent p
responsibility
b ty can be taken
plucks
ucks up a todd
shifts
fts itt from one po
n the
another, or 'playfully'
rapidly
rap
d y sh
point
nt to another
p ayfu y sw
swings
ngs or tosses itt in
child's
ds
aair,
r the pr
prime
me mover may utter an Oopsada
Oopsadaisy!-stretched
sy!-stretched out to cover the ch
ts fee
period
per
od of ground
groundlessness,
essness counter-act
counter-acting
ng its
feeling
ng of be
being
ng out of contro
control, and at
the same ttime
me instructing
n the term
the ch
child
d in
rolee of sp
cries.
es In any
nstruct ngthe
terminology
no ogy and ro
spill cr
with
th some surv
survival
va va
value.
ue
case, itt iss apparent that oops
case
oopsing
ng iss an adapt
adaptive
ve pract
practice
ce w
And the fact that individuals
nd v dua s prove (when the occas
occasion
on does ar
arise)
se) to have been
ready aall aalong
ong to oops for themse
themselves,
ves or for an appropr
appropriate
ate other
other, suggests that
when noth
eventful iss occurr
n one another
another'ss presence are st
still
nothing
ng eventfu
occurring,
ng persons in
nonetheless
nonethe
ess track
themselves
ves trackab
tracking
ng one another and act
acting
ng so as to make themse
trackable.
e
77.3.
3 THE THREATSTARTLE
Eek! or Y
cries
es are sex
sexSTARTLE,no
notably
ab y Eek
Yipe!
pe These response cr

east so be
feminine
n ne use
use. Surpr
and fear are statedstated-in
n lay
typed (or at least
believed)
eved) for fem
Surprise
seand
ay
terms, 'expressed'.
terms
expressed But the surpr
surprise
se or fear are very much under contro
control-indeed,
- ndeed
about. A very h
walk
k that
nothing
noth
ng to be rea
reallyy concerned about
high
gh open sta
stairwell,
rwe or a wa
leads
eads to a prec
precipice,
p ce can rout
routinely
ne y evoke yyipes
pes from us as we surveywhat
survey what m
might
ght havne
been our doom
me to secure
doom, but from a pos
position
t on of support; we have had amp
amplee ttime
ourselves.
ourse
ves A not
notion
on of what a fear response wou
would
d be iss used as a pattern for
occurs that covers any actua
actual concern by extend
mimicry.
m
m cry A sort of overp
overplaying
ay ngoccurs
extending,
ng
with
w
th obv
obvious
ous unser
which
ch th
thiss concern wou
would
d take
unseriousness,
ousness the expressedform
expressed form wh
take. We
demonstrate that we are aalive
ve to the fearsome implications
mp cat ons of the event
event, but not
overwhelmed
overwhe
med by them-that we have seen the troub
troublee and by implication
will
mp cat on w
control for it,
n need of no warn
thiss re
assuredlyy contro
assured
t and are therefore in
warning;
ng; aall of th
releases
eases
others from cclosely
us. The moment itt takes to say the sound iss one we can
ose y track
tracking
ng us
use to compose ourse
ourselves.
ves In a very subt
subtlee way
verbal 'expression'
way, then
then, a verba
express on of our
state iss a means of rrising
t-and a re
release
ease of concern now no longer
s ng above it-and
onger necesover.
sary, com
sary
coming
ng after the emergency iss rea
reallyy over
Here an argument made ear
earlier
erabout
about mu
transformations
onscan
can be taken up
multiple
t p e transformat
up.
which
ch an individual
nd v dua can be very cclose
Precipitous
Prec
p tous drops are the sorts of th
things
ngs to wh
ose

Th

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803

without the slightest danger of falling over, or intent to do so. In these circumstances,
it would seem that imagery of accident would come to the fore, or at least be very
readily available. It is this easily-achieved mental set that the threat startle seems to
participate in. Thus the uncompelling character of the actual circumstances can be
nicely reflected in the light and almost relaxed character of the cry. One has, then,
a warning-LIKE
circumstances. Ritualization begins to give
signal in dangerous-LIKE
way to a copy of itself-a playful version of what is already a formalized version,
a display that has been retransformed and reset, a second-order ritualization.
7.4. REVULSIONSOUNDS,such as Eeuw!, are heard from a person who has by

necessity or inadvertence come in contact with something contaminating. Females


in our society, being defined as more vulnerable in this way than males, might seem
to have a special claim on the expression. Often, once we make the sound, we can be
excused for a moment while decontamination is attempted. At other times, our
voice performs what our physical behavior can't, as when our hands must keep busy
cleaning a fish, leaving only the auditory and other unrequired channels to correct
the picture-to show that indelicate, dirty work need not define the person who is
besmeared by it. Observe again that there is an unserious note, a hint of 'hyperritualization': often the contamination that calls forth an Eeuw! is not REALLY
believed to contaminate. Perhaps only germ contamination retains that literal power
in our secular world. So again, a protective-like cry is uttered in response to a
contaminating-like contact.
8. So far, response crying has been largely considered as something available to
someone who is present to others, but not 'with' any of them. If one picks accompanied individuals, not singles, the behavior is still to be found; indeed, response
crying is, if anything, encouraged. So also, response cries are commonly made by
persons in an OPENSTATEOF TALK,persons having the right but not the obligation

to address remarks to the other participants; this is a condition that commonly


prevails among individuals jointly engaged in a common task (or even similarly
engaged in like ones) when this work situates them in immediate reach of one
another. Examples follow.
8.1. THE STRAINGRUNT. Lifting or pushing something heavy, or wielding a

sledgehammer with all our might, we emit a grunt attesting the presumed peak and
consummation of our fully-extended exertion. The sound seems to serve as a
warning that, at the moment, nothing else can claim our concern-and sometimes
as a reminder that others should stand clear. No doubt the cry also serves as a
means by which joint efforts can be temporallycoordinated, as is said to be true of
work songs. Observe that these sounds are felt to be entirely unintended, even
though the glottis must be partially closed off to produce them, and presumably
could be fully opened or closed to avoid doing so. In any case, it could be argued
that the expression of ultimate exertion these sounds provide may be essentially
overstated. I might add that strain grunts are routinely guyed, employed in what is
to be taken as an unserious way-often as a cover for a task that is reckoned as
undemanding but may indeed require some exertion: another case of retransformation. Note too that strain grunts are employed during solitary doings that can

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804

LANGUAGE,

VOLUME 54, NUMBER

4 (1978)

be construed as involving
se and fa
effort. The rrise
nvo v ng a peak
peaking
ng of effort
falling
ng away of effort
contoured in
n sound dramat
dramatizes
zesour
our acts
with
th the
theirr execut
execution.
on
acts, ffilling
ng out the sett
setting
ng w
I suppose the common examp
vocal accompan
sometimes
mes prov
examplee iss the voca
accompaniment
ment we somet
provide
de
ourselves
ourse
ves on pass
stool.
passing
ng a hard stoo
THEPAINCRY
88.2.
2 THEPAIN
Ouch!l44 The funct
thiss exc
exclamation
amat on iss
CRY,Oww! or Ouch!
functioning
on ng of th
rather cclear.
n a dent
ear Ensconced in
dentist's
st s cha
chair,
r we use a pa
pain
n cry as a warn
warning
ng that the
drill has begun to hurt
dr
hurt. When a ffinger
held
d by a nurse
ouch when the
nurse, we ouchwhen
nger iss ffirmly
rm y he
needlee prob
need
ver goes too deep
n these cases can serve as
probing
ng for a ssliver
Plainly,
a n y the cry in
deep. P
a se
nd cator of what iss happen
nst self-regulated
f-regu ated indicator
happening-providing
ng-prov d ng a read
reading
ng for the instiotherwise
se have access to the information
nformat on needed
needed.
gator of the pa
pain,
n who m
might
ght not otherw
The mean
You are just now
then, may not be 'II have been hurt
meaning,
ng then
hurt', but rather
rather, 'You
me.' Th
Thiss mean
so be true of the response
coming
com
ng to hurt me
meaning,
ng incidentally,
nc denta y may aalso
that a dog or cat ggives
ts ta
ves us when we have begun acc
accidentally
denta y to step on its
tail,
seems to come too late.
ate In any case
aalthough
though THAT
case, these are good examp
cry often seemsto
examples
es
of how cclosely
vocalizer
zer can co
collaborate
aborate w
with
th another person in
n the ssituation.
tuat on
ose y a voca
88.3.
3 THESEXUAL
Thiss subvoca
Th
MOAN.
MOAN
subvocal track
mact c
tracking
ng of the course of sexua
sexuallyy cclimactic
available
ab e to both sexes
said
d to be increasingly
fashionable
onab e
experience,
exper
ence a d
sexes, iss sa
display
sp ay ava
ncreas ng y fash
for fema
course, the sound trac
whom, of course
females-among
es-among whom
tracing
ng can be strateg
strategically
ca y
delineate
neate an ideal
dea deve
n the marked absence of anyth
employed
emp
oyed to de
development
opment in
anything
ng
like
ke the rea
reality.
ty
88.4.
4 FLOOR
CUES.A worker in
CUES
n a typ
typing
ng poo
pool makes a m
mistake
stake on a cclean
ean copy and
emits
em
ts an imprecation;
mprecat on; th
thiss leads
eads to
to, and apparent
apparentlyy iss des
designed
gned to lead
ead to
to, a co
col-league's
eague s query as to what went wrong
wrong. A fu
fully-communicated
y-commun cated statement of d
disgust
sgust
and d
displease
sp ease can then be introduced,
ntroduced but now ostens
ostensibly
b y as a rep
replyy to a requestfor
request for
information.
nformat on A husband read
reading
ng the even
evening
ng paper sudden
suddenlyy brays out a laugh
augh or a
Good God!,therebycaus
GoodGod!
thereby causing
ng h
hiss w
wife
fe to or
orient
ent her listening,
sten ng or even to ease the trans
transi-ttion
on into
nto ta
talk
k by ask
asking
ng what itt is.
middle-class
dd e-c ass WIFEm
s (A m
might
ght be less
ess successfu
successful in
n
having
hav
ng her ffloor
oor cues p
picked
cked up
up.)) Want
Wanting
ng to avo
avoid
d be
being
ng thought se
self-centered,
f-centered inntrusive,
trus
ve garru
garrulous,
ous or whatever-and consequent
consequentlyy fee
feeling
ng uneasy about mak
making
ng an
open requestfor
request for a hear
hearing
ng in
n the part
particular
cu arccircumstances-we
rcumstances-we act so as to encourage
our putat
putative
ve listeners
steners to make the initial
n t a move
move, inviting
nv t ng us to let
et them in
n on what we
are experiencing.
areexper
enc ng Interest
Interestingly,
ng y aalthough
though in
n our soc
society
etymarr
married
edcoup
couples
es mayrout
may routinely
ne y
breach many of the standard ssituational
tuat ona propr
proprieties
et es when aalone
one together-th
together-thiss
marking
mark
ngthe
the gradua
gradual extens
extension
on of symmetr
symmetrical
ca rritual
tua license
cense between them-the ru
rulee
against
aga
nstpers
persisting
st ngin
n pub
publicc se
self-talk
f-ta kmay
may be reta
retained,
ned w
with
th the incidental
nc denta consequence
that the coup
couplee can cont
continue
nue to use response cry
crying
ng as a ffloor
oor cue
cue.
88.5.
5 AUDIBLE
GLEE.
G
LEEA lower
ower m
middle-class
dd e-c assado
adolescent
escent ggirl,
r ssitting
tt ng w
with
th four fr
friends
ends
at a tab
tablee in
n a crowded creper
creperie,
e iss brought her order
order, a large
arge crepe covered w
with
th
ice
ce cream and nuts
nuts. As the d
dish
sh iss set before her
her, she iss transf
transfixed
xedfor
for a moment
moment,
14 So
Solitarily
ar yexper
experiencing
enc ngaa bou
bout oof intense
n ensepa
pain,
n we some
sometimes
mes follow
o ow itss course w
with
h a ha
halfmoaned, ha
moaned
half-grunted
grun edsound
sound-tracing,
rac ng as though
houghcas
casting
ng the
experience
encein
he exper
n a sor
sort oof d
dialogic
a og c form
orm
were a way too ge
werea
get through
hroughthe
he momen
moment and too ma
maintain
n a nmora
morale.
e We some
sometimes
mesaalso
so emp
employ
oysuch
such
sound-tracings
sound
rac ngswhen
when w
witnesses
nessesare
perceivedly
ved ypresen
are perce
present, produc
producing
ng in
n these
hese ccircumstances
rcums ancesaa rea
real
scene-stopper-implying
scene
s opper mp y ng that
ha our curren
current, inner,
acutely-painful
e y pa n u sstate
nner acu
a e iss the
he bus
business
ness everyone
should
shou
d be hang
hanging
ng on
on.

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805

and wonder and pleasure escape with an Oooooo! In a casino, an elderly woman
playing the slots alongside a friend hits a twenty-dollarpay-off, and above the sound
of silver dropping in her tray peeps out a Wheee!Tarzan, besting a lion, roars out
a Hollywood version of the human version of a lay version of a mammalian triumph
call.
9. It is important, I believe, to examine the functioning of response cries when
the crier is a ratifiedparticipant of on-going talk-being a participant of a conversational social encounter, as opposed to a task-structured one. While walking along
talking to a friend, we can, tripping, unceremoniously interrupt our words to utter
Oops!, even as the hand of our friend comes out to support us; as soon as this little
flurry has passed, we revert back to our talk. All that this reveals, of course, is that
when we are present to others as a fellow conversationalist, we are also present to
them-as well as to all others in the situation-as fellow members of the gathering.
The conversational role (short of what the phone allows) can never be the only
accessible one in which we are active.
So response cries can function in work encounters, and can obtrude into conversational ones. Now we move on to a closer issue. If these responses are to be seen
as ritualized expressions-and some as standardized vocal comments on circumstances that are not, or are no longer, beyond our emotional and physical controlthen there is reason to expect that such cries will be used at still-further remove,
namely in response to a VERBALLYPRESENTEDreview of something settled long ago,
at a place quite removed. A broker tells a client over the phone that his stock has
dropped; the client, well socialized in this sort of thing, says Yipe! orEek! (Jack
Benny made a specialty of this response cry.) A plumber tells us what our bill will be,
and we say Ouch! Indeed, response cries are often employed thrice-removed from
the crisis to which they are supposed to be a blurted response: a friend tells us about
something startling and costly that happened to him, and at the point of disclosure
we utter a response cry-on his behalf, as it were, out of sympathetic identification
and as a sign that we are fully following his exposition. In fact, we may offer a
response cry when he recounts something that happened to someone ELSE. In these
cases, we are certainly far removed from the exigent event being replayed, and just
as far removed from its consequences, including any question of having to take
immediate rescuing action. Interestingly, there are some cries which seem to occur
more commonly in our response to another's fate as it is recounted to us (good or
bad), than they do in our response to our own. Oh, wow! is an example.
We can play all these response games because our choice of vocalization allows
the recipient, or rather hearer, to treat the sound as something to which a specific
spoken reply is not required. To the plumber, we are precisely NOT saying: 'Does
the bill have to be that high?'-such a statement would require a reply, to the
possible embarrassment of all.
Having started with response cries in the street, our topic has moved into the
shelter of conversations. But it should not be assumed from this that the behaviors
in question-response cries-have somehow been transmuted into full-fledged
creatures of discourse. That is not the way they function. These cries are conventionalized utterances which are specialized for an informative role; but in the

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806

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

statements. Obv
nformat on
Obviously,
ous y information
linguistic
ngu st c and propos
propositional
t ona sense
sense, they are not statements
cries
es in
n the presence of others
iss prov
others, whether or not
provided
ded when we utter response cr
talk
k at the ttime.
me That iss about the on
we are in
n a state of ta
n
onlyy reason we utter them in
the ffirst
understandhow these
rstp
place,
ace and the reason they are worth study
studying.
ng But to understandhow
sounds funct
function
on in
n soc
social
a ssituations,
rst undertuat ons part
talk,
k one must ffirst
particularly
cu ar ydur
during
ng ta
which
ch they are des
stand the source of the prototypes of wh
designed
gned to be recogn
recognizable
zab e
nd v dua s show of 'natural
versions.
vers
ons What comes to be made of a part
natura
particular
cu ar individual's
occasion
on iss a cons
emotional
emot
ona express
expression'
on on any occas
considerably
derab y awesome th
thing,
ng not
existence
stence anywhere of natura
natural emot
emotional
ona express
dependent on the ex
expressions.
ons But whatts maker and its
ever iss made of such an act by its
ts w
witnesses
tnesses iss d
different
fferentfrom
from what iss
made of open
communication.
cat on
openly-designed
y-des gned and open
openly-directed
y-d rected commun
thiss paper itt was argued that extended se
10. At the beg
10
dissself-talk,
f-ta k iff d
beginning
nn ng of th
it
t
reflects
ref
ects
the
talker.
ta
ker
Then
was
on
observed
that
elements
e
ements
in
n
the
covered,
covered
badlyy
bad
ssituation
tuat on can cons
ourselves
vespub
considerably
derab ym
mitigate
t gate the impropriety
mpropr etyof ta
talking
k ng to ourse
publiclyc yand that
n any case
selffthat, in
case, we are prepared to breach the injunction
njunct on aga
against
nst pub
publicc se
talk
ta
k when
n effect
sustain
n th
thiss part
would
wou
d
even
harder
harderon
on
our
when, in
effect, to susta
particular
cu arpropr
propriety
ety
go
could
d be taken w
with
th respect to interjected
reputations.
reputat
ons Much the same pos
position
t on cou
nterjected
hitch
tch in
n the we
ow
cases, one can po
imprecations.
mprecat ons In both cases
point
nt to some h
well-managed
-managed fflow
of contro
controlled
ed events
of
an
self-directed
se
f-d
rected
events, and the qu
quick
ck app
application
cat on
ostensibly
ostens
by
pronouncement to estab
establish
sh ev
evidence-a
dence-a veneer-of contro
control, po
poise,
se and competency
competency.
Although
A
though response cr
cries
es do not
not, on the surface
surface, involve
nvo ve words uttered even to
oneself-being
onese
f-be ng IN PROTOTYPEmere
merelyy a matter of non-symbo
non-symbolicc emot
emotional
ona expresssion-they
on-they apparent
apparentlyycome
come to funct
function
on as means of str
striking
k ngaa se
self-defensible
f-defens b eposture
posture
in
n the face of extraord
extraordinary
naryevents
events, much as does exposed se
self-talk.
f-ta k However
However, one
routine
rout
ne source of troub
troublee in
n the management of the wor
world
d is,
nterest ng yenough
s interestingly
enough,
the management of ta
talk
k itself.
tse f So aga
again
n we have response cr
cries,
es but th
thiss ttime
me ones
that are constant
constantlyy uttered
uttered.
First,
F
rst there iss the we
well-known
-known ffilled
ed pause (usua
(usuallyy wr
written
tten ah or uh or urn)
employed
emp
oyed by speakers when they have lost
ost the
theirr p
places,
aces can
can'tt ffind
nd a word
word, are
momentarilyy d
momentar
distracted,
stracted or otherw
otherwise
seffind
nd they are depart
departing
ngfrom
from ffluently-sustained
uent y-susta ned
speech. Response CRIESseemsan
speech
seems an awkwardtermfor
awkwardterm for suchunb
such unblurted
urtedsubvoca
subvocalizations;
zat ons;
but they do
do, I th
think,
nk funct
function
on like
ke response cr
cries,
es iff on
onlyy in
n that they fac
facilitate
tate
tracking.
track
ng In effect
effect, speakersmake
speakers make itt ev
evident
dent that
though they do not now have the
that, aalthough
word or phrasethey
phrase they want
v ng the
theirr attent
attention
on to the matterand
matter and have not
want, they are ggiving
cut themse
adrift
ft from the effortat
effort at hand
hand. A word search
search, invisible
nv s b eand
and inaudible
themselves
ves adr
naud b e
in
n itself,
tse f iss thus vo
voluntarily
untar yaccompan
accompanied
ed by a sound shadow-a sound
sound, incidentally,
nc denta y
that cou
could
d eas
easily
y be w
withheld
thhe d mere
merelyy by otherw
otherwise
se manag
managing
ng the larynx-all
arynx-a to the
end of assur
assuring
ng that someth
something
ng worse than a temporary loss
oss of words has not
happened, and incidentally
happened
nc denta yho
holding
d ng the speaker
speaker'sscclaim
a m to the ffloor.15
oor 15(Interest
(Interestingly,
ng y
broadcasting,
ng where vvisual
in
n rad
radioo broadcast
sua fac
facial
a ssigns
gns of a word search can
can'tt be effect
effective,
ve
15 A case can be made that,
ha in
n some Eng
English-speaking
sh speak ng ccircles,
he familiar
am ar hes
hesitation
a on markers
rc es the
are sys
systematically
ema ca y emp
employed
oyed in
gh y d
n sslightly
different
eren ways
ways. For examp
example,
e uh m
might
gh be heard when the
he
speaker had forgotten
orgo en a proper name
name; oh m
might
gh occur when he knew a ser
series
es oof facts,
ac s bu
but was
trying
ry ng too dec
decide
de wh
which
ch oof them
hem cou
could
d be appropr
appropriately
a e y ccited
ed or bes
best descr
described
bed for
or the
he hearers
hearers.
The un
unfilled
ed or ssilent
en pause par
participates
c pa es in
n this
h s spec
specialization-giving
a za on g v ng
one reason
reason, aalas,
as too think
h nk
oof it as a response cry
cry, too.
oo Here see the
he use
useful
u paper oof James 1972
1972.

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807

the filling of pauses by a search sound or a prolongation of a vowel has much to


recommend it: speakers are under obligation to confirm that nothing has gone
wrong with the studio's equipment, as well as their own-the floor in this case being
a radio station. If only inexperienced broadcastersfrequently employ filled pauses,
it is because professionals can manage speech flow, especially reading aloud, without
the hitches in encoding which, were they to occur, would equally give professionals
reasons to ritualize evidence of what was occurring.)
In addition to the filled-pause phenomenon, consider the very standard form of
self-correctionwhich involves the breaking-offof a word or phrase that is apparently
not the one we wanted, and our hammering home of a corrected version with
increased loudness and tempo, as if to catch the error before it hit the ground and
shattered the desired meaning. Here the effect is to show that we are very much alive
to the way our words should have come out; we are somewhat shocked and surprised at our failure properly to encode an appropriate formulation the first time
round, and the rapidity and force of the correct version seem to suggest how much
on our toes we really are. We display our concern and the mobilization of our effort
at the expense of smooth speech-production-electing to save a little of our reputation for presence of mind, over and against that for fluency. Again, as with filled
pauses, one has what is ostensibly a bit of pure expression, i.e. a transmission
providing direct evidence (not relayed through semantic reference) of the state of
the transmitter,but now an expression that has been cut and polished into a standard
shape to serve the reputational contingencies of its emitter.
11. Earlier it was suggested that imprecations were somewhat like truncated,
self-addressed statements, but not wholly so. Later these lexicalized exclamations
were shown to function not unlike response cries. Now we must try to decide where
they belong.
Suppose that someone brings you the news that he has failed in a task you have
seriously set him. Your response to the news can be: I knew it! Did you have to?
In the styling I have in mind, this turn at talk contains two moves and a change of
'footing': the first move (uttered half under the breath with the eyes turned upward)
is a bit of self-talk, or something presented in that guise-the sort of open aside
which adults are especially prone to employ in exasperated response to children,
servants, foreigners, and other grades who easily qualify for moments of non-person
treatment. The second move (Did you have to?) is conventionally directed communication. Observe that such a turn at talk will oblige its recipient to offer an
apology or a counter-account, locking the participants into an interchange. But
although the recipient of the initial two-move turn will be understood to have overheard the self-addressedsegment, he will have neither the right nor the obligation to
reply to it specifically, at least in the sense that he does in regardto the conventionally
communicated second portion.
Now shift from extended self-talk to the truncated form-imprecation: Shit! Did
you have to? Given the same histrionics, one again has a two-move turn, with a first
move that can't be answered in a conventional way. If the respondent does address
the remark to this blurted-out portion, it will be to the psychic state presumably
indexed by it-much as when we comfort people who have burst into tears, or when

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808

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

we upbraid them for loss of self-control. Or the respondent may have to venture a
frame ploy, attempting to counter a move by forcing its maker to change the
interpretive conventions that apply to it-as in the snappy comeback Not here,
injected immediately after the expletive. In all this, and in the fact that standard
lexicalizations are employed, I knew it! and Shit! are similar. However, although
I knew it! follows grammaticalconstraints for well-formed sentences, Shit! need not,
even if one appeals to the context in order to see how it might be expanded into a
statement. Shit! need no more elide a sentence than need a laugh, groan, sob,
snicker, or giggle-all vocalizations that occur frequently, except in the utterances
ordinarily presented for analysis by linguists. Nor, I think, does it help understanding very much to define Shit! as a well-formed sentence with NP! as its
structure. Here, of course, imprecations are exactly like response cries. For it is the
essence of response cries that they be presented as if mere expression-and not
recipient-directed, proposition-like statements-were involved, at least on the face
of it.
Imprecations, then, might best be considered not as a form of self-talk at all, but
rather as a type of response cry. Unlexicalized cries have come to be somewhat
conventionalized, and imprecations have merely extended the tendency, further
ritualizing ritualizations. Since religious life already sets aside a class of words to
be treated with reserve and ranked with respect to severity, response crying has
borrowed them-or so it would seem.
Insofar as self-talk is structurally different from the normal kind, imprecatory
utterances (like other response cries) are too, only more so. And because of this
sharp, underlyingdifferencebetween conventionally directed statementsand imprecatory interjections, the two can be given radically different roles in the functioning
of particular interaction systems; they serve close together, in complementary
distribution and without confusion.
Consider tennis: during the open state of talk sustained in such a game, a player
who misses an 'easy' shot can response-cry an imprecation loudly enough for
opponents and partner to hear. On the other hand, a player making a 'good' shot
is not likely to be surprisedif an opponent offers a complimentary statement about
him to him. (As these two forms of social control help frame his own play, so he
will participate in the two forms that frame his opponents'.) But, of course, good
taste forbids a player to address opponents in praise of his own efforts-just as they
must allow him elbow room, and not reply directly to his cries of self-disgust. A
player may, however, use directed, full-fledgedstatements to convey self-castigation
and (when directed to his partner) apology. Response cries and directed statements
here comprise a closely-working pair of practices, part of the ritual resources of a
single interaction system. And their workings can be intermingled because of their
structural difference,not in spite of it. Given this arrangement,it is understandable
that a player will feel rather free to make a pass at ironically praising himself in
statements made to opponents or partner, correctly sensing that his words could
hardly be misframedas literal ones. (That he might employ this devicejust to induce
others to communicate a mitigated view of his failure merely attests again to the
various conveniences that can be made of forms of interaction.)
Just as response cries can form a complementary resource with conventionally

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RESPONSE CRIES

809

d rected statements
directed
n cas
with
th se
self-directed
f-d rected ones
ones. For examp
casino
no
statements, so they can w
example,
e in
with
th se
come out
selffcraps, a shooter has a rright
craps
roll, espec
out', w
especially
a y a 'come
ght to preface a ro
traditional
t ona k
kind-directed
nd-d rected to the fates
dice,
ce or
encouraging
encourag
ng statements of a trad
fates, the d
some other etherea
ethereal rec
thiss grandstand
call th
thiss
recipient;
p ent; th
grandstanding
ng (as d
dignified
gn f ed gamb
gamblers
ers ca
sometimes
mes servesto
serves to br
nto a cadence and peak
self-talk)
se
f-ta k) somet
bring
ng the other p
players
ayers into
peaking
ng of
attention.
attent
on When
owed a we
well-fleshed
-f eshed
When, short
out', he iss aallowed
shortly,
y the shooter 'craps
craps out
coincidental
nc denta w
with
th the d
dissolution
sso ut on of the tab
table's
e s coord
coordinated
nated involvenvo veimprecation,
mprecat on co
ment. So aga
ment
nd comp
division
v s on of labor,
with
th se
self-talk
f-ta k
abor w
again
n we ffind
complementarity
ementar ty and a d
located
ocated where co
collective
ect ve hope iss to be bu
builtt up
mprecatoryresponse
up, and imprecatory
response cry where
itt iss to be abandoned
abandoned.
12.1.
12
1 DISCUSSION
DISCUSSION.
Written
W
r tten vers
cries
es seem to have a speechversions
ons of response cr
actual response cr
cries-so
es-so that
effect, conso
contam nat ng effect
contaminating
that,
consolidating
dat ng and cod
codifying
fy ng actua
in
n many cases
mimic
m c art
n Ugh!
cases, rea
artifice,
f ce as in
reality
ty beg
begins
ns to m
Ugh!, Pant pant
pant, Gu
Gulp,
p and
Tsk tsk; th
thiss route to rritualization
tua zat on iss presumab
unavailable
ab e to non-human
presumablyy unava
animals.16
an
ma s 16Th
Thiss easy change iss on
themselves
ves are by
cries
es themse
onlyy to be expected: response cr
unserious
ous (or less
ess than
tua zat ons aalready
being
ng second-order rritualizations,
way of be
ready part of an unser
domain.
n
serious)
ser
ous) doma
Here cartoons and com
comics
cs are to be taken ser
seriously.
ous y These pr
printed
ntedp
pictures
ctures must
entire
re scenar
scenarios
os through a sma
small number of 'panels'
present ent
pane s or frozen moments
moments,
sometimes
somet
mes on
cartoonist
st has great need
one. The cartoon
will
need, then
then, for express
onlyy one
expressions
ons that w
cclearly
ear y document the presumed inner
nner state of h
hiss ffigures,
gures and cclearly
ear y d
display
sp ay the
point
po
nt of the act
action.
on Thus
Thus, iff individuals
nd v dua s in
n rea
real life
fe need response cr
cries
es to cclarify
ar fy the
drama of the
theirr ccircumstances,
rcumstances cartoon ffigures
gures need them even more
more. So we obta
obtain
n
written
wr
tten vers
versions
ons of someth
something
ng that cou
could
d be thought or
originally
g na y to have no set
set,
written
wr
ttenform
form. Moreover
Moreover, cartoon ffigures
guresportrayedas
portrayedas aalone
one must be portrayedact
portrayedacting
ng
in
n such a way as to make the
rcumstancesand
theirr ccircumstances
and inner
nner states ava
available
ab eto
to the vviewer
ewer
(much as rea
real persons do when in
n the presence of others)
others), and included
nc uded in
n th
thiss
ssituational-like
tuat ona - ke behav
behavior
or are response cr
cries.
es (So aalso
so in
n the case of mov
movies
es show
showing
ng
persons ostens
ostensibly
b y aalone.)
one ) In consequence
consequence, the pract
practice
ce of em
emitting
tt ng response cr
cries
es
when aalone
one iss tac
tacitly
t y assumed to be norma
normal, presumab
presumablyy w
with
th at least
east some contaminating
tam
nat ng effect upon actua
actual behav
behavior
or when aalone.
one
12.2.
12
2 A po
point
nt m
might
ght be made about the utterances used in
n response cr
cries.
es As
suggested, they seem to be drawn from two sources: taboo but fu
suggested
full-fledged
-f edged words
((involving
nvo v ng b
blasphemy
asphemy andand-in
n Eng
English-Anglo-Saxon
sh-Ang o-Saxon terms for body funct
functions)
ons)
and from the broad cclass
ass of non-word voca
vocalizations
zat ons (('vocal
voca segregates
segregates', to emp
employ
oy
Trager'ssterm
Trager
term, 1958:1-12)-of wh
which
ch response cr
cries
es are one
one, but on
onlyy one
one, var
variety.
ety
There iss a n
nice
ce d
division
v s on of linguistic
ngu st c labor
abor here
here. Fu
Full-fledged
-f edged words that are
socially
soc
a y acceptab
acceptablee are aallocated
ocated to commun
communication
cat on in
n the open
openlyy d
directed
rected sense
sense,
whilee taboo words and non-words are spec
wh
specialized
a zed for the more rritualized
tua zed k
kind
nd of
16 The carry
carry-back
back from
rom the
he wr
written
en too the
he spoken form
orm iss espec
especially
a y marked in
n the
he ma
matter
er oof
punctuation
punc
ua on marks
marks, for
or here wr
writing
ng has some
something
h ng that
ha speak
speaking
ng hasn
hasn't. Common
Commonlyy used
lexicalizations
ex ca za ons are
underline,
ne footnote,
are: under
period,
od ques
question
on mark
mark, quo
quotes,
es and paren
parenthetically.
he ca y Wr
oo no e per
Written
en
abbreviations
abbrev
a ons (such
such as Br
British
sh p for
or pence
pence) aalso
so en
enter
er the
he spoken doma
domain.
n Moreover
Moreover, there
here iss a
carry-back
carry
back too the
he spoken form
orm oof the
pictorial-orthographic
c or a or hograph c form
he p
orm oof the
he presumed approx
approximated
ma ed
sound-effects
sound
e ec s oof an ac
action:
on Pow
Pow!, Barn
examples.
es
Barn! are examp

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810

LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

communication.
commun
cat on In br
character of the word bearsthe
bears the mark of the use that iss
brief,
ef the characterof
destined
dest
ned for it;
distribution
str but on on a grand sca
t; and we have a case of comp
scale.
e
complementary
ementary d
Non-words as a cclass
ass are not product
n the linguistic
theirr ro
rolee as
sense, the
productive
ve in
ngu st c sense
evolved
ved for them
them. (Th
interjections
nterject ons be
being
ng one of the few that has evo
(Thiss iss not to say that
a part
vocal segregate can
can'tt have a very lively
particular
cu ar voca
from
career, qu
ve y career
quickly
ck y spread
spreading
ngfrom
one segment of a language
anguage commun
community
ty to others; the response cry Wow!iss a recent
n the
example.)
examp
e ) Many taboo words
however, are qu
quite
te product
especially
a y in
words, however
productive,
ve espec
tradition
trad
t on ma
maintained
nta ned in
n certa
certain
n subcu
subcultures,
tures where some of these words occur ((iff not
n aalmost
most every syntact
Furthermore,curse words are drawn
function)
funct
on) in
syntacticc pos
position.'7
t on 7 Furthermore
from fam
familiar
ar sca
scales
es of such words
will sharp
choice
ce w
reflect
ect ((in
n the sense of
words, and cho
sharplyy ref
display,
d
sp ay negot
negotiate
ate etc
etc.)) the terms of the re
relationship
at onsh p between speaker and hearer;
non-words don
don'tt funct
function
on very effect
n th
thiss way
effectively
ve y in
way.
Note that non-words can
can'tt qu
called
ed part of a language.
quite
te be ca
anguage For examp
example,
e there
tends to be no canon
canonical
ca 'correct'
correct spe
convention
on does beg
spelling.
ng When and where convent
begin
n
to estab
establish
sh heav
continue
nue to be
heavilyy a part
particular
cu ar form and spe
spelling,
ng the term can cont
ts users
written
tten vers
version
on must cont
continue
nue to
thought of as not a word by its
users, as iff any wr
that
a
at
at
is
s
work.
work
effort
convey
rough-and-ready
rough-and-readyeffort
transcription
transcr
pt on
(I take itt here that
that,
in
n our soc
think
nk of as regu
feel the
regular
ar words iss that we fee
society,
ety a feature of what we th
written
wr
tten form iss as 'real'
version
on as the spoken
rea a vers
Further, aalthough
spoken.)) Further
though we have
efficient
eff
c ent means of report
another's
another
s
use
an
of
reporting
ng
expletive
exp
et ve (e
(either
ther literally
tera y or by
established
estab
shed paraphrast
paraphrasticc form)
form), th
thiss iss not the case w
with
th non-words
non-words. So
So, too
too, the
voiced
vo
ced and orthograph
orthographicc rea
realizations
zat ons of some of these construct
constructions
ons involve
nvo ve consonant cclusters
usters that are phonotact
phonotactically
ca y irregular;
rregu ar;furthermore
furthermore,the
theirr utterance can
aallow
ow the speaker to chase after the course of an act
action
on ana
analogically
og ca y w
with
th stretches
stretches,
gglides,
des turns
turns, and he
heights
ghts of p
pitch
tch fore
foreign
gn to h
hiss ord
ordinary
nary speech
speech. Yet the sound
that covers any part
particular
cu ar non-word can stand by itself,
tse f iss standard
standardized
zed w
within
th n a
ggiven
ven language
anguage commun
varies
es from one language
anguage commun
community
ty to another
community,
ty and var
another,
in
n each case like
ke fu
full-fledged
-f edgedwords
words.'88 And the non-words of a part
particular
cu ar language
anguage
complyy w
comp
with
th and introduce
ntroduce certa
certain
n of the same phonotact
phonotacticc constra
constraints
nts as do
its
ts regu
regular
ar words (Jefferson 1974:183-6)
1974:183-6). Interest
evidence
dence
Interestingly,
ng y there iss some ev
that what one language
anguage commun
community
ty hand
handles
es w
with
th a non-word
non-word, other language
anguage
communities
commun
t es do too
too.
On the who
whole,
e then
then, non-word voca
vocalizations
zat ons m
might
ght best be thought of as sem
semi-words. Observe that the character
words
characterization
zat onprov
provided
ded here (and by linguists)
ngu sts) of these
half-caste
ha
f-caste express
expressions
ons takes no note that some (such as Uh?
Uh? and Shh!) are cclearly
ear y
part of d
directed
rected speech
speech, and are often interchangeable
nterchangeab e w
with
th a we
well-formed
-formed word
(here What? and Hush!); but others (such as the uh as ffilled
ed pause) be
belong
ong to a
radically
rad
ca y d
different
fferent spec
species
es of act
action-viz.,
on-v z
putatively
putat
ve y pure express
expression,
on response
17 Adm
Admittedly,
ed y even in
n these
hese produc
productive
ve cases
cases, taboo
aboo words are no
not en
entirely
re y vu
vulnerable
nerab e too
syntactic
syn
ac c ana
analysis.
ys s Say
Saying
ng that
ha the
he fuck
uck in
n a sen
sentence
ence like
ke Wha
What the
he fuck
uck are you do
doing
ng ? iss ad
adjecec
tival
va in
n function,
unc on or that
ha b
bloody
oody in
n Wha
What are you b
bloody
oody we
well do
doing?
ng? iss an adverb
adverb, m
misses
sses some
something
h ng oof the
he po
point.
n Here spec
specificc syn
syntactic
ac c location
oca on seems too be made into
n o a conven
convenience;
ence
somehow the
he intensifying
n ens y ng word iss mean
meant too co
color
or un
uniformly
orm y the
he who
wholee oof the
he u
utterance
erance in
n wh
which
ch
it occurs (cf.
1971).
c Quang Phuc Dong 1971
18 Qu
Quine
ne (1959:6)
1959 6 has an examp
example:
e '"'Ouch"
" Ouch" iss no
not independent
ndependen oof soc
social
a training.
ra n ng One need
onlyy too pr
on
prick
ck a foreigner
ore gner too apprec
appreciate
a e that
ha it iss an Eng
English
sh word
word.'

Th

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crying. (Imprecations and some other well-formed interjections provide an even


more extreme case, for exactly the same such word may sometimes serve as an
ostensibly undirected cry, but at other times be integrated directly into a recipientdirected sentence under a single intonation contour.) Here again, one can see a
surface similarity covering a deep underlying difference,but not the kind ordinarily
addressed by transformationalists.
Apart from qualifying as semi-words, response cries can be identified in another
way, namely as articulated free-standing examples of the large class of presumed
'natural expressions' or signs meant to be taken to index directly the state of the
transmitter-some of which, like voice qualifiers, can paralinguisticallyride roughshod across natural syntactic units of speech. Although gender differences in the
basic semantic features of speech seem not very marked in our society, response
cries and other paralinguistic features of communication are. Indeed, speech AS A
WHOLE might not be a useful base to employ in considering gender differences, since
it cancels sharp contrasts revealable in special components of discourse.
12.3. Earlier, I suggested that a response cry can draw on the cooperation of
listeners-requiring that they hear and understand the cry, but act as though it had
not been uttered in their hearing. It is in this way that such a form of behavior,
ostensibly not designed for directed linguistic communication at all, can be injected
into public life-in certain cases, even into conversations and broadcasts. In brief,
a form of response perceived as native to one set of circumstancesis set into another.
In the case of blasphemous cries, what is inserted is already something that has been
borrowed from another realm, semantic communication; so the behavior can be
said to have been returned to its natural place, but now so much transformed as to
be little like a native.
This structural reflexivity is, I believe, a fundamental fact of our communicative
life. What is ritualized here, in the last analysis, is not an expression, but a self-other
alignment-an interactional arrangement. Nor, as earlier suggested, is that the
bottom of embedding. For example, when a speaker finds he has skated rather close
to the edge of discretion or tact, he may give belated recognition to where his words
have gone-marking a halt by utteringa plaintive Oops!,meant to evoke the image of
someone who has need of this particular response cry, the whole enactment having
an unserious, openly theatrical character.Similarly,in the face of another's reminder
that we have failed in fulfilling some obligation, we can utter Darn it in an openly
false manner-as a taunting, even insolent, denial of the imprecation we might
normally be expected to employ. In brief, what is placed into the directed discourse
in such cases is not a response cry, but a mocked-up individual uttering a mocked-up
response cry. (All of this is especially evident when the cry itself is a spoken version
of the written version of the cry, as when a listenerresponds to the telling of another's
near-disaster by ungulpingly uttering the word Gulp.) So, too, the filled pause uh,
presumably a self-expression designed to allow hearers to track speaker's engagement in relevant (albeit silent) production work, can apparently be employed with
malice aforethought to show that the word that does follow (and is ostensibly the
one wanted all along) is to be heard as one which the speaker might not naturally
use (Jefferson, 192-4). In this case a 'correction format' has been used as a

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LANGUAGE, VOLUME 54, NUMBER 4 (1978)

convenience, its work set into an environment for which it was not originally
designed. Similarly, on discovering that he has said April the 21st instead of May
the 21st, an announcer may (as one type of remedial work) repeat the error immediately, this time with a quizzical, speaking-to-oneself tone of voice, as though this
sort of error were enough of a rarityto cause him to break frame; but this response
itself he may try to guy, satirizing self-talk (and self-talkers) even as he engages in
it, the transformation confirmed by the little laugh he gives thereafter, to mark
the end to error-making AND playful correction.
The moral is that what is sometimes put into a sentence may first have to be
analysed as something that could not occur naturally in such a setting, just as a
solitary's self-comments may first have to be analysed as something found exclusively in social intercourse. And the transformationswhich these alien bits of speech
undergo, when set into their new milieu, speak as much to the competence of
ethologists as grammarians.
A turn at talk that contains a directed statement ANDa segment of self-talk (or an
imprecation or a non-lexicalized response cry) does not merely involve two different
moves, but MOVESOF TWO DIFFERENTORDERS.This is very clear, e.g., when someone

in or out of a conversation finds cause to blurt out Shit!-and then, in apparent


embarrassment,quickly adds Excuse me, sometimes specificallydirectingthe apology
to the person most likely to have been offended. Here, patently, the first move is an
exposed response cry; the second is a directed message whose implied referent
happens to be the first. The two moves fit together nicely-indeed, some speakers
essay an imprecation knowing that they will have a directed apology to compensate
for it; but this fit pertains to how the two moves function as an action-response pair,
self-contained within a single turn at talk, and not to any ultimate commonality of
form. So, too, when an announcer coughs ratherloudly, says Excuse me with greater
urgency of tone than he likes, and then follows with a well-designed giggle: here we
have a three-move sequence of sounded interference, directed statement, and
response cry-the second move a comment on the first, and the third move a
comment on the second move's comment. Any effort to analyse such strips of talk
linguistically by trying to uncover a single deep structure that accounts for the
surface sequence of words is destined to obscure the very archeological issues which
the generative approach was designed to develop. A blender makes a mush of apples
and oranges; a student shouldn't.
A student shouldn't, even when there is no obvious segmentation to help with the
sorting. For now it is to be admitted that through the WAY we say something that is
part of our avowedly directed discourse we can speak-ostensibly at least-for our
own benefit at the same time, displaying our self-directed (and/or non-directed)
response to what is occurring. We thereby simultaneously cast an officially-intended
recipient of our proposition-like avowals as an overhearerof our self-talk. The issue
is not merely that of the difference between what is said and what is meant-i.e. the
issue of implicature; rather, the issue is that one stream of information is conveyed
as avowedly-intended verbal communication, while the other is simultaneously
conveyed through a structural ruse, i.e. our allowing witnesses a glimpse into the
dealings we are having with ourselves. It is in this way that one can account for the
apparently anomalous character of imprecations of the Fuck you! form. It might

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813

appear as if one person were making a directed verbal avowal to another by means
of an imperative statement with deleted subject. But in fact the format is restricted
to a relatively small list of expletives, such as screw; and none qualify as ordinary
verbs, being constrained in regard to embedded and conjoined forms in ways that
standard verbs in the elided imperative form are not (cf. Quang Phuc Dong).
Nor is this analysis of the unconversational aspects of certain conversational
utterances meant to deny the traditional concept of transformation and embedding;
rather, the power of the latter is displayed. Waiting with her husband and a friend
for the casino cashier to count down her bucket of silver, a happy player says,
And when I saw the third 7 come up and stop, I just let out 'Eeeee'. Here, through
direct quotation, a speaker brings to well-circumscribedthree-persontalk what was,
a few minutes before, the broadly accessible eruption of a single. This shows clearly
that what starts out as a response cry (or, for that matter, as any sounded
occurrence-human, animal, or inanimate) can be conversationally replayed-can
be reset into ordinary discourse through the unlimited power of sound mimicry.
The public utterance of self-talk, imprecations, and response
13. CONCLUSION.
cries constitutes a special variety of impulsive, blurted actions-namely, vocalized
ones. Our tacit theory of human nature recommends that these actions are 'purely
expressive', 'primitive', or 'unsocialized', violating in some way the self-control
and self-possession we are expected to maintain in the presence of others, providing
witnesses with a momentary glimpse behind our masks.
However, the point about these blurtings is not that they are particularly
'expressive'. Obviously, in this sense of that word, ordinary talk is necessarily
expressive, too. Naked feelings can agitate a paragraph of discourse almost as well
as they can a solitary imprecation. Indeed, it is impossible to utter a sentence
without coloring the utterance with some kind of perceivable affect-even if (in
special cases) only with the emotionally distinctive aura of affectlessness. Nor is
the point about segmented blurtings that they are particularly unsocialized, for
obviously they come to us as our language does, not from our own invention.
Their point lies elsewhere. One must look to the light these ventings provide, not
to the heat they dispel.
In every society, one can contrast occasions and moments for silence with
occasions and moments for talk. In our own, one can go on to say that by and large
(and especially among the unacquainted) silence is the norm, and talk something
for which warrant must be present. Silence, after all, is very often the deference we
owe in a social situation to others present. In holding our tongue, we give evidence
that such thought as we are giving to our own concerns is not presumed by us to
be of any moment to the others present, and that the feelings which these concerns
invoke in ourselves are owed no sympathy. Without such enjoined modesty, there
could be no public life, but only a babble of childish adults pulling at one another's
sleeves for attention. The mother to whom we would be saying Look, no handscould
not look or reply, for she would be saying Look, no hands to someone else.
Talk, however, presumes that our thoughts and concerns will have some relevance,
interest, or weight for others; and in this we can hardly avoid presuming a little.
Talk, of course, in binding others to us, can also do so for protracted periods of

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LANGUAGE,VOLUME54, NUMBER4 (1978)

time. The compensation is that we can sharplyrestrictthis demand to a small portion


of those present-indeed, often to only one.
The fugitive communications I have been considering constitute a third possibility-minor, no doubt, but of some significanceif only because of what they tell us
about silence and talk. Our blurtings make a claim of sorts upon the attention of
everyone in the social situation-a claim that our inner concerns should be theirs,
too; but unlike the claim made by talk, ours here is only for a limited period of
attention. Simply put, this invitation into our interiors tends to be made only when
it will be easy for other persons present to see where the voyage takes them. What is
precipitous about these expressions, then, is not the way they are emitted, but the
circumstances which render their occurrence acceptable. The invitation we are free
to extend in these situations we would be insane to extend in others.
Just as most public arrangements oblige and induce us to be silent, and many
other arrangementsto talk, so a third set allows and obliges us momentarily to open
up our thoughts and feelings and ourselves, through sound, to whoever is present.
Response cries, then, do not mark a flooding of emotion outward, but a flooding of
relevance in.
There is linguistic point to the consideration of this genre of behavior. Response
cries such asEek! might be seen as peripheralto the linguist's domain; but imprecations and self-talk are more germane, passing beyond semi-word vocal segregatesto
the traditional materials of linguistic analysis. The point is that all three forms of
this blurted vocalization-semi-word response cries, imprecations, and self-talkare creatures of social situations, not states of talk. A closed circle of ratified
participants oriented to engaging exclusively with one another in avowedly-directed
communications is not the base; a gathering, with its variously-oriented, ofttimes
silent and unacquainted members, is. Further, all three varieties of ejaculatory
expression are conventionalized as to form, occasion of occurrence, and social
function. Finally, these utterances are too commonly met with in daily life, surely,
to justify scholarly neglect.
Once we recognize that there is a set of conventionalized expressions that must be
referred to social situations, not conversations-i.e. once we appreciate that there
are communications specifically designed for use outside states of talk-then it is
but a step to seeing that ritualized versions of these expressions may themselves be
embedded in the conventionally-directedtalk to be found in standardconversational
encounters. Appreciating this, we can then go on to see that, even though these
interjections come to be employed in conversational environments, they cannot be
adequately analysed there without reference to their original functioning outside
states of talk.
It is recommended, then, that linguists broaden their net, to bring in uttering that
is not talking, and to deal with social situations-not merely with jointly sustained
talk. Incidentally, linguists might then be better able to countenance inroads that
others can be expected to make into their conventional domain; for I believe that
talk itself is intimately regulated and closely geared to its context through non-vocal
gestures which are very differently distributed than the particular language and
subcodes employed by any set of participants-although just where these boundaries
of gesture-use ARE to be drawn remains an unstudied question.

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