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Studies in Language
and Social Interaction
In Honor of Robert Hopper

LEA’s COMMUNICATION SERIES
Jennings Bryant/Dolf Zillmann, General Editors
Selected titles in Language and Discourse (Donald Ellis, Advisory Editor) include:
Ellis • From Language to Communication, Second Edition
Haslett/Samter • Children Communicating: The First Five Years
Locke • Constructing “The Beginning”: Discourses of Creation Science
Ramanathan • Alzheimer Discourse: Some Sociolinguistic Dimensions
Sigman • Consequentiality of Communication
Tracy • Understanding Face-to-Face Interactions
For a complete list of titles in LEA’s Communication Series, please contact Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Publishers

Studies in Language and Social
Interaction
In Honor of Robert Hopper
Edited by

Phillip J.Glenn
Emerson College
Curtis D.LeBaron
Brigham Young University
Jenny Mandelbaum
Rutgers University

LAWRENCE ERLBAUM ASSOCIATES, PUBLISHERS
Mahwah, New Jersey London

Copyright © 2003 by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Studies in language and social interaction/edited by Phillip J.Glenn, Curtis D.LeBaron,
Jenny S.Mandelbaum.
p. cm.
Festschrift for Robert Hopper.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN 0-8058-3732-9 (alk. paper)
1. Sociolinguistics. 2. Interpersonal communication. 3. Social interaction.
4. Conversation. I. Glenn, Phillip J. II. LeBaron, Curtis D. III. Mandelbaum, Jenny S.
IV. Hopper, Robert.
P40.E93 2001
306.44–dc21
00–054879
ISBN 1-4106-0696-1 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-8058-3732-9 (Print Edition)

Dedication
To Robert Hopper (1945–1998)
Scholar, Teacher, Colleague, Friend

“Descriptions are the gifts observers give:
Refraining patterns message bearers live.”1

1
From poem by Robert Hopper, Observer: Steps to an Ecology of Mind, Communication Theory,
1991, 1, 267–268.

Contents
 

1. An Overview of Language and Social Interaction Research
 Curtis D.LeBaron, Jenny Mandelbaum, and Phillip J.Glenn
 

  1

PART I:  ORIENTING TO THE FIELD OF LANGUAGE AND SOCIAL
INTERACTION

32

 

2. Extending the Domain of Speech Evaluation: Message Judgments
James J.Bradac

 

3. Designing Questions and Setting Agendas in the News Interview
John C.Heritage

 

4. Taken-for-Granteds in (an) Intercultural Communication
Kristine L.Fitch

5. So, What Do You Guys Think?”: Think Talk and Process in Student-Led
 Classroom Discussions
Robert T.Craig and Alena L.Sanusi

 

6. Gesture and the Transparency of Understanding
Curtis D.LeBaron and Timothy Koschmann
 

 

PART II:  TALK IN EVERYDAY LIFE

35
44
77

  87
102
113

 

7. Utterance Restarts in Telephone Conversation: Marking Topic Initiation and
 Reluctance
Charlotte M.Jones

 

8. Recognizing Assessable Names
Charles Goodwin

 

9. Interactional Problems With “Did You” Questions and Responses
Susan D.Corbin

 

116
128
138

10. Managing Optimism
Wayne A.Beach

 

11. Rejecting Illegitimate Understandings
Samuel G.Lawrence

 

12. Interactive Methods for Constructing Relationships
Jenny Mandelbaum

 

13. A Note on Resolving Ambiguity
Gail Jefferson

 

148
165
175
186

viii  Contents
14. The Surfacing of the Suppressed
 Emanuel A.Schegloff

 204

15. Sex, Laughter, and Audiotape: On Invoking Features of Context to Explain
 Laughter in Interaction
Phillip J.Glenn

 

16. Gender Differences in Telephone Conversations
 Hanneke Houtkoop-Steenstra

 234

224

 

PART III:  TALK IN INSTITUTIONAL SETTINGS

246

 

17. Comparative Analysis of Talk-in-Interaction in Different Institutional
 Settings: A Sketch
Paul Drew

 

18. Conversational Socializing on Marine VHP Radio: Adapting Laughter and
 Other Practices to the Technology in Use
Robert E.Sanders

 

19. Law Enforcement and Community Policing: An Intergroup Communication
 Approach
Jennifer L.Molloy and Howard Giles

 

20. Preventatives in Social Interaction
G.H.Morris

 

21. The Interactional Construction of Self-Revelation: Creating an “Aha”
 Moment
E.DuffWrobbel

 

22. “A World in a Grain of Sand”: Therapeutic Discourse as Making Much of
 Little Things
Kurt A.ruder

 

23. Modeling as a Teaching Strategy in Clinical Training: When Does It Work?
Anita Pomerantz

 

249

263

277
288

298

308
324

24. Indeterminacy and Uncertainty in the Delivery of Diagnostic News in Internal
 Medicine: A Single Case Analysis
 
Douglas W.Maynard and Richard M.Frankel
334
25. Body Movement in the Transition From Opening to Task in Doctor-Patient
 Interviews
Daniel P.Modaff
 

 
351

Contents  ix
PART IV:  EMERGING TRAJECTORIES: BODY, MIND, AND SPIRIT

362

 

26. The Body Taken for Granted: Lingering Dualism in Research on Social
Interaction
Jürgen Streeck

 
366

27. Action and the Appearance of Action in the Conduct of Very Young Children  
Gene H.Lerner and Don H.Zimmerman
377
28. Speech Melody and Rhetorical Style: Paul Harvey as Exemplar
John Vincent Modaff

 

29. The Body Present: Reporting Everyday Life Performance
Nathan P.Stucky and Suzanne M.Daughton

 

30. Ethnography as Spiritual Practice: A Change in the Takenf or-Granted (or an
 Epistemological Break with Science)
María Cristina Gonzalez

 

31. The Tao and Narrative
Mary Helen Brown

 

32. Conversational Enslavement in “The Truman Show”
Kent G.Drummond

 

33. On ESP Puns
Emanuel A.Schegloff

 

393
410

422
433
444
452

 

PART V:  ROBERT HOPPER: TEACHER AND SCHOLAR

461

 

 

34. Robert Hopper: An Intellectual History
Jenny Mandelbaum

 
462

35. The Scientist as Humanist: Moral Values in the Opus of Robert Hopper
Sandra L.Ragan

 

36. The Great Poem
Leslie H.Jarmon

 

37. Phone Openings, “Gendered” Talk, and Conversations About Illness
Wayne A.Beach

 

38. Nothing Promised
James J.Bradac

 

475
478
483
496

x  Contents
39. The Last Word
Robert Hopper

 
 

498

 APPENDIX TRANSCRIPTION SYMBOLS

 500

 CONTRIBUTORS
 AUTHOR INDEX

 502
 508

 SUBJECT INDEX

 539

.

ethnographic. Within the field of communication. hand gestures) occurring naturally within a variety of settings (e. Leeds-Hurwitz.g. where he remained until the end of his career. and cognitive processing. and topics. language. Authors examine various features of human interaction (e. studies of discourse processes. ethnomethodological. at a dinner table. conversation analytic.1 An Overview of Language and Social Interaction Research Curtis D. LSI research appears regularly in books (e. report bad medical news. death and optimism).g.LeBaron Brigham Young University Jenny Mandelbaum Rutgers University Phillip J. all of which may relate to larger social issues (e.. police brutality. negotiate a raise). 1992).Glenn Emerson College This book is an edited collection of empirical studies and theoretical essays about human communication in everyday life. a doctor’s office. human spirituality. This volume represents Language and Social Interaction (LSI) perspectives on human communication. 1999a) and a host of mainstream disciplinary journals (e.g. resolve a disagreement.. speech act theory. communication competence.. whereby interlocutors accomplish aspects of their interpersonal or institutional lives (e.g. a leading LSI researcher and an extraordinary teacher. and sociolinguistic work.g. which draw unity from certain family resemblances (discussed later). LSI research includes studies of speech. The primary focus is on small or subtle forms of communication that are easily overlooked and too often dismissed as unimportant. scholarship in LSI has flourished in recent years. Hopper completed his doctoral studies in 1970 at the University of Wisconsin and joined the faculty in Speech Communication at the University of Texas at Austin. and a growing number of communication departments at major universities emphasize LSI in their curricula. he was known . There are large and active LSI divisions within the National Communication Association (NCA) and the International Communication Association (ICA). The present collection is bound together by a recognition that social life is largely a communicative accomplishment. As author of eight books and dozens of published essays. The present volume originated as a Festschrift celebrating the intellectual career of the late Robert Hopper. laughter. The label covers an array of assumptions. methods. LSI is a popular umbrella term for scholarly work carried out within and across a number of academic disciplines.g. carefully orchestrated but commonly taken for granted. vocal repetition. and pragmatics.. Ellis. the journal Research on Language and Social Interaction (originally called Papers in Linguistics) is now a mainstay within the field. dialect and attitude studies. that people constitute the social realities experienced everyday through small and subtle ways of communicating. and gesture in human communication. an automotive repair shop).. microethnographic. face-to-face interaction..

This volume. known as the University of Texas Conversation Library. then with discourse analysis. Second. Third. seven points around which LSI scholars tend to rally in one way or another. First. He received many awards2 for his research and teaching. 3 By focusing specifically upon the field of-communication. The remainder of this chapter explicates these two interrelated themes. In 1998 he was first to be honored by NCA’s newly established Mentor Fund.2  Studies in language and social interaction for his innovative thinking. In 1990 he was honored as one of three Outstanding Graduate Teachers at the University of Texas. THE EMERGENCE AND INFLUENCE OF LSI WITHIN THE FIELD OF COMMUNICATION LSI is a relatively recent area within the field of communication. and each continues to make robust contributions to a rigorous science of speech in the communication field. which has been dominated by rhetorical and psychological approaches for almost a century. In 1994 he received ICA’s B. LSI is especially strong within the field of communication. As the terms “language” and “social interaction” suggest. we have collected a cross-section of cutting-edge LSI research. 1 2 . To the extent that this volume forwards his ideas and interests. Each of these research traditions helped to shape the field of LSI. The work of Robert Hopper embodies both the diversity of LSI research and the eclecticism of the communication field. In 1996 he received the Outstanding Scholarly Publication Award (from the LSI Division of NCA). therefore. sociology. we describe the emergence and influence of LSI within the field of communication3. Hopper (and his students) pursued a rigorous speech science that led him to the forefront of approaches to LSI. which in 1998 was officially named in his memory. One. and finally explored microethnographic techniques for analyzing videotaped data. when a group of speech scholars met in Chicago A chronological list of Robert Hopper’s doctoral students appears in the Appendix to Chapter 34. Aubrey Fisher Mentoring Award. Over the course of three decades. and anthropology. it celebrates Robert Hopper and the trajectory of his intellectual career. arises out of two interrelated rationales. which is located at the crossroads of these interdisciplinary movements. then conversation analysis. which in many ways paralleled developments in the field of LSI. He worked first with techniques for measuring language attitudes. we preview the main sections of this book and comment on its organization. it will make important contributions to the study of human communication and social interaction. LSI represents a convergence of concerns originating in linguistics. in 1983 Hopper became the Charles Sapp Centennial Professor of Communication at the University of Texas. For example. then. Over the years. Two. Nevertheless. He taught more than 60 graduate courses and supervised more than 30 doctoral dissertations1. Hopper made an impressive collection of audio and video recordings of everyday interaction. By soliciting papers from Hopper’s former students and close colleagues. we risk de-emphasizing LSI colleagues in other disciplines. The field of communication traces its beginnings to 1914. altogether allowing for reflection on LSI as an established and expanding area of study. for which he provided impetus. and ability to bring together diverse scholars and perspectives. lucid writing. as they were new to communication. we describe the current state of LSI and discuss seven points of commonality and contention within the area—that is. it is designed to showcase the diversity of contemporary LSI research.

An overview of language and Social interaction research  3
to officially break from their English (and theater) departments at various U.S. universities by organizing the National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking (see
O’Neill, 1915). Early publications show a division within the field: Many speech scholars advocated standards of positivistic science, with a psychological rather than a sociological bent (e.g., Winans, 1915; Woolbert, 1916, 1917); many others had a humanistic
and rhetorical emphasis, mostly grounded in neo-Aristotelian philosophy (e.g., Hudson,
1923, 1924; Hunt, 1920). Within a few decades, a respectable research literature had been
established (see Simon, 1951), but it was mostly concerned with individual performers
of speech during situations of public address. After 1950, as the field matured, its domain
extended to include a broad array of communicative phenomena within a wide variety of
human activities. Several scholars have documented the unfolding history and nature of the
communication field (see Arnold & Bowers, 1984; Benson, 1985; Bitzer & Black, 1971;
Gouran, 1990; Kibler & Barker, 1969).
In the late 1970s, a series of groundbreaking publications set the stage for LSI’s emergence within the field of communication (at that time called “speech communication”).
Bringing together interpersonal communication and the detailed study of natural language,
Nofsinger (1975, 1976) and Hawes (1976) demonstrated and advocated scientific analyses
of naturally occurring speech without the use of statistical methods—an innovative proposition for the field of communication at that time. For instance, by drawing on conversation analytic work on presequences, Nofsinger (1975) identified a commonplace speech
device he called “the demand ticket” (e.g., “Yuh know what?”), whereby a person may
initiate a topic and at the same time secure the conversational floor. Nofsinger went on
to suggest that utterances be understood according to their location within conditionally
relevant sequences of talk, “rather than in terms of gross numbers of occurrences per unit
of time or whatever” (p. 9). Philipsen (1975) drew on ethnographic methods pioneered by
linguistic anthropologists Dell Hymes and Ethel Albert in his ground-breaking study of
gendered patterns of speech in a blue-collar urban neighborhood (this essay won the NCA/
LSI division’s Outstanding Publication award in 1998). Two years later, in a special issue
of Communication Quarterly (Summer 1977), naturalistic approaches (Pearce, 1977) to
communication research were more thoroughly described, including ethnomethodology
(Litton-Hawes, 1977), conversation analysis (Nofsinger, 1977), discourse analysis (Jurick,
1977), hermeneutic phenomenology (Hawes, 1977), and ethnography (Philipsen, 1977).
Naturalistic methods were soon featured in other mainstream communication journals (e.g.,
Beach, 1982). Jackson and Jacobs (1980) combined detailed study of natural language with
interests in rhetoric: They analyzed the structure of naturally occurring arguments and compared these to theoretical models of argument and the problem of “enthymemes” (missing
or taken-for-granted premises of arguments), thereby illustrating the utility of discourse
analysis to the field of communication generally and to rhetorical theory specifically. In an
awardwinning essay, Hopper (1981b) expanded upon the issue of the “taken for granted”
(TFG) in everyday communication and social life. He brought together a wide variety of
linguistic approaches, showing how concern with TFGs is a communication issue. After
reviewing the difficulties that TFGs have caused scholars across a variety of disciplines
(enthymemes for rhetoricians, presuppositions for linguists, etc.), Hopper suggested that
“there may exist a functional and principled incompleteness in language use” (p. 205) and
he provided a schematic model for how people handle TFGs in everyday situations. In sum,

4  Studies in language and social interaction
these early publications pushed naturalistic methods into the mainstream of communication research, providing new ways of conceptualizing and analyzing communication, and
bringing attention to phenomena previously overlooked.
In the early 1980s, Robert Hopper and several other communication scholars interested in everyday language use participated in a series of conferences whereby the new
research area (LSI) took shape. The first communication conference focusing on “conversational interaction and discourse processes” occurred in 1981 at the University of
Nebraska (cohosted by Wayne Beach, Sally Jackson, and Scott Jacobs). The following
year, two conferences occurred: one on language and discourse processes at Michigan
State University (hosted by Don Ellis and William Donohue); the other on discourse analysis and “conversational coherence” at Temple University (cohosted by Karen Tracy and
Robert Craig). Participants in the Michigan State conference produced a published volume about contemporary issues in language and discourse processes (Ellis & Donohue,
1986), which represented the wide range of LSI approaches (including speech act theory,
discourse analysis, and conversation analysis) that were emerging at that time within the
field of communication. For example, Hopper, Koch, and Mandelbaum (1986) described
methods of conversation analysis, as the authors were coming to understand them. Participants in the Temple conference produced a published volume of original research (Craig
& Tracy, 1983) that evidenced “a scholarly movement [with] radically different methods,
databases, and conceptual frameworks for studying human interaction” (Knapp, 1983, p.
7). Each of the authors, including Hopper, examined the same data set: a careful transcription of a lengthy conversation between “B and K,” two female undergraduate students
who talked casually about their families, friends, food, holiday plans, horses, weather, and
whatever else happened to emerge in the course of their interaction. Authors employed
qualitative and quantitative methods to analyze the structures and strategies of B and K’s
talk, providing detailed descriptions and accounts of the orderly and meaningful ways that
competent speakers may show their talk to be coherently connected. For example, Hopper
(1983) showed that coherence is an interactive accomplishment (“we can no longer rely
upon a model of communication that emphasizes the role of the speaker over that of the
listener” p. 84), across turns at talk (“the fundamental unit of interpretation is the pair” p.
80), whereby shared meanings systematically emerge and evolve (“the ordering of events
in sequential time frequently seems an important tie to the interpretive process” p. 92).
During the final decades of the 20th century, LSI scholars in communication brought
together approaches and concerns from a number of related movements. Hopper’s research
exemplifies the eclectic interests which contributed to the emergence of LSI as a distinct
area of study. Resonating with the field’s origins in rhetorical theory, LSI research on
speech evaluation sought to gauge audience responses to speakers and their messages (e.g.,
Gundersen & Hopper, 1984). Early message research employed sociolinguistic methods
to examine the effects of speech on the listener by focusing on how listeners evaluated
speakers on the basis of characteristics of the talk or the speaker (e.g., de la Zerda & Hopper, 1979; Giles & Powesland, 1975; Zahn & Hopper, 1985). The influence of ordinary
language philosophy (e.g., Austin, 1962; Wittgenstein, 1953) prompted studies of “speech
as action” (e.g., Hopper, 1981a). Concurrently, sociological studies reflecting the influence of symbolic interactionists directed attention to such topics as accounts and formulations under the umbrella term alignment talk (e.g., Morris & Hopper, 1987; Ragan &

An overview of language and Social interaction research  5
Hopper, 1981). An emphasis on issues of coherence and cohesion drawn from linguistics
(Coulthard, 1977) combined with these other streams under a broader label of discourse
analysis (e.g., Ellis, 1995; Hopper, 1983). At the same time, ethnographic approaches to
communication were drawn from fields such as linguistic anthropology (e.g., Fitch & Hopper, 1983; Philipsen, 1975). Conversation analysis in the ethnomethodological tradition
(e.g., Beach, 1982) provided alternative methods for studying structures and functions of
everyday language use and, through such study, for investigating processes whereby people communicatively constitute everyday activities (e.g., Hopper & Doany, 1989; Hopper
& Drummond, 1990, 1992; Hopper & Glenn, 1994; Hopper, Thomason, & Ward, 1993).
More recently, continued technological developments (e.g., multimedia and digital video)
have opened up new opportunities for conducting detailed studies of embodied interactions, thereby creating a parallel stream to continued research on the organization and
workings of speech-in-interaction (e.g., LeBaron & Hopper, 1999). This parallel stream
furthers a tradition of ethological study and context analysis exemplified in the work of
Kendon (1990). Recent work in LSI also reflects and contributes to theory and research in
performance studies (e.g., Hopper, 1993a, 1993b). For communication researchers using
LSI methods, the essential feature of interest is human communication itself, which contrasts with scholars in related academic disciplines who use LSI methods but display ultimate preoccupation with language, society, or culture.
The relationship between LSI and the field of communication has been mutually influential and beneficial. On one hand, LSI research has increased understanding of what
communication is and how it is done. Arguably, the field of communication has been preoccupied with various factors that influence communication (such as individual dispositions,
contexts, goals, gender, etc.), and with how communication influences a variety of factors
(satisfaction, compliance, persuasion, social support, etc.), at the expense of examining
the actual processes through which communication occurs. The LSI focus on discourse
(or alternate terms such as speech, messages, talk, conversation, or interaction) has helped
shape these issues as central to the communication discipline. On the other hand, traditions
within communication studies have helped to shape LSI research. To illustrate, we identify
the following four areas of mutual influence.
First: Moving Beyond the Sender-Receiver Model
During the telecommunications boom associated with World War II, Shannon and Weaver
(1949) proposed a model of communication based on their knowledge of how the telephone works. According to their model, communication begins with a source or sender,
who encodes thoughts or feelings into a message that is then transmitted across a channel
to a receiver, who in turn decodes the message and thereby understands the information
transmitted. This model had immediate and widespread appeal as it perpetuated a psychological view and at the same time resonated with the traditional rhetorical topoi of speaker,
message, audience, and context. Although the transmission model was useful and fruitful
in many ways, and although it continues to be taken for granted by many social scientists
and laypersons, much communication research acknowledges the importance of moving
beyond the transmission model (e.g., see Goldsmith & Baxter, 1996). Arguably, too much
research on communication has tried to isolate component parts of the transmission model,

6  Studies in language and social interaction
at the cost of seeing communication as a constitutive process through which interactants
work together to construct lines of action.
Three decades of LSI research have helped the field of communication to specify the
details of the move beyond the transmission model and toward a social constructionist or
constitutive view of communication. Using an array of empirical methods, LSI researchers
have shown that:
• Messages are not discrete from people—in some ways people are the message;
• Notions of “self’ and “other” are constituted in and through discourse, and the\boundaries between sender, message, and receiver are not always clear;
• Meaning is not solely the product of the sender—rather, messages and meanings are
joint creations, even if only one person appears to be doing most of the speaking;
• Meanings may remain incomplete, emergent, and subject to retrospective modification;
• Messages and context are mutually elaborative;
• Context is invoked, oriented to, and constituted in interaction;
• And conversely, context influences the organization of interaction; and so forth.
Thus, LSI researchers have shown that human interaction is partly or largely constitutive
of the component parts that the sender-receiver model takes for granted. That is to say,
through communication participants perform and realize their relative roles, interactively
negotiating the meanings of so-called messages, orienting toward some symbol systems as
relevant and recognizable, in many ways constituting their communicative context (e.g.,
Hopper, 1992b; Hopper & LeBaron, 1998). (A constitutive view of communication is further discussed later.)
Second: Reexamining Cognitive and/or Theoretical Constructs
Through different sorts of empirical investigation (often involving analysis of audio recordings, video recordings, and/or field notes), LSI researchers have reconsidered and respecified various theoretical constructs associated with the field of communication. Sometimes
specific concepts have been the target of LSI investigation from the outset. That is, LSI
researchers have occasionally set out to examine details of the empirical world with the
express purpose of scrutinizing theoretically derived concepts. For example, researchers
with a specific interest in social identity have collected and examined discourse to learn
more about the interactive construction of identity in everyday life (e.g., Carbaugh, 1993;
Mandelbaum, 1994; Tracy, 1997). Some ethnographers have reexamined the traditional
and monolithic concept of culture, respecifying it as practices whereby culture is constructed through conduct (e.g., Fitch, 1998a). Through analyses of audiotaped and videotaped communication within classrooms and schools (e.g., McHoul, 1990; see also chap.
6, this volume), LSI researchers have shown that human minds extend beyond the skin as
people depend upon social and material worlds to acquire knowledge and display intellectual ability. Therapeutic discourse has also been an object of study (e.g., Bavelas, 1989;
Buttny, 1993, 1996; LeBaron & Hopper, 1999; Morris & Chenail, 1995; Peräkylä, 1995) as
LSI researchers have sought to emphasize social aspects of patients’ mental or psychological states. In this way, theoretical concepts associated with the field of communication have
guided LSI research, which has in turn influenced the field at large.

An overview of language and Social interaction research  7
Other times, theoretical constructs have come under scrutiny in the course of LSI research
on a set of data already collected. Conversation analysts regularly advocate unmotivated
looking (Pomerantz & Fehr, 1997; Sacks, 1984), such as through “data sessions,” a process
whereby data are analyzed in order to see “what is going on and how it is getting done,”
which routinely leads to discovering phenomena occurring “in the wild,” perhaps warranting respecification of theoretical constructs in the end. For instance, practices of relationship construction or dismemberment have been respecified after examinations of data have
shown an opportunity for doing so (e.g., Hopper & Drummond, 1992; Mandelbaum 1989).
Processes through which gender becomes socially relevant have been similarly reexamined
(e.g., Hopper & LeBaron, 1998; Lawrence, Stucky, & Hopper, 1990; see also chaps. 15 and
16, this volume). Philipsen (1975) used ethnographic methods to study Teamsterville culture and discovered that (and how) the value of speaking or fighting may vary significantly
from one culture to another. In his book, Conversations About Illness, Beach (1996) noted
that he did not begin with an interest in studying eating disorders or the social construction
of illness—rather, he came across data providing a compelling entry into these issues and
allowing for respecification of them. Through close examination of empirical data, then,
LSI researchers have come upon opportunities to reconsider and respecify conceptual and/
or theoretical constructs within the field of communication.
Third: Bringing Verbal and Nonverbal Communication Together
Within the field of communication (and other social sciences), verbal and nonverbal forms
of communication have traditionally been treated as separable, distinct areas of inquiry.
Although scholars of various stripes have lamented this artificial separation (e.g., see
Streeck & Knapp, 1992, who described the separation as misleading and obsolete), the field
of communication generally has made little progress toward mending the rift. Recently,
however, LSI researchers have employed methods that bring the two modalities together—or rather, have examined vocal and visible forms of communication without separating
them in the first place. Through methods that rely on videotaped recordings of naturally
occurring interaction, LSI researchers have been able to get at communication as it is
holistically enacted by interlocutors in the first place (e.g., C.Goodwin, 1986; C.Goodwin
& M.H.Goodwin, 1986; LeBaron & Streeck, 1997; Streeck, 1984, 1993, 1994, 1996).
The field of communication and LSI research will undoubtedly continue to be mutually
influential in this area.
Fourth: Appreciating the Poetics of Language
After separating from English (and theater) departments in 1914, scholars attempting to
establish a science of speech tried to distance themselves from the literary and theatrical
traditions. Nevertheless, scholarly interest in performance and other humanistic approaches
has flourished within the field of communication. Contemporary uses of the term performance within communication include (a) a research method for studying communication,
(b) an important feature of communication, and (c) a useful metaphor for talking about
communication. This abiding interest within the field has influenced studies of language
and social interaction. Performance methods have proven useful in sociolinguistic studies

8  Studies in language and social interaction
of speech evaluation (Lawrence et al., 1990). Methods in LSI, which are notorious for close
attention to discourse texts, invite noticing of poetic and performative features of everyday
interaction. For example, Hopper (1992b) likened his own transcriptions to stanzas of a
poem, and his scientific work was often inspirited with a poetic sense of social life (e.g.,
Hopper, 1991, 1992a, 1993a, 1995). Hopper and other LSI researchers have explored theoretical and theatrical applications of using transcripts plus recordings of naturally occurring
interactions as scripts for staged performance (e.g., Crow, 1988; Stucky, 1988; see also
chap. 29, this volume). This has led to a substantial body of performed and written scholarship on what has been called everyday life performance (ELP). Repeated applications
have shown that ELP makes for lively and insightful theatrical productions (e.g., Hopper,
1996). Furthermore, the ELP processes help practitioners learn about self and others, about
patterns of interaction, and about production nuances of everyday talk (Stringer & Hopper,
1997). Thus, LSI research has significantly benefited from and contributed to performance
studies within the field of communication (e.g., Gray & Van Costing, 1996).
To summarize, we have briefly described the historical emergence of LSI research
within the field of communication and have discussed a few areas of mutual influence
between the division and the field. Robert Hopper, as much or more than any other scholar,
has been central to this unfolding. We now turn our attention more specifically to current
trends within LSI research. In the following section, we identify and discuss seven points
of commonality and contention within the area—that is, contested points around which
LSI scholars tend to rally in one way or another, points whereby LSI studies bear a “family
resemblance” (Wittgenstein, 1953) to one another.
CURRENT TRENDS IN LSI: SEVEN POINTS OF COMMONALITY
AND CONTENTION
The field of communication is like a no-host party at an academic convention4. Communication scholars have come together and noisily organized themselves into various
divisions or interest groups where they talk, sometimes to be overheard by other groups.
Membership within each division fluctuates as scholars come and go, sometimes listening,
sometimes talking, arriving after the discussion has already begun and leaving before it is
complete. Although the organization of a particular division may be somewhat arbitrary,
it is nonetheless consequential for those involved: What may be stated and how, who may
state it and when, depends largely upon the participants who subtly negotiate the trajectory
of their conversation and the standards for appropriate participation.
LSI is an eclectic group, boasting various intellectual pedigrees. Not only are a variety
of research methods employed—including ethnography, discourse analysis, conversation
analysis, sociolinguistics, micro-ethnography, and pragmatics—but some scholars choose
to blend methods (e.g., Moerman, 1988; Tracy, 1995). Clearly, such diversity has had synergistic outcomes for the discipline, but it has also led to basic disagreements (e.g., see
Beach, 1995a; Sanders & Sigman, 1994; Tracy, 1994) and self-contemplation (e.g., Craig,
1999; Ellis, 1999b; Sanders, 1999; Wieder, 1999) on the nature of the discipline. As we
Our analogy is a crude adaptation of Burke’s (1941/1973) parlor metaphor, where the human
condition is likened to an “unending conversation” (p. 111).

4

An overview of language and Social interaction research  9
privilege one way of describing here, we recognize that there are countless other ways
that the field could be described—chronologically, topically, ideologically, methodologically, demographically, logistically, and so forth. Our choices (perhaps biases) have consequences for the centers and margins of the field we depict, which may include or exclude
colleagues in odd or unfortunate ways. Nevertheless, occasional stocktaking may help to
promote synergistic outcomes and prevent or reconcile unnecessary fissures within the
field. Despite the risks, our description may help newcomers who are preparing to join the
lively conversation underway, or it may help active LSI scholars assess their discipline and
participation. In recent years, especially with the start of a new millennium, LSI scholars
have seen several stocktaking exercises in the form of papers, panels, and publications
(e.g., see special issues of Research on Language and Social Interaction, such as the “Talking Culture” issue in 1990, and the “Millennium” issue in 1999). Because our description is
only one of several, we hope that it will continue dialogue rather than discourage it, invite
and include participants rather than exclude them.
Our description is organized around key points—or contested concepts—we think
underlie, unify, and galvanize LSI research. Specifically, we propose that LSI researchers
tend to rally around the following interrelated points, agreeing and disagreeing with them
in various ways, whereby LSI studies take on a recognizable relationship to one another:
1. LSI research privileges mundane, naturally occurring interaction within casual and
institutional settings.
2. LSI research adheres to principles of an empirical social science.
3. LSI research describes and explains.
4. LSI research is inductive and abductive.
5. LSI research treats communication as constitutive and consequential.
6. LSI research emphasizes emic, participant perspectives.
7. LSI research focuses on language in use.
Why have we approached our description of LSI in this way? Because work in LSI is
unusually eclectic and faces the ongoing challenge of holding to common ground while
exploring new and different directions for scholarship. We acknowledge that our list of
seven points may be incomplete and may at some stage become obsolete. Moreover, we
strongly emphasize that adherence to any one of the seven points listed is not required for
membership within the LSI “family.” Rather, each point is a contested site of commonality within the field, and we present (herein) plenty of counterexamples for each point,
showing that each has been contested by the very researchers that these points have generally brought together. As evidenced by the descriptions that follow, these seven points are
interrelated—even overlapping, though not redundant.
Research on Language and Social Interaction Privileges Mundane, Naturally Occurring
Interaction Within Casual and Institutional Settings
A conversation between two people washing dishes in their kitchen, for example, may
warrant examination as much or more than a televised presidential speech. The term mundane refers to communication that may be commonplace regardless of setting, is usually

10  Studies in language and social interaction
uncelebrated, and is too often dismissed as unremarkable or unimportant. The term also
incorporates features of communication that are often ignored or regarded as peripheral,
such as vocal restarts and hesitations (e.g., C. Goodwin, 1980), laughter (e.g., Glenn, 1989,
1992, 1995; Jefferson, 1994), and seemingly insignificant acknowledgment tokens such as
“oh” (e.g., Heritage, 1984) and “okay” (Beach, 1993, 1995b). Communication is considered to be “naturally occurring” if it would have occurred whether or not it was observed
or recorded (see Beach, 1990, 1994). Participant observations, field notes, and audio or
video recordings of everyday speech events are considered premium data from which to
make conclusions about human communication and social life. Sacks (1984) criticized
a common concern among social scientists for finding supposed “good data” and “good
problems.” He observed:
Such a view tends to be heavily controlled by an overriding interest in what are in
the first instance known to be “big issues,” and not those kinds of objects they use to
construct and order their affairs, (pp. 22–24)
Such emphasis on mundane and naturalistic communication diverges from a variety of
other research traditions. LSI research contrasts with methodologies that (a) rely upon
hypothetical or imagined exemplars of language use as a basis for linguistic claims, (b)
focus exclusively upon mass-mediated events, such as a television drama, as a basis for
conclusions about culture, (c) concentrate only upon “big” speech events, such as presidential speeches, which are supposed to be especially important to society, or (d) generate
data through experimental methods, perhaps under laboratory conditions where subjects
are removed from the social and material environments in which they typically interact.
Although LSI research privileges mundane interaction, considerable attention has been
given to popular and publicized speech events. For instance, Atkinson (1984) scrutinized
the behavioral patterns (both vocal and visible) of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan during public speeches, and identified “devices” whereby the politicians cued audience applause and interactively performed “charisma.” In a special issue of Research on
Language and Social Interaction, several scholars analyzed patterns of turntaking and
interruption during an explosive television interview (or rather argument) between Dan
Rather and George Bush, when Bush was campaigning for the U.S. presidency in the 1980s
(e.g., Nofsinger, 1988). Bavelas, Black, Chovil, and Mullett (1990) examined equivocal
statements that politicians use to cope with “no-win” situations—that is, when all direct
messages would lead to negative consequences. Lynch and Bogen (1996) studied congressional procedure and testimony associated with the Iran-Contra hearings, showing how the
“history” of illegal activities was contested and interactively produced. Carbaugh (1989)
conducted an ethnographic study of the “Donahue” television show, depicting it as a portrait of American society. John Modaff (chap. 28, this volume) microanalyzed the “speech
melody” of radio personality Paul Harvey, and identified rhetorical properties of his vocal
inflections. These citations (and numerous others) notwithstanding, research on language
and social interaction is overwhelmingly concerned with mundane features of mundane
interaction. Although researchers occasionally focus on the communicative behaviors and
cultural furnishings of politicians and other public performers, it is the behaviors and the

An overview of language and Social interaction research  11
furnishings themselves that warrant the LSI study—not the celebrities, nor their histories.
Studies of the spectacular may inform us about what is commonplace.
Mundane interaction (as we defined it) occurs in both casual and institutional settings.
Beach (1996) argued that “families are the primordial institutional systems” (p. xi) and
that interactions between, say, a grandmother and a granddaughter might reveal patterns of
“interrogation” like those found in a courtroom. LSI researchers have entered an array of
social institutions and organizations to explicate the everyday behaviors whereby institutions are interactively formed and sustained (e.g., Atkinson & Drew, 1979; Atkinson &
Heritage, 1984; Drew & Heritage, 1992; Houtkoop-Steenstra & Antaki, 1997; Metzger &
Beach, 1996; Morris & Cheneil, 1995; Tracy, 1995, 1997). For example, recent research
on medical interviewing has addressed significant moments between doctors and patients
(e.g., Beach & Dixson, 2000). Conversations about health and illness also occur at home,
such as when family members discuss a loved one’s diagnosis and treatment for cancer
(chap. 10, this volume).
Recently, the notion of naturally occurring has been indirectly and directly called into
question. For instance, Pratt and Wieder (1993) conducted an “ethnography of public
speaking” among the Osage Nation, a Native American community. Not only were public
speeches prepared or scripted in advance, these researchers asked subjects to reperform
speeches that they had given before during some prior ceremony or event of the Osage
Nation. Pratt and Wieder argued that their data were sufficiently natural because the focus
of their study was on the “formal features of the original” speeches and not the in-themoment contingencies (p. 358). Bavelas (1999) worked to broaden notions of “naturalistic”
within the field of LSI. She argued that laboratory data should not be dismissed out of hand,
because when people communicate under laboratory conditions, they necessarily employ
the sorts of vocal and visible behaviors whereby they communicate everyday—there is
no other way to interact. Moreover, Bavelas suggested that a laboratory may need to be
recognized as a special site (with its own social and material affordances), but it should not
be rejected as “artificial” just because it is built to serve researchers’ ends—after all, every
built space serves some social and micropolitical end.
The notion of “naturalistic” has also been stretched by literary inclinations. In his
book on gender and gender talk, for example, Hopper (in press) supplemented his tape
recordings of naturally occurring talk with exemplars from other sources, including the
following:
• Fiction. For obvious reasons, there are few candid recordings of moments involving
sexuality, sexual harassment, codependent family interaction, and so forth. Films regularly portray such dialogue in a way that resembles everyday social interaction, which
may serve as a resource for scientific inquiry.
• Self-reports. Ethnographers routinely interview people about their speech practices.
Self-report data show few discourse features and they may be replete with socialdesirability biases, but participants’ recollections of social interaction have proven to
be a useful resource.
• Hypothetical examples. In the absence of recorded data or firsthand observation, a
writer may fabricate a hypothetical example to illustrate (precisely) a particular
argument. Such fabrications often stand up through replication and critical scrutiny,

12  Studies in language and social interaction
perhaps due to the incredible overdetermined orderliness of language use and social
interaction.
Hopper openly acknowledged the risk of mixing evidence types. Of course scientists must
be wary of generalizing from film to life, and self-report findings should be confirmed
by fuller discourse renderings. Nevertheless, by mixing evidence types Hopper was able
to address areas of theory and general concern for which limited data could be found. In
another study, Drummond (chap. 32, this volume) participated in the dialogue between
“real” and fiction: Using Hopper’s (198 la; 1981b) notion of taken-for-granted, Drummond
explicated the idea of “interactional enslavement” within the movie The Truman Show.
Points suggested by more literary sorts of evidence may be taken as a stimulus to collect
more naturalistic examples of similar phenomena.
Research on Language and Social Interaction Adheres to Principles of an Empirical
Social Science
Research conclusions about communication, culture, and social life are properly supported
by firsthand observations of human interaction. When LSI researchers present their findings in papers or reports, they usually include examples or excerpts of the phenomenon
under investigation. Careful descriptions, field notes, transcriptions, photographs, videotapes, and other sorts of recordings are taken to represent the audible and visible behaviors
that social interactants made available to each other (in the first place) and to analysts (who
acted as overhearers and onlookers). Hence, all arguments are based on evidence that must
pass the test of intersubjective agreement among researchers and readers (see Beach, 1990,
1994; Pomerantz & Fehr, 1997). A particular phenomenon is taken to exist, to the extent
that data, analyses, and conclusions are reproducible or verifiable by others.
At the same time that most language and social interaction researchers maintain an
empirical stance toward their objects of study, we suggest that they necessarily engage in
an ongoing interpretive process. Researchers are participants in the social world they analyze, both creating and interpreting human experience, moment to moment and day to day.
Researchers do more than document patterns—they appraise the significance of behaviors
documented. Geertz(1973) wrote:
Believing, with Max Weber, that man is an animal suspended in webs of significance
he himself has spun, I take culture to be those webs, and the analysis of it to be therefore not an experimental science in search of law but an interpretive one in search of
meaning, (p. 5)
To some extent, all research on language and social interaction has kinship with the work
of Geertz, who sought to understand human cultures through “thick description”—rather
than explain them through theories of causation or natural law. Research on language and
social interaction is itself suspended within the webs of culture that it brings to light. Forms
of communication that may be empirically ascertained are also interpreted and thereby
made meaningful to participants and analysts alike.
Within the field of language and social interaction, some methods flaunt their interpretive stripes more than others. On one hand, ethnographers seek presence and participation

An overview of language and Social interaction research  13
within the speech communities they study, acknowledging their interpretive role and even
relishing the flavor of their own influence. Their basis for selecting objects of ethnographic
study is sometimes unsystematic and rather intuitive—by “design.” For instance, Fitch
(1994) observed that some ethnographers choose to examine cultural sites and communicative practices that contrast strikingly with their own. The best way to understand and
accurately report on a culture, the ethnographic argument goes, is to fully experience and
interpret it as do the cultural members themselves. In a study of culture within the southern
United States, Fitch (1998b) recorded a conversation in which she participated; she then
transcribed and analyzed the talk (including her own); and finally she contemplated (as part
of her ethnographic report) the difference between her in-the-moment (subjective) experience and her later (objective) microanalysis of it. Hence, to change the ethnographer would
be to alter the ethnographic outcome.
On the other hand, conversation analysts may downplay and even deny their interpretive role. They rarely appear as participants within the data they choose to examine; they
seldom rely on in-the-moment observations of speech events, choosing instead to focus
on audio or video recordings; and they present their findings as being empirically evident,
independent of the particular analyst. Hopper et al. (1986) described conversation analysis
(CA) as “a search for patterns in the mode of natural science. As paleontology describes
fossils to understand geological history, CA describes recordings to understand structures of
conversational action and members’ practices for conversing” (p. 169). Despite the empirical rigor that conversation analysts insist on (see also, Sacks, 1984, 1992), they ought to
also recognize their subtle but substantive interpretive moves. Even before recorded messages are analyzed, recording itself is an interpretive act: Cameras and tape recorders must
be placed, pointed, and turned “on,” which is to make decisions about what is important or
worth recording; transcripts are necessarily selective. Moreover, conversation analysts rely
on “members’ knowledge” (i.e., the interpretations that interactants show to one another in
the course of their interaction) to understand what is being “displayed” within data. Some
conversation analysts accept and even embrace their interpretive bent. For example, Hopper’s (1992b) analysis of telephone conversation often waxed poetic. He encouraged readers to attune themselves to a primordial voice—the voice of poetry in conversation, “the
great Poem, speaking us” (p. 190). Thus, even the most rigorous empiricist may orient to,
listen to, and be inspired by the humanist within.
Despite these variations within the field of LSI, there is a general commitment to
empirical methods. After acknowledging the role of intuition in ethnographic research,
Fitch (1994) recommended more systematic bases for ethnographic choices. And Hopper’s
(1992b) poetic treatment of telephone conversations was constantly based upon “empirical
details displayed by participants to one another” (p. 20). Overwhelmingly, LSI researchers treat what they are doing as meriting scientific status, affirming the need for clear and
repeatable methods to produce replicable results.
Research on Language and Social Interaction
Describes and Explains
By carefully and thoroughly describing human interaction, researchers begin to understand
and explain it. Most LSI research provides straightforward (even matter-of-fact) accounts

CA terms are imbued with special ways of looking at and describing the social world. description and explanation are regarded as worthwhile research goals or achievements in and of themselves. Through analysis of videotaped recordings. for which description may precede and set up a move to evaluation by practical. Ochs (1979) observed that presentation tools such as transcription systems are inherently theoretical and should not be regarded as one-to-one representations of reality. and testing them experimentally. written as if the features of human interaction exist in the social world to be documented and interpreted. commonsense. Even the term description may prove misleading or unduly limiting. political. for which description provides a starting point allowing a move to prescription. Schegloff.. Drew & Heritage. The item(s) chosen for analysis represent important choices (whether conscious or unconscious) by the researcher. aesthetic. Likewise. For example. Thus. writing style. the distinction between good description and good analysis blurs. There are plenty of examples of LSI research that do make critical or applied turns. Jarmon (1996a) became frustrated with the presentational constraints of transcriptions and written descriptions.g. 1997. 1997) either explicitly makes or leads closer to deriving prescriptive applications from research findings. training. interactants’ terminology” (p.g. 427).14  Studies in language and social interaction of phenomena. she insisted. which views description as only a first step that is incomplete unless followed by more substantive steps of developing theory. Jarmon concluded that “embodied actions” (such as facial expressions) are in some ways similar to grammatical units and may alter the projectability of turn boundaries or even function as a complete turn. 1992. Jacoby and Ochs (1995) emphasized that human interaction is “contingently dynamic and unfolding in interactional time” (p. Data presentation is also an ongoing concern. when Pomerantz (1989) suggested that conversation analysts translate CA jargon into more commonsense lay terminology. like Conquergood’s (1991) critical ethnography. Van Dijk’s critical discourse analyses (1993. rather. Jefferson (1989) disagreed. and presentation of data. 1995. or moral standards. seek to apply naturalistic methods to social problems. Conversation analysts seem especially particular about terminology. recognizing that these are in part constitutive of the social phenomena under investigation. LSI research on discourse within institutional settings (e.). Nevertheless. This contrasts with a hypothetico-deductive approach to communication research. so she began using multimedia technology and eventually produced a dissertation on CD-ROM. Jefferson insisted that CA terminology is not “just a complicated way of saying what otherwise can be said with lay.” Within the field of language and social interaction. so as to make it more accessible to more readers. Descriptive research also contrasts with critical research. Her dissertation proposed an amendment to the turn-taking model published by Sacks. to the extent that it buys into a representative view that there is a reality “out there” that may be described. e. providing both the basis and the impetus for analysis that follows in the wake. in contrast to a social constructionist perspective that the act of attempting to write about “something” discursively constitutes that “something. deriving hypotheses. Tracy. For this reason. and Jefferson (1974). A third contrast is with applied research. LSI researchers tend to be reflexive about word choice. as description documents and characterizes phenomena. . or pedagogy. who based their model on analysis of audio recordings. Houtkoop-Steenstra & Antaki. description is not a neutral activity and data are not self-explicating. 179) and that researchers who use recordings and transcriptions should not treat communication as a freestanding text.

Treating some actual conversation in an unmotivated way. it may be difficult for them to look “at” the social world that they are accustomed to looking “through. Analysts go looking for instances within naturally occurring data that may support a particular claim. xvi). inductive methods tend to become more abductive.An overview of language and Social interaction research  15 Nevertheless.” enabling researchers to perceive it. giving some consideration to whatever can be found in any particular conversation we happen to have our hands on. and that the interactants were guiding their behavior. videotapes.” Bateson and Mead (1942) reported using photographs in their ethnographic work because photographs could capture and present behavioral events better than verbal descriptions. and conclusions would logically follow). to what extent can any examination be truly “unmotivated”?—many LSI studies indeed begin in this way. audiotapes. it facilitates inductive inquiry and insight. subjecting it to investigation in any direction that can be produced from it. We sit down with a piece of data. multimedia. Technology not only supports naturalistic research. . Soon researchers notice and take interest in some phenomenon. films. p. (p. and other forms of technology help to make the social world “strange.” Field notes. Rather than begin with a research question or hypothesis (from which data collection. A primary challenge for LSI researchers is to recognize what is commonly taken for granted: Because researchers are themselves embedded every day within forms of communication and culture. The field of LSI is notorious for socalled “bottom-up” inquiry and inductive proof. Kendon studied talk until 1963. what kind of findings it will give. 27) Although some readers may think Sacks is being idealistic—that is. analysis. that is. even in these examples of LSI research. can have strong payoffs. and from this process new (sometimes revolutionary) claims and conclusions emerge. which “provided the proximate source for the focused attention to talk itself— perhaps the most critical step toward the development of conversation analysis” (Schegloff. “for another first time. and “unmotivated” looking gives way to directed examination and explanation. 1992a. As a research project takes shape. Sacks founded the field of CA after discovering recordings of telephone conversations. Ethnographers have a long tradition of selecting speech communities to study without knowing in advance what sorts of findings might arise. photographs. should not be a consideration. and see where they will go. LSI researchers regularly begin with data: Naturally occurring communication is observed or recorded and analyzed. make a bunch of observations. description and explanation remain the central tasks. as Garfmkel would say. Sacks (1984) recommended the following “bottom-up” approach to research: When we start out with a piece of data. when he “discovered” film and began to analyze embodied interaction: “It became apparent at once that there were complex patterns and regularities of behavior. whereby claims are consistently grounded by reference to evidence in data. Research on Language and Social Interaction is Inductive and Abductive There is a general commitment among LSI scholars to avoid premature theory building. transcripts. the question of what we are going to end up with.

g. politeness theory) against which the ethnographer may work (Fitch. Discourse analysts’ choices may be informed by a wide variety of influences. making it possible to analyze multiple videotaped images simultaneously.. The aim is to provide an account of the phenomenon that holds beyond the particular instance. Using multimedia technology. Discourse analytic. Coutu. 1986).g. conversation analytic.Goodwin. and as findings accumulate. 1990. and Gibbons (2001) draw on previous research to generate (and subsequently test) research questions and a hypothesis regarding gender-based differences in language use. C. Despite obvious differences in these inductive methods. Reports tend to take shape as either (a) claims based on a collection of occurrences. each documented and discussed. Philipsen. 2000). Tracy & Muller.” conversation analysts may assume the responsibility of identifying a structural pattern in a way that shows recurrence in the routine instances but also shows orientation to the regularity in the deviant cases (e. C. juxtaposing them on the computer screen.g. Schegloff. induction. occurrence that reflects upon the language and social interaction of a speech community or culture (e. A combined emphasis on description. p. It also affords the opportunity to manipulate messages so that analysts can see how the interaction changes when they slow it down or zoom in on different features of a visual image. and abduction gives LSI work a basis for its empirical grounding.. this volume). perhaps singular. 1979.g. What occurrence(s) a researcher chooses to report—or is able to report—depends on the LSI method being employed. 1974).16  Studies in language and social interaction each in relation to the other” (Kendon.. 1994). Not all LSI research is inductive. 1980. Sociolinguistic research on power and speaker style often operates under a deductive framework. Bradac.Goodwin. 1994). or some universal theory (e.. there is an abiding assumption that a priori theorizing risks diverting attention away from the central tasks of describing and explaining phenomena based on observable details (see Sanders & Sigman. In his early programmatic statements about the ethnography of speaking. that altogether warrant some subsuming claim about LSI within a speech community or culture (e. such an account thereby being both context sensitive and context free (Sacks et al. 4). Induction can serve both as a pattern for the research process and a pattern for the written research report (although these need not parallel each other). 1994). technology allows for detailed and repeated examination of messages. 1999). the community members’ overall insights and reflections (as gleaned through interviews). drawing on preceding research to generate hypotheses for testing (chap. from linguistic categorizations and structures to whatever themes or beliefs subjects manifest through their situated discourse or through interviews with the researcher (e. the subjects’ disclosures or interpretations of occurrences. Periodically . or (b) a detailed explication of some single.g. Moreover. Ethnographic choices may be guided by the researcher’s intuition or reflection. explanation. With roots in a sociological method Znaniecki (1934) called “analytic induction. ten Have.. and found recurring hand gestures that were identifiable because the computer provided a nonlinear environment within which to work. LeBaron (1998) digitized and then microanalyzed video recordings. Hymes (1978) asserted that descriptive accounts of cultural ways of speaking could and should be followed by subsequent research in which hypotheses are developed and tested in the field. Mulac. 2000. 2. opportunities increase for applying generalized claims in making sense of newly encountered particular instances. and ethnographic reports may make use of previous research to explicate features within a present set of data..

typifies a representative view of communication. 1992b). White. cultural contexts. The LSI perspective that communication and context are mutually elaborative contrasts with more representative. communication is a primary means whereby social realities. 1992. In an examination of a videotaped business meeting.An overview of language and Social interaction research  17 a researcher may take stock of some line of research and make a generalized statement about a phenomenon (e. 1992b) approaches. everything from sender-receiver to mother-daughter (Hopper. 245). the primary goal of most LSI research involves careful description and explanation. which sees language as reflecting a preexisting and external reality.g. 1995). some analyses rely on data having turned up that happen to relate to a particular question or theory or practice. it has been repudiated by three decades of research on LSI. For example. In analyses of storytelling. and the meanings of messages are interactively accomplished and experienced (Stewart. The first level is the extent to which researchers treat interactants as themselves constituting their social realities. and constituted through social interaction at the same time that context may influence the organization of communication (e. Goodwin. 1995). Hopper and Drummond (1990) joined a theoretical discussion about romance “turning points” only after they found a telephone recording that happened to include a dating break-up. LSI research has shown how context may be invoked. and individual competence (C. Among the things that interaction may accomplish is the instantiation of social roles (Schegloff. Research on Language and Social Interaction Treats Communication as Constitutive and Consequential The transmission model of communication (Shannon & Weaver. 1995). Morris. which shows that human interaction is partly or largely constitutive of the component parts that the transmission model presupposes. . Tracy. 1996). ethnic identity (He. 1998). 1994). 1995)—including gender (Sheldon. Commitments to a representative or constitutive view can operate at two levels. According to a constitutive view. Nevertheless. Setting aside the assumption that context exists a priori and that context unilaterally shapes communication. Expounding on the work of Garfinkel. Even social conditions thought to be “stable” are contingent and constantly shifting as interlocutors co-construct their social worlds (Jacoby & Ochs. has informed conversation analysis and allied methods.. static.. then. C. with its focus on how people construct social order. Although the transmission model was widely accepted and continues to be taken for granted by most social scientists and laypersons.g. Streeck (1996) found that material objects—not just spoken and written messages— may become (situated) symbols through their appropriation and physical placement during face-to-face interaction. Heritage (1984) observed that messages are not inherently meaningful. oriented to. & Iltis. Ethnomethodology. discussed earlier. accomplished through the inductive and abductive process of gradually building generalized claims from analysis of particular cases of a phenomenon. see Drew & Heritage. 1949). or “external to message” (Hopper. because communicative behaviors are subject to inference and open to negotiation among participants: “Utterances accomplish particular actions by virtue of their placement and participation within sequences of action” (p. 1992b). some research focuses on a theory question that the data did not in the first place suggest. Moreover. Goodwin (1984) and Mandelbaum (1987) identified patterns of talk whereby the roles of storyteller and hearer were jointly achieved.

for example. and then analyzed both transcriptions using conversation analytic methods.” the analysts performed with their bodies what they saw in their data. appropriating and interpreting the physical features of their interrogation room. or does the research process itself bring “phenomena” into being? It is difficult to find examples of LSI research that take a radically constitutive stance at this second level by explicitly focusing on the researcher’s role in constituting the objects of study. Modaff and Modaff took a representative stance by arguing for more accuracy in LSI research methods—they did not assume a radically constitutive view of the researcher as one who more or less creates the phenomena under investigation.Ellis.e. earlier). Even built spaces (i. In other words. 1991).18  Studies in language and social interaction Button (1992) examined recordings of job interviews and identified question-and-answer structures of speech whereby people may perform the roles of interviewer and interviewee. the representative view and the constitutive view are not mutually exclusive. tailoring their performances to display specific analyses and arguments. 1995). Although such self-awareness among researchers has the blush of a constitutive view.. Occasionally LSI researchers turn their cameras and recording devices on themselves. recorded their conversations at both locations. conversation analytic.. the warrantable use of a categorization by a researcher resides in the participants’ orientation to and constitution of their activities” (p. or even within a particular . and sociolinguistic studies tend to employ a “reporting” vocabulary and posture that minimizes explicit attention to the researcher as an active creator of meaning (see item 3. 16). Jarmon (1996b) examined videotapes of conversation analysts at work. Bochner & C. avoid invoking labels or categories or contexts unless those are demonstrably relevant for participants. Button (1992) said that “in the face of multiple categorization possibilities for any person (an interviewer may be a father as well.g. Many discourse analytic. The second level is the extent to which researchers explicitly acknowledge or problematize how research itself represents or constitutes the social phenomena under investigation. For instance. do researchers discover and represent the objects of their study. conversation analysts regard their reflexivity as a form of rigor and see themselves as all the more accurate in their reporting. While participating in a “data session. transcribed both recordings. Within the division of LSI. physical structures made of brick and steel) are given shape and significance through social interaction. Modaff and Modaff (1999) talked to each other on the telephone. In another study. the researchers questioned the accuracy of mainstream recording devices and hence the accuracy of LSI research that depends on such devices. In practice. making possible certain vocal arguments that eventually moved the suspect toward confession. The ethnomethodological roots of some methods could nudge researchers toward viewing their work as constitutive. but her conclusions stopped short of a radically constitutive view of research. Thus. some ethnomethodologists have criticized conversation analysts for failing to practice radical reflexivity (Pollner. After finding substantive differences between the transcriptions. they are ways of conceptualizing communication that have points of convergence. freestanding alternatives. Conversation analysts. for instance). 230). For instance. Jarmon discussed “the degree to which performance may play a part in how research is conducted” (p. This provides a point of divergence for ethnographers working in the Hymesian ethnography of speaking tradition and those engaging in autoethnography (e. Likewise. LeBaron and Streeck (1997) examined a videotaped police interrogation in which participants moved their bodies in strategic ways. rather.

5 .g. the interplay between representative and constitutive views within LSI research may be seen to resonate with the interplay among social interactants themselves. the linguistic difference is “phonetic. and etic research reports what is primarily meaningful or recognizable to the researcher or outsider.). Thus.” “doctor. When a sound difference between two words produces a meaning difference. “you. For example. Participant Perspectives Social scientists who study communication and culture sometimes make the distinction between “emic” and “etic” forms of research5. consider the extent to which culture determines or is determined by everyday communication.” etc.” “mom. ethnographers) may implicitly or explicitly recognize that communication at any one moment is responsive to the history of interactional moments experienced by participants individually and collectively over time. 85). who combined ethnographic and conversation analytic methods (e.” Hence. 1998.g. among scholars who avoid imposing their own theorized views on the social phenomena they examine. who strive instead to ground their descriptions and arguments within the social displays that the participants constitute and at the same time experience. the linguistic difference is said to be “phonemic. 1988). which were used in both conventional and unconventional ways. Emic understandings may be uncovered in a number of ways.g. pursuing depth and breadth of understanding through extended involvement. whereby the many strands of members’ understandings may be both teased apart and brought together within an ethnographic report. conversation analysts) may ignore or downplay the impact of established cultural or linguistic resources on a particular moment of interaction or on a phenomenon under investigation unless interactants show that they take them to be relevant. The first (emic) reports the members’ (or subjects’) view of their communication and community.. the second (etic) reports the outsider’s (or researcher’s) view. whereby social participants both reinstantiated their culture and constituted it anew. who edited a special journal issue on “Analyzing Context.g.. Some ethnographic work is coupled with detailed explications of small moments. 1966).. see Tracy. Moerman.. Others (e. This distinction has been important within the LSI tradition. Liberman (1995) explained: When doing studies of intercultural communication it is important to present to the reader the looks of the world for the participants. Through participant observation. Research on Language and Social Interaction Emphasizes Emic.” When a sound difference between two words does not produce a meaning difference. Some LSI researchers (e. for that is what the participants are The terms “emic” and “etic” were derived from the linguistic words “phonemic” and “phonetic” (Pike. To illustrate. Sequeira (1993) conducted an ethnographic study of address terms (e.g. observed that “the work of producing ethnicity and identity involves both durable culture and the momentary contingencies of interaction” (1993. emic research reports what is meaningful to the cultural member or participant. p.” in which LSI researchers aligned with representative or constitutive views in various ways). combinations of these views may be evident (e. literally assuming the perspectives of those that they study.An overview of language and Social interaction research  19 research report.. ethnographers are able to speak and move within a speech community.

this volume). (p. beliefs about what is appropriate (or what is not appropriate) would repeatedly be asserted.g. In some discourse analytic approaches.g.20  Studies in language and social interaction attending to and so are the only sociological “facts” worthy of the name. but they also interviewed the participants to more fully ascertain the “beliefs. in the criticisms and complaints people make about actual occasions.g. 119) Ethnographers and sometimes discourse analysts choose to interview interactants about their experiences and understandings. In short. van Dijk. different notions of meaning and understanding result in different sorts of LSI research. these researchers attended closely to discourse that occurred after a particular speech event. research on speech evaluation shows how characteristics of a speaker’s speech may result in particular evaluations of that speaker (e. Some strands of LSI research do not explicitly focus on participants’ perspectives. For instance. Rather. virtually all approaches regard language in use as central to communication and hence the study of . chaps. because it might be especially revealing: We would expect the beliefs to be most directly visible in people’s aftertalk.g. 1993). But there are no shortcuts to the lived world of social participants. Some readers may be presented with more detail than they care to know. 22.. the postmortem analyses of discussion occasions that occur in offices and hallways. the journal editors (Sanders & Sigman. the language of aftertalk is more similar to the language of interview-talk. Other research that does not explicitly focus on participants’ perspectives nonetheless addresses issues of how the communication of one participant impacts another. 1991). recovering participants’ meanings may not be a principal objective. (p. That is. this volume). In this sense. 321) that the participants brought to their social interaction. Research on Language and Social Interaction Focuses on Language in Use Although different approaches to LSI research may have different agendas. Such focus on how communicators’ understandings are located in specific characteristics of talk is sometimes called the “message-intrinsic view” of communication (Hopper. Moreover. 14. The editorial comments displayed a preference by many LSI researchers to recover meanings and understandings as they are displayed or oriented to in situ by interactants (e. chap. 1994) questioned whether interviewing was an appropriate way to study social interaction.. A faithful recording—faithful not to sociological (including ethnomethodological) principles but to the looks of the world for the participants themselves—necessitates laying out the contingent details of interactional events to a precision that readers may find tiresome. 1992b.. attitudes. Tracy and Muller (1994) studied academic discourse (e.. 2. format may be seen as somewhat independent of the local situation in which they are found (e. 21. and evaluative expectations” (p. Mandelbaum. or implicitly assumed. 344) In response to Tracy and Muller. during departmental meetings or colloquia) by recording and transcribing it. all devoted to emic accounts of social interaction. where the goal is to lay out the usage of a conversational object.

graphic and socially sedimented . 33) What some form of communication “means. Recently. (See also Atkinson. 1984.An overview of language and Social interaction research  21 communication. 26.g. (p. 1987. 2000. 1979). roles. 370). C. Goodwin & Goodwin. 27 and 29.. 1992. Curley. is largely what it is being used to do.” which included “a range of structurally different kinds of sign phenomena in both the stream of speech and the body. providing for their mutual performance and interpretation. Heath (1986) studied the organization of speech and body movement (especially shifts in posture and eye gaze) during medical consultations. but encompassing structures and organization associated with “the endogenous activity systems within which strips of talk are embedded” (p.” Katriel’s study illustrates. a common feature of work within the LSI rubric is that its focus is on situated language. words such as this) and eye gaze (which may perform “pointing” functions).. and conversation analysts typically start from the premise that language is used in orderly ways to enact particular activities. The doing of communication is the means by which social life is constituted. LSI researchers have extended notions of language in use to include embodied processes. 1984. 1972. made an object of attention during moments of interaction) through their coordination with indexical forms of speech (e. Streeck (1993) showed how hand gestures may be “exposed” (i. Some approaches pay particular attention to how a given activity is undertaken. 1998. Goodwin. 6.. 1980. 1994. discourse analysts. She wrote: Whereas parsing out the semantic features of lefargen would in itself be an interesting analytic task…my main interest lies in reflecting upon the larger contextual issues associated with the adoption (through lexical borrowing) and spread of the term as part of Israeli social semantics. For example. making suspect any isolated examination or treatment of one (Moerman. Several researchers have documented people’s orchestrated use of what have traditionally been regarded as separate “channels” of behavior. C. 25. moment to moment and turn by turn. 1986. chaps. 1990. Schegloff.) In an analysis of girls playing hopscotch. Goodwin (2000) went beyond the human body to consider the entire “contextual configuration.g. Streeck and Knapp.e. I submit that in commending a person as someone who “knows how to express support”…speakers give voice to an ethnosociological model in which social relations and interpersonal patterns of a particular kind are verbally reified and valorized. C. Others are more interested in why it is done. 1986. For example. C. Goodwin (1980) explicated subtle forms of coordination between utterance-initial restarts and shifts in participants’ eye gaze (hence attention) toward the speaker. this volume). recognizing that “verbal” and “nonverbal” behaviors necessarily occur together. and relationships. Ethnographers. whereby patients may direct their doctor’s attention toward parts of their bodies that need medical attention. Each LSI approach uses different research strategies to uncover the orderly ways that language is used. Goodwin (1996) examined grammar as interactionally situated—not limited to phenomena within the stream of speech. Katriel’s (1993) ethnographic study of Israeli communication and culture included consideration of lefargen—a way of speaking that some cultural members adopt. Bavelas. Nevertheless. rather than language as an abstract commodity (e. Searle. Studies of language attitudes take it that specific structures or features of language create certain impressions of speakers. LeBaron & Streeck. Kendon.

The first part includes articles we selected to represent major research traditions within LSI.” (p. Thus. sequential organization. for he as much as anyone worked to connect CA with the study of human communication. It also reflects the prominence of CA research within LSI. primarily casual discourse. plus 6 short pieces in the final section reflecting on Robert Hopper’s teaching and scholarship. The second features studies of talk in everyday life. A majority of the articles employ conceptual and methodological approaches of ethnomethodological CA. It is clear that LSI has emerged over the past two decades as a lively and substantive area within the study of human communication. the organization of the book arose from an inductive process of sorting the articles by various similarities. or methods. sociolinguistic studies of language and power. and it may be useful to the reader to consider some of these: . There are other ways to group the articles in this book. they are more central to LSI “identity” than they are for those working in other traditions. resulting in a strong thematic coherence. The fourth part contains a relatively eclectic group of articles under the theme of future trajectories—in various ways. The seven points we have outlined here represent recurrent and interrelated issues within LSI work. topics. prominent themes in the conversation going on within the area of Language and Social Interaction. recent LSI research has taken up a more constitutive and holistic view of language in use. In the present case. it is most helpful to think of the seven points presented. Other approaches that have kinship with CA and that are represented in the book include ethnography of communication. clustering around distinct interests and approaches that related in particular ways to LSI as a field and to Hopper’s work. discourse analysis. In sum. Nevertheless. We decided on five parts. We did not attempt from the outset to select pieces based on their relevance to a prearranged scheme. The fifth part is a set of personal tributes to Robert Hopper. Altogether. if you will. and performance studies. not as universally guiding principles within LSI. Rather. etc. these articles move beyond current research topics and practices to explore and advocate innovative directions. and methods. 1). research questions. which are grounded in LSI perspectives. Some edited volumes begin with a conceptual scheme then invite individual articles to reflect component parts. There is no one principle that consistently unites or defines LSI research in contrast to other research traditions. Others make theoretical or conceptual arguments. encompassing activity systems. the call for papers invited authors to submit work they thought fitting for a tribute to Robert Hopper.22  Studies in language and social interaction structure in the surround. but as points of ongoing attention or concern. Most of these report research on naturally occurring interaction. This reflects Robert Hopper’s legacy. The third part features studies of institutional discourse. particularly talk concerned with health and medical settings. plenty of counterexamples exist within LSI for each point that we have discussed. OVERVIEW OF THE VOLUME This volume includes 32 original articles. Call these.

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Heritage’s early work on formulations opened the way for a growing body of research about the organization and accomplishments of news interviews (Heritage & Watson. Kristine Fitch (chap. discourse analysis. ethnicity. 3). rate. including a special issue . 1995). so as not to operate as a “mouthpiece” for the interviewee. These pressures include on the one hand taking a somewhat adversarial stance. ethnography. 1989. for a foundational collection see Baugh & Sherzer. Fitch & Philipsen.I Orienting to the Field of Language and Social Interaction The first section of this volume includes five articles that represent major research traditions within the interdisciplinary field of language and social interaction (LSI): sociolinguistics. Researchers in the ethnography of communication tradition move from thick description of communicative phenomena to identifying underlying speech codes or cultural patterns (for overview. speech evaluation research would pay more attention directly to messages and less to people’s perceptions thereof.and videotaped naturalistic interactions as primary data. Bradac recommends that future research in this area shift from examining the evaluations hearers make of speakers under various conditions to more direct studies of perceptions of features of messages themselves. 4) advocates grounding claims about communication and culture in details of particular interactions. avoiding making their own opinions available in the way their questions are structured. he examines how interviewers employ questioning to take up particular positions vis a vis interviewees while managing competing pressures of the interview situation. while on the other hand maintaining a neutral stance. see Saville-Troike. James Bradac’s piece (chap.) and pair it with some aspect of spoken language (accent. dialect. in the ethnomethodological tradition. competence. 1979). concerned with identifying features of speech that contribute significantly to hearers’ judgments about speaker credibility. exploring the extent to which variation in social dimensions correlates with variations in language use (for an overview. Sociolinguists typically take some aspect of the social dimensions of everyday life (class. Based on his review. Recordings and transcripts provide resources for constructing detailed accounts of the activities interactants undertake in and through interaction.” Moerman’s proposal for a union between ethnography and conversation analysis spawned much discussion. Conversation analysis. In this way. and so forth. 1984). This echoes Michael Moerman’s (1988) call for a “culturally contexted conversation analysis. conversation analysis. etc. and microethnography. 1990. treats audio. 1990. exemplified by John Heritage’s article (chap. also Carbaugh. In the current essay. He shows how news interviewers’ questions are in fact “neutralistic”: They have the appearance of neutrality but actually in various ways are not quite neutral. 2) summarizes work on speech evaluation. etc. see Fasold. gender.).

5) pursue these issues in videotaped data collected during student group discussions. (1990/1991). and gesture within small groups working toward a shared understanding about some issue or topic at hand. Cambridge. J. . It is an everyday life dramatic moment. K. Englewood Cliffs. J. when a group of medical and nursing students read and discuss the symptoms of a hypothetical patient. The authors show that uses of think include displaying online thought process to others. REFERENCES Baugh. inviting expression of online thinking from other participants. or trace the actions performed through particular lexical items that occur commonly in everyday talk. In the present piece. 1983) in relation to the words they are uttering.). Why do speakers sometimes choose to say “I think that…” as preface to expressing an opinion? If we assume that all speech is connected in some way to cognitive activity. and displaying process when sense of process seems to be threatened. Fitch analyzes a transcript of a family mealtime conversation.” What gets marked at moments when speakers use the verb think? Robert Craig and Alena Sanusi (chap. here we use it to encompass studies that identify particular speech acts and their functions. Although discourse analysis is a term that means many different things (Tracy. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Fitch. A ritual for attempting leave-taking in Colombia. (1990). 209–224. MA: Basil Blackwell. (1984). who then perform the same gestures in the process of coming to understand. (Eds. Fitch’s analysis shows that such critical moments in interaction where culture becomes an issue for participants may provide a resource for analysts to reexamine this elusive concept. R. Much contemporary LSI research (including some studies in the ethnography of communication tradition) reflects grounding in discourse analytic approaches and specifically in speech act theory. participant-grounded ways of enacting and interpreting meaning in actions.Part I: Orienting to the Field of Language  33 of Research on Language and Social Interaction (1990/1991) edited by Robert Hopper. Participants achieve shared understanding (or at least shared understanding is displayed) only after (and arguably through) gestures repeatedly performed. Carbaugh. By gesturing in relation to their own bodies. The fifth chapter in this section represents a strain of LSI research we refer to as microethnography. gaze. then conceivably one could precede anything one says with “I think. By that term is meant close attention to details of embodied actions as a means of characterizing emic. 2001). NJ: Prentice Hall. Their analysis links to the study of argument in everyday discourse. Think is one of a number of items by which speakers can indicate standpoint or “footing” (Goffman. focus on coherence as a feature of talk. they encounter new clinical terms that some members don’t understand. & Sherzer. 6) examine the coordination of talk. The authors suggest a socially mediated and embodied notion of humans coming to understand. to which Fitch contributed an article. For example. informed students explain the new terms to uninformed students. (Ed. Language in use: Readings in sociolinguistics. 24. Hillsdale. marking transition from presentation of canned to spontaneous material. Curtis LeBaron and Timothy Koschmann (chap. (1990). Cultural communication and intercultural contact. a child negotiating a raise in allowance. Fasold. body orientation. Research on Language and Social Interaction. The sociolinguistics of language. D..).

Saville-Troike. 173–387. 24.). K. J. (1983). Heritage. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. & Philipsen. 123–162). (1989). R. Cambridge. Ostman.Verschueren. & J.Hamilton (Eds.R. Handbook of pragmatics (pp. The ethnography of communication: An introduction. Formulations as conversational objects. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. (1990/1991). Hopper. (1979).). & H. D. M. Special section: Ethnography and conversation analysis after Talking Culture. (Ed. In D.34  Studies in language and social interac tion Fitch. Tannen. .).). (2001). Tracy.Schiffrin. Goffman. In G. Ethnography of speaking. & Watson. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp.. (1988). G. Forms of talk. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Discourse analysis in communication. Moerman. In J. Amsterdam: Benjamins.Psathas (Ed. Talking culture: Ethnography and conversation analysis.Blommaert (Eds.. Maiden: Blackwell. M. Handbook of discourse analysis. J. MA: Blackwell. E. 263—269). K. New York: Irvington. D. (1995).

& Courtright. 1979). 1990). evaluation has a temporal/spatial dimension. evaluating speakers.Bradac University of California. message recipients can evaluate speakers. Davies. relying on various peripheral or heuristic cues to make judgments of communicators (Petty & Cacioppo. that is. even typically. for example. felines. For example. evaluation has a cognitive component in that thought. physical aspects of the communication situation and responses of other message recipients (booing or applause). In the arena of human communication. 1977). for example. speaker accent and dialect (Cargile. often semantic-differential-type. speech evaluation covers the whole communication process. In humans (at least). their messages. and it has consequences. the positively evaluated communicator may view the message recipient’s positive response as a signal to persist.2 Extending the Domain of Speech Evaluation: Message Judgments James J. even primitive. their styles of speech. that is. as a result of perceptual contrast effects (Bradac. Santa Barbara THE SCOPE OF SPEECH EVALUATION IN THEORY There is a flourishing research tradition in which the major objects of scrutiny are the kinds of evaluations that hearers make of speakers and the factors that affect these evaluations. in theory. Speech evaluation research has always exploited this cognitive component by using respondents who are aware of what they are doing. 1975. This can be important because evaluations can vary systematically as a function of variations in occasions. 1986). and (crucially) speech style. Giles & Powesland. Evaluations of communication stimuli or of any stimuli are made at specific times and places. evaluations have consequences for both evaluators and the persons (or other organisms) evaluated. Evaluation is a basic. . Factors that have been examined include communication context. any communication-related stimulus. and more particularly verbalization. canines. A positive evaluation made of a communicator on one occasion may predispose the evaluator to respond positively on a second occasion as a result of a commitment effect. it is affected by temporal/spatial variables. that is. and by asking respondents to make their judgments via verbal. Hopper & de la Zerda. message recipients may be relatively negative when they are fatigued and they may be less attentive to message details. for example. inextricably bound to the process of acceptance or rejection of evaluationtriggering stimuli. 1997. scales (Bradac. Additionally. formality of the situation in which a message is delivered (Street & Brady. Thus. or a message that follows an initial message may be evaluated differently than if it had been presented in the initial position. reptiles. 1982). Any stimulus or imagined stimulus can activate the evaluation process. is often. and more specific or idiosyncratic variables. and unicellular organisms alike. at its core entailing approach-avoidance tendencies and behaviors apparent in humans. psychological process. specific message features such as arguments.

this volume). 1986). and perception that demonstrates that there is a pervasive tendency for persons to rate women’s language as high in Socio-Intellectual Status and Aesthetic Quality and men’s language as high in Dynamism (e. 1998. The English “guises” received more positive ratings on several traits from both groups of respondents. uncovered through factor analysis (Mulac. Gardner. More recently. Arab and Jewish respondents rated speakers who read passages in Arabic and Hebrew (Lambert. Some of the earliest pertinent studies were conducted by Lambert and associates who investigated the effects of language and dialect differences on respondents’ evaluations of speakers. & Miron. 1965).g.” a relationship among gender. which reflects the three general dimensions just mentioned.. Mulac & Lundell. The two Dynamism factors appear to combine Osgood. and Dynamism) are dimensions . Trustworthiness.g. in an initial study Frenchand English-speaking monolingual respondents heard audiotapes of readings of a prose passage recorded in French and English by bilingual speakers and subsequently rated the speakers in terms of a number of traits. Both Superiority and Socio-Intellectual Status include items such as literate/illiterate and white collar/blue collar. 1975). In a later study.36  Studies in language and social interaction SPEECH EVALUATION RESEARCH IN PRACTICE In practice. and Dynamism. although SEI exhibits a relatively large number of items representing each factor. 1960). Arab respondents evaluated the Arabic guises more positively. The first two factors of both instruments appear to be specific manifestations of the highly general Evaluation factor obtained by Osgood and associates in their semanticdifferential research on the connotative meanings of a diverse array of concepts (Osgood. which has not been entirely disadvantageous because it has allowed a good deal of concerted effort resulting in some highly reliable findings. Employing a variety of communication stimuli and a wide range of evaluative items to which persons responded following exposure to the stimuli. Hodgson. and Dynamism (or variants thereof. Attractiveness and Aesthetic Quality include sweet/sour and nice/awful. for example. & YeniKomshian. These (and other) studies were precursors of contemporary language-attitudes research. and Miron’s Activity and Potency factors. Factor analysis was also used by Zahn and Hopper (1985) in their attempt to design an instrument that would be broadly useful in research on speech evaluation (the Speech Evaluation Instrument or SEI). Mulac and associates have examined the “gender-linked language effect. language. intelligence and sociability (Lambert. Mulac. the factor structures of SDAS and SEI are quite similar. But there is room for expansion. Authoritativeness. Competence. Attractiveness. May. In this case. 3. Despite the different communication stimuli and respondents used in constructing the two instruments. research on speech evaluation has had a narrow focus. & Fillenbaum. 1991. whereas the Hebrew guises were evaluated more positively by the Jewish respondents. May. 1975). and accents (Giles & Coupland. Character. which they labeled Superiority. dialects. and the two Dynamisms include strong/weak and active/passive. For example.. e. for example. see also chap. Anisfeld. which has continued to investigate evaluative consequences of different languages. The research on this effect has used as an evaluation instrument the Speech Dialect Attitudinal Scale (SDAS). these researchers obtained three general factors. The factor structures of SDAS and SEI are also similar in some respects to factor structures obtained in early studies of communicator credibility and attitude change. an example of ingroup favoritism.

messages will be examined closely and judged. but this use also heightens the attributional prominence of the speaker. FILLING THE GAP BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE: MESSAGE EVALUATION The bias toward source evaluation may be to some extent a product of the research paradigm exploited in speech evaluation studies. where message sources are unduly prominent (Bradac. respondents were making judgments of or attributions about speakers rather than evaluating speech per se: The speaker was intelligent. on the other hand. intelligent. and sometimes even where sources are known. And specific scales representing the dimensions of status/competence and solidarity/attractiveness force a speaker attribution. friendly. sometimes message recipients focus on messages per se or features of messages. Zahn and Hopper (1985) also noted similarities between Osgood and associates’ Activity dimension and the Dynamism dimension of speech evaluation. respondents hear one or more audiotaped messages delivered by a speaker (or speakers) exhibiting a standard or nonstandard dialect or accent and subsequently they complete evaluative scales representing the dimensions described in the previous section. 1 . and so on. But. there may be something like a “fundamental attribution error” in the realm of speech evaluation. Nisbett & Ross. and trustworthy.Extending the domain of speech evaluation  37 that emerged in factor analytic research and were used subsequently to measure attitudes toward message sources (McCroskey & Mehrley. as in the case of reading newspapers.1 The research on speech evaluation measurement (coupled with the work on source credibility) reveals a strong pattern: Speaker status and attractiveness (in a general sense) are pervasive evaluative dimensions. 1980). for example. It may be useful to think about and investigate message judgments in order to correct an imbalance in our research that has tipped the scales in favor of message sources. in some important communication contexts. The content of the messages processed is bland (sometimes described as “neutral”) and respondents have little involvement with this content or with its evaluation. hearers will perceive speakers in terms of social status and group solidarity. active. An underlying belief seems to be that the use of “neutral” message content will allow respondents to focus on the stylistic variable of interest. 1969). hearers will focus on speaker competence and attractiveness. 1960). Giles and Ryan (1982) noted the importance of the status and attractiveness dimensions and suggested that when collectivistic concerns are salient. and between source credibility measures and measures of speech evaluation. message sources are obscure or unknown. The status/attractiveness distinction is related to two basic dimensions of interpersonal relationships: power and solidarity (Brown & Oilman. likable. Prototypically. as is perceived dynamism. which may be the case. The similarity of the dimensions of status/competence and solidarity/attractiveness to the major dimensions of communicator credibility call attention to the likelihood that in the many studies of speech evaluation that have used SDAS or SEI (or related items). It may be much more usual for persons to judge message sources than to judge messages or message style. on the other hand. 1989. when individualistic concerns are prominent.

research on evaluation in the communication classroom. 1991. Hopper. for film students analyzing a film closely. a film constitutes a message for many casual viewers. These messages are ultimately intersected with high. purposes. particular scenes will constitute messages.2 In this case no “speaker” factor was obtained. This is applied research designed to investigate problems pertaining to evaluating public-speaking effectiveness and effectiveness in group discussion. or to make a global judgment of message quality. Most of this research involves judgments reflecting special training and special conceptions of effective speech. for example. to attend to how an utterance is constructed. instructors. In less specialized contexts also. message structure. but they demonstrate that arguments are. are high in “symbolicity” (to use Cronkhite’s 1986 term). in contrast to the naive social judgments that are the focus of this essay. Bradac. given particular constraints. persons may attend to arguments that are offered and evaluate them along a strong-weak dimension. the reliability and validity of speech ratings scales used by communication teachers. or at Becker’s (1962) study represents a particular tradition of speech evaluation research with a long history. even short scenes: “That visual transition is excellent—it establishes appropriate expectations. and intentionality. they are bundles of significance. central and peripheral processing). 1953). The meaning of speaker (and the attached attributes of status. The message variable “argument strength” is one example.” On the other hand. namely. although this is not the place to offer a detailed discussion of definitional issues. The notion of coherence suggests that messages are perceived as units. messages often have a point or points that are inferred by message recipients. 1999). here evaluators. Evaluations of argument strength have been subservient to attitudes toward the speaker’s proposal. but the meaning of message is less obvious. Becker (1962) factor analyzed 10 “speech quality” rating scales designed for speech classes and found evidence of three dimensions: content. Additionally. to create differential message processing in respondents (specifically. for example. for example. some exceptions and suggestive possibilities are apparent in communication research and theory. so this research tradition will not be discussed at length. respondents’ evaluations of argument strength have constituted merely a manipulation check of strongand weak-argument messages.and low-relevance conditions. and message style as a consequence of their training. these units are sometimes evaluated. the theoretically important measure from the standpoint of ELM. For example. Messages are meaningful units. & Bradac. Holtgraves & Lasky. and global judgments of this message are made: “The Negotiator was really good. coherence. and recipients. and effects of order of presentation of speeches (Becker. delivery. 2 . persons are inclined to scrutinize the substance of an utterance or utterances. In research on the Elaboration Likelihood Model (ELM) of persuasion (Gibbons. and language. compared to other entities. But the boundaries of these bundles shift or even change drastically as message recipients change perspectives and purposes.) is clear. not speakers. and Wiemann (1989) suggested that messages. examine arguments. etc. Busch. The specialized context of a public-speaking class is one example. Although message judgments have been neglected compared to judgments of speakers.” A film analyst’s significant scene may not even be noticed by the casual viewer. halo effects in the rating process. the boundaries of which vary across occasions.38  Studies in language and social interaction But in some communication contexts. Indeed. When exposed to persuasive messages. the focus will be on messages.

and argument refers to the extent to which reasons are offered in support of a proposal. because in the particular case of linguistic power it appears that connotations of good-bad are inevitably attached. p. at one point. it may be that a high-power style will trigger perceptions of high dominance. Kellermann and associates have proposed two additional types of message judgments that revolve around the meaning of messages. It is useful to distinguish between perception and evaluation in research on message processing (Street & Hopper. Is this contradictory? Or is it possible for a communicator to be judged as attractive when delivering an impolite message? Probably yes to the latter.and low-power styles indicates that “what is powerless is bad. there was a positive association between judgments of politeness and perceptions of both explicitness and argument. 1999). rather than as evaluations that naturally occur. a good deal of research on high. 105). Holtgraves & Lasky.or low-power messages is more accurately described as an evaluation. whereas Dillard et al’s dominant messages produced judgments of low message politeness.’s criterion variable in the research that they reported. found that there was a negative association between perceived dominance in influence messages and judgments of politeness. Perhaps explicitness. and argument” (p.and low-power styles in future research. indeed. 122). is clearly evaluative. which is Dillard et al. evaluated along the dimension of strength. to produce meaningful utterances. Dillard et al. by contrast. 317). 320). and argument are best conceptualized as qualities of influence messages that social actors naturally perceive. Tusing. Dillard et al. strong arguments are better than weak ones for most purposes. In special cases. occurring . Dillard et al. global judgments are made of clusters of messages: “I thought the debate was uninteresting. In most contexts most people expect communicators to make sense. which occur “when activated knowledge structures are consonant with the perceived nature of the discourse” processed by message recipients (Kellermann & Sleight. referred to the three qualities as “percepts” (p. politeness. On the other hand. which will reduce politeness ratings. It may be that a perception of high. A dimension of message perception that is closely related to the dominance dimension just discussed is “power. 303). The first is coherence judgments. Wilson. so a judgment that takes the form “That message was coherent” is probably rare. hesitations. dominance. dominance refers to the level of control attempted. 1984. “coherence is an evaluative judgment of meaningfulness of discourse” (p. because it is difficult to think of these qualities in terms of an unambiguous good-bad criterion that is a necessary feature of all evaluations.” There is evidence that messages exhibiting hedges. 1982). Other message judgments are global—general impressions of a message as a whole. It would be useful to obtain politeness ratings of high. Dillard. further suggested that “[t]hese three constructs lie midway between the relatively microscopic objective features of messages (such as word choice) and more macroscopic evaluations of messages (such as judgments of politeness)” (p.Extending the domain of speech evaluation  39 least can be. 1989. dominance. and tag questions are rated as relatively low in power (Bradac & Mulac. a high-power style appears to produce judgments of high communicator competence and attractiveness. and Kinney (1997) suggested that “social actors naturally evaluate influence messages in terms of three distinct and conceptually orthogonal features: explicitness.” Referring to a specific class of messages. Explicitness refers to the directness of the influence attempt. Judgments of argument strength pertain to a specific message feature.” In any case.

A judgment of incoherence probably occurs more frequently because of the pervasive expectation of coherence. 1989). a lack of information. 1993). J. unless this message is perceived as manipulative or patronizing (Giles. and sociable. powerlessness. which is “a judgment that is concerned with the importance or relevance of either the parts or whole of a message” (Kellermann & Lim. boredom. Thus. although no doubt across the globe there are scattered individuals who generally prefer impoliteness. and . Newton. 118). This judgment corresponds to the speaker attribution of solidarity. Also there are degrees of incoherence: “The last part of the film was baffling” or “The statement wasn’t completely clear.Burgoon. and novelty may contribute to evaluations of informativeness.K.” respectively) and positively and negatively valenced low arousal as well (“relaxing” and “boring”). for example. relevance. so it will be noticed and evaluated negatively. Also the judgment made by a given message recipient will depend on her preexposure level of arousal. incoherence is the marked case.” Another type of message judgment is informativeness. uninformative. appear to be. Some messages are arousing or exciting. stimulating. It is also probably the case that messages that are judged to be informative are substantively novel: “I never would have guessed that. p. Informativeness and coherence seem to be at the base of a message-judgment hierarchy because they are pertinent to all messages. Fox. a stimulating message may be evaluated more negatively than when preexposure arousal is low. whereas its dark opposite may be judged to be impolite. Both roller coaster rides and action films are potentially exciting. powerful. This message judgment appears to be more clearly dependent on the cognitive and emotional states of message recipients than are the judgments discussed previously. incoherence. at least in first-impression situations. powerless. and unfriendliness. a highly sociable message will lead directly to a judgment of high speaker solidarity. a particular message may be judged to be quite informative and relatively incoherent (perhaps like this essay). 1989. but it is a messagecentered evaluation: “That was a kind remark” or “That was a friendly overture.” An interesting possibility is that a speaker judged to be generally low in solidarity may produce a message judged to be extremely high in sociability. Such an occurrence may cause the message recipient to reassess the judgment of low speaker sociability or to search for an explanation for the discrepancy between the message judgment and the judgment of the speaker. whereas others are soothing or dull. some messages may be evaluated along a sociability dimension. & Smith. coherent. the perceptions of importance. Probably more typically. Stimulation-value judgments are not bound to messages uniquely in the way that politeness judgments. & Keeley-Dyreson. stimulation-value is at the next level because it is pertinent to many types of messages. so this is a relatively complex message judgment (cf. Kelley. power. boring. There appear to be positively and negatively valenced high arousal (“exciting” and “grating.” So. and unsociable. when preexposure arousal is high. Probably in most situations most message recipients would approach the former message and avoid the latter. As a final example. and at the level above that are politeness.40  Studies in language and social interaction mainly when for whatever reasons persons expect an incoherent message. Another message judgment that seems to occur fairly frequently can be labeled stimulation-value. There may be an inverse relationship between perceptions of novelty and judgments of coherence such that something that is radically unfamiliar may make little sense. a given supermessage may be evaluated as polite. incoherent. informative.

commonly eschew analysis of films but easily offer quick judgments: “It was exciting” or “It didn’t make sense. 1986). and competence . a low-power language style (Gibbons et al. has been seriously neglected. Particular occasions will also precipitate message evaluation. On this occasion. that is. An interesting case in point is President William Jefferson Clinton’s speech to the nation about a sexual relationship. opinions about the speaker himself. It is also the case that specific roles will predispose persons to focus on messages. relevance and involvement typically have been low. 1990) or features that are marked. as suggested earlier. which has probably led evaluators to focus more on speakers than on messages.. decisions hinging on message content or need to transmit the content to another person. film critics are required to analyze films and to make global judgments. Noncritics.Burgoon.” The film-going experience requires message evaluation.” “It was too short. evaluations are made in a vacuum. specifically.” “It had a blurred focus. in fact. his power and his character. The interaction between message evaluations and message genres remains essentially unexplored: Particular dimensions of evaluation are likely to be especially. Many specific variables are associated with relevance and involvement. relevant to specific genres or types of messages. coherence and informativeness judgments. it was mentioned at the beginning of this essay that evaluations of all sorts are situated temporally and spatially. compared to speaker evaluation. Finally. Hurst. there was a great deal of interest in what the speaker would say. and within levels there are other judgment types. although this evaluation may be implicit and may remain unexpressed. for example. Additionally. evaluations have consequences for evaluators and persons evaluated.Extending the domain of speech evaluation  41 sociability. and its presentation: “It wasn’t (was) satisfying. status. for example. Rutt. which appear to be relevant to specific message types. To give a specialized example. the time and place of evaluation has been imposed upon respondents for the purpose of coordinating an experiment.” and so on. the process and structure of naive judgment. even uniquely. Apart from the issue of message judgment. features that violate expectations (M. at least in the case of persuasive messages (Petty & Cacioppo. MORE GAPS BETWEEN THEORY AND PRACTICE: CONCLUSION So. its content. Messages are likely to be the objects of primary scrutiny when message recipients are involved with message content and when this content is relevant to them. message evaluation. which was delivered at the time of this writing (August 17. but this fact has been largely ignored in speech evaluation research. It would be very useful at this point to discover where and when speech evaluation naturally occurs— outside of the laboratory—and to discover how different settings and temporal factors affect evaluations of speakers and messages (cf. were already well formed.” “It was too general. 1991). for example. but in the typical speech evaluation experiment. naive viewers. 1991). barely have been investigated. that is. It is worth noting that relevance and involvement have not been manipulated in studies of speech evaluation. sometimes particular message features will cause message recipients to focus on messages. Would respondents who evaluate a speaker as high in power. Particular types of evaluations. Duck. There are certainly other levels. & Strejc. 1998). Many nonspecialists offered opinions about his message.

R. J. (1991). 295–307.. 18. Bradac.). & Kinney.). Cronkhite. J. A. Robinson (Eds. 72.. (1986). Bradac. Handbook of language and social psychology (pp. R.P.P. 16.A. H. (1984). The ordinal position effect. N.J. Handbook of language and social psychology_(pp. Message effects in communication science (pp. 217–219. Newbury Park. M. to the interactions between dimensions and message genres. H. Burgoon. Bradac.J. 38–44. CA: Sage.J.A. (1989)..P. Cargile. 217–255. M. Anderson (Ed. K. Newton.J. A. Busch.L. (1989).. Message effects: Retrospect and prospect. 387–412).A. Buckingham. (1997). In T. The role of prior message context in judgments of high. Bradac (Ed. and coherence of the study of human symbolic activity. J.. J.. 16..L. D. England: Wiley. Davies. Hopper. impression formation. (1962). Tusing. The rating of speeches: Scale independence.. (1990). And. 294–317). & Oilman. 130–145).J. Sebeok (Ed. 16. along with evaluative consequences for communicators and message recipients. A. Quarterly Journal of Speech. Chichester. (1990)... and to the many communication variables that systematically affect dimension-relevant evaluations.J.K. & Wiemann. In H.). Rutt. J. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. & Courtright. D. J. Attitudes toward Chinese-accented speech: An investigation in two contexts.J. 297–325.C. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Some evident truths about conversations in everyday relationships: All communications are not created equal. 307–319.. Politeness judgments in personal relationships. 253–276). England: Open University Press. M. Language and social influence. 10. 115–133.L. Newbury Park. Bradac. scope. Language attitudes and impression formation. Dillard. Brown. Language and Speech. S. Becker. J. CA: Sage. & Keeley-Dyreson. The pronouns of power and solidarity. England: Wiley.. (1960). D. 39.).P. T. Communication Monographs. Quarterly Journal of Speech. S. Speech Monographs. S. & Bradac. Chichester. & Strejc. On the focus. Powerful versus powerless language: Consequences for persuasion.A. & Coupland. Wilson.H.J. J. Robinson (Eds. REFERENCES Becker. A molecular view of powerful and powerless speech styles: Attributional consequences of specific language features and communicator intentions. Human Communication Research. In J. Hurst. Giles & W. Gibbons. Giles. & Mulac. 228–267. 51. Burgoon. Language: Contexts and consequences. New York: Wiley. 51–72). J. .). Communication yearbook 12 (pp.M. On coherence judgments and their multiple causes: A view from the messagevariable paradigm.42  Studies in language and social interaction choose not to interact with her? Under what circumstances will respondents’ self-esteem affect this interaction decision? How will speakers react if they are evaluated as high in competence but low in attractiveness? How will they react if their messages are judged to be informative but incoherent? Investigating temporal/spatial factors in speech evaluation. (1977). Human Communication Research.. Bradac. (1997). (1991). The nature of arousal and nonverbal indices. 231–246. 20. J. (1953). In H. J. could extend the domain of speech evaluation research in important ways.. Style in language (pp. Giles & W.A. P.. Kelley.. and cognitive response. Duck. 434–443. R. the speech evaluation research domain will be extended fruitfully by shifting attention to the dimensions underlying message judgments.A. G.R. In J.. (1991). (1989).and low-diversity messages. almost certainly..J. 29. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. S.

. 84–90. 44–51. & Yeni-Komshian. Employment interviewers’ reactions to Mexican American speech. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. H. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Newbury Park. 4. & Brady. . Kellermann. Cross cultural universals of affective meaning. Kellermann.. N. (1982). Communication Monographs. W..). CA: Sage. (1989). 49. In J. Speech style and social evaluation. In E. In E. R.. (1960).. Communication Monographs. & Fillenbaum. Evaluational reactions to spoken languages. G. 127–153). Giles. (1975). Lambert. Speech rate acceptance ranges as a function of evaluative domain. Jr. M.. 175–188).Ryan & H. Patronizing the elderly: Intergenerational evaluations. & Hopper. (1986). (1979). C. 196–205. Speech Monographs. 126–134. (1985). L. C..Extending the domain of speech evaluation  43 Giles. 208–223). C. R. 95–129).C.Anderson (Ed. Mulac.J.). Linguistic power and persuasion.F.Giles (Eds. A. R. (1975).. Canary & K.Ryan & H. M. Mahwah.L. & Smith..Bradac (Ed. Giles. T.. 113–123. Urbana: University of Illinois Press. Evaluation of the speech dialect attitudinal scale. 2. J.B.). & Cacioppo. B. New York: Springer-Verlag.. (1969). 36. & Mehrley. T. Holtgraves. Jr. (1999).. T. R. K. Coherence: A meaningful adhesive for discourse. Zahn. R.C..M. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Nisbett. Communication yearbook 12 (pp. R.E. listener speech rate. Research on Language and Social Interaction. CA: Sage. H. Mulac. (1989). Evaluational reactions of Jewish and Arab adolescents to dialect and language variations.. W. (1980). P. (1982). R. 5. Human inference: Strategies and shortcomings of social judgment.. 18. 46. & Sleight. Petty. R. & Ross. In J.E. Hopper. Prolegomena for developing a social psychological theory of language attitudes. H. (1993). 2. Newbury Park. Dindia (Eds. B. 102–128). R. (1982).. Street. (1965). Street. Mulac. Fox. 290–308.. and communication context. & de la Zerda.L. McCroskey. Englewood Cliffs.L.. (1986). K. The gender-linked language effect: Do language differences really make a difference? In D. & Lasky.. R. Lambert. A model of speech style evaluation.. Anisfeld. A. The effects of disorganization and nonfluency on attitude change and source credibility. Sex differences and similarities in communication (pp. Hodgson. E. Communication and persuasion: Central and peripheral routes to attitude change.J. 42.B. 182–189. R. (1998).. (1975). Inference-generating knowledge structures in message processing.. & Miron.). & Ryan. Attitudes towards language variation: Social and applied contexts (pp. London: Edward Arnold. & Hopper. S. A. NJ: Prentice-Hall. 60.E. Speech Monographs. 129–150. Journal of Language and Social Psychology.S. Osgood. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology..Giles (Eds. 13–21. J. Measuring language attitudes: The Speech Evaluation Instrument. 81–101. & Lim. E. Linguistic contributors to the genderlinked language effect. Gardner. W. May. & Lundell.A. S. London: Edward Arnold. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.).T. Attitudes towards language variation: Social and applied contexts (pp. Message effects in communication science (pp. London: Academic Press.E. & Powesland.

3 Designing Questions and Setting Agendas in the News Interview John Heritage UCLA In news interviews. This second norm is one that pushes IRs not to let the interview be a kind of platform or soapbox from which public figures can get away with their own spin on events. In part. the management of the tension between these two norms is handled by questioning itself. IRs ordinarily attempt to strike a balance between two competing journalistic norms. and innovations in question design often embody efforts to redefine these parameters. and skill in question design is at the heart of the interviewer’s (IRs) craft. In the following case. For this reason. They are expected to have respect for the facts and the perspectives that interviewees (IEs) communicate. rather than being simply mouthpieces or ciphers for them.S. and disinterested in their questioning of public figures. lectures or other forms of monologic communication. whether collaborative or conflictual. that the taxpayers will 2     pay more in interest than if they just paid it out 3     of general revenues? 4 IE:   No. The limits of questioning play a significant part in defining the parameters of the permissible in mass media content. Mr.1 For this reason. In designing questions. 1 . IRs also subscribe to a norm of adversarialness. that emerges from the confluence of the questions journalists choose to put and the responses that those questions engender. On the one hand. On the other hand. unlike speeches. Questioning is conventionally understood as an action that does not take up a substantive position—involving either agreement or disagreement—vis-a-vis the IE. That’s a technical argument— Schudson (1994) gives a nuanced account of the emergence of the news interview as a medium of journalistic practice. They should actively challenge their sources. The news content that results is thus a joint construction. for example. objective. Clayman and Heritage (2002a) describe its development in British and American broadcasting. unbiased. Darman. ABC This Week: October 1989: Barman] 1 IR: -> Isn’t it a fact. not necessarily. public figures overwhelmingly give information and express opinions in response to journalists’ questions. IRs work hard to package their actions as questions. IRs are expected to be impartial. ABC journalist Sam Donaldson defends himself against such a claim in just this way (1) [U. questioning is central to the practice of news interviewing. and may invoke this packaging to defeat IE claims that they are pursuing some kind of personal or institutional agenda. and to work to bring these into the public domain.

Faced with insistent questioning from Donaldson (Lines 1–3.” Darman responds with an acceptance of this account (Line 13).Designing questions and setting agendas  45 5 IR: -> It’s not a-. I’m not expressing 12   -> my personal views. In their usage. In turn. 1988. ABC’s “Nightline”).. questioning is a vehicle by which broadcast journalists can sustain a “neutralistic” stance vis a vis interviewees. as the term neutralistic suggests. This example is from an interview about alternative ways of financing losses from collapsed savings and loans companies. As this example illustrates. 1986). 1991). and ultimately to whole periods that are characterized by what may be termed dominant styles of interviewing. This chapter discusses question design in the news interview.2 However. 5–6). and the IE—Richard Darman—is a treasury official in the Bush administration. Isn’t it a fact? 7 IE:   No. and addresses some of the resources through which IRs manage the balance between impartiality and adversarialness in this context. The significance of question design as a “signature” feature extends from IRs as individuals to the news programs of which they are a part (e. Because questions unavoidably encode attitudes and points of view (Harris. ‘objectivistic’ describes a manner or style of reporting. The remaining— 11 IR: -> I’m just asking you a question. news interview questioning is not. Because first of 8     all. The term “neutralistic” is used in parallel with Robinson and Sheehan’s (1983:34) distinction between ‘objective’ and ‘objectivistic’ news reporting. The particular balance that is achieved between these two norms can be a distinctive. and cannot be. 13 IE:   I understand. or Sir Robin Day to Jeremy Paxman to Jimmy Young in Britain. I’m not expressing my personal views. truthfulness and the absence of bias in the news. Heritage & Greatbatch. and defend themselves against charges that they have overstepped their role as elicitors of information Clayman. twenty billion of the fifty billion is being 9     handled in just the way you want—through 10     treasury financing. while the term ‘objective’ is treated in the conventional sense of a judgement about balance. IRs must still design their questions to strike a balance between the journalistic norms of impartiality and adversarialness. and even defining. strictly neutral. distinctive styles of question design are an important element of the public personae of IRs ranging from Walter Cronkite to Ted Koppel to Larry King in the United States. 2 . sir? It’s not a technical 6   -> argument.g. thus implying that Donaldson is advocating a specific policy preference. it’s definitely not a fact. characteristic of particular interviewing styles. It is just this departure from journalistic norms that Donaldson is quick to rebut at Lines 11–12 with “I’m just asking you a question. PBS’s “Newshour” vs.may I.” (Lines 8–10). he responds that “twenty billion of the fifty billion is being handled in just the way you want—through treasury financing.

(.2) 12   very good. hh (. The interview is conducted at the London rail station where Mr.=We always do.< 24   (0.) Anything else you would> ca:re t’sa::y 27   about (.2) 6 IR: Can you:.) .) now you’re ba:ck hhh having cut 7   short your: lecture tour::. who has called a general election and just returned to London to begin his election -campaign. (0.2) 11 IE: Oh we shall go in t’give them a good fi:ght. (0.(. h 5   (0. 3   (0.) th’ coming election.< 14   (0.2) 4 IE: Ye::s excellent.hh°° 26 IR: Uhm.4) 17 IR: We:ll that we sh’ll be announcing shortly.4) very good cha:nce of >winning. =We 13   shall go in confidently.2) 19 IR: What are your immediate pla:ns: Mister Attlee[:.46  Studies in language and social interaction A HISTORICAL CASE Consider the following 1951 interview of British Prime Minister Clement Attlee.=We hope (.(.) tell us [something 8 IE: [°Mm.7) 15 IR: U:::h And. 28   (.2) vie::w the election prospects? 10   (0. 20 IE: [My 21   immediate plans are <t’go do:wn> to a committee 22   t’deci:de on just that thing.) on wha:t will Labour take its sta:nd.2) 25 IE: °°hheh . 18   (0. The following transcript represents the complete interview: (2) [UK BBC Interview with Clement Attlee (British Prime Minister 1945–1951)] 1 IR: Good mor:ning Mister A:ttlee. 16   (0. .(0.) you’ve 2   had a good journey. Attlee has just arrived.) >soon’s I 23   can get away from here.hhh (.° 9   of how you.

Attlee’s view of it. 3 .” Questions like “Can you…tell us something of how you view the election prospects” (Lines 6–9) and “On what will Labour take its stand” (Line 15) permit the IE enormous latitude in developing responses. (0. the IR makes no attempt to pursue more specific responses. the design of the questions is fundamentally deferential to the power and status of the Prime Minister. 2002b). They tell us about the extent to which present day broadcast interviews differ from those of the past. his questions are all very “open. the deferential style embodied in the IR’s questions is reciprocated in Attlee’s brusquely. Rather he simply accepts the response that he is given and moves on. if not downright evasive. even though Attlee gives noncommittal. noncommittal responses. Clayman & Heritage. There are no shifts to discuss Britain’s relations with foreign powers. This is expressed through conventional indirectness (Brown & Levinson. Rather Attlee is presented with simple inquiries that treat the immediate context of the interview—the impending election—as the only thing necessary to understand the questions that follow.3 Interviews like this one are a valuable historical benchmark. 1987. • Finally. or disagreements within the Labour Party. he is quite happy to imply (at Lines 22–23) that the interview itself is preventing him from getting on with more important election matters.4) Uhm. • Third.6) Uhm. The modern political interview differs from this one in every major respect. ((end of interview segment)) The IR’s questioning in this interview has a number of noticeable features: • First. Attlee is not merely unafraid to decline the questions. (0. And they are evidence of quite different relationships between broadcasters and politicians than exist today. • Second. the questions are not the prefaced. This chapter examines some of the ways in which IEs struggle with IRs over the terrain that is Attlee could afford to adopt this stance because the audience for this broadcast was miniscule: less than one per cent of the British public had access to a television set in 1951.Designing questions and setting agendas  47 29 30 31 IE:   IR: No:. Questions like “Can you…tell us something of how you view the election prospects” (Lines 6–9) and “Anything else you would care to say about the coming election” (Lines 26–27) evidently treat Attlee’s responses as optional rather than obligatory. They indicate that Attlee will not be pressed by this IR if he does not “care” to respond. he clearly feels under no obligation to respond to them. the IR does not materially shift topic. No modern politician entering an election campaign today would dream of addressing an IR (or the voting public) in this way. Indeed. where prefatory statements are used to establish context and background for what follows. The IR’s questions remain tied to the immediate context of the interview—the election and Mr. multi-sentence questions that are common today. replies to his questions. and the IR does not diverge from that. • Fourth. The context of the interview is the Prime Minister’s arrival in London to strategize for national elections. • Fifth.

and align (or disalign) with its preferences. the answerer. opinions. IRs’ questions can only select between different possibilities for agenda setting. ANALYZING QUESTION DESIGN: SOME PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS News interview questions are often very subtle and complex constructions. IEs can formulate their responses in ways that accept or resist (or reject altogether) any or all of these. therefore. they tend to embody presuppositions and/or assert propositions about various aspects of the IE’s actions. See Boyd and Heritage (in press) for a parallel discussion of these issues in relation to questioning in medical interviews.48  Studies in language and social interaction constructed through news interview questioning. they are designed so as to invite or favor one type of answer over another. 4 . confirm (or disconfirm) its presuppositions. interests. We can begin by observing that. or all three of these to varying degrees. Thus IEs’ responses engage (or decline to engage) the agenda set by IRs’ questions. These possibilities are displayed in Table 1: Table 1: Dimensions of Questioning and Answering IR Questions: IE Responses: Set Agendas: (i) Topical agendas (ii) Action agendas Embody presuppositions Incorporate preferences Engage/Decline to engage: (i) Topical agendas (ii) Action agendas Confirm/Disconfirm presuppositions Align/Disalign with preferences These three dimensions are fundamental and inexorably relevant characteristics of question design and production. and they can index elements of the personal identities of both (Roth. Third.4 Because it is not possible to avoid them. they often incorporate “preferences. that they can be examined from many different angles. the nature of the interview that is built through them. 1998a). It is obvious. they establish particular agendas for IE responses.” that is. and the IR and news show identity that is sustained by these means. Similarly. They express particular aspects of the public roles of IR and IE. IRs’ questions have the following features: First. We begin with an exploration of some of the basic features and objectives of question design in the news interview. at the minimum. and preference design. They can be primarily geared to the concerns and preoccupations of either the questioner. or the overhearing audience members. These selections are crucial for the work that questions do. They can embody complex grammatical and rhetorical constructions to engage in the widest range of tasks designed to support or undermine the positions of public figures on issues of the moment. Second. and the social and political context of these. presuppositional content.

hh and couldn’t be called.(.hhh But I 5     think that any fair chairman would have given me an 6     opportunity of replying to them. Here a British Labour politician with overall responsibility for his party’s defense policy explains why he walked out of the defense debate at his party’s annual convention. A prime difference between simple and prefaced questions concerns the degree to which they embody initiative in establishing a context for the question to follow (Clayman & Heritage. and . which otherwise might seem to come out of the blue. 2002b). In his first turn. sometimes for the IE and often for the news audience. 1988. 1991. Their manifest function is often to contextualize and provide relevance for the questions that follow. he says that he was angry because the person chairing the debate did not “call” him to speak and allow him to reply to attacks on him.4) 8 IR: -> Was it intentional not to call you? 9 IE:   . . Example 3 is a clear case of this: (3) [U.hhh Well i.=but 10     It was intentional in the sense that he he referred 11     at the e:nd to the fact that I had put in a note 12     asking to be calle:d.) I don’t think it was mali::gn. Heritage & Greatbatch. ABC Nightline: 22nd July 1985: South Africa] 1 IR: P-> .two members of your organization (. 1995). The IR then asks him whether the chair’s action was “intentional” (Line 8): (4) [UK BBC TV: Nationwide: 30 September 1981: Labour Party Conference] 1 IE:   Well I walked out because I was ang:ry at not being 2     called by the chairman after two personal attacks 3     . Heritage & Roth. especially the IE’s reference to what a “fair chairman” would have done (Lines 5–6).hh an 14     o:versight on his part.hhh had been launched on me from the rostrum.=I 4     don’t complain about those attacks.=It wasn’t . and indeed be incomprehensible for many members of the news audience. 7     (0. These are questions that are preceded by one or more statements (Clayman. These prefaces were quite absent in Example 2.S.= 13     =So it obviously was intentional. but they are very much a part of the modern news interview. . Most simple questions draw on resources from the prior answer to provide for their relevance and intelligibility.) 2     Supposedly arrested today: 3   Q-> d’you feel in some danger when you go back Here the prefatory statement (Lines 1–2) establishes a context that gives meaning and point to the subsequent question.Designing questions and setting agendas  49 SIMPLE AND PREFACED QUESTION DESIGNS These three dimensions of question design are made more complex in prefaced questions.hh Two. The following is a case in point. This simple follow up question raises something that is implicit in the IE’s previous answer.

18     … 19     …[35 lines of talk omitted] 20     … =Arright lemme talk about this question then fer a 21 IR: 3-> 22   3-> moment of violence (.) of blacks against blacks.) We live here in thuh United States. discussed in Roth (1998a). but to provide a motivational context for the IE’s answer.” However.hhh uh immediate one: is to stop 2     violence. dealing with proposals to arm the British . the IR deploys additional statements (2->) to set up a question about the necessity of suspending the rule of law in South Africa.2) is with thuh white 11   2-> 12   2-> goverment.. beginning with a pre-emptive denial that its intent was “malign.hhh where we can start () 5     talking. not merely to give background for a question (as in Example 3). Journalists may also use prefatory statements.(.. This needs prefatory statements: (5) [U.) seems to me: uh. 7 tch . . Under these circumstances. The IE responds by devoting his next turn to asserting the intentional nature of the chair’s action. In the following case. In the following case. 23     In addition to using prefatory statements (1->) to place the IE’s immediately preceding statements on hold.hh An it seems to me that within thuh rule of law: that could be do:ne.hhh thet 10   2-> thuh power in south africa (0. () violence perpetrated by blacks upon 3     blacks. ABC Nightline: 22 July 1985: South Africa] ... prefaces are an essential resource for resetting the context for the question to come.hhhh The: urgent an’ pressing: need hh the: () 1 IE:   tch . () This is what we have to end (. Where we can start ‘n uh peaceful man6     ner     () to haff (. and projects an extension to. . and then further statements (3->) to return to the “blacks against blacks” issue raised earlier by the IE.S. for example.eh and always 16 IE:   has been: a balance between freedom () an disor17     der…. 13   2-> Why duh laws haftuh be suspended in order to 14     stop 15     thuh violence.hhhh Uhm (. It does not require prefatory remarks because it transparently draws on.) to get 4     to: uh situation . the IE’s immediately previous talk.50  Studies in language and social interaction it is explicit in introducing the issue of the chair’s “intentions” as a relevant matter to be addressed by the IE in his next turn at talk. journalists may often find themselves in circumstances where a simple follow-up question that explores some dimension of a prior answer is quite undesirable..hhh Arright lemme get tuh that blacks against 8 IR: 1-> blacks question in uh minute but first lemme ask 9   1-> you it seems to me nobody dispu:tes .) political dialogue. a journalist uses a prefaced question design to put a topical issue raised by the IE (about “blacks against blacks” violence in South Africa) on hold.

hhh Ahm we w. and it embodies a real growth in the scope. Moreover. as we see later. that the answerer is being evasive. (6) [UK BBC TV Newsnight: 21 Oct 1993] 1 IR: …You as I say have been shot yourself in thuh 2   in thuh line of duty. or has something to hide. Under such circumstances. 1984:245–51). Whereas simple questions leave the IE’s last response as the context for the next question.. power. First. Additionally. they achieve this by making non-responses (e.Designing questions and setting agendas  51 police. silence) or failures to address the question’s topical agenda noticeable and accountable (Schegloff. and may privilege that experience as having a special weight and significance for the audience’s understanding and evaluation of his response to the question.. The shift toward the use of complex question designs has been relatively marked in both the United States and the United Kingdom from the 1950s to the present. This latter sanction is particularly important when there may be millions of people watching on TV. the personal experience of the IE—a policeman who was shot by a criminal while unarmed—is invoked to convey to the audience that the question has a special relevance for him. 1972). the questioner has the right to repeat the question or to solicit an answer in other ways (Heritage. 4   Is it your view that the police should now be 5   armed? 6 IE: . failure to respond appropriately attracts special inferences: in particular. questions set agendas by identifying a specific topical domain as the appropriate or relevant domain of response.hhh But definitely. As a classical form of adjacency pair. prefaced questions allow IRs to escape from this constraint and construct a context of their own choosing for the question they are about to put into play.. In sum.(.) have no 7   rights as a society to expect young men to enter 8   situations. the manifest function of prefaced questions— providing context for the subsequent question to the news audience—provides justification and “cover” for very much more hostile and aggressive questioning strategies than were dreamed of in the early days of news interviewing. . . DIMENSIONS OF QUESTIONING Questions Set Agendas The claim that IR questions set agendas for IEs involves three features of their design that constrain IEs. ahm Let’s just look at thuh 3   question of arming thuh police first of all. Here the question preface provides that the IE’s experience of being shot is the presumptive foundation of his perspective in answering it.g. and autonomy of IR questioning. prefaced question give IRs room to maneuver..

in some ways I wish I could say 6     that. . and April 17. Silence hi the face of news interview questioning is incredibly rare! When asked a question.hhh And let me say something about the next year 15     because that was your original question. 1964–1972/1992). Notwithstanding the fact that the term topic is loose and difficult to define (Jefferson. I believe 7     it’s a mo:ve back . they also identify actions that the IE should perform in relation to the topical domain. .hhh the 9     Labour Party in which Neil Kinnock and I: who 10     disagree on a number of policy issue:s . 1993. In Example 8 for instance.hhhh But I don’t believe it i:s. April 9.hh without accusing each other of 12     treachery:. He begins by responding to the question as put.hhh is it right to interpret this 2     as a move back .hhh to the broad based 8     tolerant representative Labour Part(h)y. Lecture 5. 14   -> . . . the IE is clearly oriented to the topical domain set by the IR’s question. February 19. In Example 7. 2001). Clayman. 1984. and Spring 1971.] 4 IE:   [.hhh without suggesting that one or 13     the other of us is playing into the Tories’ ha:nds. (7) [UK BBC TV: Panorama: 28 January 1981] 1 IR:   Roy Hattersley . a British Labour politician is asked about the significance of a right-wing leadership success for the future of his party.h h h h N o] I don’t 5     believe it i:s. and he goes out of his way to justify this departure by reference to an earlier question asked by the IR (cf.hh can 11     argue about them .hh to the right. and then adds a comment (Lines 14–18) about the future actions of the losing left-wing politician. British Prime Minister Edward Heath is asked by David Frost if he likes his main political rival of this period. =This er victory by 3     such a’ narrow marg[in of Denis Healey. 1968. Sacks. Twice in this sequence.5 it is plain that IEs are oriented to the fact that there are real boundaries to the topical agendas set by questions. See also Spring 1970. questions not only identify the topical domain to be dealt with in a response. 2001). 1967.52  Studies in language and social interaction These constraints are quite compelling for IEs. Here.hhh I 16     think Tony Benn would be personally extremely 17     foo:lish to sta:nd for the deputy leadership 18     again?… The IE explicitly marks his additional comment as distinct and as departure from the question’s agenda. Heath responds by addressing the topic of the question—Wilson—but he does not respond in terms of the action agenda that the question called for—a yes/no response on whether See in particular Sacks’ lectures of March 9. IEs always try to respond in some way. 5 . Winter 1971. Harold Wilson. and most often attempt to look as if they are answering the question (Clayman. Second.

14   15   (0. more important.6) 16 IR: But do y’like him. Frost’s “<But do you like> him?” establishes a contrast (with the “but”) between Heath’s response and what he wants to know. and the repetition of his original question sets aside that response and clearly indicates (both to Heath and.I thi. “working with other people who are in politics”: (8) [UK BBC TV Omnibus: Frost-Heath Interview] 1 IR: Do you quite li:ke him? 2   (. I::t’s a question of wor:king 13   together:: with other people who are in politics.) I’ve always been able to deal perfectly well with Mister 7   Wilson.) 4 DB: .) 12 IE: . as in Example 9.h°° a:n::d u::h (.) 3 IE: . and again at Line 16.hhh ah: it’s v(h)ery 6   7 8     strange to be in thuh (passive) role:: o:f hearing.h .Designing questions and setting agendas  53 he “likes” Wilson (cf.4) 10 IR: <But do you like> him? 11   (. the agenda-setting function of questions involves decisions about how narrowly or broadly defined the IE’s response should be. are you prepared to make yourself available to U N investigators? 2   3   (. Third. In Example 8. more evasively still.hh ah not to have an opportunity . to hear all those accuses.h We: ll I th. Yes/no questions are recurrent sites of conflict between IRs and IEs.) That’ll have to remain t’be see:n won’t it.hhh .=as indeed: uh. very strange you know. Instead he avoids the issue by talking in terms of “dealing with” him and. 17   (0. hh It’s a question of dealing with 5   6   people. in which a Serbian commander who is suspected of war crimes in the Bosnian conflict is pressed about whether he will deal with United Nations personnel who are responsible for investigating war crimes: (9) [UK BBC TV Newsnight: 11/02/93(IR Jeremy Paxman. the agenda was set pretty narrowly by means of a yes/no question that made Heath accountable to respond in these terms (Raymond. and he does so in a most pointed way at Line 10.4) 18 IE: . IE Dragoslav Bokan)] 1 IR: …Mister Bokan.he has with me. to the television audience) that Heath’s response was inadequate. an:d ah . Heath’s avoidance of the question’s action agenda licenses Frost to renew it. 2000).hhh (. Raymond 2000).hhhh Well agai:n it’s not a question of uh (.nk in politics you see: i.) li:kes or disli:kes.=And ah: .) li:king 4   people or not.it’s not a ques:tion of going about (. and that he has avoided the question.hhhh Ah: first of all: I: just want to say that 5   it’s you know. °°h . 8   9   (0.

22). .hh An:d [ah: [I’m not interested in your goals Mister Bokan. 1993). Example 10 sets up a very open range of responses from General John Vessey about his trip to Hanoi to negotiate over|information about U. This in turn establishes the IR’s right to renew the question. In war. when. 8 Not all wh.= =Thuh question wars: are you prepared to make yourself avai:lable to U N investigators. asked a question 14 times of a British cabinet minister on network televison!7 Thus IEs know that visible evasions license an IR to press them subsequently to answer yes or no. In contrast. 1997.hhh I: have just uh one goal an:d that’s t’defend you know my people: from thuh (lynch. In general.. .54  Studies in language and social interaction 9 10 11 12 13 14 15       IR:     DB: -> -> ->   16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25         IR:   DB: IR:   DB:         ->     -> ->   you know to:: say anything: uh . So. making a yes/no response accountably avoided if it is not forthcoming. why and how questions—can set the parameters of response more broadly. he sharpened the degree of constraint on the IE. Here.you know: the answer. MIAs from the Vietnam War. the IR further narrowed the agenda of the question at Lines 20–21 by renewing his question as an explicitly disjunctive yes/no question. As the IR’s series of pursuits (arrowed) illustrates.8 For instance. (. 6 In this particular instance. This kind of IR pressure may be heard as particularly relevant and appropriate when there is the suspicion of wrongdoing.questions—especially what. . In this way. 7 This interview took place on May 13.questions are equally open. [Of Course.S.)= =Is that a yes or a n:o? (0. Rather it is that these questions lay down a marker.you are: prepared to make yourself available to U N investigators or no[:t. and/or where there is an issue about the public accountability of the IE’s actions. and further underscored the IE’s previous evasiveness as requiring this narrowing.5) Uh: Is it a cour:t. in this sense at least. and where questions. and how questions can enable more exposition than who. Jeremy Paxman. the interviewer in Example 9. .hhh You know uh. wh. Paxman subsequently won an award from the British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the interview. and that this pressure may be heard as reasonable by the TV audience if they seemed evasive in the first place.< .hhh ah about yourself or: you know your: ah go:als. you know: uh maybe better than ah m:yself.) Or: a: interview. more open. the significance of yes/no and alternative questions is not that IEs are necessarily forced to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right away.hhh Because: o::f >you know from the beginning of war. and are. In a notable case. 15–19. what.6 and IRs can and do avail themselves of this right (Clayman. the IE repeatedly avoids the question (Lines 4–11. why.

It. In the following case. (0. Tightening Question Agendas: Using Prefaces As we have already suggested.) is an illusory fear.hhhh Sir h:ow would you descri:be thuh significance of this: (. it can go either 9   wa:y. welcome.questions can normally be successfully answered in a wider range of ways and using a wider range of resources. the manifest function of question prefaces normally involves giving background information to the audience.2) that 5   is (.hh What Missus Thatcher has been saying: is that 2   there is a danger (. However.= 6   =Where do you: line up on that is:sue. an issue that had become a source of conflict within his party: (11) [UK BBC TV: Newsnight: 1989] 1 IR: . or managing topic shifts of various kinds. a British conservative politician. is asked about his views on closer ties with Europe. question prefaces can also be used to make the agenda of a question more complex.2) and what 4   Mister Heath and others are saying is (0. 7 IE: Well: (eh) technically..) agreement. .2) foreign minister and thuh Vietnamese prime minister (0.hh in thuh las:t uh fi:ve years::… Here.) eh these 8   decisions are y:et to be ta:ken. or problematic.hhhhh Thuh Vietnamese:: uh: (0.3) described it to me: . . constraining.3) i:n (0. Thank you.5) from Brussels (0. Michael Heseltine. 4 5 6     IE:   IR: -> 7 8   -> IE:   9 10 11 12 13                     General. Almost any ontopic response would have likely counted as a valid and appropriate answer to the question.(0. In general. whereas wh.) .hhh as a turning point. the agenda for General Vessey’s response is very under-specified. …(continues) .5) And I think that’s what it is.Designing questions and setting agendas  55 (10) [US PBS: Newshour: 10/23/92] 1 IR: .4) reh-resol:ving thuh fates of our missing. yes/no questions are potentially more constraining to an IE. becaus:e (.hhh With us no:w for a newsmaker interview: is thuh 2   delegation chairman former chairman of the joint 3   chiefs of sta:ff retired army general John Vessey.h of a socialist superstate 3   being imposed (0.

are used to set problems for Dole’s stated objectives as a budget cutter: (13) [U. NBC Meet the Press: 8 Dec 1985] 1 IR: You can’t have it both ways either. the question was made more pointed and newsworthy by its invitation to Heseltine to say where he ‘lines up’ in that conflict. [. attributed to unidentified “people” (Clayman 1992).=>On thi. Here the question preface describes the parameters of the dispute and its primary movers.hh that you will joi:n when the ti:me is right 4   but people are saying: . 7 IE: Uh no I would not say it means never.hh that that means never. .” would be vague and anodyne. making the nature of his political dilemma very clear to a viewing audience that may have known little about the then-emerging disputes within the Conservative party on this issue. the audience is instructed about the existence of two conflicting positions on this issue that are held by two of the most senior members of the Conservative party.. Prefatory statements may also be used to tighten the agenda being set for an IE by blocking certain types of answer.hhhh And] number 8 IE: [But I do. Still more complex is the following question preface to Senate majority leader. The preface provides a platform from which the question itself can be launched. Here three main prefatory statements.s 2   program< you have said that you don’t think. For the 8   policy. The IR’s question (Lines 5–6) is aimed at pinning down Thatcher to a specification of circumstances in which she would agree to join the exchange rate mechanism.] . 5   Could you defi:ne the ki:nd of conditions when 6   you think we would go in. 4   [an’] Senator Packwood says you have to. Within this framework. The following segment comes from an interview with Margaret Thatcher—also on closer ties with Europe: (12) [UK BBC TV: Newsnight: 1989] 1 IR: Now turning to the exchange rate mechanism you: 2   have consistently said or the government has said 3   .hh Number two you say you hope you will not have 7   uh tax increase.S. as “never” (Lines 1–4).hhh 3   that you’ll eliminate thirty to fifty programs.. like the quoted “when the time is right. He establishes the agenda for this question with a preface that contrasts vaguely worded statements by Thatcher concerning entry “when the time is right” with an interpretation of that statement. Robert Dole. all attributed to Dole. while blocking a response that. Heseltine is not simply asked about his opinion on the creation of a “socialist superstate.56  Studies in language and social interaction Here.= 5 IE: [( )] 6 IR: =. by means of the question preface.” Instead.

(14) [UK BBC TV: DLP: Hanna-Lansman] 1.hh And yet you hafta cut fifty billion next year.) 3   Tony Benn. later becoming its leader. his desire to avoid a tax increase (Lines 6–7). the question likely invites the IE to name Neil Kinnock. was a supporter of Tony Benn’s. the interviewer uses a series of prefatory statements to create a complex dilemma for Dole. 1986). at that time a left-inclined Labour party figure whose vote againt Benn (together with those of a few supporters) may have tipped the balance. This kind of agenda could not be constructed without the prefatory materials. projects (to Dole and the news audience) that the subsequent statements will identify contradictions that are troublesome to his position. Now which o’those three’s gunna give Senator. 9 . and his hope to increase the defense budget (Lines 9–10).hhh on: on defe:nse. All three are incompatible with Dole’s objective of cutting $50 billion from the federal budget.”) that. These three statements are prepared for with a fourth at Line 1 (“You can’t have it both ways either. among other things. Both of these features can be clearly seen in the next case. This is so for both simple and prefaced questions.Designing questions and setting agendas  57 9 10 11 12 13 IR:   (): IE:   =and number three you say you h:ope you can have a:l[m o s t] three percent on: . After these events. Jon Lansman. 4   Who do you bla:me for this? The IE. Most prefaced questions incorporate explicit contextualizing propositions. Kinnock rapidly moved to the center of the Labour Party. Once the prefatory proposition is in place.2) doesn’t look very good for:: (. Here the prefatory statement guardedly asserts (with the evidential verb seems. which concerns an election in progress in which Labour politician Tony Benn was ultimately the loser. IR: The result seems t’ be very close but (. questions often assert propositions and they embody presuppositions with varying degrees of explicitness. Chafe. the subsequent question can build from it and can embody additional embedded presuppositions (Harris. As a matter of historical record. At the end of this lengthy preface. The statements describe three aspects of Dole’s position—his admitted inability to eliminate programs (Lines 2–4/6). 1986) two propositions: the likely result of the election is (a) close. Dole is invited to back down from one of his stated objectives (Line 12). and (b) against Tony Benn.) on th’ 2   whorle it (0. Thus the perjorative term “blame” here also indexes his affiliation with Benn as the losing party in the election. [( )] . In this case. Questions Embody Presuppositions In addition to setting agendas.

questions: (16) [US ABC Nightline: 15th October 1992 (concerning Bush’s attacks on Clinton’s character during the 1992 U. A similar form of embedding is found in the following two cases—also involving wh. This contrasts with other more embedded cases in which.hhh Well I.hhh who can 7   you trust in a crisis. thuh voters. this more embedded form of presupposition is present. . if respondents wish to contest a question’s presuppositions. 3   don’t seem to like that? 4 IE: . In this way. they must depart from directly “answering” the question as put. thuh health industry 3   association. while still responding to its agenda. Embedded in the question shown is the presupposition that this campaign has been initiated “early” relative to the timing of the legislative program for health care reform: (15) [US PBS Newshour 21 October 1993.S. she develops this response into an answer that more explicitly justifies the timing of the campaign (data not shown). congressional legislative agenda. This interview took place during a period in which health care reform was on the U. Here an advertising professional who ran a TV advertising campaign against the Clinton proposals is questioned about the timing of her campaign. and that these persons can and should be relevantly blamed by the IE for this. Chris. the respondent could have directly answered the question by responding that no one was to blame.9 Presuppositions vary in the extent to which they are embedded within a question. we can consider whether the respondent can address a question’s presuppositions. >what do you what d’you make 2   of thuh fa::ct that (. I thought. Mister Cicconi. Thus the presupposition that persons are responsible and blameable for Benn’s defeat is relatively close to the “surface” of the question’s design. Ah: y:ou’ve 2   started all (of) this I think. let me start with you. the presupposition is buried a little deeper than in Example 14: The IE begins her response with an initial move to deny the question’s presupposition that the campaign was started “early. addressed by name at Line 6. Health Care: the IR.S.>Health insurance association.I thought thuh 6   point that thuh president ma::de about . for instance. To assess the degree of this embeddedness. In Example 15. who…. it embodies the presupposition that a nameable set of persons can be held responsible for the impending election defeat. he would have responded to the question’s overt agenda.f’r maybe a year? 6 IE: Margaret (.” Subsequently.ih: I didn’t get that from the 5   audience at all. In Example 14. election campaign)] 1 IR: But.hhh 4   Why:: so early in this debate when there’s not gonna 5   be:: a vote on it ih. Quite clearly. while also denying its basic presupposition.) health care reform is well under way… In this case.) the audience. . is Margaret Warner] 1 IR: =Mizz Jenckes.58  Studies in language and social interaction The subsequent question “Who do you bla:me for this?” builds from this platform to project “blame” and its allocation as the primary agenda for the IE’s response.

3 IE: er The difference is that it’s the press that 4   constantly call me a ma:rxist when I do not. Wh. However he can do so only by failing to respond to the question as put. In 6   fact we’v[e seen 7 IR: [So your internal p[oiling doesn’t 8 IE: [Our. 1994). explicitly contests in his response: . at all.questions are generally the most favorable environment for deeply embedded “quandary” type presuppositions.) 5   and never have (. still normally contain embedded presuppositions. did not so much “answer” the question as “respond” to it. he subsequently moves to undercut that presupposition. a presupposition embedded in the question’s design and treated as “given information” is contested by the IE who.=How do you explain: that (. although they offer specific propositions for direct response. In Example 17.Designing questions and setting agendas  59 (17) [US PBS Newshour: 21 October 1993] (Simplified)] 1 IR: (Let me. For instance. left-wing miners’ leader Arthur Scargill. as a result. Clinton supporter James Carville. Yes/no or polar alternative questions. In each case.hhh er What’s the difference between your marxism 2   And Mister McGarhey’s communism. although Scargill starts his response within the frame of the question (“The difference is”). These are questions of the “when did you stop beating your wife” variety in which highly hostile presuppositions are so deeply embedded in the question’s design. (. that addresses “the difference” between his views and those of McGahey would confirm the embedded presupposition of the question that he is a marxist.) public 3   support for thuh President’s plan has dropped off 4   rather sharply since he announced it a month ago?= 5 IE: =We haven’t seen those sharp drops. Here.) er er given that description of 6   myself… Any response by the IE. Example 19 presupposes that Clinton’s character is problematic—something that the IE.Let me (just) ask Mandy Grunwald one other 2   question. The following is a case in point: (18) [UK BBC Radio: World at One: 13 March 1979] 1 IR: .our internal 9   polling has seen sustain:ed ah: support for thuh 10   plan. it is noticeable that the IR pursues the discrepancy between her assumed information and that of the IE by asking about the IE’s alternative source of information (“internal polling”). that any response that directly answers the question will also confirm the question’s presupposition(s)—with damaging consequences for the IE. Deeply embedded presuppositions can be put to damaging effect in what have been usefully termed quandary questions (Nevin.

By this means. and it is this aspect of question design to which we now turn. as Roth (1998b) has noted.what prompted this 2     settlement? . Presidential campaign)] 1 IR: -> =. The nature of IR presuppositions becomes most visible when. understandably resists. the or construction presupposes the correctness of one or other of the candidate answers. en we wanta be equitable with everybody. Here. This is something that the IE.S. and presuppose that there can be no others.h Mister Bijur what’s pro:. reducing its status as a “second” action that should properly fall within the terms of the prior question (see also Example 15). For the most part. 6 IE:   To:m it was that we wanted to be f:air: to 7     ah all of the employees involved. See Clayman (1998) for a general account of the use of address terms in news interviews and Heritage (2002) for other practices for reducing the responsiveness of second-position actions. It is notable in this example that the IE begins his response at Line 6 by addressing the IR by name (“To:m”).hh 3   a-> Thuh fact that you concluded your company was 4   a-> in fact discrimina: ting¿ 5   b-> or thuh prospects of: (. In these incidents—and especially in quandary questions—the “difficulty” or “hostility” of the question’s presuppositional content emerges quite clearly. they have been established in earlier interview talk. quite commonly. a Texaco corporate executive. (20) [US NBC Nightly News: 11/15/96:1] 1 IR:   . they are rejected by IEs.60  Studies in language and social interaction (19) [US ABC Nightline: 15 October 1992) ((On the 1992 U.10 In sum. all news interview questions embody presuppositions of some kind.hhh Mister Carville: should Governor Clinton’s 2   -> character now be off: limits somehow? 3 IE:   Well I don’t know anything about his character 4     being off limits thuh man has magnificent 5     character. he projects that his subsequent action will be a “volunteered” first action.) more economic losses.. these presuppositions are clearly shared between IR and IE and.11 The hostility embodied in IR questioning can be further shaped by aspects of question design that favor one type of response over another. The question concerns Texaco’s agreement to settle out of court on charges that the company systematically discriminated against its African-American employees. 10 . simply leaving it the IE to confirm whichever explanation is appropriate. “summoning” him into recipiency (cf. Because of this. the two alternatives (arrowed “a” and “b”) that are presented for the IE to endorse are presented as exhaustive of his motives. the presuppositional basis of many IR questions can easily be overlooked and taken for granted.. Schegloff 1968). And in the following case. we’re a: 8     wonderful: gr:oup of people and family in this 9     company. as in most of the previous cases.

.United States (0. and establishes a higher threshold of accountability if the IE chooses to respond with the dispreferred option. Here the IE is the U. When preference organization is mobilized against the likely position of IEs. Indeed IEs recurrently respond to such questions as opinion statements to be agreed or disagreed with (Heritage. A number of practices of question design—largely associated with yes/no questions—can achieve this outcome.) an admission: that the eh=South 3     African gover’ment’s policies have not worked. an’ 4     in fact that the um. This is important because the more strongly the IR designs a question to favor one response over another. Sacks.is an   incorrect approach.) has not worked. Questions can be shaped to prefer particular responses through the design of the question itself. Conveying preferences through the design of interrogates.hhhh that the approach we   have taken (. 1988)—particular responses.. For example.) toward South Africa is.) d. Various aspects of questions can be designed to favor or facilitate particular IE responses.. Although it might be thought that interrogatives are “safe” and “neutral” because they do not express positions. this not always the case. in conversation analytic terms.. or by a combination of the two. in press). 11 See also Maynard (1985) for a discussion of how presuppositions become progressively disembedded in argument sequences involving children.” This is the only type of interrogative to which IEs recurrently respond in this way. or through prefatory statements. The following is a case in point. This practice treats alternative IE responses as nonequivalent. questions that are framed using negative interrogative syntax—such as Won’t you…..declaration of thuh state of 2     emergency:: (. Pomerantz.2) 5   6 7   IE: 8 9       administration’s policy of constructive engagement   (. the latter may find themselves responding in a more defensive or self-justifying way than might otherwise be the case. Isn’t this…..” is clearly treate d by the IE as asserting an opinion when he replies “I do not agree with you. 1973/1987. Schegloff. “prefer” (Heritage 1988. -> I do not agree with you .a. the more nearly their neurralistic posture may be compromised. Ambassador to South Africa: (21) [US PBS Newshour: 22 July 1985] 1 IR: -> But . and so on—are routinely treated as embodying very strong preferences about answers. Some of these involve features of interrogative syntax itself. 1984. What these practices have in common is some procedure for designing questions so as to invite—or. some evidently are.S.Designing questions and setting agendas  61 Questions “Prefer” Particular Responses Though many news interview questions are not designed to favor particular answers. The IR’s negative formulation “Isn’t this..isn’t this (.

Here. (. not necessarily. Isn’t it a fact? 7 IE:   No. twenty billion of the fifty billion is being 9     handled in just the way you want--through treasury 10     financing. Under these circumstances. I’m not expressing 12   -> my personal views. That’s a technical argument 5 IR -> It’s not a-. it is hardly surprising that the IE treats him as having “taken a position” on the issue (Lines 7–10). Donaldson directly disagrees with the IE (with “It’s not a technical argument. that the taxpayers will 2     pay more in interest than if they just paid it out 3     of general revenues? 4 IE:   No. a return to our first example suggests an interesting kind of disingenuousness on Sam Donaldson’s part: (1) [US ABC This Week: October 1989: Barman] 1 IR: -> Isn’t it a fact. sir? It’s not a technical 6   -> argument. Straightforward cases involve the [statement]+[tag] question design. Darman. it’s definitely not a fact.62  Studies in language and social interaction Given that negative interrogatives are often understood as opinion statements. but also that at Lines 5–6. 13 IE:   I understand. Mr. The use of this format is designed to promote the IE’s agreement with the statement. Example 22 exhibits this construction: (22) [UK BBC Radio: World at One: 13 March 1979] 1 IR: =Do you ascri:be to Marxist economic philosophy.) Well that makes you a Marxist doe[sn’t it. it can be noticed that not only is Donaldon’s first question a negative interrogative of the type that is frequently treated as an opinion statement.= 2 IE: =I would say that there: er: the: (. The statement describes a state of affairs and the tag invites agreement or disagreement with the statement.=Yes. The remaining 11 IR: -> I’m just asking you a question.”).) philosphy of 3   Marx as far as the economics of Britain is 4 5 6 7 8       ->         IR: IE: concerned is one with which I find sympathy. and then effectively reasserts that opinion a second time with a renewal of his earlier negatively formulated question. And it is this that makes Donaldson’s subsequent defense (that he was “just asking you a question”) distinctly disingenuous! Other aspects of interrogative syntax can also be designed to prefer particular responses. thus agreement with the statement is preferred.] [Not nece]ssarily… Example 23 similarly illustrates the device in reverse form: .=and would support it.may I. Because first of 8     all.

(25) [US PBS Newshour: 18 September 1992] 1 IR:   Alright n-. would it? . Earlier in the interview he had justified his candidacy as a means of getting the main political parties to take the deficit seriously. they strongly challenge them to defend those positions.Designing questions and setting agendas  63 (23) [UK BBC Radio: Today: 1993] 1 2 IR:       3 4 5 6 7 8         IE:       ->       Now there’s talk that thuh cabinet will announce some sort of am:nesty for people who’ve committed crimes: ah racially motivated crimes presumably. a representative of the International Society for Human Rights (ISHR). This question. Presidential election.hh Uhm under thuh ah over thuh last few years. That wouldn’t be acceptable to thuh A. an agreeing “No” answer is preferred. asked early in the Bosnia conflict and before Serbian war crimes had been confirmed and publicized. Other aspects of question design can also embody preferences of this kind. For example. the final question-formatted segment of the IR’s turn incorporates the negative polarity terms any justification and at all.hhh Question of amnesty’s a very difficult situation…. as they normally are. agreement with the statement prior to the tag is still facilitated but. as the following case in which the journalist relays other people’s descriptions of prison camps in Bosnia to the IE.S. 4   -> Do you believe there’s any justification for that 5     at all? Here. incorporation of terms like seriously or really can also embody preferences for particular answers.C.12 is “cautiously” designed for a negative answer. federal budget deficit. When they are used.S. For example negative polarity items (Horn 1989) such as any embody a preference for a “No” answer. Finally. in questions that prefer responses that contrast with IEs’ known positions.hhh People have u::sed thuh phrase concentration 2     camps: and thuh Bosnians themselves have used that 3     phrase. Here. in the following case.N. Ross Perot is interviewed about his candidacy in the 1992 U. because the initial statement is negatively formulated. and his position on the growing U. let’s talk about some of the things you . . and directed to a representative of an organization noted for its caution and probity in making partisan accusations. and then asks “Do you believe there’s any justification for that at all?” (24) [UK BBC Radio Today: Bosnia Camps] 1 IR:   .

2) shared (.) sacrifice. A::h a gallon after five y [ears. [(I thought) they feel the American people don’t have the stomach for fair (0.= =Now you’re endorsing that. after listing two potentially unpopular tax measures. the IR and IE collaborated extensively in establishing that the organization that the IE represents is at independent and impartial in the way it deals with human rights issues. the IE (who works for a human rights organization) is asked whether he would describe prison camps in Bosnia as “concentration camps. or Bill Clinton again is going to endorse either [one of those. In addition to the interrogative component of question design. 12 . Do you (. and he must do so in competition with the skepticism that the interviewer’s question conveys. 1992). question prefaces can also be built to prefer particular responses.64  Studies in language and social interaction 2     3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14   RP: RP: IR: RP: IR:     RP: IR: RP: IR:                       -> 15 16 17     RP: -> ->   18 19         20     propose. One straightforward method of doing so is to invoke others who take a particular view of the issue (Clayman. [A:fter five years.hhh People have u::sed thuh phrase concentration 2   -> camps: and thuh Bosnians themselves have used that 3   -> phrase. his answer to this question must be “yes”. Yes.” (26) [UK BBC Radio: Today: Bosnia Camps] 1 IR: -> . the incorporation of the word seriously into the IR’s question is designed for a “no” answer—and is thus hostile to Perot’s political position. Exactly. Do you believe there’s any justification Earlier in the interview. Eh: taxing all but fifteen percent of the social security benefits of recipients that e:arn over twenty five thousand dollars a year. In Example 26.) s:eriously believe that President Bush. If he is to be consistent with his earlier stated position.2) The facts are the American people do=That’s the point we’re trying to make. [Yes Yes. for instance. Here. (1. Designing Preference Through Question Prefaces. it must be accounted for. R: raising the tax on gasoline ten cents a yea:r for the next five y[ears fifty cents.

hh again one’s had a lot of e:uh conflicting .h torture and execution as hallmarks . Although the question itself. As noted previously. 13   -> [.2) have caused great deal 4     of concern. he will be seen to have responded to a carefully and judiciously formulated question. 11 IE:   [Yes. whichever way the IE responds.hh How concerned are you.h then thuh reports we’ve received ah would seem to suggest that is an accurate description for some of them. He introduces the question by referring to anonymous “people” who have used the term concentration camps. The final question asks if there is “any justification” for the use of this term. is in favor of the proposed legislation.h 10     (.4) But first you’ll note . (0. This is obviously a delicate question for a human rights worker to answer. (27) [UK ATV: Afternoon Plus 1979 Abortion] 1 IR:   …Can we now take up then the main issues of 2     that bill which r. And the time limit h (.) I think this is right. A rather more overt mobilization of preference is exhibited in Example 27.hh ah if you count .hhh uh: (. The design of the IR’s question reflects an orientation to this issue.) remain substantially the 3     same. The IE.h of concentration camps .h from twenty eight weeks .hh I think in thuh case of some of thuh larger camps there are. It is just such a response that the question receives (Lines 5–10). and can match it with an equally judicious answer. Overall then.Designing questions and setting agendas  65 4 5 6 7   IE:     ->       8 9         10     for that at all? . as we have seen. Here the interview concerns pending legislation to reduce the time limit for legal abortions. the referencing of others who would answer affirmatively establishes a favorable environment for an affirmative answer.hhh 5     is the clause about (.) according to the 9     bill has now dropped . 14 IE:   [°Yeh° 15 IE:   . the IE had been at pains to stress the apolitical and nonpartisan nature of his organization. thus favoring a “yes” answer. I think that 16     urn: . in an earlier part of the interview.) and indeed (0.) time limits h in which h 6     abortions can be .= 12 IR: -> =Now<a lot of people are very concerned about this. and then augments this with the assertion that the “Bosnians themselves” have used the same term.h legally= 7 IE:   =°(Yes)°= 8 IR:   =ha:d.) to twenty wee[ks. is designed for a negative answer. (. that’s certainly accurate .(. British Conservative MP Jill Knight.

hhh is that there have been th’most distressing cases… The IR’s lengthy question preface (Lines 1–10) shifts topic (Lines 1–4) and describes the proposed reduction of the legal abortion period (from 28 weeks to 20 weeks). is further supported by the flat assertion that all the (internal) government critics “now” have to consider threatening to vote against the government.” The following is a case in point. 5 IR:   We::ll I don’t know. In this way. where a member of the governing Conservative Party is questioned about the upshot of his disagreements with the Thatcher administration: (28) [UK BBC TV Newsnight: 14 October 1981] 1 IR:   But won’t you have to consider threatening to vote 2     against the government.66  Studies in language and social interaction 17 18 19 20                 evidence on this but .S.) what all the critics now 4   -> have to face. . =Which nobody 9     believes and it hasn’t worked. no I.) stage of the intellectual argument 7     which I think . Deputy Defense Secretary is interviewed about the “Gulf War Syndrome” and its 13 See Clayman (2001) for further examples of this process. The final interrogative component of the IR’s turn invites. Here the IE is invited to address the “concern” of people about the reduction in the time limit for abortions. = 3 IR: -> =That’s surely what (. a negative interrogative that is itself strongly weighted to expect an affirmative answer (see the earlier discussion of Example 21). the IE establishes a superficial lexical connection between her comments and the agenda set by the IR’s question. This practice is common in cases where IEs are engaged in defensive “stonewalling. The practice of prefacing questions with statements that are designed to favor particular responses response can be developed to the point that IRs present positions as effectively incontrovertible.hh what has come ou::t h an’ I think that . Here the initial question component of the IR’s turn. The “distressing cases” she goes on to describe involve the destruction of wellformed fetuses. the IE to address that concern. . the U. and thus manages to twist the terms of the question in a fashion that is more helpful to her position.=because what they’ve 8     put forward is just the same old stuff.h the public have been concerned about this. The compelling power of this hostile question preface is shown by the IE’s rather convoluted effort to harness the term concern to issues on her—anti-abortion—side of the argument. Here. when this is something that she herself favors. or challenges.13 In these cases. and then invite IEs to deny them. It culminates in the observation that “a lot of people are very concerned about this” (Line 12).I think the: the we’re 6     still at the (. A similar effect can be achieved by a statement positioned after the question as in Example 28. preference is established by a statement prior to the IR’s question.hh we’re winning.

” The final interrogative simply challenges the IE to deny the evidential status of these various reported statements and assertions. Deutch’s defense is. of course. in the subsequent parts of the interview. and Contrasts Perhaps the most hostile questioning that IRs can engage in involves constructing IEs as some form of disagreement or self-contradiction. and consistency in voting with the party leadership. or (b) as in a situation of inconsistency or self-contradiction in their own positions.hh headaches. that they got . British journalists sometimes refer to this style of questioning as “split hunting. The syndrome is now the focus for claims for compensation by war veterans: (29) [US CBS 60 Minutes: Gulf War Syndrome] 1 IR: Secretary Deutch you say there is no evidence.Czechs: say: 3   that they □foun:d seron.hh You’ve got ca:ses where: khh then. It is less common in the United States where congressional voting is less constrained by party loyalties. We have already seen the first of these maneuvers in several earlier examples (e. 10   .0) 12 IR: If that’s not evidence what is in.) that they did. 8   . 2   . The conflict seemed likely to impact the political succession to Thatcher—if the left prevailed. 5   .hh You have two hundred fifty gallons of chemical 9   agents that were found in:si:de Kuwait. the same topic is pursued in more . The IR contrasts Deutch’s position with the statements of Czechs. the IE in the following example.hh You have soldiers say:ing: that they experienced 6   burning sensations after explosions in the air. led by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. This can take two main forms: IEs can be presented (a) as in disagreement with their political allies. was hostile to closer relations. Hostile Questioning: Splits. th:ey say: (. the IR attempts to induce Heseltine to take up a public position that is opposed to Thatcher’s (and aligned to Heath’s) on three successive occasions and.” A very overt case is the following. 11 and 28). who led a faction favoring closer ties to Europe. The context of this interview is a developing disagreement within the Conservative Party over Britain’s relations with the European Union. It is very common in Britain where the parliamentary process places a premium on party loyalty. the IR manages to exert very strong pressure on the IE’s position. would have been the likely next leader of the party. 11   (1. Her position was opposed by ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath. The Conservative right. oriented to the federal government’s vulnerability to medical and other damages claims. Michael Heseltine. In this case. That 7   they became nauseous. 4   You say they didn’t. the reported symptoms of soldiers. and other observations that are presented as “fact.g.Designing questions and setting agendas  67 possible origin in seron gas used during the conflict.hh You had scuds that had seron in the warheads. which could be very extensive. Forks.. In the way that this evidence is compiled.

This is not a matter of 13     personalities and the conservative party is not 14     going to have th.) discuss 17     the ideas.the sort of row that the media 15     will enjoy:. And I wholly reject the analysis that 18     this will do us harm in the po:lls. In fact.) in this argument closer to 6   -> Mister Heath (.) to place you: (. We begin at the beginning of the interview.hh in: EU: the way in which 12     he has spoken.) than to Missus Thatcher. where the IR’s first question refers to a filmed report that had just been shown: (30) [UK BBC TV Newsnight: 1989] 1 IR:   Well Michael Heseltine let’s begin: with one of the 2     comments towards the end of Margaret Gilmore’s 3     report.) because we shall be telling 20     the British people what the options are.) what 21     the alternatives are. 4   -> Was Philip Stevens of the Financial Ti:mes right 5   -> (. the entire 7minute interview is devoted to split hunting. . (.hhh Well you know one of the reasons that I: 8     wanted to (.hh is 9     precisely to refu:se to invo:lve the personalities: 10     in this issue.Hhh but it is impo:rtant .h that (.= 7 IE:   =.) 16     the conservative party and the country (. (.) come on you:r pro:gra:m . I think Mister Heath has done his 11     own cause a disservice .68  Studies in language and social interaction subtle ways. I believe 19     it’ll do us good (.) and there will be no 22     doubt in my mi:nd they will want conservatives to .

[No [I’m ah you’re gonna try and do and you’re not gonna succeed if we sit here all night.) through personality.) is an illusory fear.= =Where do you: line up on that is:sue. 18–21). Well often uh (. you are not going to get me into a personality [divisive process.…. . But on: the substance of the ar:gument are you closer to: to Mister Heath= =No you’re [back on the [sa:me si[tuation and what [b. In the first yes/no question (Lines 4–6).my.h of a socialist superstate being imposed (0.2) that is (.) the European issue is going to dominate the next deca:de. the IR’s subsequent .hh what Missus Thatcher has been saying: is that there is a danger (.) . the IR constructs an agenda for Heseltine’s response that presupposes the conflict between Thatcher and Heath as its primary reference point.2) and what Mister Heath and others are saying is (0.I cannot overstress(f) to you (. .) politics reach: the public uh (.. and is designed for a “Yes” response.hh [hm I will ta:lk about the ideas of Europe. When Heseltine attempts to reformulate the issue in terms of “discussing the ideas” and “options” (Lines 16–17.h we will divert the industrial’n commercial companies away from the real challenges they face. Well: (eh) technically.Designing questions and setting agendas  69 23   24 IR:   -> 25   26 IE: ->   27 IR: 28 IE:     29     30     31 IR: 32       33     34     35     36     37     38 IR: -> 39   -> 40   -> 41   -> 42   -> 43   -> 44   45 IE: ->   46     pursue: whichever one we select.5) from Brussels (0. becaus:e (.) eh these decisions are ye: t to be ta:ken. and if we try to conduct it on a sort of personality divisive basis . My:.

hh if we don’t get that.= 19 IR:   =In other words. . the IR reinstates the issue for a third time in terms of a substantive disagreement between Heath and Thatcher (Lines 38–44). then I think some of 14     us have to sa:y in.” Most commonly.in all credibility . 21   a-> if things are going well. both on strategic arm:s. with the but preface. Blunkett.hhh independently. I don’t understand the logic of 20     this:. A close relative of split-hunting questions are those that place the IE in a dilemma or “fork. He does so. 9     course we’d have achieved our objective slightly 10     more slowly than we used to deba:te. a British Labour politician is discussing his party’s defense policy: Across a number of earlier turns. which would 12     be welcome and would contribute to the safety of the 13     world. in such a way as to formulate Heseltine’s previous response as an evasion (see the earlier discussion of Example 8). and the. over the first two or 7     three years.[In uh 17 IR: 18 IE:   =you’d like to put it. albeit with a question that is neutral in preference terms. unilateral[ly if tha[t’s the way=   [In uh. these are shaped as “disjunctive” questions. as we would want them to.70  Studies in language and social interaction question (Lines 24–5) pursues the original question of Heseltine’s alignment.” Finally.2) proposals 4     put by different colleagues. what is 2     your: bottom line as you said earlier? 3 IE:   Well I think there’ll be a number of (0. but the bottom line has 5     to be that if things go well and talks procee:d w 6     uh. Although this case is quite egregious. the IR has been pressing his respondent on the issue that the party would like to be rid of nuclear weapons: (31) (UK: BBC TV Newsnight: 1989) 1 IR:   So what will you be pushing for tomorrow. This question is also designed for a “yes. but (. it embodies characteristic features of British political interviewing that are applied to senior figures in all three political parties. For instance. in Example 31.) as 11     part of a: an international change.hh that we 15     would want Britain to be able to remove those weapons 16     . and on the 8     question of a nuclear free Europe…then. uh Mr. and the virtual repeat of the terms of his earlier question at Line 4. of. after Heseltine again declines to respond in terms of “personalities” (Line 36). the atmosphere .

8) 4 IR: a-> It is s::aid that his programs are in trouble.” The second offers an explanation for that trouble in terms of ineffective legislative leadership. The first is that Reagan’s programs. is explicitly offered as implicating Dole himself.2) 15 IR:   Uh whaddyou thi. 7     (0.) give them away [anyway. though not the President himself. are “in trouble. The latter explanation. The IR’s summary formulation (Heritage. and those who would prefer to remove them unilaterally.6) 8 IR: b-> It is said by some people at thuh White House we 9   b-> could get those programs through:: if only we ha:d 10   b-> perhaps more: . that it remains committed to the politically unpopular policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. to some kind of cold war atmosphere. suggesting that the party will remove nuclear weapons under any conditions.… Here the IE’s lengthy statement about his party’s nuclear weapons policy (Lines 3–16) straddles policy conflicts within his party between those who wish to remove nuclear weapons as part of a negotiation. A rather different kind of fork is manifested in Example 32.) go badly. which engenders a little laugh from Dole. 1985) simply sharpens this into an explicit contradiction.nk thuh problem is rilly.hh uhffective leadership up on thuh 11   b-> hill an’ I [suppose] indirec’ly that might ( ) 12 IE:   [hhhheh] 13 IR: b-> relate t’you as well:. the IR offers two anonymous and thirdparty-attributed formulations of the situation. Is it . (32) [US NBC Meet the Press: December 1985] 1 IR:   Senator (0. Here the IE—then-Senate leader Robert Dole—is invited to explain the fact the President Reagan’s political programs are “in trouble.5) uh President Reagan’s elected 2     thirteen months ago: an enormous landslide. but if things (. 3     (0. 14     (0. worse. 5   a-> though he seems to be terribly popular with the 6   a-> American people. This implies either that the party has no coherent negotiating position or.” In the question preface.) you’re quite happy to negotiate the weapons away. then you’ll (.Designing questions and setting agendas  71 22 23 24 25         a-> a-> b-> b-> 26 27 28 29     IE:   b-> b->     of international detente continues (. and I assume by that you mean some kind of return. [Well I: I I’m not talking about giving anything away.

… Here the IR. the IR draws on this extensive question preface and explicitly invites Dole to identify “the problem” in terms of either the (de-)merits of the programs.hh Donald Gregg still swerves as your 3   trusted advisor. building from the film report.7) thuh President (0. as you well know:.4) fired ‘im. 11 IE: Because I have confidence in him. er is it thuh programs themselves. Finally. the conduct of the second individual is normally used as a kind of “moral template” for appropriate conduct (Smith. Schegloff (1988/1989) and Pomerantz (1988/1989) for other treatments of this interview.hh ‘n because this 12   matter Dan:. and Dole’s response avoids these options in favor of a response that cites the weakness of his majority in the Senate (data not shown). begins by asserting that Gregg “still serves” Bush as a “trusted advisor. 1978). The similarities between the advisors are established point for point. in a convergence of the “split” and the “fork” formats. IRs may contrast the conduct of the IE with the conduct of another individual who is allied to the IE.”14 The film report preceding the interview focused heavily on the Iran-Contra scandal.5) 9   Why is Mister Gregg still:: (0. Rather’s opening question took up this topic. 5   . As in Example 20. He was deeply involved in running 4   arms to the contras. In these kinds of contrasts.2) thuh leadership as it might be claimed up on thuh hill. A notable use of this kind of question occurred when then Vice-President (and presidential candidate) George Bush was interviewed by Dan Rather “live” on CBS’s “Evening News. and ended with a description of contacts between Bush’s long-serving national security aide Donald Gregg and Contra middleman Felix Rodriguez. or ineffective legislative leadership. . The contrast between Reagan’s and Bush’s conduct is clearly drawn. and Bush’s conduct is presented as clearly differing See Clayman and Whalen (1988/1989). (33) [CBS Evening News: 1/25/88 Bush-Rather] 1 IR: Mister Vice President. thank you for being with us 2   tonigh:t. In the final formulation of the question. These were presented as exhausting the possible explanations for Reagan’s legislative difficulties.72  Studies in language and social interaction 16     17     (0.2) inside thuh White 10   House ‘n still a trusted advisor. 14 . . neither option can possibly commend itself to a Republican Senate leader.3) trusted 6   advisor: Admiral Poindexter: (0. ‘n ‘e didn’t inform you.5) failed to inform 7   him::. (0.hhh Now when President Reagan’s (0. This state of affairs is then contrasted with the morally appropriate action that President Reagan took when his “trusted advisor” Admiral Poindexter engaged in actions that breached that trust (Lines 5–7).” He continues by depicting Gregg’s conduct as untrustworthy: running arms to the Contras without informing Bush. 8   (0.

Many of the more hostile questions discussed in this chapter simply could not be launched in any other way. In particular the emergence and growth of the prefaced question design. Bush can thus be directly asked to explain the contrast between his conduct and that of his superior—the occupant of the supreme position to which he aspires. For both the IE and the news audience. the IR holds the initiative when it comes to the topics that the IE will be questioned on. the news audience) about the “why that now” issue will shape how the questioner’s purpose is understood and. CONCLUSION This chapter has argued that. News interview questioning is very far from being a neutral activity. Dan Rather’s questioning of George Bush was widely judged to be inappropriate and had substantial negative consequences for Rather and. the IR can manage questions so that particular audience expectations for the IE’s response are mobilised: expectations that the IE may need to resist. Further.Designing questions and setting agendas  73 from Reagan’s. by the news audience—of these characteristics of IR questioning is likely to be shaped by perceptions of the relevance of particular questions. which is not necessarily the same. whether a question is judged to be appropriate or fair. of course. then. Much of the evaluation—by the IE and. News interview questioning. Underlying some of these observations is the suggestion that innovation in question design can be an important element of social change in the news interview context. These presuppositions may be more or less problematic for an IE’s position. This contrast is particularly pointed. and a role model for the position that Bush is currently campaigning for. and to describe their deployment in a range of instances. It can be more or less pointed. As we have seen. more or less desirable) from the IE’s point of view. what the IR’s question (Lines 9–10) proceeds to do. For example. This is. although “questioning” may generally be understood as a neutralistic activity in the news interview context. The conclusions that are drawn by the IEs (and. and where such resistance may incur an additional burden of explanation than might otherwise be the case. especially. represents a formidable extension of the interviewer’s initiative and power. There can be no neutrality in the selection of these topics and contexts: rather the selection will be more or less favorable (or. the IR can manage questioning so that particular presuppositions are incorporated in the design of questions and at varying levels of embeddedness.15 This chapter has aimed at laying out some basic features of question design in the news interview context. 15 . Not only is Reagan Bush’s political ally and superior. for CBS news (Clayman and Heritage. cannot be neutral but only neutralistic. more or less balanced in its approach to its subject matter. just as important. indirectly. and their degree of embeddedness may create greater or lesser difficulties for the IE in formulating a response. the prevailing consideration in relation to each question is “why that now” (Sacks. 1992). neutralism is not to be confused with neutrality. while initially developed and used to inform the news audience about important contextual details. 2002a). and broadcast journalism more generally. Finally. more or less fair. relatedly. he is also President of the United States.

Nichols (Eds. however. Reformulating the question: A device for answering/not answering questions in news interviews and press conferences. (1993). P. S. Maynard (Eds. England: Cambridge University Press. W. In W. has also grown significantly during this period. have different institutional histories in Britain and America. Text.). REFERENCES Boyd. England: Cambridge University Press. Displaying neutrality in television news interviews. 13. by common consent.Chafe & J. It may be conjectured then that in Britain there was a more dramatic growth in prefaced questions. Thus the Attlee example (2) with which this discussion began may truly represent one of the more extreme cases of deferential interviewing that one could find in the anglophone broadcasting context. FCC oversight and regulation of news program content has been minimal. Taking the patient’s personal history: Questioning during verbal examination. Talk at work (pp. news interview context as well. & Levinson. (2). Cambridge. Novermber). J. Evidentiality in English conversation and academic writing. E. Clayman. & Heritage. in all probability. Brown. (in press). it is clear that journalistic initiative has expanded considerably during the past 40 years and. but wide-ranging. (1986). England: Cambridge University Press. by contrast. Moreover.S. During the same period “hostile” question prefaces multiplied by a factor of 450%. there were no competitive pressures that might fuel a reduction in deference and a rise in adversarialness. 261–272).). beginning in the 1960s. (1992).). Clayman. 35(4). (1987). (1988). If this is so. Social Problems. Although the relative absence of follow-up opportunities may encourage journalists to produce more complex questions in the press conference context. S. (1998. that this is directly associated with a growth in adversarialness. Chafe. In P.74  Studies in language and social interaction In a nonrandom. Cambridge. whereas in the United States growth was more steady and gradual and began from a higher baseline. Cambridge. sample of 639 questions from British and American interview data. these figures are nonetheless striking. This in turn suggests that news interview questioning may never have been as deferential in the United States as it was in Britain during the 1950s. New York. and competitive pressures have impacted broadcast journalism from the outset. and may index a parallel underlying growth in the deployment of prefaced questions in the U. Some uses of address terms in news interviews. Footing in the achievement of neutrality: The case of news interview discourse. Clayman. In J. S. Practising medicine: Structure and process in primary care encounters. Clayman. The growth of prefaced questioning may. Norwood NJ: Ablex. Heritage & D. . Heritage and Roth (1995) found that nearly half of the total questions asked were prefaced questions. S..Drew and J. In Britain. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. 159–188. until 1958 when the BBC’s monopoly position in broadcasting was replaced by a duopoly. 163–198). In the United States. 474–492. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association. S. In a recent study of presidential press conferences Clayman and Heritage (2002b) also found that simple questions fell from 44% of the total during Eisenhower’s first term to 21% during Reagan’s first term. legislative regulation and oversight of broadcast journalism has historically been more intense than in the United States.Heritage (Eds. which. Evidentiality: The linguistic coding of epistemology (pp.

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Notes on a conversational practice: Formulating place.A. From interview to confrontation: Observations on the Bush/Rather encounter. Culture and Society 16. M. (1988). E. Sequencing in Conversational Openings. 12. Research on Language and Social Interaction. 1075–1095. Schegloff. 1830s–1930s. 70.A. 215–240. Smith. 22. (1978).A. D. In D. (1968). 442–457. (1994). American Anthropologist.A. Schegloff. E. On an actual virtual servo-mechanism for guessing bad news: A single case conjecture. (1972).Sudnow (Ed. Schegloff. (1988/9). Question authority: A history of the news interview in American journalism. Schudson. E. Media. E. Studies in social interaction (pp.). 75–119). 565–587. Social Problems. New York: Free Press. .(1).76  Studies in language and social interaction Schegloff. K is mentally ill: The anatomy of a factual account. Sociology. 23–53. 35(4).

in most instances of everyday conversation. The concept of TFGs put forth in those articles has proved a powerful analytic tool in communication studies and related disciplines. 1992) that are in turn assumed to vary across cultures. unspoken yet ordinarily understood between-the-lines aspects of talk. the power of the TFG construct lies in revealing the ambiguity and enigma inherent in talk. I focus this discussion of TFGs around a conversation in which distinctive cultural codes form the bases for contrasting proposals for action. This analysis draws upon a tradition within the ethnography of speaking that begins from an assumption that people’s ways of speaking are structured by cultural codes (Philipsen. and the possibilities such incompleteness leaves open for multiple. 1981b) synthesizing theory and research from diverse areas of social science and philosophy. That said. This assumption is not contradictory to the emphasis on structure and organization of talk typical of conversation analysis (CA). that ethnographies of speaking generally proceed under the assumption that speakers draw upon cultural codes of meaning that are constructed across time in order to communicate in a given conversational moment. 1974). pragmatic implications of utterances inferred from felicity conditions and conversational maxims. Unlike CA. This essay illustrates one kind of TFGs in everyday talk: cultural premises. unspoken assumptions drawn from a specific communal system of symbolic resources. then. Although elucidating TFGs can illuminate identification and understanding of culture in talk. 1972. I argue that making them explicit through metacommunication during interaction can be problematic. however. Hopper noted the essentially incomplete and often telegraphic nature of much face-toface interaction. Goffman. that is.4 Taken-for-Granteds in (an) Intercultural Communication Kristine L. . and other well-studied categories of unspoken messages as the parts that when presumed to form coherent patterns. there is an expectation in ethnographies of speaking that such codes will most often be invoked implicitly. 1981a. rather than being referred to explicitly. alternative framings of interpersonal events. It is worth noting.Fitch University of Iowa In a pair of articles (Hopper. which provides the analytic vigor of the concept. constitute communicative frames (Bateson. often productive. despite speakers’ agreement about the objective these proposals are meant to accomplish. and was recently the theme of a Northwest Communication Association convention. Emphasizing that TFGs were not to be equated with nonverbal messages. He pointed out similarities between missing premises in enthymemes. Robert Hopper formulated the nature and functions of taken-for-granteds (TFGs).

) that I’m gonna spend (1.) right now .5) containers fer mo?ney (. e.) a month (2.) one tht you kin draw on t’spend fr things like bake sales an’ one that you don’t touch (.5) .5) If I did tha: t ((swallows)) I don’t (.g. and counts as an enactment of.78  Studies in language and social interaction AN INTERCULTURAL DINNER TABLE CONVERSATION Family dinner table conversation has been recognized for some time as a particularly rich setting for talk that is more obviously culturally situated than in some other settings and activities (see. the 9-year-old son (S) and the 7year-old daughter (D).) mount (. 1989).5) (4 lines deleted) but (. at times. the son asked for an increase in his allowance. What counts as a culturally specific or relevant TFG is discussed in more detail later. a cultural system of belief.         S. It does. provide a starting place for pursuing cultural codes through their subtle appearances in everyday talk. Talk within families is a primary vehicle for socialization of children into a speech community.) Y Y’MIGHT PUT YER WHOLE ALLOWANCE IN THERE BUT THEN THE NEXT DAY YOU GO AND GET ALL OF IT ?OUT (1. however persuasively.   M. it seems like what they’re saying isn’t important enough for you to listen to. 1997. Ochs. to the understandings that underlie those norms (“It’s rude to talk when someone else is talking. That talk may be implicitly instructive. you need to wait your turn”). particularly if it is made on the basis of a single fragment rather than a collection of similar instances. & Taylor. For now.”) A third way in which cultural norms and premises (described by Philipsen. Smith.) the WAY YOU have yer ((cup clinks)) finances situated right now (.) keep building up until you have enough to go to the bank. as parents give voice to cultural norms for behavior and.. I propose that a case can be made that a particular instance of talk is consistent with.hh one that you just (. The participants are the mother (M).5) (with th’llwance I’m getting) (.5) What I? think is you need (. It may also be quite direct. Making such a case. Some side sequences have been edited out for length.       but uh REASonable (. as parents model desired ways of speaking and correct children’s deviations from them (“Erica.) ten dollarsh (.) two: (. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 S. Just before the recorder was turned on. however.) I make LES:SSh: than (. does not constitute ruling out other explanations. 1997. Blum-Kulka. Gabe is talking. (2. The transcript that follows is the first few minutes of a family dinner table conversation that lasted approximately 15 minutes in total. as cultural codes) are discernible in dinner table talk is through examination of such talk for TFGs that are relevant to the matter at hand in some culturally situated way. the father (F).0) »yeah but one thing<< (.             M.

5) The side sequence that begins here and ends at Line 59 involves D stating her intention to go to her room to change the page on her calendar.5) M::?kay (5. 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37   M. 52 53 54 55   F. YOU’RE RIGHT. 38 39   S.Taken-for-granteds  79 19 20 21 22   M. 1 . S. WHAT YOU’RE GETTING NOW. 56   (2.     23 S.     S.   ?.   M.   D. 40 D. 42 43 44 45 46   S.0) EIGHT of it (.5) Well? outta that twelve dol?lars I wancha t’be saving (1. asking D to finish her dinner first.5) Wo?::hh (.5) (1 line deleted)1 dan los (ahorros) a y yo los Give me the (savings) and I’ll take guardo (. THAT’S less than ten dollars (1. 47 48 49 50       S.5) (right) (.5) THAT’S? WHAT= yo los man I’ll keep them =y nadie puede tocarmelos= =and no one can touch them= =THAT’S WHAT (1 line deleted) «I TRI: (.   F.5)the savings that will go to the bank= =okay (. 41 S.0) THREE DOLLARS A WEEK? WELL TWO DOLLARS A WEEK.   S.5) If you gotta raise t’three dollars you’d be making twelve dollars a month hhm sou::nds good (2. 51 F. M vetoes the idea.0) y ocho Between six? and eight He (.5) Los ahorros gue van a ir para el banco= care of them(.) them he could have to spend (1.5) soun?ds good (3.     F.

  M. there has been no clear indication of whether or not he will get the desired increase in his allowance.80  Studies in language and social interaction 57 S.) the WAY YOU have yer ((cup clinks)) finances situated right now (.5) who’m I? t’stand in the way a’ progess.   M.) that which is going to the banco (.) Lo que va a ir para el which is saved saved (. M responds to his request with a proposal for how S should manage his money more generally.     S. perhaps the increase will be contingent on S agreeing to adhere to it.     M.     13   but (. Immediately obvious from this transcript is that S does not get a straight answer to his request. when the topic shifts at the end of segment presented here. between some participants.) will you? (2 lines deleted) That’s what I tried (1.) The re?st no (1. In some contexts.5) hm hm hm Porque tienen que aprender a manejarlo because they have to learn to manage it Well? I’m (. In fact.5) IF IT WOULD HELP YOU OUT TO LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY FOR Papa to 82 83     hang onto it then (.0) that’s what I asked you to do once and then (.) “Will you keep my allowance? for a coupla weeksh?” You’re right? And I was not willing to (be uh) Pero es que yo lo único que voy a guardar es lo que But the only thing I’m gonna take care of is that stá guardao guardado (.) I think if somebody’s hangin onto it for im he’s not? learning ta (. 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81   S.             S? F.) Y Y’MIGHT PUT YER WHOLE ALLOWANCE IN THERE BUT THEN THE NEXT DAY YOU GO AND GET ALL OF IT ?OUT . M does not specify how the proposal is connected to the request. noting a problem with S’s current money management practices: 10 11 12 M. Rather than a yes or no answer. She does go on to make more explicit the basis for the proposal. through food)) manage it (2.   M. the relevance of this response could be questioned.   =I said (. F.) Lo o?tro no bank (.5) hm hm hm (1.5) but if it would help? im out (.5) ((softly.

signaled by her repeated use of the pronoun you: You need two containers.   (Pueden) darme los ahorros… (They can) give me the savings… . however. In Line 26 M emphasizes the vast amount of money he would be receiving. Although the children initially agree to their mother’s stated expectation. language choice itself does not draw a reaction of any kind. F may be offering a suggestion as well.   3 M.” to counter this objection. Certainly this is a common theme of parental instruction to children.) two: (. Of note here is M’s emphasis on the actions and choices of the child himself. F offers a counterproposal to solve the problem of S spending all of his money. S notes that if he follows M’s proposal he ends up with less actual cash in hand than he currently has (getting $2 a week and essentially being free to spend all of it. particularly at the beginning of a sentence. with the initial pronoun/verb left implicit. Neither child misses a beat in these responses. one that you can draw on. as in: F. In Lines 46–54. “twelve dollars a month. whether as an endorsement or as a demonstration of her mental math skills. pronouns are often optional. It seems to be unmarked. In Spanish. There is a clear stylistic contrast between M’s proposal and F’s: 46   F. whatever else may be said about the father’s use of Spanish (a matter that is explored more fully later). and the ambiguity is not one that can be resolved from hearing the tape. one that you don’t touch. as opposed to getting $3 a week and having to put $2 of it into the bank’s container). one that you build up until you have enough to go to the bank. Perhaps calculating the degree of self-restraint that he will be expected to exercise.Taken-for-granteds  81 Comparing the present state of affairs—“the next day you go and get all of it out”—with the preferred alternative “you just keep building up until you have enough to go to the bank” (Lines 6–7)—suggests that the habit M wishes to correct is S spending all of his money. adhering to this proposal will also require (and may be intended to instill) significant self-restraint. rather than saving some of it. after a lengthy pause the father moderates it—“between six? and eight. typical behavior for talk at this dinner table to go on in two languages simultaneously. D quickly figures what spending money would be left under this plan.5) containers fer mo?ney M seems to have offered a suggestion that may be taken merely as an opinion: “What I? think you need…” Whereas F’s utterance sounds like a command: “Give me…” Translation is tricky here. 4   Me dan los (ahorros) a mi y yo los guardo Give me the (savings) and I’ll take care of them What I? think is you need (.” His mitigated proposal comes in Spanish. at the same moment that the son seems to reconsider his agreement to saving all $8. Assuming that goodies bought at a bake sale have more allure for a 9-year-old than a container of money waiting to be taken to the bank.

to manage money. The parting shot is an idiom—a prepackaged.   Porque tienen que aprender a manejarlo because they have to learn to manage it Well? I’m (.   82 83     (2. S’s reaction is immediate enthusiasm: This is exactly what he wanted all along. S is not learning to manage it. F anticipates that it is a parent’s involvement with the child’s money that was the basis for her objection. In her view. F interjects with clarification of his role. the substance of the proposal also contrasts with the one offered earlier by M. formulaic construction. a commonality despite their contrasting proposals: F. In Line 71.5) but if it would help? im out (. It is precisely this quick juxtaposition of the stated view that “if somebody’s hangin onto it for him he’s not learning to manage it” with the (louder) opposite “IF IT WOULD HELP YOU OUT…” that marks the latter as sarcasm.     …that’s what I asked you to do once and then (. what he tried to get M to do for him once.) for a coupla weeksh?” When M confirms that she has previously rejected the plan F is supporting. perhaps all children) need to learn to manage money. only that which is going to the bank. M closes the topic with what sounds on one level like an immediate reversal of field: 79 80 81   M. He will not be in charge of ALL of the child’s money. which would create an accusatory tone. since he has just offered to do so—hangs onto (part of) the money.) I think if somebody’s hangin onto it for im he’s not? learning ta…manage it M’s immediate response is to disagree.) “Will you keep my allowance? (. or perhaps any child. and thus hard to object to. not that “they” (both children.5) who’m I? t’stand in the way a’ progess. he suggests a point of agreement between him and M. but that if “somebody”—certainly F. the plan F has proposed does not count as teaching S. Drew and Holt (1988) noted that idioms frequently occur at the end of complaint sequences.   M.5) IF IT WOULD HELP YOU OUT TO LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY FOR Papa to hang onto it then (.82  Studies in language and social interaction Whatever the illocutionary force of the utterance. There is a note of accusation in the dramatic replaying of his appeal: 58 S. Rather than assigning a container the job of holding onto the savings until enough money has accumulated to go to the bank. When this disagreement is met with silence (Line 79). Although M has not voiced a reason for her refusal to cooperate with S’s earlier attempt to instantiate this system. F suggests (or declares) that he will take on that role. serving as a figurative . Her discontent with the role he has offered to play is mitigated by applying her objection to “somebody”—not to him specifically.

too easy: There are two languages used. she is conceding defeat (at least in this conversational moment). CONTRASTING CODES: CULTURALLY SITUATED TAKEN-FOR-GRANTEDS In what sense. In speaking sarcastically. M is clearly not expecting to elicit agreement with her point of view. I suggest. or remind him of his promise (and thus reinforce it) at moments of temptation. is this conversation among family members intercultural communication? What conversational features mark this (or any conversation) as an instance of contact between members of different speech communities? The most obvious answer seems. in which contrasting proposals are put forth. perhaps with a view toward underscoring the importance of willpower generally. The three English speakers in this conversation plainly have no trouble understanding what is said in Spanish. can be shown to be part of distinctive cultural codes. There are two questions at hand: What are the TFGs behind the distinct proposals. and to what extent. left unstated as is most often the case. Those TFG assumptions. Although language differences may be readily observable boundaries between speech communities. It is the contact between those codes that makes this intercultural communication. This disagreement. so these four could be part of a bilingual speech community in which mixing languages is in itself unmarked behavior. Although their exploration of idioms shows a number of cases in which the function of the utterance is to bring the speaker and recipient into some kind of alignment. accurately. she is in fact complaining that her proposal has not been supported by F or gotten uptake from the children. F’s proposal that he. premises that are readily recognizable as a common . reveals the existence of different assumptions about personhood and relationships as enacted in money management practices.Taken-for-granteds  83 summing-up of a grievance that brings the matter to a close. reproach him for lapses. M’s references in Lines 10–13 suggest that S has unhappy experience with just such lapses. Dividing the allowance and keeping one part of it out of the spending loop is to be a matter between S and two containers. and what is there to suggest that those TFGs are cultural premises? As noted earlier. but not without first commenting on the irrationality of the proposal that has been greeted with more enthusiasm than her own. F’s remedy allows him to rely on another person for help. By contrast. The remedy she suggests. Left unsaid in this particular conversation are ideals of reliance on oneself as an individual versus reliance on other people. There is a noticeable disagreement in this exchange. Assuming she has not really changed her mind from one phrase to the next. take charge of the money allows S to draw upon the strength of another person when his own willpower flags. however. physical objects that cannot praise him for compliance. Hymes (1972) noted that members of a single speech community may well share two languages. An attempt to state common ground that might align the two plans is rejected. relies on increasing S’s ability to control and restrain his impulses. M’s proposal emphasizes the child’s actions and his (autonomous) responsibility for them. a human being endowed in a 9-year-old’s mind with both power and wisdom. Spanish by one of the participants and English by the other three.

they are too broadly conceived to be more than blunt instruments. The fact that this contrast suggests that M comes from an individualist culture and F comes from a collectivist one (Triandis 1988.” and so on. Based on one conversation with one family. between-the-lines aspects of talk. TAKEN-FOR-GRANTEDS IN CULTURAL CODES AND INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION It is well known. that dissimilar TFGs are at the heart of many misunderstandings and disagreements between members of different speech communities. “I want you to use two containers so you’ll become an autonomous individual. which in my cultural belief system is the only kind of self that counts as a whole and healthy one” would have been an awkward thing for M to say in this (or any) conversation. Speakers leave those elements of talk unsaid that they presume to be shared knowledge.84  Studies in language and social interaction contrast between cultural systems.S. relatively solvable (if hardly simple) through . and how often such dimensions of belief actually shape people’s talk and other actions. however. are highly unlikely to make those premises explicit. a catalogue of specific instances that draws upon similar as well as discordant notes to establish cultural patterns (When does the father urge self-reliance? When does the mother offer participation as assistance? To what extent are the varied instances part of a system. The theoretical contribution of the TFG concept is to suggest that such description would necessarily be grounded in examination of implicit messages. illuminate very much that is specific to either culture. this contrast cannot be a welldeveloped account of specific cultural themes that distinguish M’s cultural background (U. and how may that system be described?) could be the basis for a more nuanced picture of contrasting cultural premises. 1988) does not. the only distinctive feature of intercultural communication would be language differences. in intercultural communication as in other kinds. middle class) from F’s (Colombian middle class). even when they are well aware that they are interacting with someone whose cultural premises are different from their own. which in my cultural belief system is the only…. although resonant and often useful. cultural premises can be discerned in everyday talk. The reasons why this is so. and other serious muddles related to language use and meaning. then. Its presence suggests that with a collection of talk. is this observation any more helpful than the obvious and unremarkable one that these people are speaking different languages? A problem with durable dichotomies like individualism/collectivism is that. They hack out the most obvious differences between cultures without giving clues about how. Interlocutors. In what sense. that you need other people’s help to do anything in the world. or at least widely suspected. The theoretical contribution of cultural explanations such as this one is to suggest that there is a system of meaning there to be discovered: Although implicit and subtle. are a useful point with which to conclude. there are quite understandably different approaches to communicative goals. If the problem were not in these implicit. and often become most visible when they come in contact with a different system of premises—as is by definition the case in intercultural communication. as would “I want you to depend on me so you’ll learn that you are incomplete on your own. Triandis et al. when. this contrast is a readily hearable TFG in this exchange. Nonetheless. When they come from different systems of belief. divergent interpretations of action.

make it clear that there is a definite limit to which explication of that kind is practical in everyday talk. Part of the enormous weight of cultural codes to shape action and interpretation comes from their pervasive unspokenness. contradiction. The notion of TFGs emphasizes how much of culture. dismissive of the hearer’s faculties to reason as an individual. aware after many years of conversation with F that included discovery of cultural patterning in the disagreements between them. this customary implicitness of cultural premises increases the risks involved in holding them up to conversational daylight. Another reason has to do with the nature of cultural premises. to those that are quite direct. When human agency (for example) is spoken of in ways that emphasize autonomy and individual selfhood (“you…you…you… you”) it becomes difficult to imagine other ways the (social) world could be arranged. a counterproposal that interdependence among intimates was a more legitimate principle to instill. One of those is the potential face threat involved: To make explicit something that a competent hearer could be assumed to know calls into question how competent this particular hearer actually is. Given speakers’ abilities to search indirect utterances for meaning by inference on the basis of quantity. The conversation examined here. it is not surprising that direct utterances would be subjected to a similar kind of scanning.Taken-for-granteds  85 fluency and attention to strict accuracy of expression. and Hopper’s observation in the TFG articles that interpretation may be forever enigmatic and incomplete to some degree. and how many difficulties in intercultural communication. “Is this how Colombians teach children to manage their money?” she might have inquired. along the lines of “Isn’t that just like a wo/man?” . this one related to Grice’s maxims (Grice. 1975). Members of a speech community hear talk in well-worn grooves of inference. It seems very likely. A final reason TFGs must ordinarily be left implicit has to do with a further paradox. and working through areas of misunderstanding. a metacomment that attributes the meaning of an utterance to membership in a category to which the hearer belongs and the speaker does not carries a strong suggestion that the comparison is critical or sarcastic. relevance. come down to ideologies subtly hidden (because they are never given voice to) in and around spoken language. and truth. ranging from those that are so indirect that they go unnoticed by participants. However benign—even generous—the intention behind the question. than it is to debate the fundamental. especially when the goal itself is not questioned. A common route to discovering such cultural differences. and other forms of disagreement. that some premises are too delicate to put into words. Making explicit a cultural premise can paradoxically call it into question. Besides increasing the difficulty of articulating them (a significant factor in itself). Regardless of the phrasing. includes prescriptions to discuss TFGs in order to make explicit that which is unsaid. had explored his proposal for the cultural premises underlying it. Alignment mechanisms are available. the contrast with her own position raises a face threat similar to the competence challenge just mentioned. It is far safer to argue over procedures for reaching a particular goal. They must remain unspoken for a variety of reasons. sacred symbols underlying social life more generally. quality. Suppose that M. For M to insist explicitly that children must develop individual self-restraint would be to open a slot for resistance. however. clarifying TFGs by way of making them explicit.

is undeniably plausible. G.. (1972). G. D. Philipsen. Goffman. 228–236. Frame analysis. (1989). 195–211. Asai. (1972). Philipsen. 238–257. Logic in conversation. C. Speech acts (pp. London: Macmillan. P. Developing Theories in Communication (pp. Smith. Grice. E. Triandis. Mahwah. New York: Academic Press. H. R. Models of the interaction of language and social life.. Steps to an ecology of mind. Albany: State University of New York Press.. Villareal. (1981a). 398–417. In J.).L. perhaps with similar configurations of cultural background. Social Problems 35. There is even room to argue that the difference of opinion here. Robert Hopper’s signature contribution to the field. H. Triandis. would require a great deal more examination of other conversations between this couple and in other families. New York: Harper-Colophon. . ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am grateful to the members of the Discourse and Rhetoric Group in the Department of Social Sciences at Loughborough University for their very useful discussion of the|transcript presented in this chapter. R. Hopper.Verma & C.C. & Lucca.J. Rinehart & Winston. 7(3).Hymes (Eds.Bagley (Eds. Dinner talk: Cultural patterns of sociability and socialization in family discourse. & Holt. The taken-for-granted. Bontempo. (1988).P. A theory of speech codes. Detective stories at dinnertime: Problem solving through co-narration. Gumperz & D.86  Studies in language and social interaction The interpretation of competing codes I have offered here rests on cultural differences. Among those. In G. Collectivism vs. M. 41–58). The careful excavation of everyday talk that would entail is. Philipsen & T. individualism: A reconceptualization of a basic concept in cross-cultural psychology.. REFERENCES Bateson. Blum-Kulka. (1997). in which F’s more forceful proposal supersedes M’s. N. New York: Holt. Communication Quarterly 29. E. Individualism and collectivism: Cross-cultural perspectives on selfingroup relationships. J. Hymes. & Taylor. S. How to do things without words: The taken-for-granted as speech action. Directions in sociolinguistics: The ethnography of communication (pp. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Human Communication Research.) Cross-cultural studies of personality. Albany: State University of New York Press:. Drew. Cultural Dynamics 2.. 323–338. In P. appropriately enough.). (1981b). Albrecht (Eds. (1992). Hopper. E. (1988). (1974). In G. is idiosyncratic. (1988). (1975). 119–156).. undercutting the legitimacy of her position and drawing the children’s support away from her.. Speaking culturally.). III. R. each of which entails TFGs based in distinctive kinds of shared knowledge. 35–71). G. Sorting through these possibilities.Cole & J. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 54.Morgan (Eds. a gender difference perspective. There are certainly other readings of this conversation that might be offered. R. and the ways in which participants express their competing views. H. Syntax and semantics: Vol. New York: Chandler. Complainable matters: The use of idiomatic expressions in making complaints. Ochs. (1997).

1999a. A graded assignment for the leaders. What Do You Guys Think?: Think Talk and Process in Student-Led Classroom Discussion Robert T. sex education. When time was up. The leaders usually sat together at the front of the classroom with other participants either facing them or completing a large circle. public university. the leaders would open with a formal presentation. sometimes abruptly. Usually. 18–25 students. sometimes structured by a series of questions posed by leaders to the class as a whole. 1987) are used by participants to constitute contributions to the discussion as expressions of continuing. introducing the issue and providing background information. not necessarily to reach consensus. sometimes more free-flowing or managed by the leaders in apparently ad hoc ways. or media ethics. Background readings were sometimes assigned by the leaders in advance of the discussion. 1997). more often with some attempt to summarize and conclude. sometimes structured around reports by small groups. 1999b). 1999a. one of which involved working in a small group to prepare and lead a full-class discussion of a current. General discussion.. 1996–1998. controversial issue such as capital punishment. The discussions followed variations of a standard format. The leaders selected and researched an issue and conducted a 40-minute class discussion. the discussions were observed and recorded by the instructor. aspects.Craig University of Colorado at Boulder Alena L. consistent standpoints on the issue.Sanusi University of Colorado at Boulder This study examines certain uses of “think talk” (expressions such as I think and What do you think?) in student-led classroom discussions on controversial issues.group discussions. including the group of 4–6 leaders. Often they would then break the class into small groups assigned to discuss briefly particular questions. 1980. 1999b). would follow the opening presentation and/or small. co-construction of “the issue” as a metadiscursive object and its use in presenting standpoints and managing the discussion (Craig. .S. Data are drawn from recorded discussions in several undergraduate critical thinking classes at a large. Craig and Sanusi (2000) showed how I’m just saying and related discourse markers (Schiffrin.5 “’So. or points of view on the issue. Students in this course were instructed in critical thinking techniques and participated in practical exercises. based on their research. the use of animated mock figures in the construction of arguments (Muller. usually participated. 1999). The official purpose of the discussion was to facilitate critical thinking on the issue. Previous studies of these discussions have examined the use of critical thinking terminology to mitigate the interpersonal implications of disagreement and criticism (Craig. the leaders would end the discussion. western-U. who otherwise did not officially participate. and a problematic transition from an opening presentation to subsequent class discussion (Sanusi.

an excerpt condensed from a transcript of a discussion of sex education. In a concluding section. it marks the turn in progress as a presentation of the speaker’s response to the currently relevant group topic. I think. our family structure.) religious or moral values but (. thus moving the process along. we reflect on the implications of this analysis for understanding the semantics and pragmatics of I think. (1) (Condensed) 1 M: 2 Jack: 3 4 5       6 7 8       Jack? I think that (. to mark transitions between canned and online discussion and invite expressions of online thinking from other participants.) um: (.) well two things. In our data. Discussion leaders often invite these reactions by the use of expressions such as What do you guys think? in presenting a topic to the group. ((about 13 lines deleted)) Now if you’re ge. If participants in group discussion routinely use tokens such as I’m just saying to display their contributions as expressions of unchanging viewpoints.) really screwed up.I guess in a way but at least .that way you’re not attacking (. How is this accomplished? Our analysis focuses on the use of I think and related expressions as markers of online process. except by virtue of being the next in a series of expressions of opinion by different members of the discussion group. the current turn may not be relevant at all to the immediately preceding turn. The following sections present data illustrating how think talk is used by discussion participants to index their own statements of opinion as expressions of online thinking situated in the ongoing discussion. As such. I think marks the current turn as one in a possible series of different individual reactions to the topic. to maintain a sense of process when process seems threatened by a lack of potential for controversy on the topic. how do they also display the relevance of their contributions to the ongoing process of discussion? Group discussion involves “online” talk—talk that responds to the current state of the discussion and occasions further such responses by others. especially in the opening stretch of a turn at talk.an I don’t think that. (I think) in the United States is (.) well. can be used to indicate a particular kind of relevance to ongoing talk that characterizes the process of group discussion. exemplifies the density of I thinks that can occur in such discourse. In such cases. I THINK AS A MARKER OF PROCESS Example 1. and finally. and for further studies of interaction in classroom discussions and related institutional settings.88  Studies in language and social interaction The present study in a sense complements Craig and Sanusi’s (2000) analysis of continuity markers. One I don’t think we can rely on family structure. the relevant group topic is usually the discussion issue or some more immediate question or statement presented by a discussion leader. but not necessarily as a response to anything said about the topic by other speakers. I.

I was just wanted to say that to say that uh-I   agree with that I think that like.) just   sex or whatever an.) () Jennifer I was gonna say I think it’s of importance that   they define things like abortion and homosexuality   because we probably all knew somebody in high   school who’s just totally naive: (. But that they really define them so students   know. a-homosexual but they’re too afraid to come   out and this will give them (. You know.   (.) we. (And   you don’t like it.) things like that   to be taught are important for people are (.) Shelley: I think just even more so going on with that I   think that (.) you   know.) What it is.) I mean. and I think it’s really important   that not necessarily they push one side or the   other.were friends with those people   there are people in (.) about   everything. to what those things even mean.) accept that it’s out there.you know like every other heterosexual   relationship and I think that (.if someon. It’s about like relationships and things like   that an.) um people are so opposed to things   like homosexuality is because.if you have to write a   paper or like (to have) a presentation like this.(. whether we were those   people or (.) F?: So (.) high school that are   totally naïve.) like a way ta. and.like   like out they’re just ignorant about it I mean they   think that (.things like um:   (.   Stuff like that in high school I think is really .) you know it’s all abour:t (. You know.“So.   Really. What (. What Do You Guys Think?”  89  9   10   11   12   13   14   15   16   17   18   19   20   21   22   23   24   25   26   27   28   29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45   regardless of whether or not you believe in it you   still have ta (.(.) y’know but it’s more than   that.to   have better self-esteem about themselves and feel   better about themselves.) it means? (.) maybe:: if. F?: ( ?) Brooke: Na.

” however. in arguing that teaching about homosexuality is needed because the reasons for opposing it are based on ignorance and it will help homosexual students to feel better about themselves.) the government should be able to:: (.” Each continues topical threads of previous turns (a prosex education stance.) heated topics like homosexuality:. a discussion leader (Tad) posed the question “(Wul/But) do you guys think like (. Shelley can be heard as presenting another view in response to the question earlier posed by a discussion leader (Tad). should be something that (.) talk about?” After some elaboration by Tad (seven lines) and some brief transitional business. Initiating his turn with I think. shifts the topical focus from Jack’s view back to Shelley’s. 1 . The following “I think. although it continues Jack’s just preceding topic of homosexuality. does not respond to his specific points. Two following speakers in succession.1 “Even more so going on with that” indicates broad agreement with the preceding turn and that the following remarks will extend the preceding topic in some unspecified way. Jennifer and Brooke. especially in turn transitions. you can define but. Her subsequent contribution. The omission of possibly relevant nonverbal details. Each opens her turn by marking a temporal disjuncture (“I was gonna say” [Line 28].) you know have an opportunity like this ((turn continues)) In this stretch of discussion.90  Studies in language and social interaction 46   47 48 49 50 51           important but you can’t really just teach you know. “Na-I was just wanted to say” [Line 41]) between the sequential position of her turn and the unspecified recent moment in the discussion that immediately occasioned what she is about to say.) w-where would you even begin to teach about (. and abortion:. in what can be heard as an implicit response to Tad’s question. I think is used to mark each turn as one in a series of expressions of opinion on the topic of sex education. Jack is called on by a leader (Line 1) and takes the floor (Line 2). present further views on the topic of teaching about homosexuality in schools.” Also (like Jack) opening with “I think” (Line 12). that sex education in public schools is necessary because “I don’t think we can rely on family structure.(. omits nonverbal behaviors that were available to the participants. Each speaker prefaces her contribution with “I think. based on an audio recording.) abortion when there’s so many different sides? But I think it is important to do stuff like (. Prior to this segment. Shelley begins speaking and positions her turn as the next in a sequence by contrasting it with the preceding (“I think just even more so going on with that I think”). It is quite possible that Shelley did not self-select as next speaker but was nonverbally selected by Jack or a discussion leader in response to her nonverbal bid for the floor (such as a raised hand). Jack argues. Rather. societal ignorance of homosexuality. the value of specific learning experiences) while not responding to specific points made by previous speakers. The transcript. should be kept in mind when reading these transcripts.” and that topics like homosexuality should be included because “whether or not you believe in it you have to accept that it’s out there.

But I think it is important to do stuff like (Lines 49–50). . but rather primarily to mark contributions as expressions of online thinking within the discussion process. In these cases. nor to express politeness or deference. however the phrase does not appear to be used primarily as a hedging or downtoning device. Notably.) you know. they generally display the features of preferred rather than dispreferred turn shapes (Pomerantz. What (. In Example 1. (Lines 36–39) . 1987. I think seems to function in such routine. there is little to suggest that speakers in this free-flowing segment of discussion are expected to build tightly on one another’s comments any more than they actually do. a-homosexual (Lines 20–22). a sense of speaker commitment. or qualified.g. Each advances the discussion primarily by contributing the speaker’s own view on the current topic. I think indicates a relevant response to the current discussion topic but also licenses a certain topical disjunctive as the discussion jumps from one individual point of view to another. in a fairly literal way. 1997). In short. I think it’s really important that not necessarily they push one side or the other. What Do You Guys Think?”  91 In the linguistic literature. unproblematic stretches of talk neither especially to modify illocutionary force (either to boost or downtone). you can define but. Their expressions of opinion are not markedly hesitant. apologetic. Note the appearance of the word important/ce in the propositions with parenthetical I think in the following excerpts: I think that (.) w-where (Lines 45–47).“So. occasioned by the current state of the discussion. I was gonna say I think it’s of importance that they define things like abortion and homosexuality (Lines 29–31). in expressing whatever opinions on the topic happen to occur to them in the moment. Coates.) it means? (. Each turn links sequentially and topically to prior turns but does not primarily build on or respond to previous speakers’ opinions. are doing anything other than what they apparently ought to be doing in the situation. It marks process. Turnbull & Saxton. I think marks an expression of opinion on a shared topic but from an individual point of view. Galasinski.(. Stuff like that in high school I think is really important but you can’t really just teach you know.) What it is. distinct from succeeding and following points of view. But that they really define them so students know. It would seem unlikely that a speaker would be downtoning a proposition for which she is claiming importance. I think appears most regularly in discussions of modality and hedging (e. as a lexical verb. the I think might be understood as contributing modality. 1996. there is no evidence that participants in this stretch of discussion. is the flowing quality of the talk and how I think is used to mark each in a series of expressions of opinion. however. The opinions presented in Example 1 are all generally favorable to sex education but are otherwise diverse.) things like that to be taught are important for people are (. More noticeable to us.. that is. 1984).

) pt what do you guys think of that. The only I think in Sally’s (the spokesperson’s) talk is the initial I think. (2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Jack:   I hope we’ve kinda outlined each one of these (.4) Sally: I think right now I mean there’s like a little   bit of miscommunication cause our group (.) with issues [that were:-] that were= M: [((cough)) Sally: =false or exaggerated or you know like what’s been   taken out of context and those   things like I would say you know (. whose syntactic parallelism with Jack’s question marks her talk as designed as a response to his question and what follows as her sense of the discussion that had occurred in the group in which she was participating. .     (2.n yes I agree   the public has the right to know I agree with a lot   of those things as far as the First Amendment is   concerned .) any uh these.= M2: =((murmurs [of agreement))] Sally: [focusing on that?] w(h)e(h)e   we(h)e(e)re focusing on.) sure I.) examples the   Ramsey case or (.) whether you guys are on the   opposite sides or (.92  Studies in language and social interaction TRANSITIONS BETWEEN CANNED AND SPONTANEOUS TALK In Example 2.) n.) bring up points and also y’   know.hhh like taking things .I’d   like to know about things going on in the press as   long as they’re true n that (.) conclusions an hh reasoning why I asked y’guys   what y’guys think (. Talk produced while a student is speaking as a spokesperson is noticeable for its very lack of I thinks. hhh what do you   guys think like the Globe pictures that were published.hhh but we were more focussing o::n   weren’t we? M1: Mm hm.y’ go specifically into the (. students deal with the problem of speaking on behalf of a group rather than on one’s own behalf.) primarily   dealt with (. (.

Sally’s talk in Lines 10–29 also provides evidence that What do you think? invites online rather than canned expressions of opinion.)(. the presentation of a view already discussed within the group) but quickly resorts to I think. marking his talk as spontaneous. It projects nothing about the contents of the reactions except that they will be reactions to that something and that they will be reactions. which would require a frame shift or “time out” from discussion in the larger group. is interesting in a number of ways.(. in which M initially tries to speak on behalf of “us guys” (implying canned talk.“So. including a short stretch of side talk with members of her group. didn’t focus on the kinds of examples Jack just referred to. . then reporting on behalf of a group becomes a potential trouble point. Such expressions invite reports of online thinking in reaction to some stimulus. her explicit checking with the group that she is representing their views accurately (Lines 21–22). The group has just finished presenting a series of reasons for and against increasing restrictions on the press. Her small group. In this case. in order to serve as a stimulus for a discussion that is now to occur among the entire class. Sally indicates in a variety of ways that she is responding to Jack not just as an individual but on behalf of her small group.. later). i. Think is used by Jack to mark this transition from canned to spontaneous discussion by inviting expressions of opinion. she says.) I mean.making up stories or y’know or compensating for a lack of facts (then. that is. Example 3 is a similar exchange from a discussion on health insurance reform. so she has no thoughts to express on those issues. Jack asks other participants what they think as a way of transitioning from the presentation of canned (prepared) material to open discussion. Sally’s account in Example 2 displays not only her online reaction but also her awareness that the thoughts invited by Jack are expected to be reactions specifically to the kinds of examples he has presented. What Do You Guys Think?”  93 27 28 29       out of context an.) but In Example 2. marking her turn as a response to Jack’s invitation. If think is about in-process reactions rather than canned presentations. Sally’s extended turn at talk. her use of I think to mark her immediate thoughts and her nonuse of it in other contexts. The presentation has been prepared by the group members as a summary of breakout small-group discussions that they led. but this spokesperson role becomes rather problematic for her. and then by Sally. because the group’s thoughts are either previously agreed upon (canned) or have to be negotiated on the spot. and her laughed speech in Lines 25–26. Our main interest at this point in the analysis is what her response suggests about the interactional properties of What do you think? What do you think? invites expressions of opinion in reaction to something presented or indicated by the speaker. Sally goes on. to explain that she is unable to make an acceptably relevant response.e. however. Sally’s orientation to this problem is reflected in her tense shifts. Similar uses of What do you think? or What do you guys think? occur quite frequently in our data (also see Example 5. expressions of online thinking from presumably differing individual points of view. Jack is speaking as one of a group of students who have been assigned to lead a discussion of media ethics.an.

M displays the awkwardness of expressing an online group reaction as he retreats to (and proceeds with) expressions of his own individual online reaction.) oh we we think it’s a moral responsibility and stuff but I think that seeing from other countries trying to do this and seeing how it has it hasn’t had any positive effects and p then () bring it back to our our current plan I think that ah it’s just it will be more abused than it will be used ((turn continues)) M responds to F’s question. I mean Example 4. and. unless the group is following a prepared agenda. MAINTAINING CONTROVERSY Examples 1–3 have illustrated some ways in which think talk is used in contexts where the processual aspect of discussion is threatened or needs to be emphasized. Galasinski. illustrates another environment that can constitute a threat to the discussion process. We now turn to evidence for yet another threat to process in the context of a class discussion: lack of controversy. transitions from canned talk to open discussion.94  Studies in language and social interaction (3) 1 2 3 F: M:   4 5     6   7 8 9       How do you guys feel about that. there may be nothing immediately at hand to discuss. namely agreement. and shifts from speaking on behalf of a group to speaking as an individual. 1996). with a false start) to the less evaluative we think and then to I think. because once the group has reached a point of agreement.you know we all kind of we agree that (. directed to his small group.) people need to be aware. (. In all of this. with talk laden with signs of trouble including false starts. and side interaction (including soft laughter) with members of his group. including: sequences of diverse. as to how they “feel” about the moral responsibility to provide health care to people in need. loosely related opinions. um how do we feel about that ((several people laughing softly)) (. from the same sex education discussion as Example 1.Wul it seems.wul it seems to me tha:t like most of us agree: an.) like a controversial thing among parents.and it’s gonna happen anyway whatever. then shifts (still uneasily. His response is first marked by we feel (arguably displaying himself as cooperative in that he takes up F’s focus on how you guys feel.) Why do you guys think that it’s such: (. As we . (4) 1 2 3 4 Emily:       5 6     Do you guys?. Agreement among all participants in a discussion can threaten the continuation of the discussion process. hesitation.

) what you guys feel? because I mean my. whether [or not sex 3 Tad: [Before. (.) 19 Emily: (Well?) So! What d’ya guys think. which we are. a discussion leader may invite further discussion by marking points of agreement. and inviting reactions with some variation of What do you think? When a topic for discussion threatens to be uncontroversial. 2 0 Tad: We were going to break you guys into groups but (.) 21   we figured that that’s been overworked a lot in 22   this class? so we figured we have a kinda 23   jus-= 24 Emily: =( )= 25 Tad: =have a open? (.) sex 31   education should be taught in schools because I 32   don’t think it is up to the government to (be .) 28 F?: °I know:° 29   (.) discussion? (.) we talked about 10   how condoms should be distributed in school. I think 14   ((turn continues.) but (. What Do You Guys Think?”  95 can see in Example 4.before we 4   wanta know what you guys think 5 ?: mm hh-huh-huh 6 Tad: I just wanted to make sure that.be.wer 7   we’re presenting ourselves (. I guess we’d like to know.“So. presenting a new question or item of information.) 30 Tad: have changed a little bit.) and maybe just 26   (. But. Urn. what you 2   guys think about. 30 lines deleted)) 15   (.I’mean wer.) sex ed in schools is 13   a different thing. (5) Condensed 1 Emily: So. as in Example 5. as far as (. we 11   may: be: showing you guy:s that that we’re for: sex 12   e:d.) in sort of a biased 8   standpoint because we did the whole condom exercise 9   and we passed out condoms an’ (. leaders may do considerable work to mark it as open to various opinions and therefore potentially controversial when inviting opinions.) but this kind of gives like a: just a gradual 16   leap into the actual talking about sex and uh what 17   goes on in (children’s lives)? 18   (. so. b’cause.my 27   views: (.

(. that open discussion is wanted. again. even though the leaders are “presenting ourselves in a sort of biased standpoint” in favor of sex education. that the topic really does warrant discussion as evidenced by the fact that Tad’s own views “have changed a little bit” (Line 30). the condition being that the topic is uncontroversial. “I think” can be a token that a speaker uses to bypass conditional relevance of her contribution to the immediately preceding talk in favor of the contribution’s relevance as one of a series of individual reactions to a leader’s question. we have described several ways in which think talk is used to index online thinking and expressions of opinion in the discussion process.) °then) ° (. We conclude with a brief discussion of some possible implications in regard to the semantics and pragmatics of I think. Think talk also can be used to mark transitions between canned and open discussion.96  Studies in language and social interaction 33 34 35 36     Emily: Tad: forcing) something like this. in .” Tad interrupts and proceeds to talk at some length. Emily then repeats her question a second time. but the way he puts forward those markers of thought-in-process in the service of presenting something to be reacted to in a situation that threatens an end to the talk. (. and to maintain a sense of process when the potential for further discussion on the topic seems threatened. 1980) in that it focuses attention on the status of the talk.) I think it’s more parents and more religion. it does so in ways that have little to do with the semantics of the verb think and more to do with a need to display what kind of talk it should be taken to be. Think talk again is occasioned by agreement as a threat to the discussion process. In this segment. and other members of the group assigned to lead this class discussion on sex education have presented a large amount of canned information about the topic. What is interesting about Tad’s I think and I don’t think is less his attitude as speaker toward his own propositions. DISCUSSION In summary.) Alright![ ]So whataya guys think! [(°uh°)] Example 5 occurs at the end of a long introductory segment in which Emily. and further research on classroom discussion and related forms of institutional discourse. still more emphatically than before. emphasizing that. and. after which open discussion begins (finally!). However. Emily at Line 1 initiates a transition from canned presentation to open discussion with a markedly hedged expression of interest in “what you guys think. I Think. more confidently than before.) At Line 19 Emily recycles the question. Tad displays great concern to repair a condition that may render Emily’s invitation to open discussion unsuccessful. (Thirty lines have been deleted from Tad’s long turn. but Tad again interrupts to report that the leaders have decided against using an “overworked” approach. Tad. Modality and Politeness Our analysis finds that think may function as meta-talk (Schiffrin. the topic really is controversial. It is only by freeing ourselves from the expectation that words contribute semantically rather than pragmatically that we can see the way these phrases.

As such. 1987. I think resists categorization as either a downtoner or a booster (Holmes. Galasinski. I think also serves to Interestingly. Given that it can usually be taken that what one says is what one thinks (as can perhaps be inferred by the fact that what is usually explicitly marked is deviation from that expectation). 1996) or of modality as it functions to do facework (e.. and to express affective meaning or the speaker’s attitude to the addressee in the context of the utterance” (p. I think most often appears in discussions of modality and hedging (e.. the question arises what that work might be. we argue that I’m (just) saying and I think can serve complementary functions of maintaining personal standpoint continuity and keeping the discussion going. 2 . It appears to us that I think. As Holmes (1984) pointed out. 1995). Curiously. In the linguistic literature. What do you guys think?. 1984) of speaker commitment because. as we noted earlier. 1987.g. and their social implications) of the semantic content of the lexical verb think. although semantically. 1997).2 However. Schiffrin (1990) noted that although modality. 1998) and okay (Beach. Perhaps this ambiguity accounts for why I think is absent from Schiffrin’s (1987) discourse marker model of discourse. but we would like to suggest that I think may also be used in a way that is quite independent of the semantic content of the verb. Turnbull & Saxton. have been put to a metadiscursive task that is not clearly predictable from the semantics of the words. as a lexical verb.“So. 1987. whose verbs appear to refer to a particular way of “holding” a kind of cognitive entity. We suggest that there is evidence in our data that I think may be doing interactional work much in the fashion of tokens like oh (Heritage. like I believe. I think seems to draw on the implications (e. why bother to explicitly metalinguistically mark the expected? We recognize that I think no doubt often participates in meaning making through the semantic contribution of the verb think (as Schiffrin. This of course raises the question of whether the overt marking of modality through I think might have some other discursive or communicative functions. it would seem to have a place with such discourse markers as you know and I mean. it may either hedge or intensify/highlight the speaker’s commitment to her utterance. 348). In these functions. rationality. in fact argued to be the case for you know and I mean). What Do You Guys Think?”  97 the examples we have presented. intentionality. particularly in its (sequentially more or less distant) relationship to a discussion leader’s question posed roughly in the form. or speaker commitment to a proposition.g.. which do important interactional work despite their scant semantic content. Coates. points to the speaker’s making this contribution as a second pair-part made relevant by that question. may be marked in a variety of (perhaps redundant) ways both linguistically and metalinguistically. so that a speaker using I think would be referring to and characterizing a consciously held opinion or intent. 1984. If we can see I think as a relatively semantically empty token that might be doing some work besides referring to and characterizing mental states. there may in fact be no such marking at all. depending on its intonation pattern. Brown & Levinson. Schiffrin’s structuralist approach to discovering the meanings of you know and I mean through examining their complementary functions roughly parallels our own approach: whereas Schiffrin (1987) found that you know and I mean work to shift orientation between speaker and hearer.g. these represent the two primary reasons why a speaker would want to modify the illocutionary force of a speech act: “to convey modal meaning or the speaker’s attitude to the content of the proposition. though.

The preponderance of I think and the relative scarcity of you know markers in our data contrasts with the overwhelming preponderance of you know sequences in the speech of Huspek’s working-class respondents. we are not claiming that this is the only function that I think prefacing can perform. Within the classroom setting itself. In these other settings. nor are we claiming that no other mechanisms exist for accomplishing this same interactional task. including teacher-led classroom discussions. for example. Whereas participants in our discussions are of essentially equal status. discussion process as well as continuity of standpoints in the expression of opinions is surely important. The pattern of our data is consistent with the predominantly middle-class status of our students. even though some perform a differentiated role of discussion facilitator. Lines 26–35). that this is one interactional function that I think appears to be performing in the data we have examined. In claiming that I think is a participant’s resource for doing this kind of interactional work. The significance of preliminary observation is that it opens up the possibility of research that focuses on communicative problems in particular settings. what might be the distinction. These possibilities can be explored empirically in studies of different groups and settings. I think seems to be a participant’s resource for the performance of discussion. which alternate in interesting ways in our data (see Example 3. one salient problem is to maintain the flow of talk as required both to fill time and to “cover ground” for purposes of evaluation by the teacher. Example 5. So. In doing so. where crafting one’s contribution in terms of the content and form of the previous utterance is less useful than crafting one’s contribution (via I think) as just one more answer—“my answer”—to a leader’s topic-based question. but the process demands of the other settings are probably quite different.98  Studies in language and social interaction “disconnect” the current contribution from any interpretation in terms of the immediately preceding turn. between I feel and I think. whereas in other circumstances they might do more to highlight common ground (indexed by you know). what do you guys think? . no less than in classroom discussions. It would be interesting to see whether I think is often used in school board meetings or jury deliberations. Implications for Further Research This research should be extended to examine the functions of other markers of process and continuity in the conduct of classroom discussions. in ways we have noted in these classroom discussions. Rather different problems may be expected to be more salient in group discussions oriented to arriving efficiently at a consensus or decision for purposes of action. Our claim is the limited one. Huspek’s (1989) study of the differential use of I think and you know in working-class speech suggests one interesting point of comparison. for example. teacher-led discussions involve a more marked differentiation of power and authority. We wonder. if any. In these student-led classroom discussions. It may also reflect the lack of salient power differences in these student-led discussions along with the situational demand for participants to assert their individual opinions (indexed by I think). the interactional problems of teacher-led discussions undoubtedly differ from those apparent in our student-led discussions.

REFERENCES Beach. Huspek. 661–683. Cambridge. Annandale. S. R. 10. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Craig. A. 375–388. Craig. Cambridge. Alta. Galasinksi. July 30). Craig. Transactions of the Philological Society. WA. (1989).L.T. Structures of social action (pp. (1995). VA: National Communication Association. D. Epistemic modality and spoken discourse. Klumpp (Ed. Conversation analysis: “Okay” as a clue for understanding consequentiality. Pretending to cooperate: How speakers hide evasive actions.Heritage (Eds. J.Atkinson and J. Language in Society. (1999b. Schiffrin. P. 299–345). Heritage.T. Chicago. (1999). Sociological Inquiry. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.M.F. “The issue” as a metadiscursive device in some student-led classroom discussions. pp. Creating expectations of appreciation by animating mock figures.). (1987). and practice.). (1999a. What Do You Guys Think?”  99 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS An earlier version of this chapter was presented at the annual convention of the International Communication Association. D. . Maintaining formation: An instance of frame transition. (1999a). frameworks.). 356–361). Paper presented at the Eleventh AFA/NCA Summer Conference on Argumentation. (1998). Journal of Pragmatics. 21–29 Craig. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/ dispreferred turn shapes. (1987). 121–161). (1984).T. Meta-talk: Organizational and evaluative brackets in discourse. H. Paper presented at the November 2000 annual convention of the National Communication Association. 291–334. Discourse markers. (1984). 27.“So. R. England: Cambridge University Press.L. 110–131. England: Cambridge University Press.M. and critiques (Proceedings of the Tenth NCA/AFA Conference on Argumentation) (pp. A. Paper presented at the Eleventh AFA/NCA Summer Conference on Argumentation. theory.T. Linguistic variability and power: An analysis of YOU KNOW/I THINK variation in working-class speech. In S. CA. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Modifying illocutionary force. Paper presented at the annual convention of the National Communication Association. Schiffrin. 1999. The consequentiality of communication (pp.J.L. Coates. (1999b. 19. Pomerantz.. Oh-prefaced responses to inquiry. Hillsdale. “I’m just saying”: Discourse markers of standpoint continuity. 32.C. J. Sanusi. 13. R. 425–495.L.C.A. Heritage (Eds. 8. Metadiscourse. H. Argumentation. Seattle. Research on Language and Social Interaction. (1980). Reflective discourse in a critical thinking classroom.Atkinson & J. & Levinson. & Sanusi. 50(3–4). July 30). A. R. A change-of-state token and aspects of its sequential placement. Holmes. Muller. England: Cambridge University Press. D. (1987). M. Muller. Cambridge. (1996). W. J. May 29. Noverber 6). J. 199–236. UT. 345–365. England: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. 57–101).M. Heritage. Journal of Pragmatics. In J. Alta. San Francisco. (2000). In J. In J. Hypothetical examples in student arguments: Animating mock and cited figures.. Argument in a time of change: Definitions. UT. (1997).Sigman (Ed. (1984). Argumentation. Brown.).

L. 27.100  Studies in language and social interaction Schiffrin. Turnbull. UK: Cambridge University Press. D. (1996). In A. Conflict talk: Sociolinguistic investigations of arguments in conversations (pp. Cambridge. The management of a co-operative self during argument: The role of opinions and stories.Grimshaw (Ed. Modal expressions as facework in refusals to comply with requests: I think I should say “no” right now.). W.D. (1990).. 145–181. . & Saxton. K. Journal of Pragmatics. 241–259).

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Glenn.. Koch. for example. to avoid a terminology of social action that invokes mentalistic predicates and thereby anthropomorphizes processes that may be less anthropomorphic than we conventionally believe” (pp. Social psychologists with an interest in discourse and conversation analysis (e. and constructed in interaction” (Potter. we have been brought to examine how participants avow and ascribe mentalistic predicates to themselves and to others in the course of their joint and ongoing learning activities. 1998. Koschmann. In our own studies of classroom interaction (cf. 1997. & Mandelbaum. constituted in. who have proposed discursive or praxiological approaches to the study of “psychological” matters. A question for us. therefore. 1995.) We agree with and indeed celebrate the efforts of Hopper. “Rather than treating cognition as prior to. Edwards. 1992. he insisted that researchers “should distinguish between calculated speech and most social interaction…distinguish what actors do from what theorists may infer” (p. LeBaron. & Conlee. it is treated as something that is managed in.. 1998. 35). Heritage (1990/1991) observed that “conversation analysts have sought. Heritage. have considered cognitive phenomena through detailed study of talk-in-interaction. vocal and visible behaviors) and how they do it (e. 1988. 1992). structures. Robert Hopper (1997). LeBaron & Streeck. motivations. Levinson. 1984. however.e. intentions. Pomerantz. Edwards & Potter. through mutual orientation and coordination). Psathas. Hopper. 2000. described himself as a “cognitive agnostic. interaction. Hutchby & Wooffitt.LeBaron Brigham Young University Timothy Koschmann Southern Illinois University Most research on language and social interaction (LSI) has been decidedly action focused. Jacobs. and understandings). wherever possible.g. and separable from... 1986. 1999. (See also Heritage. 1983. Conversation analysis (CA) especially has been touted as an empirically rigorous alternative to mentalistic perspectives that regard language as a way to study underlying psychological states. for example. Hopper’s agnostic stance was consistent with CA as it has generally been described and applied. and competencies. 1998.6 Gesture and the Transparency of Understanding Curtis D. more concerned with what people do (i. 1989. 2000).g. LeBaron & Koschmann.g. less concerned with subjects’ possible cognitive states (e. Hopper. 328–329). 1990. Some conversation analysts working . 1990. 6). has been how can we as analysts document the practical methods by which these activities are accomplished without abandoning the standards of warrantability set forth by the founders of our field? Such questions and issues have already been raised by other researchers. one that does not allow ungrounded speculation with respect to interactants’ hypothesized states of mind. and others to place CA work on a rigorous foundation.” Though not denying the existence and potential importance of cognition. p.

but instead serves “to mark out a success-claim” (p. sequentially organized. 37). We use the phrase transparency of understanding to suggest that participants’ understandings within classrooms (and we think other settings) may be publicly performed. situated practices of inscription. He was early to propose a program of research to determine “how—on the basis of what culturally available reasonings and presuppositions—do members actually avow and ascribe mental predicates to one another?” (p. that is. Coulter. Instead. In the data presented here. Kelson. a transparency of understanding is interactively achieved through recurring hand gestures that are coordinated with talk and other body movements in understandable or “recognizable” (Sacks. we have adopted a microethnographic perspective that draws upon the traditions of CA and context analysis (cf. & Barrows. McNeill. cannot be private. 1985. analyzable—in short. 1996) associated with a medical school in the midwestern United States. but must be scenic” (p. for having understanding. 1990. but include the mediation of artifacts. appearing first and lingering long after a conversation has died. does not describe a “temporally-extended course of action” (p. Feltovich. 180). rather than cognitive. An example of one such mental predicate is the verb to understand. achievement. altogether “accountable”1 . Coulter (1979) observed that “members of a culture mundanely traffic in cognitive categories and predicates…and have practical ways of making subjectivity-determinations” (p. p. Coulter concluded. Communicating bodies arguably have primacy over talk—bodies of understanding may occupy and move within social space. 39). 51). 1992) that treated gesture as a window into cognitive processes. Goldin-Meadows. Coulter noted that Wittgenstein joined Ryle in treating understanding as other than a private.g. and various embodied forms of communication.. Our approach to studying gesture and human understanding should not be confused with earlier work of a psycholinguistic bent (e. Coulter observed that understand is not a process-verb like play. “The criteria for understanding. 1 . inner mental or experiential states or processes.. 1965/1992. An avowal that one understands. 37). Although physically separated by We use the term in the sense suggested by Garfinkel (1967). “One might rather call it a ‘signal’. 1993. Alibali. therefore. Kendon. 33). & Church. but rather a terminusverb like win. made available for others’ (and analysts’) inspection. “CAN YOU DEFINE THRILLS?” Our videotaped record shows eight people involved in a problem-based learning (PEL) exercise (Koschmann. tell-a-story-aboutable. Following the work of ordinary language philosopher Gilbert Ryle (1949). accountable” (p. Wittgenstein (1953/1968) wrote with regard to an individual’s claim to understanding. 226) ways. The participants were divided into two groups that communicated via a video-conferencing system. “Any setting organizes its activities to make its properties as an organized environment of practical activities detectable. 37). mental experience.g.Gesture and the transparency of understanding103 within the ethnomethodological tradition (e. and we can judge whether [the claim] was rightly employed by what he goes on to do” (para. countable. The scenic features whereby understandings are enacted are not restricted to the linguistic. recordable. 1996) have regarded cognition as largely public and observable rather than purely private and mental. reportable. Lynch & Bogen. 1990) to explore how gesture contributes to shared forms of understanding as an interactional.

shifted gaze. (2000) observed a recurrent structure within PBL exercises that they termed a “knowledge display segment” (KDS). 2 Koschmann.1). and one faculty coach participate in a problem-based learning exercise. silences. their medical case study). 6. respondents often failed to complete their answers alone and instead paused.104  Studies in language and social interaction approximately 100 miles. changed body orientation. defined as “a topic-delimited segment of instructional discourse in which participants raise a topic for discussion and one or more members elect to display their understanding of that topic” (p. The medical students. That is. self-repair. and other features typical of “explainingin-themoment” (Crowder. Moreover. participants were routinely called upon to display their medical “knowledge. At both locations. Within this educational setting. and toward the video-conferencing equipment (camera and monitor) that enabled communication with the other group.e. via a videoconferencing system. the two groups were virtually brought together as one televised image that all participants could see and hear (see Fig.” One task facing the students was to interpret what their workbook said. a medical student asked a question and one or more nursing students provided an impromptu answer. or gestured toward another person. 6. Fig. who had not yet had any clinical experience. toward a common workbook (i. Such knowledge displays2 were usually marked by hesitations.. Typically. participants sat in a semi-circle around a large table so that they could easily orient toward each other. et al. three medical students. looked to the nursing students to explain various clinical terms and concepts found in the workbook. colloquial speech. knowledge displays were often interactive accomplishments. A faculty “coach” and three medical students were seen in the picture-in-picture (PIP) window on the lower right of the screen.1: Four nursing students. restarts. 1996). . 55). The four students shown in the full screen were enrolled in a nursing program.

(0. at one point during their discussion. 6. Fig. the students came across the term thrills and one of the medical students (Jack) asked a question that some of the nursing students (e.0) Thrirll is what you fee:l (.) ya could.) like is: (.Gesture and the transparency of understanding105 and thereby invited (or at least created opportunity spaces for) others to collaborate in the knowledge display. With his hand elevated and hence made available for others’ view. For instance.. he also raised his left hand and began gesturing (see Fig. he repeatedly wiggled the fingers of his left hand.4) you could put your hand on (your) chest and it the upbeat Although Jack’s utterance was ostensibly a “closed” question (which could have been answered with “yes” or “no”).2). Bill) elected to answer.if you happened to have uh huge murmur (0.2: Bill attempted to define the word thrill . By coordinating this gesture with the lexical affiliate “feel” (Line 3) Bill’s gesture was recognizable as a tactile representation—that is. As Bill began speaking (Line 3).4) If. 6. Bill treated it as a prompt to display his knowledge by providing a definition of thrill. The moment has been transcribed as follows (a complete transcript appears at the end of this chapter): (1) 1 Jack: 2   3 Bill: 4   5 Susan: 6   7   8 Bill: Can you defi:ne thrills (1. his moving fingers were performing the behavior or experience of feeling with the hand.g.

6.106  Studies in language and social interaction However. As the transcription (Line 3) shows.” Bill moved his left hand down and scratched the side of his neck.if). and his eye gaze simultaneously shifted away from the monitor and down to the workbook.With the words “you could” (Line 6) she lifted her flattened hand a few inches from her chest (see Fig. Bill collaboratively completed Susan’s utterance with his words “feel the upbeat” (Line 8). Susan’s utterance was more hearably complete. and Jefferson.” his fingers stopped wiggling and came together in a rounded shape. Moreover. At the beginning of her utterance (with the words “if. By repeating the word feel (Line 7). locating it where a heartbeat might be felt. she lifted her right hand to her chest. Moreover. His first restart was marked by the words “like is“(Line 3). and he restarted his utterance to change the trajectory of his explanation. Bill’s own hand movements changed to correspond with the gesture that Susan now . His collaborative completion evidenced that he heard and understood her description sufficient to complete it in overlap with her. Notice Bill’s alignment with Susan’s behavior. her utterance was coordinated with a recognizably coherent gesture. Susan (on Bill’s right) picked up where Bill left off. Figure 6.3).3) and then returned her hand to her chest. 1974) after the words “feel it” (Line 7). he also used the word feel (Line 3). he repeatedly paused during his turn at talk. Thus.3: Susan performs a heart murmur gesture. When Bill said. Altogether. Bill failed to complete a coherent response alone. “you could. 6. withdrawing from the interaction (see Fig. When he said. . Moreover. Susan made her talk recognizable as a continuation of the knowledge display Bill initiated—that is. The syntactic and prosodic structure of her talk indicated a transition relevance place (Sacks. each of these restarts was coordinated with a shift in the shape of his gesturing hand. “like is. However. a second restart occurred with the words “ya could” (Line 4). He did not produce an utterance that was hearably complete. Susan performed a hand-felt heartbeat (albeit exaggerated). Bill’s knowledge display came up short: His hand gesture dissolved into a neck scratch at the same time that his talk was suspended and his eyes dropped. Schegloff.

Notice the form and content of his talk: An utterance-initial hedge (“it’s like”). 6. 6. Bill elected to continue: (2) 10 11 12 13   Bill:     (1. Bill’s vocal behaviors were coordinated with a hand gesture that was evidently consequential.4). Continuing their response to Jack’s question about the term thrills. but again failed to produce a coherent explanation that was hearably complete. Bill showed that Susan’s performance was an appropriate continuation of the knowledge display that he had initiated. Through such vocal and visible displays of alignment. Bill performed a gestural shape in conjunction with Susan’s production.1) It’s like (. After collaboratively completing (Line 8) Susan’s description.) flui:d that’s getting caught on somethin’ and it’s (. came together in a rather odd narrative about blood within the heart getting “caught” and “twisting around”— action words not usually associated with fluids. at which point Bill lowered his hand toward his own chest and spread his fingers in flattened form (see Fig. Bill added to the talk about the term thrill (Lines 11 through 13). After scratching his neck. followed by hesitations (pauses) and nondescript words (“somethin” and “whatever”). Bill looked toward the monitor where Susan’s hand was visibly flattened against her chest.4: Bill flattens his hand after looking toward Susan’s.) twisting arou:nd the vessel or or whatever 14 Jean: 15 Bill: It’s tur bulence yeah After a brief silence (Line 10). Nevertheless.Gesture and the transparency of understanding107 performed. Fig. the nursing students further coordinated their vocal and visible behaviors. With his index finger .

whispering quietly). Rather. reproduced each other’s hand gestures. Jean showed recognition of Bill’s embodied actions. Through repetition of Jean’s word. Jean (on Bill’s left) watched his gesture (see Fig. Eventually. Through coordination of their talk. he rotated his left hand in the air to iconically represent the movement of fluid within a chamber (see Fig.5: Bill performs a “turbulence” gesture.108  Studies in language and social interaction extended. The participants’ collaboratively completed each other’s utterances.5). especially recognizable hand gestures. Figure 6. through visible and audible behaviors carefully orchestrated. the nursing students stopped talking and oriented away from the television monitors and back toward their workbook (or toward each other. and in other ways cooperated in a collective display of understanding. Jean participated in Bill’s knowledge display. a transparency of understanding was publicly and interactively achieved among the nursing students. embodied actions.5) before speaking the word turbulence (Line 14). Bill treated Jean’s interjection as collaborative. By speaking only after Bill’s gestural performance but before the end of his utterance. 6. 6. nor was it a hidden psychological condition inaccessible to analysts. the nursing students interactively performed an understanding of the term thrills that the medical students silently observed and thereby corroborated. thereby showing themselves to be satisfied that an understanding of thrills had been adequately provided or accomplished. one of the medical students elected to speak. Jean provided it (Line 14) and Bill then repeated it (Line 15)—literally incorporating it into his description of thrills. Moments later. and ongoing use of material objects and mediating tools within an organized space. transcribed as follows: . By speaking in overlap. Whether or not Bill was searching for the word turbulence. The group’s understanding of the term thrills was not a private achievement. repeated terms of each other’s talk.

our study seems to compare and contrast most interestingly with one: Schegloffs (1984) examination of gesture and “projection. Marie’s ostensibly individual display of understanding must rightly be regarded as a group achievement as her performance represented a composite of the nursing students’ immediately prior vocal and visible behaviors. 1986. Marie placed her flattened hand onto her chest. Moreover. he sought “an independent estimate of the possible size of the projection space” (p. she helped to constitute the eight participants as being of “one mind” by registering within the PIP window a sequence of behaviors with a recognizable pedigree of social interaction from the larger frame. Among the several studies of gesture conducted within the field of LSI in recent decades (e.H. Through study of iconic gestures. Kendon.. Although Schegloff flirted with issues of cognitive processes as he focused on .g.) you’re feeling the 24   murmur (. 1986. Streeck. which involved hesitations. Gestures may literally take shape as new understandings publicly emerge and evolve within a group.) you can feel it with your ha:nd Marie’s description or definition of thrills came off as relatively succinct. restarts. including gesture. perhaps polished—at least compared to Bill’s earlier attempts to define the term. Schegloff found that gestures almost always occur within the same turn as their “lexical affiliates. 2000. Marie used words that had already been spoken: feel (Lines 3. Gestures may be observably shared—even repeatedly performed—by those who move jointly toward a transparency of understanding. 1980.Goodwin & M.” Using conversation analytic methods to explicate empirical (transcribed) details of talk. 1993. CONCLUSION Through microethnographic study of classroom activity. altogether advancing the transparency of understanding within the group. 1972. Nevertheless. with the word feeling she lifted her hand a few inches from her chest before returning it. LeBaron & Streek. and eventually Susan and Jean as overlapping collaborators. C. 8. 288). her utterance was coordinated with a gestural sequence that unmistakably resembled Susan’s (and Bill’s) prior performance: With the word thrill (Line 23). 19. whereby a transparency of understanding may be interactively accomplished. thereby constituting a “projection space”—that is. 1994. 1994). and 17). which might shed light on other sorts of phenomena such as projection and conversational repair. 21). Marie’s participation served to bridge the telecommunications divide of the group’s videoconferencing session—that is. hearably complete.Goodwin. Goodwin. and hand (Line 6). her ostensibly individual display of understanding was an embodied “formulation” (Heritage & Watson. Bavelas. 7. a processing period between the earliest indication of a communicative behavior and its eventual delivery. we have documented various forms of communication. 1987.Gesture and the transparency of understanding109 (3) 23 Marie: Thrill is just the: (. Thus. C.” but also tend to precede their lexical affiliates. such as briefly represented here. murmur (Lines 5. 1979) of sorts that summarized or performed the gist of prior interaction—both talk and gesture—and thereby displayed a certain understanding of that prior interaction.

8).) ya could. other participants’ gestures. not as a private mental event. 20). knowledge display segments) rather than individual utterances or even utterance pairs. hence.(0. when words such as think appeared.if you happened to have uh huge murmer (0. and.1) It’s like (. it was redefined as a structural rather than a psychological condition. By focusing on strips of social interaction (i. and because it based “the meaning of a gesture on its correspondance with its affiliated word” (p. Our study of gesture involves some notable (and we think complementary) differences. APPENDIX 1 2 3 4 5 Jack:   Bill:   Susan: Can you defirne thrills (1. Viewed from such a perspective. because it focused upon isolated or single utterances “treated more as sentences composed by individuals than as the products of interaction” (p. participants’ embodied use of space.) like is: (. he carefully wrote with the voice of a cognitive agnostic: Words such as intention were displaced by terms like projection.e. they were corralled by quotation marks. the ways in which gestures are employed in interaction are highly relevant to the task of explicating how participants routinely make their understandings visible to themselves and others. public. and so forth.) twisting arou:nd the 14 Jean: 15 Bill: 16 Jean: vessel or It’s tur it or whatever yeah See Moerman (1990).4) you could put your hand on (your) chest 6   7   and 8 Bill: 9 10 11 12 13 (?) :   Bill:     the upbeat Right (1. and so forth.110  Studies in language and social interaction singular utterances of individual speakers3. because it related “movements to words and ideas [and did not] describe those gestures in their social context” (p.4) If. if the term preference was used.0) Thrirll is what you fee:l (. but as an embodied. 3 . It is in this sense that we speak of the transparency of understanding. other participants’ utterances. other gestures. words such as recognized were recast as “displayed recognition of. We find gestures to be strongly affiliated—not only with specific lexical items—but with parts and wholes of utterances.) fluird that’s getting caught on somethin’ and it’s (. 19). 40).. which criticized Schegloffs (1984) study because it was “interested in mental. we see how the life span and the meaning of a gesture may extend across multiple turns at talk among multiple participants. not social matters…in cognitive processing and forms of thought” rather than interactive processes (p. analyzable achievement.

London: Sage. and strategy: Observations on constraints on interaction analysis.Gesture and the transparency of understanding111 17 18 Bill:   You can feel a thri:ll or you (0. Research on Language and Social Interaction. I. Formulations as conversational objects. London: Macmillan. Ethnography and conversation analysis after Talking Culture [Special section]. E. D. 161–162. Goodwin. Mind in action. Hutchby. Alibali. 62(1/2). J. Bull. Communication Yearbook 11 (pp. Avon. R. Cambridge. C. Gesture and coparticipation in the activity of searching for a word. In D. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. R.).2) 22 23 24   Marie:   a bruit which hea:r Or a murmur (0. Hopper. & Mandelbaum.Ellis & W. Heritage. R. In J. (1986). & Watson. H. Gestures at work in sense-making science talk. England: Polity Press. R. (1984). C. R. Anderson.) you can feel it with your ha:nd REFERENCES Bavelas. Conversation (pp. (Ed. Research on Language and Social Interaction.. 48–66). (1998). practices.2) auscultate 19 Susan: 20 21   Bill: a murmur (0. (1993). Edwards. Edwards. (1990/1991). London: Sage.).H. Discourse and cognition. (1997). A cognitive agnostic in conversation analysis: When do strategies affect spoken interaction? Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association. Hopper. 100. 51–75. & Goodwin. June). Gestures as part of speech: Methodological implications. 123–162)... J. Goodwin. Psychological Review.8) Thrill is just the: (. J. 201–221. In D. M.A. Hopper. R. Conversation analysis and social psychology as description of interpersonal communication. (1992). 5. Oxford. Coulter. In G. (1986).. Cambridge. R. meaning..R. Jacobs. Conversation analysis methods. Heritage.) you’re feeling the murmur (. S. 279–297. Hopper. CA: Sage. (1986). New York: Irvington. Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Crowder. Telephone conversation. Semiotica. Koch. 433–443). J. Journal of the Learning Sciences. and applications.Psathas (Ed. (1992). D. (1989). 309–330. 29–49. Montreal. Garfinkel. Contemporary issues and discourse processes (pp. New York: Erlbaum.). D. & Potter. Transitions in concept acquisition: Using the hand to read the mind. Roger & P. (1997. (Eds.). S. The social construction of mind. England: Polity Press. & Wooffitt. Coulter. England: Multilingual Matters. (1967). Gestures as a resource for the organization of mutual orientation. Englewood Cliffs. J. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 62(1/2).. Discursive psychology. England: Polity Press. Goldin-Meadows. Heritage. (1979). (1979). Conversation analysis: Principles. & Church. . 173–208. J. S. NJ: Prentice-Hall. (1996). J.Donohue (Eds. (1990). Hopper. Research on Language and Social Interaction 27(3).B. Evidence and inference in conversation analysis. J. Beverly Hills. (1994). 25. M. (1990). (1988). Semiotica. Studies in ethnomethodology. 25. 169–186). Intention..

. On gesture: Its complementary relationship with speech. Paper presented at the 49th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association. T. NC: Duke University Press. 53–74). (1985). D. (1994). E. Gesture as communication: Its coordination with gaze and speech. Glenn. Gesticulation and speech: Two aspects of the process of utterance. Koschmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. London: Hutchinson’s University Library. (1999. 92. Nonverbal behavior and communication (pp. (1974). Hillsdale.Siegman & S. W. 207–228). E. Gestures.). England: Cambridge University Press. A. & Koschmann. A. J. LeBaron. Hand and mind: What gestures reveal about thought.. England: Cambridge University Press. (1980).Pope (Eds.. Cambridge. (1949). J. J. M. In T. 177–210).). Philosophical investigations (G. 83–124). Sacks. (1998). 696–735.). Cambridge. . Lectures on conversation (2 vols. Communication Monographs.W. D. Kendon. H. & Barrows. On some gestures’ relation to talk. (1990). (1995). P. P. Potter. 57. Conversation analysis: The study of talk-in-interaction. Oxford: Blackwell.). Heritage (Eds. C. McNeill (Ed. 239–267. Moerman. The spectacle of history: Speech. (1996). Cambridge. & Jefferson. 231–235.Koschmann (Ed. Research on Language and Social Interaction. LeBaron. The relationship of verbal and nonverbal communication (pp. 27. The concept of mind. Koschmann. G. (1996). NJ: Erlbaum. (1968). Communication Monographs. Pragmatics. text and memory of the IranContra hearings. & Conlee.Atkinson & J. 266–296). May). 5–45. Gesture as communication II: The audience as co-author. CA. D. England: Cambridge University Press. 31. In M. 50. Pomerantz. G. McNeill. The Hague. London: Sage. Schegloff. Doctoral dissertation. A. H.Seigman & B.Hmelo & D. L. Studying gestures in social context. University of Texas at Austin. Senri Ethnological Studies.).112  Studies in language and social interaction Kendon. Problem-based learning: Gaining insights on learning interactions through multiple methods of inquiry (pp. Conducting interaction: Patterns of behavior in focused encounters. (1983). Kendon.).Anscombe. So you think gestures are nonverbal? Psychological Review. S.. In D. (1990). (1998). NJ: Erlbaum. (2000). NY: Pergamon.R. & Streeck. (1993). & Bogen. Mahwah.. McNeill. Cambridge. M. (2000). Language. In A. 27(3). Elmsford. knowledge. Psathas. Levinson. 350–371. Ryle. Streeck. G. T. Mahwah.. Kelson. A.. LeBaron. (1990)..Evensen (Eds. San Francisco. England: Cambridge University Press. C. The conversation of gestures: interaction and learner articulation. Feltovich. Durham. A. In C.. Studies in dyadic communication (pp. 65–97).. Netherlands: Mouton. 275–299. Lynch.Key (Ed.M. (1992). Wittgenstein. NJ: Erlbaum. AAT98– 38026. Some relationships between body motion and speech. Kendon. and the world.. (1992). Cognition as context (whose cognition?). Computersupported PBL: A principled approach.). C. University Microfilms NO. Streeck. (1984). InA. G. (1987). H. Conversation analytic claims. A. CSCL: Theory and practice of an emerging paradigm (pp. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Jefferson. (Original work published 1953). Building communication: Architectural gestures and the embodiment of new ideas.). Sacks.Feldstein (Eds. When is a problem-based tutorial not tutorial? Analyzing the tutor’s role in the emergence of a learning issue. Schegloff.M. Language and Gesture. J. E. 60. Ed. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. M. 29–44. In J.). Trans. (1972). Structures of social action (pp. T. Oxford: Blackwell.

II Talk in Everyday Life It is perhaps not incidental that people have not devoted their lives to studying sentences like “I had a good breakfast this morning” or “How are you?”. the founder of conversation analysis (CA). Nevertheless. observed that the mundane. then begins again.. 7) examines restarts in conversation. most of the discourse examined in these articles occurred in casual (non-institutional) situations: among acquaintances. Jones finds that some restarts may direct the interlocutor’s attention to a particular activity. There are more or less defensible reasons for not studying such sentences. what the results of an analysis of “I had a good breakfast this morning” would involve. The question of what language can do. Pomerantz. social structure. abandons it. —Sacks. or presenting a sensitive or delicate matter. Countering this trend. They primarily reflect conversation analytic methods. what kind of program it poses for a field—all these things remain absolutely open. however. friends.g. and family members. relationships. As others (Psathas. the name “conversation analysis” proves unduly restrictive. 8) examines how a speaker may “drop” the name of an “assessable” object in such a way that a hearer can recognize the assessable character or special status of the referenced item. 1999) have noted. LSI research has shown convincingly that routine interaction serves as a locus for instantiations and negotiations of identity. Charlotte Jones (chap. She extends prior work by Goodwin (1980) and Schegloff (1987). commonplace interpersonal communication. The LSI interest in the everyday reflects not only a theoretical assumption about its importance but also an ideological commitment to appreciating and even celebrating routine human communication. Not studying such sentences. 1995.” The articles in this section present empirical studies of casual interaction. He shows how speakers produce some assessables in such a way as to project for the recipient how they should be assessed. p. 1984). whereas the production of others can constitute an assessment “test” for the recipient. 1984. Sacks. Goodwin draws on and extends previous CA research on assessments (e. 24 One of the hallmarks of language and social interaction research is keen interest in ordinary. resisting a too narrow concern with what he termed “the great words of great people. where a speaker begins an utterance. what people can do with language. who showed how restarts can work to attract the attention or gaze of an interlocutor. for the methods have proven useful to approach a variety of types of interactions beyond conversation. Robert Hopper actively sought to open communication scholars’ eyes to the everyday. and culture. trivial talk people do in living their everyday lives risks being slighted by social scientists more concerned with finding prima facie “important” topics for study. Charles Goodwin (chap. specifically beginning a new topic. . may have real consequences. ten Have.

9) argues that questions containing the wording “did you” may present particular interactional problems. this analysis locates moments in which it becomes explicit and thus more directly available to analysis than in the flow of relationally unmarked discourse. Gail Jefferson (chap. The tenth chapter examines conversations about illness outside of the doctor’s office. She analyzes both logical and pragmatic presuppositions inherent in these questions. Therefore. who recognized and dealt with the granddaughter’s eating disorder. Relational communication is always implicitly present. Through his analysis. 13) describes how interactants may clarify a possible ambiguity without explicitly doing so. in that the wording can indicate that the asker expects that something should have been done. Jefferson & Sacks. In chapter 12. noting that the majority of “did you” questions do not receive only a “yes” or “no” but an elaborated answer. He studies telephone conversations between family members of cancer patients. He contrasts this with practices of third-position repair. Data for the study come from both recorded conversations and field notes. Beach ties abstract notions such as “stages of grieving” and “having hope” to specific social actions identifiable within transcribed data. the information is necessarily understood and given shape through the everyday relations of people communicating at home. On occasion when an alternative possible hearing could be available in the talk of a speaker. The vast majority of social scientific research on medical interaction has focused on professionals communicating and working with patients. often with accounts. 1977). In that this is done without explicit self-correction (Schegloff.114  Studies in language and social interaction Susan Corbin (chap. In effect he examines an instance in which what Drew (1987) called a “po-faced” receipt of a tease may have implications for the relationship between interactants. He provides a case study of one participant’s rejection of another’s understanding. it poses an analytical puzzle. that speaker continues talk in such a way as to clarify which of the alternative hearings is meant. Whatever news or instructions patients may receive from an expert at a medical facility. Wayne Beach legitimizes the role of laypersons in issues of health and healing. 11) takes up the issue of how interactants deal with “unwanted” understandings. Samuel Lawrence (chap. Also addressing a methodological conundrum. assimilate. Conversation analysts typically rely upon interactants’ displayed orientations to the ongoing activities in talk. raising issues about the process of analysis and offering some suggestive findings. This chapter illustrates how a researcher may deal with a phenomenon for which these resources are elusive. She presents detailed analysis of two cases to show methods through which people foreground relationship while continuing talk and related activities. who update. and commiserate about the diagnosis and treatment of their loved one. in chapter 14 Emanuel Schegloff raises the issue of how analysts might trace the suppression of an item and its apparent later . “Tit for tat” and conversational repair allow participants to focus attention on some prior bit of talk produced by another speaker. His study of everyday talk about cancer bears kinship with his (1996) research on bulimia. It offers a bridge from LSI to relational communication research interests. which was based on a naturally occurring conversation between a bulimic young woman and her grandmother. Jenny Mandelbaum investigates ways that people accomplish interpersonal relationships through their interactions. By contrast. such questions may carry an accusatory sense that makes relevant subsequent talk that addresses the accusation.

P. Thus laughter. (1981). In J.Atkinson & J. This analysis goes beyond prior conversation analytic work that has addressed the issue of noticeable or bearable absences of actions (e. B. which continues to play a central role in much LSI research. sex. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jefferson. Conversation analysts have argued that in order to invoke some feature of context to account for details of interaction. in Chapter 15 Phillip Glenn provides evidence that laughter. Conversational about illness: Family preoccupations with bulimia. How people orient to and constitute gender in talk is one example of the larger issue of connections between discourse and context. Through analysis of a single instance. Here. The macro-micro link (pp. Psathas.). Schegloff accounts for the absence. In J. Thus. C. (1995).M. The instances involve a speaker beginning a turn constructional unit in which a next word. & Sacks. (1987). 53. like other micro features of interaction. REFERENCES Beach. Goodwin. E. and changes through time. p. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.. Thousand Oaks: Sage Sacks.Munch.. The preference for selfcorrection in the organization of repair for conversation. Conversational organization: Interaction between speakers and hearers. Schegloff.A. Drew. herself. second pair parts following first parts of adjacency pairs). Doing conversation analysis: A practical guide. the researcher must demonstrate its relevance for participants (Schegloff. Hopper. P. Cambridge: Polity Press. may reveal participant orientation to gender. Beginning with data to support an argument for systematic differences between Dutch and American calls. she then explores possible explanations..Smelser (Eds.A. H. J. 1987). concerning patterns of identification and recognition in telephone interaction openings. (1987). She develops an intriguing claim about historic change in the ways Dutch tend to self-identify in phone openings. (1996). G. she then reports research suggesting that there are sex differences within the Dutch data. 16) uses conversation analytic methods for gathering and transcribing recordings of naturalistic interactions. and subsequent reappearance. 242)—in this case. R. relatively clearly projectible. Po-faced receipts of teases. a gendered context. (1984). but used in a different sense. & N. She builds upon and extends previous research by Schegloff.g. Schegloff. Conversation analysis methods: The study of talk in interaction. of particular words. 207–234). W. “shapes and renews” context (Heritage. Garfinkel and Ethnomethodology. G. Mahwah.Part II: Talk in everyday lift  115 surfacing. is not produced at that moment.Heritage (Eds. Linguistics. 25. 1984. Hanneke Houtkoop-Steenstra (chap. Language. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Between macro and micro: Contexts and other connections. Notes on Methodology. and others. (1984). However. the possible word in question appears in that person’s talk shortly thereafter. Giesen. Heritage. Structures of social action: Studies of conversation analysis. (1977). E. Further elaborating the analysis.Alexander. 219–253. (1999). 361–382.). London: Sage . by features of its production and placement. her chapter suggests that variations in how people answer the phone and accomplish identification may reflect culture. ten Have. New York: Academic Press. H.

Schegloff (1987) argued that “recycled turn beginnings” function to repair the possible impairment of overlapped talk. Goodwin illustrated: Tommy: You agree wi d. this . 7). Goodwin (1980) discovered that certain restarts seek recipient gaze as a sign of attention. a speaker must have a hearer’s attention and participation. they must’ve. you know.Jones Carroll College Restarting an utterance is a common practice in natural. her recycled turn beginning orients to the end of the overlap and the coming of the listeners’ attention. That is. the hearer. He noted that speakers have the task of constructing turns for hearers. Schegloff. 1980. In short. the speaker continues his turn. 1987). Goodwin demonstrated this idea with face-to-face data illustrating speakers’ use of restarts and pauses to request and gain hearers’ gaze before continuing their turns. with the hearer’s gaze and attention.I mean how long.” Thus. Pumpkin. Pumpkin directs her gaze (shown by______) to Tommy. After the restart. right? Takes a bout a week to grow a culture   [ K: I don’ think they grow a I don’ think they grow a culture to do a biopsy. Heath. 1987). He provided an example from a face-to-face encounter: R: Well the uhm in fact they must have grown a culture. That is. including attention-seeking (Goodwin. Do such restarts function to solicit a listener’s attention? Hence. ] Schegloff observed that K’s recycle begins exactly at the point where her talk is no longer being overlapped or emerges “in the clear. restarts and pauses can function as attention-getting devices in face-to-face encounters. “identical repeats of turn beginnings…occur regularly when there has been an overlap of the turn beginning with the prior turn” (p. At this point. Collaborative efforts by speaker and hearer are fundamental. 1984. is not gazing at the speaker. Tommy. do restarts serve different functions in a limited communicative channel such as the telephone? Restarts in such circumstances may function differently than Goodwin and Schegloff implicate. But.he’s been in the hospital for a few days.7 Utterance Restarts in Telephone Conversation: Marking Topic Initiation and Reluctance Charlotte M.You agree wi’cher aunt     [   Pump    X kin: In this instance. Restarts (or recyclings) regularly occur at turn beginnings and serve a variety of functions. everyday conversation (Schegloff.

and disagreement projection (“I don’t think” turn beginning) are all examples of turn type projections. aspects of their planned shape and type” (p. (0. Two cases of markedness identified thus far include restarts of utterances that (a) initiate new topics and (b) indicate a reluctance to ask or respond to particular issues (i. the intent to change the topic. Who? . 1992). telephone utterance restarts can serve to summon the listener’s attention to a particular part of the conversation—a new topic. a speaker may use a list-initiating marker to project-as-upcoming a multi-unit turn (Schegloff. he stated. then. In fact.. First. putting these aside. Schegloff. for instance. that a turn that begins with “If…” may project a “contingency clause” of a particular length and a similarly sized “consequence clause. more will follow” (p. 1981). However.5) Me:h. a number of recycled turn beginnings with overlaps were found in a large corpus of telephone interactions. 2).word” turn beginning). 1974. For example.” thereby projects “that after the turn-unit in which the first is done. sensitive or delicate). a speaker may explicitly announce an abrupt topic shift by starting a turn with.” Similarly. can signal at the beginning of their turns what it is that they are interested in doing. Recycled turn beginnings or restarts.e. RESTARTS AS INDICATORS OF TOPIC INITIATION Speakers. how does an interactant know that she or he has secured a listener’s attention over the telephone? Second.. for instance. “from their beginnings. another group without overlaps still remained. That is.g. quotation projection (e.g. Concerning shape projection. for instance. It is argued in this study that certain telephone restarts can function to project a marked topic or issue as viewed and exhibited by a speaker. “Not to change the subject. During an attempt to change a topic is clearly one point where a speaker would want a hearer’s attention.Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  117 project investigates restarts in telephone conversations (see Hopper. Thus. Speakers may also use less explicit methods of signaling to listeners their intent. Do restarts in telephone discourse serve any other functions besides repairing overlap or seeking gaze? This chapter attempts to answer this question by examining restarts at turn beginnings in telephone conversations. beginning a turn with. a medium in which participants cannot rely on attracting recipient gaze. “He says” turn beginning). (0. 2).2) Oh Sibbie’s sistuh hadda ba: by bo: way. then. Several points should be considered. or a request or response concerning a perceived sensitive or delicate issue. 1987). as recipient gaze is not possible over the telephone.” Question projection (e. That is. 75). then in the majority of cases the listener will initiate a repair in the next turn. “turn beginnings are important to turn-projection” (p. “wh. “First of all. & Jefferson. Schegloff. Turn beginnings have been found to have particular implications (Sacks. Schegloff (1979) argued that if a topic-initial sentence by a speaker is not marked in some way for the listener. but. Schegloff argued that turns project. may mark or signal to the listener that there is something in particular about to happen in the speaker’s remaining utterance.. He provided an example: B:   B: A: hhh A:n:d uh.

what are you doing tonight   12   (0.118  Studies in language and social interaction In this instance. The restarts occur precisely at the points when speakers initiate topic changes. To successfully initiate a new topic without explicitly marking it as such. Rick and Jessie are talking about a friend’s whereabouts. Schegloff uncovered one method. Thus.15   1 RIC: Lotta gigglin hh hhh hhh       []   2 BIL: Yeah?   3 RIC: He’s gettin in «that Christmas spirit» hh .4)   13 JES: Nothin In Instance 1.9) he took off and said he was goin to   7 RIC: Hm: : : :   8 JES: So. A didn’t follow the new line of talk and hence. In the following segments.” We can similarly observe a restart marking a topic change in Instance 2: (2) UTCL A10. in instances where a restarting telephone speaker is introducing a new topic. (1) UTCL A10.14   1 JES:   2   see some people   3   (1. Without such identifying information. they provide for new topicalizable material as dislocated from prior topical talk…” (p. Sibbie’s sister. Even though it’s new topically. one can observe utterance restarts being produced as speakers rather suddenly change topics. In Line 11. without including any type of repair device within the turn such as a descriptor or modifier to key the listener.I don’t know wher:e he is or what he’s   9   doing   10   (1. 1984). 174). Jessie understands his question and follows his lead as evidenced by her answer of “Nothin. the restart may function to secure the listener’s attention. a speaker must somehow signal to the listener this intent.0) => 11 RIC: So wha a. topic-initial turns that contain a self-initiated repair with a descriptor or modifier. Rick restarts “what are” as he mentions Jessie’s plans for the evening in the form of a topic initial elicitor (Button & Casey. but there may be others.1)   4 RIC: Really   5 JES: Yeah   6   (0. B initiates a new topic. exhibited a repair. Button and Casey noted that “topic initial elicitors regularly take the form of inquiries into what is new” and “In so doing.

“I have a sister. Rick continues to laugh at Line 7. And in Instance 3: (3) UTCL D8.” shows that she understands his question and follows his lead topically.8)   7 RIC: hu:h   8 PAM: hu h       [ => 9 RIC: Do you hav. Rick brings up the topic of possible siblings of Pam’s. He does this while restarting his utterance beginning “do you have. It appears that Rick’s laughter leads to Billy’s first restart.” Pam’s response.7)   4 RIC: phhuh   5 PAM: I talked to my da:d.” Considering that the second restart isn’t serving this overlap function. Rick and Pam are discussing Pam’s parents’ potential reactions to a letter she had written them. However. At Line 8. Billy initiates the topic of going home.12   1 PAM: I haven’t talked to my mother in a   2   lo::ng ti::me. At Line 6.hh When u: :h       [   7 RIC: hh uh huh= => 8 BIL: =When a you. which they assess using a potentially topically terminal assessment (“O:h shit”) and laughter in Lines 4 and 5. he restarts “when are you” twice.4) >(°Tex 0 U weekend° <   3   (0.Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  119   4 BIL: o:h shit   5 RIC: pt hh hh       [ => 6 BIL: .9) 10 RIC: U: : : :h the t     [ 11   (beep) In this segment of conversation.do you have any other blo   10   brothers or sisters   11 PAM: I have a sister. In Instance 3. . overlapping Billy’s turn. which he then abandons. his talk is now “in the clear.when are you goin home   9   (0. (0. it instead seems to be related to attention-seeking for the new topic. Rick and Billy are discussing the behavior of a friend. That is.   6   (1. At Line 9.

repair initiations are common in the next turn. A restart by the speaker ensures the hearer’s attention at a turning point in the conversation. but I have to know. way to display forthcoming talk as sensitive or delicate.(. perhaps less explicit or less marked. RESTARTS AS INDICTATORS OF RELUCTANCE Participants in everyday conversations routinely make and respond to requests. . speakers may exhibit in some fashion a reluctance to inquire about or reply to certain issues. Schegloff (1979) noted that when topic-initial utterances display no hitches. That is. However. That is.1 1 MOM: 2       3 DAU: 4   5 MOM:   6     7 DAU: -And he has a ra:nch for us to look art so we’re gonna go just look at it just   []   How mu :ch (0.4) -hhhh We:ll I. delicate or sensitive). some people may understandably be hesitant to discuss topics such as sexual activity or personal finances. Restarts can be seen as functioning to signal or mark some type of talk as being reluctantly produced. before asking a question that might be considered sensitive for some reason.) don’t wanta dis. One group of telephone utterance restarts in this study involves both requests and responses to requests. personal finances. restarts occur as a speaker initiates a topic change.” Restarts may provide speakers with another. In addition to marking topic initiation. the hearer is able to follow the proposed topic and continue it.120  Studies in language and social interaction In all of the preceeding instances.discuss it on the telepho:ne= =O:h. For example. a question projection is followed by a question that is marked in some fashion as a delicate one. the speaker exhibits a restart as she or he is responding to a previous speaker’s utterance and is revealing information that she or he may consider potentially damaging.. at times. Thus.g.I don’t know I don’ know h. Schegloff (1980) identified one way in which participants show an orientation to talk as sensitive or delicate—they first exhibit a pre-delicate. speakers’ restarts show a reluctance to grant or respond to a certain type of requests (i. For instance. In these restart cases. no repairs occur. setting conditions on a friend’s request). I posit that the restarts are functioning successfully to alert the listener to a new topic. “I want to ask you a question that may seem a bit indelicate. considering them to be of a sensitive or delicate nature.e. or embarrassing in this particular circumstance (e. a participant might first say “Can I ask you a question?” or more explicitly. utterance restarts can function to project speaker reluctance. risky.. In the following first set of instances. (4)           => UTCL F1.

the mother exhibits an utterance restart (as well as other delay devices) at the point where a potentially delicate issue—personal finances—arises.4) 10 RIC: When’s he leaving 11   (0. but they can also show a reluctance to make such requests.5 1 RIC: Is there any way I can borrow somebody’s moped 2   (16 lines omitted) 3 RIC: ..hhhhhhhhhhh It’ll probly take me twenty minutes 4 FLA: When he gets. After a pause. Flarety agrees to let him borrow it. which is currently being loaned to someone else. she restarts the word “discuss” as she metacommunicatively expresses that she doesn’t want to discuss the matter while on the telephone.you can borr’ it 6 RIC: Who 7   (0.e. an inbreath). That is.         =>                       (5)UTCL A10. socially risky.e.. Rick has asked to borrow Flarety’s moped. With this and his later comments. Thus. the speaker’s restart shows a reluctance to ask a certain type of question: (6)   UTCL A10. The mother displays a reluctance to reply. or embarrassing (e. a delay (i.Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  121 In this segment.14:4 1 JES: -hhhhh Uh we had it like at eight thirty . Flarety may be reluctant to offend his friend. not only can speakers reveal a reluctance to respond to particular requests. we can observe an utterance restart produced as the speaker asks the recipient to reveal information about herself that is potentially damaging. In Line 4. The daughter inquires about the price of the ranch in Line 3.. As mentioned earlier. sexual activity). “We:ll”).4) 12 FLA: Oh he’ll pro’ly back in like fifteen minutes and 13   it’ll pro’ly take him fifteen twenty minutes 14   he’ll he’ll pro’bly be done forty minutes and 15   then you use it In Instance 5. the mother restarts “I-” and also repeats “I don’ know. One could argue that potentially refusing or setting conditions on a friend’s request could be considered socially risky and potentially damaging to the friendship. and an appositional (i. but exhibits the relatively short restart “when he gets” while doing so. a mother and daughter are discussing the mother’s possible purchase of a ranch.2) 8 FLA: Nat an 9   (0.” Additionally.when he gets back from the bank 5   you can u. he seems to be setting conditions for or potentially refusing the borrowing by Rick. That is.g. In the following segment.

He restarts “wu. may be serving a dual purpose. Rick exhibits a short restart.5) Ye. “what do you. Asking a college athlete to quit his or her sport would seem .7) 9 JES: I tol.what do you mean 8   (0.(0. After a short pause.. Jessie and Rick are discussing a prior conversation between her and the man she’s dating.122  Studies in language and social interaction   => 2 3   RIG:   4   (0. Thus. He is also a good friend and swimming teammate of Rick’s.” in his metacommunicative response to Jessie’s prior announcement or disclosure (including the possibility of having hurt her dating partner). Jessie then exhibits a restart involving another short pause and “you know:” before the actual restart of “I just.did you spend the night there last night In this segment. then.2) we were talkin about it or something 11   and I just go:: I don’t want you to swim hhhhh In Instance 7. In addition to proffering a query about a sensitive topic. also Rick’s friend).did j. At Line 3. Rick does the delicate work of not snowing alignment with a conversational partner by displaying agreement or an agreeing assessment with Jessie’s announcement. Sometimes these displays cluster together.e.did you” as well as pausing before the utterance.14:6 1 JES: I told him I didn’t want him to swim: Rick 2   Was that mean 3   (0. We have examined several instances of requesting and of responding to requests that involve restarts. about his swimming for the collegiate team. Rick asks Jessie if she spent the night at her dating partner’s place of residence. displaying a dispreferred turn shape as well as reluctance to discuss the topic. That is. to not participate on the university swim team. Rick’s restart. At Line 7. Rick and Jessie are discussing their workout times interwoven with Jessie’s anger at her dating partner (i.wu.6) 4 RIC: Whasat? 5 JES: I told him that I didn’t want him to swim 6   (1. In the following instances.4) you know: I just go:: 10   (0. Asking people to reveal where they spend their nights (especially specifying a dating partner) is a personal and private matter.” Her utterance can be seen as socially risky in that she is revealing a serious request she made of her intimate partner. They all appear to show a reluctance or hesitancy to inquire or respond to issues that can be considered of a sensitive or delicate nature. it can be argued that Rick is showing reluctance to inquire about this delicate matter. Billy. speakers and listeners display an orientation to the talk as potentially problematic. we can observe both participants displaying reluctance when talking about a particular issue: (7)             =>   =>     UTCL A10.1) 7 RIC: Well what do ya.I jus.

1 1 CAL: Okay..is. 72).are >   5   are you cailling for this patien:t um: =   6 CAL: =Yes uh huh= In this segment. One might hypothesize that she is starting to say “Is it you?” and then changes it as the former might be considered too direct. This is especially so considering the current stigma associated with AIDS (Sontag. an inbreath) and recycles her turn beginning twice in pairs (i. but considering the overlap. revealing this information to a friend and teammate of Billy’s seems chancy in that Rick may get upset with her for possibly hurting his friend and the team. the Information Specialist attempts to find out if the caller is the patient or if she is representing the patient.th. the delay devices evident in this segment (as well as in Instance 4) seem to function as part of the delicate and tentative nature of the talk. it is possible that telephone utterance restarts may serve dual purposes simultaneously. both participants show a mutual orientation to this topic as delicate and sensitive. Jessie notes her orientation to her request as delicate in Line 2 when she asks Rick if he thought it was a “mean” thing to say.g. they also could be trying to get the floor. .-hh this would be an AIDS patient h   2 IS: Okary => 3 CAL: I..Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  123 to be a significant request.is there any type ]       [ = 4 IS: -hhh Is i. Jessie’s restart may also be displaying a sensitivity to the lack of alignment in Line 7 from her hearer. disagreements when agreements are preferred) typically include delay devices such as pauses and tokens (e. However.. but are showing orientation to different aspects of the topic.e. the caller restarts “is there.” “well”).. the restarts may also be serving an attention-seeking function here. Both participants’ utterances aren’t changing the topic (as in our first group of restarts). This segment is interesting in that both participants’ restarts could be orienting to the sensitive nature of that talk. Thus. “Is i-” and “are. Thus. 1989). She noted that these delay devices display “reluctancy or discomfort” (p. In Lines 4 and 5.” the beginning of a question. “uh. At Line 3. Thus. Pomerantz (1984) found that dispreferred seconds (e. That is. And in Instance 8:     (8) CIS 271.e.g. she stops and relinquishes her turn to the Information Specialist. She displays a delay (i. the caller to a Cancer Information Service has requested to talk with someone about nursing home placement for an AIDS patient. An additional interesting feature about this instance is the use of “ya know” and a pause before the beginning of the restart. As mentioned previously. Even in this semimedical situation. asking someone to reveal whether she or he has a terminal illness such as AIDS is potentially a socially risky question.are”).

At one end of the continuum. restarts—as an interactional feature of the “practices of conversation”—serve to accomplish multiple “practices in conversation” such as gaining attention. sound stretches. whereas Goodwin (1980) argued for a gaze-requesting function. explicit or marked ways of solving interactional problems and can be viewed on a continuum. MOUSE commands her listeners with the explicit “YA::LL look at me:.”. but” as a way to announce an abrupt topic shift. using added stress. At the other end of the continuum. more marked ways to accomplish actions such as gaining attention. getting the floor.” These features may include more. Particular recycled turn beginnings were found to serve two attention-seeking functions. . sexual activity. Thus. shifting topics. Rather than displaying a restart to attract gaze and attention (Goodwin. the young woman in the following face-to-face segment employs a rather direct way to summon her listeners’ attention: UTVL 8 Moonlight Pizza MOU:   She was sitting right here like this Y’A::LL look at me:. shifting topics. 1984. 1980). “Can I ask you a question?” to explicitly mark a subsequent sensitive or delicate question or request. However. For example. and marking delicacy. “Not to change the subject.g. or first query a conversational partner. dating issues. interactants may choose fairly implicit. 1992). this chapter argues that restarts may also serve different forms of attention-seeking functions—to indicate or mark the initiation of a new topic or a reluctance to make or respond to delicate requests. That is. there are other conversational features of the “practices of conversation” that interactants may employ to accomplish these same social or pragmatic “practices in conversation. a speaker may start a turn with. less marked means to achieve a conversational action with little disturbance to the expression of an utterance or to the conversation’s surface (Jefferson. illness disclosure). These restarts occurred precisely at places where speakers were introducing new topics or were displaying reluctance to discuss particular issues (e. a restart may best be considered as a multifunctional conversational feature. and increased volume to further emphasize her demand. capable of varying sequential work. For instance. personal finances. a speaker initiating a new topic or showing reluctance when making or responding to a request may signal to the other that “something is up” by using a restart. Moreover.124  Studies in language and social interaction CONCLUSIONS This chapter describes various functions of restarts at utterance beginnings in telephone conversations. interactants may choose fairly explicit. Sacks. as mentioned earlier. a speaker may choose to gradually change a conversational topic over the course of several turns via a stepwise transition (Jefferson. 1996). or displaying delicacy. Employing Mandelbaum’s (1990) distinction. or less.. potential refusal to lend items. These findings expand our previous knowledge of the functions of recycled turn beginnings as attention-seeking devices. Considering the absence of recipient gaze in telephone conversations. Schegloff (1987) claimed that they serve an overlap-repair function.

Heath. C. Generating topic: The use of topic initial elicitors.. They illustrate how we as interactants can produce an action to fit the specific needs of the moment-by-moment unfolding of an encounter.Atkinson & J. might the absence of restarts display a specific stance in an argument. opportunities for the conversation to get momentarily or completely sidetracked or for a bid to change the tone or mood of the conversational moment are made available. medical or therapeutic interviews versus corporate business interactions. For instance. restarts may pose less conversational danger than more marked actions. considering sequential implicativeness (Schegloff & Sacks. Sociological Inquiry. & Casey. England: Cambridge University Press. sensitive matters or topic shifts on the telephone. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (1984). and the achievement of a state of mutual gaze at turn-beginning. First. for example. or socially inept. It would also be interesting to discover if restarts serve any of the aforementioned functions in face-to-face encounters.M. N. such as certainty or hostility to the other? REFERENCES Button. Talk and recipiency: Sequential organization in speech and body movement.” perhaps especially when in an argumentative encounter. a speaker may be perceived as abrupt. less marked forms may vary in. For example. although instances in the present study included both casual. R. (1992). in some cases. C. in response to a serious “Can I ask you a question?”. Moreover. pauses. Goodwin. In J.H. Second. Furthermore. Regarding the marking of delicate. Heritage (Eds. Third. Atkinson & J. Hopper. and marking delicacy. Future research in the area might uncover yet other “practices in conversation” that restarts serve in addition to gaining attention. Telephone conversation.). It may then take several subsequent turns to reestablish the direction or to get out of the side sequence.Heritage (Eds.Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  125 However. 272–302. everyday and institutional telephone talk. restarts show us that one form can have many functions. Second. getting the floor.). the use of explicit. 167–190). Moreover. restarts may be less likely to be perceived as abrupt or demanding. you may not. First. an interactant may be flatly refused before the other even hears the question or request. Thus. 1973). England: Cambridge University Press. For instance. investigating the occurrence or lack thereof of restarts in particularly sensitive environments such as arguments may prove worthwhile. being less explicit. it would be much more difficult for wisecracks or refusals to emerge with the use of restarts alone. another one?” (Schegloff. demanding. 247–266). there are potential dangers in employing such marked features. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Restarts. G. wisecracks such as “You already did” or “What. “No. Cambridge. (1984). In J. restarts seem to be in the middle of the continuum when it comes to such activities as refusing a request. . Cambridge. or initiating a new direction in the conversation. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. telephone restarts express middleground options by speakers. 50. I don’t answer personal questions” or “No. so one might argue that more marked actions are potentially less conversationally economical. 1980) may sidetrack and disturb the serious tone a speaker is attempting to set. (1980). In comparison. marked forms of actions or more implicit. shifting topics. asking a personal question. a more focused study of different types of institutional interaction could reveal differences regarding the use of restarts.

On stepwise transition from talk about a trouble to inappropriately nextpositioned matters. H. Vol.A. In J. H.A. England: Multilingual Matters. (1974). 70–85). Schegloff. (1990).A. (1973). Sacks. Atkinson & J. E. Anderson (Ed. Lectures on conversation (Vol. 104–152. Preliminaries to preliminaries: “Can I ask you a question?” Sociological Inquiry. Mandelbaum. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. & Jefferson. (1996). (1984).Lee (Eds. Sacks. Jefferson. 233–264). J. 12: Discourse and syntax (pp. Sontag.. 216–244). In R. Atkinson & J. Tannen (Ed.R.).Button & J. 16. Analyzing discourse: Text and talk (pp. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp.E. Language. Syntax and semantics. (1992). G. (1987). II) (G. E. (1989). .). DC: Georgetown University Press. Schegloff. 50. E. 696–735. (1980).A.). Cambridge. Cambridge. Schegloff. (1981).. Oxford. Beverly.H. (1979). Discourse as an interactional achievement: Some uses of “uh huh” and other things that come between sentences.126  Studies in language and social interaction Jefferson. The relevance of repair to syntax-for-conversation. 71–93). Communication Yearbook 13 (pp. Schegloff. Opening up closings. H. New York: Doubleday. G. 1–61. Ed. Communication phenomena as solutions to interactional problems.). Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. In T. Pomerantz. E. In J. CA: Sage.A. In J. Washington. England: Blackwell. England: Cambridge University Press.).).Turner (Ed. Aids and its metaphors. Clevedon.). England: Cambridge University Press. Ethnomethodology (pp. Text and Performance Quarterly. In D. E. New York: Academic Press.M.. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. G. 50. & Sacks. Schegloff. Baltimore: Penguin. In G.A. A. Recycled turn beginnings: A precise repair mechanism in conversations turn-taking organization. E. Heritage (Eds. 57–101). Jefferson. (1984). Schegloff. Heritage (Eds. 261–288). S. On the poetics of ordinary talk. 191–222).).Givon (Ed. Talk and social organization (pp.

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1994. the hearer simultaneously produces a positive evaluation at the very moment that the assessment adjective is spoken. a particular type of car built before World War II). 1992. only one of whom passes this test. Thus in the following. 1999. In earlier work. What is investigated here is the ability of a hearer to “spontaneously. without alerting the hearer to its assessable status.1 Is he a competent member of the domain of discourse indexed by the name. 1 . Hopper & Chen. 1996. however.Goodwin & M. such that he can recognize on his own the special status of the item that speaker has just named? Indeed. 1987) investigated how turns at talk containing assessments can be organized as a multiparty interactive activity. 1998). 1989. I use the male pronoun to talk about an addressee of this talk. The name is dropped in a “deadpan” fashion.” recognize the assessable character of an object being named (a Cord.” but in that talk about cars in this fashion is explicitly marked by the participants themselves as a distinctively gendered. focusing on the way in which culturally relevant understanding of the names used to identify valued objects is made visible through specific interactive procedures. The present chapter explores one facet of this process. 1988. in the data examined herein. Hopper & LeBaron. She doesn’t wait until after speaker has said “good.g. It was s::so [: goo:d.   [I Love it. SIGNPOSTED ASSESSMENTS This practice of producing assessable names as recognition tests must.” the entity being assessed—“asparagus pie”—is formulated as a highly valued object through a range of both talk and embodied displays by both speaker and hearer: (1) Nancy: Tasha: Jeff made en asparagus pie. as the speaker pronounces an assessment adjective “good. and thus poses a recognition test for the hearer. As a point of departure for the phenomenon explored in this chapter. Marjorie Goodwin and I (C. male practice. be seen as part of a larger family of practices that also includes alternative procedures used by speakers to explicitly signal their hearers that an assessable is about to be produced. Hopper. some of these are briefly described. Here.8 Recognizing Assessable Names Charles Goodwin UCLA Robert Hopper’s work has been centrally concerned with the question of how human beings produce action in concert with each other by deploying the resources and practices used to organize talk-in-interaction (e.” “on his own.H.Goodwin. Hopper & Glenn. there are two hearers..

These slots can.” is overlapped by an intonationally enhanced. Instead of announcing to the recipient that what is about to be said should be assessed in a particular way.Goodwin & M. but one of many ways in which assessments can be organized as an interactive activity. one very common type of assessment is formatted as a noun phrase within which an assessment adjective. The following provides an example. and Paul asked Eileen to tell the others present how “a dog” stole the speaker’s golf ball. however. speaker produces the assessable “out of the blue. What interactive practices make such concurrent assessment possible? Before producing the talk that constitutes the peak of the assessment. though the entity being assessed may indeed be relevant to a larger sequence of activity. such as beautiful precedes a description of the object being assessed.” just after the assessment adjective “beautiful.     ((intervening talk omitted))     Noun Phrase   Eileen: An this beautiful. By placing signposts before the peak of the assessment the speaker informs the recipient of what is about to happen.H. appreciative version of the same name by Paul. a beautiful. for more detailed analysis). the participants are car buffs. In these data. Eileen’s pronunciation of “Irish Setter. thirty two Olds The assessment adjective tells the recipient that the object about to be described is being assessed in a particular way. (2)     Paul:   Tell Debbie about the dog on the golf course t’day. Paul and Eileen had played golf together. and indeed she does so by starting her own assessment at the very end of the intensifier. the recipient is faced with the task of discovering that an assessable has been produced on his or her own.Recognizing assessable names  129 instead starts to evaluate it before the speaker has even stated her own evaluation. however. Moreover.) [Irish Setter     I[rish Setter ((rev erently)) (3) Curt: This guy had.. Curt is trying to restore a Model T and asks Mike where he can get a rear spring for the car: . 1987. One of these alternatives is examined next.g. (. be filled with other types of units. the speaker “signposts” its upcoming arrival with an intonationally enhanced intensifier “s::so_i”. with the effect that when this talk is actually spoken. with an anticipatory signpost). such signposting is a local operation. Signposting is.Goodwin. The hearer can use this prepositioned evaluative frame to project what is about to happen.” In that the talk containing the assessable has not been categorized as such (e. as a protagonist in a laughable event (see C. For example. In Example 1. Example 2 occurred in the midst of a story. Note how Paul’s treatment of the Irish Setter as an assessable differs markedly from the way in which he formulates this same dog within the frame of the report being made by the larger story. the recipient is already in a position to treat it as an assessment. the projective signpost took the form of an intensifier (“s::so:”) and the assessment peak occurred at the place where the speaker produced an assessment adjective. that is.

While saying “Oh yes’” in Line 12. and the emphasis provided by placing “Oh” before “yes” at the beginning of the turn. This question provides an opportunity for Mike in Line 12 to emphasize that they are indeed original. Because these phenomena have already been described in detail elsewhere (M. In Lines 5–7 Mike describes a particular type of car. For example put an assessment adjective like beautiful before it.H. In these data.7) Oh yes. (1. asking Mike “are you shittin me. . for example. collaborative activity.130  Studies in language and social interaction (4)  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14   15   16 Mike:     Mike:     Mike:   Mike Curt:   Mike: Curt: Mike: Curt: Mike: Lemme ask a guy at work. without explicitly assessing it. treats such a car as a very highly valued object with a series of elaborate displays in Lines 10. Curt is able to recognize the exalted status of a Cord without being explicitly told that it is an assessable by Mike. Thus Curt initially treats what Mike said as so remarkable that it can hardly be believed by saying “not original. and in so doing to display his own appreciation of the cars.” Once Curt uncovers the assessable character of the car.0) [And [Not original. and 15. He’s gotta bunch a’ old clunkers. Curt. a Cord. ˙Awhh are you shit tin m [e? [No I’m not. this head shake simultaneously displays that he is disagreeing with the assessmentdiminishing proposal just made by Curt (that the Cords were “not original”) and constitutes a form of assessment activity in its own right. 2. Mike shakes his head from side to side.Goodwin. (0. The assessment-relevant nonvocal behavior that occurs in this sequence merits special comment. Note the placement of the word “Very” before “origi(h)nal. 1980. This suggests that speakers have available to them at least two alternatives for introducing an assessable into talk: 1. Ve(h) ry origi(h)nal. Schegloff. The process of assessing the cars thus becomes a mutual.2) Well I can’t say that they’re ol: clunkers= eez gotta Co:rd? (0. Rather than contradicting the “yes” in his talk. Oh:: reall[y? [Yah. Produce an object without marking it as an assessable and thus place recipients in a position where they must recognize its assessable status on their own. 1987) they are not discussed further here. Very original.” the enhanced intonation with which both of these words are spoken. Announce to recipient that what is about to be said is an assessable. However his recipient. 13.” a proposal that if true would diminish the assessable status of the cars being evaluated. Mike joins him in displaying appreciation of it. an “oh wow” headshake.1) Two Co:rds. (0.

an act that frequently functions as a solicit for a response from the recipient. I now want to explore the possibility that the process through which the recipient recognizes even an unmarked assessable can itself be organized as an interactive activity. Holding the Name Available Despite the way in which its status has been foreshadowed. However.2) Well I can’t say that they’ re ol: clunkers= eez gotta Co:rd? (0.” Through the operation of such contrast organization. the shadow of its properties become visible before the object itself. He’s gotta bunch a’ old clunkers. Seeding the Ground for an Assessable In Example 4. the recipient does nothing and in Line 6 a gap ensues. and leaves a space after producing the word for the recipient to respond. Mike thus produces a response-relevant object that does not receive an appropriate response. despite the speaker’s deadpan production and lack of explicit assessment terms. recognition of an unmarked assessable has so far been treated as something done entirely by the recipient working alone. Mike first describes the cars of his friend as “old clunkers. he redisplays this object for his recipient (Line 7): (4)     4   Mike :   5     Well I can’t say that they’ re ol: clunkers= eez gotta Co:rd? .Recognizing assessable names  131 RECIPIENT RECOGNITION AS AN INTERACTIVE PROCESS For clarity. there are in fact some features of the talk that might guide the recipient to see what is about to be said as an assessable.1) The recipient is thus instructed to hear what is about to be described as something that stands in marked contrast to “old clunkers. He now employs a standard procedure available to speakers for pursuing a response: rather than moving his talk forward into new material. Though not explicitly marking the name being produced as an assessable. the assessable name in Line 5 emerges within an environment that has already been subtly shaped by its presence.” but then says that they are not old clunkers: (4)           1 2 3 4   Mike:     Mike :     5 6       Lemme ask a guy at work. when the word “Co:rd?” is actually spoken it is not treated as an assessable. (0. Mike ends his pronunciation of the word with a rising contour (indicated in the transcript by a question mark). Mike has nonetheless seeded the ground for its recognition.

in the present case Mike upgrades the assessable from “a Cord’” in Line 5 to “Two Cords’” in Line 7. Continuing to hold the assessable available in this fashion both extends the time available to recipient for producing a response2 and also subtly signals (e. Mike also performs a nonvocal gesture that helps to solicit a response. When this movement is completed.” Note that Curt’s head movement See C.Goodwin (1981. Gary. see C. Right after Mike mentions his friend with the “old clunkers. while moving. Curt brings his gaze back to Mike with a movement that also shows heightened attentiveness to what has just been said (e. he begins his vocal response to the assessable in Line 10. Very shortly after this happens. Indeed. 1986b). This very noticeable gesture occurs right at the point where Mike is upgrading his assessment and appears to act as an additional solicit to Curt (for more detailed analysis of how gestures can be used to attract the gaze of nongazing recipients. Goodwin.0) [And [Not original.” Gary offers the name of someone else (it is later revealed that this person builds street roadsters and is thus a possible source for the spring): (4)             1 2 → 3 4   Mike:   Gary:   Mike :             5 6 7 8 9 10     Mike:   Mike Curt:   Lemme ask a guy at work. through the reiteration of the assessable and its upgrade) that further response is relevant.132  Studies in language and social interaction     6 7   Mike: (0. he moves his hand forward with two fingers extended in a V (i. Curt is looking away from him.1) Two Co:rds. a hand gesture for the number two) toward Curt and then back to his own face. Y’know Marlon Liddle? (0. Curt orients to the fact that Gary has just said something by shifting his gaze noticeably away from Mike and toward Gary. Just as Mike reveals that the cars are not old clunkers. 2 . He continues to gaze away from Mike until after Line 7.. intercepting Mike’s appending “And. As Mike says “Two Cords” in Line 7. Curt raises his head).2) Well I can’t say that they’re ol: clunkers= eez gotta Co:rd? (0..1) Two Co:rds.g. Recall that the sequence began with Curt asking for help in finding a high arch spring for his Model T. To look at how this gesture operates it is helpful to consider the actions of the third party present during this exchange.e. Thus throughout the time that Mike is announcing the presence of the Cords. chapter 3) for other analysis of how speakers add new segments to their talk in order to coordinate the unit production of that talk with relevant actions of their recipients.g.. (1. He’s gotta bunch a’ old clunkers.

Being able to properly identify items such as this is one of the things that establishes within the talk of the moment a participant’s competence. something that led her to become quite puzzled about Curt’s reaction to it. with each party displaying markedly different affect. Clark. One of the central themes that has motivated research in cultural anthropology from Malinowski through contemporary studies of cognition. Thus. but instead becomes a space filled with assessment relevant activity. Sacks & Schegloff. By way of contrast the recipient of the bomb displays shocked. the cultural world at issue is that of car buffs. for example. Clark & Schaefer 1986. it is not a gap. 1979. here Curt. but equivalent recognition tests can be posed in almost any domain of discourse. 3 . one can speculate that the ideal way this sequence would have run off would have been for Curt to have asked what kind of “old clunkers” “the guy” had. 1972). In the present data. politics.f. More generally. However that “independent” display has in fact been made possible through a subtle interactive process of prompting from Mike. and indeed membership (or non-membership) in a specific culture. is the question of how members of a society recognize and properly interpret in a culturally meaningful way events in their phenomenal world. and then received “a Cord” in response. 1986. 1996. science. the current strategy is characterized by asymmetry in participation. unlike Gary. and then dropping it as a bomb. CONCLUSION: ASSESSMENTS AND THE INTERACTIVE ORGANIZATION OF CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE Recognition of assessable names. is able to display his ability to independently recognize the exalted status of a Cord. cool nonchalance. The party dropping the bomb. Note that unlike the congruent assessments in Example 1. and the tasks it sets its recipients.H. where both participants were enthusiastically evaluating the assessable. Clark & Wilkes-Gibbes. and so on. First. Schegloff. talks with deadpan. in order to deal with the assessable properly recipient must recognize the object that speaker is talking about. see M. one person viewing these data heard the car that Mike was talking about as a (Honda) Accord. For other analysis of how nonvocal assessment activity can occupy silences. Building a response to an unmarked assessable is relevant to this process in a number of different ways. Frequently names are used to describe assessable objects in talk. unlike the much shorter silence in Line 6. This is by no means a trivial matter.Recognizing assessable names  133 occupies the silence in Line 8 with the beginning of his response. who has worked hard to hold the assessable name available until Curt can see its import and react appropriately to it.3 In brief. sheds interesting light on the organization of cultural knowledge as an interactive phenomenon. elaborated amazement. here Mike. farming. Isaacs & Clark 1987. here we find an instance of what seems a more general strategy of downplaying something before its emergence. sports.Goodwin (1980). For example. and a very interesting literature on the interactive organization of reference and name recognition now exists (c. Indeed. so that its unique assessable character is highlighted by its sudden emergence within a relevant but unlikely environment.

Third. however. In addition. insofar as the identifications and judgments one makes can be scrutinized by others. Fifth. Fourth. ways of speaking.4 The present data shed light on how assessments might be relevant to such issues. Here. and (c) something about the criteria . to the underlying social processes through which such categories are formed. tested. Others can and do choose to disagree with a speaker’s assessment of a particular entity. it becomes possible to analyze how performing these actions can be subjected to public scrutiny. these processes provide a built-in motivation for members of a group to learn the background information. the results of these operations can be publicly scrutinized by other participants. highly valued object in much the way that the Cord here is. and so on. but Mike refused to go along with this proposal (for detailed analysis of these data. 1987). and indeed one of the ways in which they negotiate and establish their competence and standing vis-à-vis each other. The recipient is performing the tasks of recognition and evaluation in order to build an appropriate response to the unmarked assessable. see C. (b) that it is a very highly valued object in this culture. A response to an assessable can contain an alignment display of some type (e. mere recognition of the name and the entity it refers to is not sufficient to build an appropriate response to an assessable. For example. shortly after the sequence being examined here. it becomes possible to shift analysis from specific cultural categories. Curt proposed that a “thirtytwo Olds’” should be treated as an exalted. Clearly a multiplicity of acquisition processes are involved. Talking about cars for these speakers is very serious business. Curt’s treatment of the Cords as highly valued objects). By viewing processes of categorization and evaluation within an interactive matrix. and changed as constitutive features of the activities the participants are engaged in. Someone listening to this talk who had never heard of a Cord before could find from the way in which it is treated by Curt and Mike (a) that a Cord is a type of car. confirmation.Goodwin & M. and challenge within systematic processes of interaction. they permit empirical investigation of the process through which members of a society come to “share” a culture in the sense that separate individuals form judgements about the events they encounter that are congruent with those of their co-participants. but differ radically from the interpretations of these same phenomena made by members of another group. interactive practices through which a name is both recognized and evaluated are quite relevant to central issues posed in the analysis of culture.g.H. the recipient must know how to rank and evaluate the object once it has been identified. that is. such considerations raise the question of how participants learn relevant information about a domain of discourse in the first place. psychological processes. For example. the recipient must be able to evaluate the recognized object and properly place it within the larger cultural domain that it inhabits. stable entities argued to constitute the “culture” of the group. Therefore.134  Studies in language and social interaction Second.Goodwin. necessary for appropriate participation in a specific domain of discourse. and used to assess one’s competence and membership in a particular culture. used. in order to find the assessable status of what is being talked about. a list of fixed.. That response will display to others whether he or she did or did not recognize the assessable and how he or she evaluated it. The public. The same is true for many other domains of discourse. Recognition and evaluation of a referent are frequently conceptualized as purely internal. These interactive processes thus provide structures for both testing and motivating acquisition of particular bodies of knowledge.

The self-explicating resources provided by assessments are available not only to participants but also to ethnographers and analysts. (1999). Sociological Inquiry. Goodwin. see Jefferson (1987). (1980).. Gesture as a resource for the organization of mutual orientation. R. Speech. and deployed through precise use of the practices used to build action within talk-in-interaction. (1989).. 32(1–2). C. R. (1986). Collaborating on contributions to conversations. appropriate alignment displays to them. H. H. for instance: The exemplar in studies of conversation. Text. (1996). 29(4). Use of methods such as this seems especially important because membership in a culture involves not merely recognition of content items. C. E. Clark. 19–41.H. IPrA Papers in Pragmatics.. Going public about social interaction. R. 22. Hopper. 56(3). The sequence thus provides information about both the status of particular objects in this culture and ways of invoking these objects and their relevant attributes within talk. 62(1/2). Hopper. & Wilkes-Gibbes. Language and Cognitive Processes 2(1). Hopper. Conversational organization: Interaction between speakers and hearers. is not able to display the competence about the world of cars that Mike and Curt exhibit. D. participation and interpretation.H. 7(1). R. (1996). M. Sequential ambiguity in telephone openings—What are you doin. relationships: Telephone openings in Taiwan. R. 303–317. New York: Academic Press. Languages. Hopper. Goodwin. 291–313. organized. 1986a). 6(3). & Chen. Clark. 50. Goodwin.H. M. C. this is the first question Curt raises about the Cord in Line 10). (1986a). Indeed one of the men participating in this interaction. The phenomena investigated here provide one demonstration of how fine-grained cultural knowledge is built. 240–252. 47–63. REFERENCES Clark. Using language. 29–49. (1986).. Telephone conversation.F. Referring as a collaborative process. 1–39. H. & Goodwin.e. Goodwin. 283–316. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Processes of mutual monitoring implicated in the production of description sequences. Research on Language and Social Interaction. C. 4 For a very subtle example of learning within the midst of conversation.H. Communication Monographs. Audience diversity. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press. (1987). cultures. Cognition. Semiotica. but also particular ways of talking about these items.Recognizing assessable names  135 used to evaluate such phenomena in this particular domain of discourse. Language and Social Psychology. (1988). & Schaefer. Such phenomena provide a practical resource for parties involved in the interaction. (1992). and so on. and one can in fact see him trying to learn how to talk about them appropriately as the conversation unfolds (see Goodwin. Such structures provide a way of getting information about the content of a culture without querying participants. Hopper. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.H. . (1981). (1) 1–52.. for example. Gary. Goodwin. Concurrent operations on talk: Notes on the interactive organization of assessments. that the status of a car as “original” is a most relevant attribute for judging it (i. (1986b). 77–84. H.

How gender creeps into talk. 86–100). pp. 26–37. Clevedon. E. & Glenn.A. 75–119). E. Psathas (Ed. NJ: Ablex. Isaacs. 101–114. Journal of Experimental Psychology.). In G. Repetition and play in conversation. 15–21). General. (1972). References in conversation between experts and novices.R. 116(1). & Clark. 31(1). Studies in social interaction (pp. H. (1987). Notes on a conversational practice: Formulating place. (1987). Analyzing single episodes of interaction: An exercise in conversation analysis.A. Jefferson. Talk and social organisation (pp. Schegloff. & Schegloff. Button & J. H. C. In D. E.H. Sudnow (Ed. (1979). 50 (2). P. Lee (Eds. In B. New York: Irvington. 2. In G. Exposed and embedded corrections. Norwood. Hopper.). New York: The Free Press. Repetition in discourse: Interdisciplinary perspectives (Vol..A.). E. Two preferences in the organization of reference to persons and their interaction. Johnstone (Ed. 59–74.. 29–40). Research on Language and Social Interaction.).A. Schegloff.136  Studies in language and social interaction Hopper. & LeBaron. . (1994).. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. England: Multilingual Matters. (1998). E. Social Psychology Quarterly. G. (1987).. R. R. Sacks.

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did you get that tape from the Speech Lab?   K: Yes.l2] (Daughter to mother)   KRS: . FN] (Student to student)   S: Hi Kim.hhhh Did get the deal sold though KRS : Great. it was noted that “did you” questions are used in many ways.l5] (Wife to husband) HNK: pt . I did. the recipient of a “did you” question shows that the question is problematic: . Occasionally. “did you” questions can be used to begin a conversation upon first meeting a known other: (1) [Corbin.9 Interactional Problems With “Did You” Questions and Responses Susan D. did you have a     good time over at Joyce’s last night? to remind someone of an intended action: (4)     [Corbin. FN] (Mother to teenage daughter) Mom: Did you bring in the trash can? D: Yes. The examples used in this project are taken from recordings of actual conversations or from overheard conversations noted by the author. thank you so much for doing that to continue a conversation when a previous topic has been talked out: (2)         [UTCL A35d. For example. In this collection.Corbin University of Texas at Austin “Did you” questions are ubiquitous in everyday talk.= HNK: = So (0. A collection of “did you” questions and observations of their use and characteristics was made from which the examples in this chapter were drawn.hhh Okay well you have a good day.4) KRS: Did you get your account straightened out to introduce a previously unmentioned mentionable: (3) [UTCL A35a.

our readings.Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  139 (5)         (6)       [Corbin. well I. They noted that to ask a “did you” question of someone is to indicate that the action questioned is something that could be expected to have been done: . Tracy and Naughton (1994) also showed an example demonstrating that askers may indicate that they recognize the problematic nature of “did you” questions. the asker does not use any vocal intonation that might cause the question to sound as if he is accusing the recipient of anything. have any dilemmas of choice in terms of     experimentation here? Did you. in an interaction between faculty and graduate students at a graduate seminar. However. In example 5. an exchange between two people working in a pizza palor.     when they read the conversations or read the     scenarios Tracy and Naughton characterized Bern’s disfluent answer as showing that Beth “recognize[s] a difficulty” (p. Beth displays that she has problems with Sam’s “did you” question: (7) [Tracy & Naughton. I mean when they.0) E: U:h no. the response shows a problem by the dispreferred-shaped response (Pomerantz. [DP 4] C: Did ↑you go in this morning?   (2. In Example 6. excerpt 12]   SAM: Did you. my back was hurtin too much Recipient response indicates how she or he has taken the question. 1994). 1994. the recipient’s response indicates he appears to have heard an accusation (“What’s wrong with it?”). 1984). pg 294. you were supposed to put   Saran Wrap on it. did you sacrifice uh     uh external validity for control at any point?   BEH: Uh yeah the. FN] (Co-workers) Pizza worker 1: Did you grate this cheese? Pizza worker 2: What’s wrong with it? Pizza worker 1: Well. In example 7. 295) with the question. The next two examples show that another researcher has noticed that both hearers and askers of “did you” questions may find them problematic (Tracy & Naughton.

one arrives at the conclusion that Roy was going to ask whether or not Sue had found other studies reporting that self-attributions and other attributions of competence show a correlation. 287). these features are noted. note that there is only a potential for “did you” questions to be problematic. the successive amendments move the asker away from the “did you” format and softens the potential offence (or face threat) in the question. The . The use of “did you” at the beginning of the question indicates it is about a recipient’s past action (or possible past action) and may be heard by the recipient to have problematic linguistic logical presuppositions. However. but usually receives an elaboration as well as the “yes/no. If one continues along his “did you” line of questioning and combines it with the end of his question. as seen in Examples 1 through 3. 3. no one problematic “did you” question contains all three of these aspects. This high indexicality may lead to a recipient’s hearing a problematic linguistic pragmatic presupposition.” which asks about the recipient’s state of knowledge at the time of the question.. That is. As each example is discussed. However. That is. 1994. They are: 1. A “did you” question can be highly indexical. 287. Tracy and Naughton (1994) argued that “to ask if they did something suggests it is an activity that could be expected” (p. that is. are you aware. In the present collection. p. he amends his statement to “I would assume that. that person’s own self rating of competence correlates pretty highly with ratings of those surrounding? Roy’s question concerns Sue’s research presentation. which inquires about the recipient’s actions.140  Studies in language and social interaction (8)       [Tracy & Naughton.” A lack of expansion may lead to an asker’s pursuit of an expansion. Did you.” which refocuses the knowing about the attribution studies from the student to himself.. I would assume that. that is generally true? That. Roy changes his “did you” to “are you aware. Excerpt 1] ROY: . He starts his question as a “did you” question. Certainly vocal intonation and sequential location have a lot to do with the problematic potential of a “did you” question. These four examples show that both speakers and hearers demonstrate in talk that they recognize the problematic nature of “did you” questions. Before completing his question. the referent of the question is underspecified yet the question’s structure shows that the speaker believes that the recipient will understand the sense of the question. not every “did you” question is going to be a problem for every recipient. 2. Tracy and Naughton (1994) argued that Roy’s reformulation of his “did you” question from “did you” to “are you aware” and finally to “I would assume that” “suggests he does not want to imply that she (the student) should know what he is asking” (p. it would be expected for Sue to find research reporting the high correlation and perhaps untoward if she had not found this research. 287). which can cause interactional problems. any one of which might induce a problematic response to a “did you” question. This chapter discusses three characteristics of “did you” questions. Of course. that studies looking at self attributions and other attributions of competence generally show a pretty high correlation? SUE: hmm mm ROY: That. The “did you” question is grammatically packaged to elicit a “yes/no” response.

Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  141 following sections include discussions of these problematic aspects of “did you” questions in more depth with examples from actual conversations. (0. expression or utterance makes sense or is rational” (p.2) I think he will.8) When he went in this morning Did ↑you go in this morning? (2. Examples and discussion of problematic “did you” questions involving logical and pragmatic presuppositions follow. 184). this statement remains true whether or not he actually did go to work.0) U:h no. (6)   [DP 4] E:     =>       E: C:   E: Actually (0. she or he may conclude that the speaker is being ironic.7) has been he did the same thing. If a statement’s context is not clear to a recipient. silly. 167). 1984). 168). 168). Consider the “did you” question from Example 6. the recipient’s answer will probably reflect this. The most common linguistic test for logical presuppositions is the constancy under negation test. my back was hurtin too much Cathy asks if Evan went in to work that morning. walked in. which states that the presuppositions of a statement remain true whether the statement is true or false. as in .((noise)) they didn’t say anything to im. Keenan (1971) proposes that there is also a pragmatic presupposition which is that there is a clear relation between the statement and its context. He also observed that there is an ordinary notion of presupposition that “describes any background assumption against which an action. Logical Presupposition According to Levinson (1983). E’s answer to her question in the disperferred turn shape of a long pause and the filler “Uh” indicates he has a problem with the question (Pomerantz. The assertive counterpart of Cs “did you” question is “Evan did/did not go in to work this morning.(0. he said that was a. “questions will generally assume the presuppositions of their assertive counterparts” (p. If a recipient hears the presupposition in the “did you” question as problematic.5) because Shawn (0. theory. there’s.” C’s “did you” question generates at least one possibly problematic presupposition: “Evan had work to go to this morning. Levinson (1983) noted that “there is more literature on presupposition than almost any other topic in pragmatics” (p. PRESUPPOSITIONS The notion of presuppositions in language has been discussed by linguists since the 1950s. Her vocal emphasis indicated by a raised tone on the word you indicates a shift of emphasis from Shawn’s going to work to Evan’s going to work. Contrasted with the ordinary notion of presupposition is the linguistic notion that is “restricted to certain pragmatic inferences or assumptions that seem at least to be built into linguistic expressions and which can be isolated using certain linguistic tests” (p.” According to the linguistic test. or stupid.

stick it C: No because I had a (0.142  Studies in language and social interaction example 6.4) right? C has no trouble understanding the context of the “did you” question because it does not change the topic of conversation. For recipients to understand a “did you” question’s pragmatic presupposition. C shows that she has no problem understanding the context of the “did you” question in her immediate answer and the continuation of her story. Pragmatic Presupposition The knowledge that people in relationships share is an integral part of understanding problems with the indexical aspect of the “did you” question. as seen in example 9.stick it”). by giving a justifying reason for not going to work that morning. . is that the “did you” question refers to the current topic: (9)         [DP 4] C: Yeah but they’re so [(tacky) E:   [Did you tell them to take   their (0.) dad and Timmy n from work and come over. we did. it   was real ni:ce?   (0. A second way context is clear in “did you” question asking is by the separation of the “did you” question from the previous topic with some kind of conversational boundary.4) KRS: Well that’s good to hear. require that the question be uttered in an understandable context. did you have a good time over at Joyce’s last [night? MAB: [Yeah. The assumptions that people make about other’s actions may be seen in the logical presuppositions of their “did you” questions. the recipient’s answer may indicate problems. KRS: . she or he may answer the question in a manner indicating a problem.8) sandwich and sh. She complains that the counter people at the sandwich shop were unpleasant to her (“they’re so (tacky)”). Context may be clear in at least two ways and can be shown in these examples of nonproblematic “did you” questions.12] KRS: …you just pick up (. Example 3 shows a “did you” question during a preclosing in a mother-daughter telephone call: (3)     =>         [UTCL A35a. If the recipient does not recall the question’s indexed shared knowledge.8) sandwich and sh. If the recipient hears the presupposition as problematic. MAB: Oka:y. One.8) I had two cards (0. the recipient must understand and recall the shared knowledge of the question’s topic. Pragmatic presuppositions.hhh Okay well you have a good day. according to Keenan (1971). E’s “did you” question asks if she decided to purchase a sandwich despite the unpleasantness (“Did you tell them to take their (0.

” KRS and MAB have aligned contributions toward closing the encounter. Did you find it BET: ()   (0.(0. hhhh O: h no: .5] CAR: My roommate is such a bitch BET: Why CAR: huh c(h)ause . In this instance.hhh whatBET:   serious?= CAR: =No .4) BET : . She does not indicate to her interlocutor in any way that she is changing topics from “what are you doing” to “finding it.4) BET: Nothin CAR: Oh.hhh Okay well you have a good > day. First.” When “what are you doing” does not produce a topic.… Schegloff and Sacks (1984) described the closing of a telephone call as working in a step wise fashion to allow the introduction of “unmentioned mentionables” (p. CAR’s “did you” question (“Did you find it”) is problematic on two counts. Two female friends are at the beginning of a telephone call negotiating a first topic: (10)               =>                   [UTCL A24. she and MAB have begun to close the telephone call:   MAB: Oka:y. The preclosing helps make it clear to the recipient that the “did you” question is a new topic. Example 10 shows problems with the pragmatic presupposition of a “did you” question.” CAR appears to be trying to find any topic for them to talk about other than that her roommate is a “bitch. 80). she shifts immediately to “did you find it”: . the preclosing separates the new topic introduced by the “did you” question from the previous topic.Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  143 Before KRS asks her mother the “did you” question.3) wha’a you doin   (0. = KRS: .5) CAR: The shorts BET: Huh? CAR: The shorts   (0.4) BET: (Oh) did I find what   (0. Pragmatic presupposition problems can occur in conversations when recipients do not understand the reference of the “did you” question. With the exchange of “okays. A preclosing moves the partners to closing unless one of them thinks of something else to mention.hh. it is an abrupt change of topic.

my back was hurtin too much E answers with “no” and an account.0) E: U:h no. “my back was hurtin too much.144  Studies in language and social interaction   CAR:     =>   BET: CAR: =No . the majority are answered with more than just “yes” or “no. this expansion or account addresses a problematic logical presupposition of the question. whereas others are answered with accounts. Example 10 shows that “did you” questions can be problematic if the pragmatic presupposition of context through topic shift and pronoun reference is not clear to the recipient.” Accounts often look like the answer that E gave C in Example 6: C: Did ↑You go in this morning?   (2.3) wha’a you doin (0. but also the pursuit of an expansion or account to the answer of a “did you” question can be problematic for a recipient. that is. & Sacks.hh. reasons for having done or not having done the action the question concerns. Jefferson. such as the presupposition that Evan had work to go to that morning. it was real ni:ce? MAB answer with a “Yeah” and expands the answer with “it was real ni:ce. “did you” questions are grammatically packaged to elicit a “yes” or “no” answer. Yet. Expansions often look like the answer MAB gave KRS in Example 3: KRS: MAB: …did you have a good time over at Joyce’s last night? Yeah. Pursuit of Expansion In the next example. in a collection of “did you” questions. he also receives a very marked response: . did you find it The second problematic aspect of CAR’s “did you” question is the unclearly indexed “it” in the question. we did.” Tom asks for an expansion of the “no” answer and is successful in getting an expansion. Tom asks Abbie a “did you” question that she answers with a simple “no. from a videotape of a couple’s dinnertime conversation.4) Nothin Oh.” Very often. BET uses the word what to indicate that “it” is where she is having problems understanding CAR’s “did you” question.” Some “did you” questions are answered with expansions of the “yes/no” answer.(0. However. Not only can the “did you” question itself be problematic for interactants due to presuppositions. BET indicates this is her problem in the way she asks for clarification (“did I find what”) (see Schegloff. 1977). ANSWERS TO “DID YOU” QUESTIONS As mentioned in the introduction.

She pauses 0. problems may occur if the asker pursues more than the “yes/no” answer offered. Abbie shows none of the problematic features seen in other “did you” question answers.2) DEN: No GOR: Are you going to?   (0. Although Abbie does not appear to find the original “did you” question problematic. He starts his repeat question (second arrow) with the non-understood section of his question (“For finance class did you get anything done”). she answers without an expansion (“No”). since ten o’clock this morning Tom’s first “did you” question (first arrow) concerns whether Abbie has prepared anything for the finance quiz they plan to study for later in the evening (“Have y-did ya do anything today fo:r (a) (0. Grammatically. Her emphasis on “gone” shows that it has been impossible for her to do anything for finance today. This example demonstrates that if interactional problems do not occur with the asking of the question itself. she has answered the question. the recipient of the “did you” question also answers the question of her actions without an explanation of those actions.3) Nothing at ↑all (0. her recipient appears to expect more than her “no” answer: (12) =>     *     [UTCL D9:3] GOR: Did you: give Suzy the advice I suggested?   (1.6 seconds before she answers and then reinforces her negative answer with two more negatives (“Nada” and “I haven’t done ↑anything”) before she offers an account for not having done anything (“I’ve been gone. Tom asks for more than her negative answer by with his next comment (“Nothing at ↑all”).5) I haven’t done anything I’ve been gone. such as a hesitation or “uh” filler. There is no particular intonation in this question to indicate that he was accusing her or doing more than asking for information. In the next example.Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  145 (11) =>     =>     •     [DP2] T:   A T: T   T:   A: Have y.6) finance °class°”).6-second pause and very quiet utterance finish may be what leads Abbie to ask for clarification of his question (“For what?”).did ya do anything today fo:r (a) (0.0) For what? For finance class did you get anything done No (0.6) finance °class° (1. pragmatically. The raised inflection of the word all may indicate surprise that she has not done anything. (0. However. His interutterance 0.6) Nada. However. since ten o’clock this morning”).2) DEN: No . she does appear to have problems with the pursuit of an expansion of her “no” answer.

The “did you” question asker can choose at this point to go on to something else. whereas the truth of the underlying logical presupposition may be a problem.0) You’re irritable Unlike Abbie’s response in the previous example. on the surface. Denise pauses very slightly and tells him “No” again with no expansion.5) I don’t believe you (6. The pursuit of an expansion can be as problematic as the “did you” question itself. The final problematic aspect of “did you” questions is the pursuit of an expansion to the “did you” question and the problems this may cause the recipient.” or to pursue an expansion to the “did you” question.0) DEN: You’re irritable Denise’s utterance concerning Gordon’s irritability shifts the conversation’s topic from Denise’s past actions to Gordon’s present actions and the explanation of her “no” answer to the “did you” question is dropped. When she does answer. to as Garfinkel (1967) noted “let it pass. Not all “did you” questions are problematic.146  Studies in language and social interaction           GOR:   DEN: (0. Gordon expresses disbelief: GOR:   I don’t believe you (6. A specific “did you” question may not be problematic. 1994). Given the presupposition richness. but enough are that they are recognized as being problematic by recipients and speakers (Tracy & Naughton. perhaps in search of an explanation to the logical presupposition that he believes Denise had an opportunity to pass on his advice to Suzy. Questioning the expected past actions of another would not. This chapter also shows that there are three aspects of a “did you” question that can foster problems for recipients. 1984). CONCLUSION This chapter has shown that “did you” question can be problematic for interactants. closer inspection of actual “did you” questions reveals aspects with problematic potential. Denise appears to find the “did you” question problematic as seen by her 1. However. .2-second post-question pause (see Pomerantz. At this point. appear to be the source of a problematic interaction. Gordon chooses to pursue more (“Are you going to?”). These examples show that a “did you” question can be problematic for interactants when an asker wants an expansion or an account that is not forthcoming. she gives the least amount of information that answers the question (“No”). a violation of pragmatic presuppositions. The first is that “did you” questions are rich in logical presuppositions and pragmatic presuppositions. “did you” question may not suffice to indicate understandable context.

H. England: Polity Press. 281–302. & Sacks. 69–99)...T. Pragmatics. Cambridge.. In J. (1983). (1994).Baugh & J. S. G.Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  147 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The author would like to extend a special thanks to Robert Hopper for reading innumerable drafts of this chapter as both a second-year doctoral project and a comprehensive exam question. In J. Rinehart & Winston. (1977). Cambridge. A. REFERENCES Garfinkel. Pomerantz. 57–101). 50.B. & J. The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation. Two kinds of presuppositions in natural language. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (p. Schegloff. Studies in linguistic semantics (p.Atkinson.). Opening up closings. Sherzer (Eds. 44–52).. (1984). The identity work of questioning in intellectual discussion.). 61.M.Fillmore and D. . H. J. E. Language in use (p. New York: PrenticeHall. Keenan. In C. Studies in ethnomethodolgy.). & Naughton. England: Cambridge University Press. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. 696–735.A. E. (1984). England: Cambridge University Press. (1971). New York: Holt. Cambridge. & Sacks. J. Jefferson. Language.Langendoen (Eds. Levinson.L. Schegloff. K. Heritage (Eds. Tracy. (1967). Communication Monographs. E. H.

a woman the Son had begun dating. and Grandmother. in specific terms. including doctors being unwilling and apparently unable to lay out. representatives from various airlines (when seeking flight information and reservations). and commiserate about cancer diagnosis and treatment. reassuring. at times even upbeat about the ambiguities such bad news entails. Daughter. as a practical achievement. an old friend from St. just what his prognosis for overcoming cancer’s debilitating effects might be. a receptionist at an animal boarding kennel (when making and canceling reservations for his dog during his travel). attention was given to the inherent (and often frustrating) uncertainties of medical knowledge. Following his summary of what doctors had told him about ongoing test results. That’s what I’m calling what we’re doing. a graduate student who covered the Son’s classes during travel. Father. during one of a series of phone calls with me wherein his illness trajectory routinely (though not exclusively) became an explicit topic for discussion. from Mom’s initial diagnosis until her death. These materials are drawn from a set of 54 recorded and transcribed phone calls comprising the first natural history of a family talking through cancer. some 13 months later. Aunt. leaving messages on phone answering machines). Mother. as a central concern. And it was in response to our being hopeful together that Robert stated something like “Managing optimism. 1 It was Robert Hopper who coined the phrase “managing optimism” to depict a wide range of moments for dealing with bad and uncertain news by remaining “hopeful” about his health condition. the interactional construction of hopeful and optimistic responses to uncertain and potentially despairing cancer circumstances. the payment of bills.g. assimilate.Beach San Diego State University Examining how family members talk through a loved one’s cancer on the telephone reveals.10 Managing Optimism Wayne A.” 2 Family members include the Son. and a variety of other calls involving routine daily occurrences (e. interactions drawn from a collection of more than 100 instances where speakers engage in optimistic collaborations. The corpus also includes an assortment of other conversations between the Son and his ex-wife. Louis. an academic counseling office receptionist..2 Only phone calls #1 (involving Dad and Son) and #2 (Dad. This chapter focuses on an initial collection of seven excerpts wherein optimism emerges as a resource for family members as they update. the ex-wife’s brother. I refer to such recurring moments as “managing optimism”1 in talk about cancer. Son. and Mom) of the corpus are examined. This description first emerged within weeks following a diagnosis of colon cancer. . In the face of more basic yet unanswered questions—How long do I have to live? What probability for healing exists? What impacts will further treatments have?—our talking about cancer diagnoses and impacts routinely shifted to being optimistic.

I’ll wait to talk to Dr.hhh n:o:: I would hope by Monday or Tu:esday 2. At times “hope” is invoked in situated and thus revealing ways in the data examined herein. in his ethnographic study focusing on the “social meanings of death” in three hospital wards dealing with seriously ill patients. coping mechanisms to deal with extremely difficult situations… The one thing that usually persists through all these stages is hope” (p. and chapter 13 in this volume. consider the following seven excerpts: 1. and = SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:2–3 Mom: My only hope.b). 1969. 1993). 1996. even assurance. and interrelationships between the delivery and receipt of good and bad news (e.hhh But (0.. as in call #2. nor attempts to legitimate medicine by professionals. focus here rests not with medical staff working with their patients in institutional settings. SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:2–3 Mom: No there’s nothin to say. see Maynard.   6. In contrast. preliminary insights into such phenomena such as “defense/ coping mechanisms” and “stages” can be tied to specific social actions. it is not necessary for “hope” to be explicitly named. SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:5 Mom: . 1980. 1967.g. And though not a single instance of the word optimism has yet been identified.hh Is find a reason to keep fighting and (.I mean. Beach.(. (1991) findings. 1992). In the data that follows.   Only alluded to in this chapter.Managing optimism  149 Unique opportunities are provided when health-related family conversations are closely inspected over an extended period of time. Kubler-Ross. 1997. see Jefferson. see also Sacks.   3. Peräkylä (1991) referred to “hope work” as a predominant set of practices whereby patients are “getting and feeling better” (curative and palliative care) or “past recovery” (where hope per se is dismantled).g. [there] there’s a small battle= 4.. 1974. 3 . about a hopeful future. Mom is in the hospital when Son phones from his home).3 As Kubler-Ross (1969) observed years ago in reference to “different stages that people go through when they are faced with tragic news— defense mechanisms in psychiatric terms. see Sudnow.   SDCL: MALIGNANCY #1:7 Dad: . 138). 2000 a.g. SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:5 Son: Well where’s our magic wand Mom.=He’s the cancer man. SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:12–13 Son: See. Holt. >You just-< . As with Peräkylä.   7. 1993. More recently. speakers’ actions are shown to display a sense of expectancy. As a preview of more complete data to follow. Leedon today.   SDCL: MALIGNANCY #1:6–7 Dad: So . see Beach.hh I’ll. 1991.   5. Peräkylä. but with laypersons speaking together on the telephone within their home environments (though. in press b. in press) are more fully addressed in related and ongoing papers (e.g..) my only choice. 1995. troubles-telling sequences (e.b. 1988. 1984a.2) she did have two nice things ha:ppen today.. research focusing on longstanding concerns with social aspects of death and dying (e.) to keep being hopeful.

g. Yet the other instances are also somehow related to hopeful and optimistic orientations: As Dad lightens prior and serious discussion (2). As a whole these moments reveal “managing optimism” to be a practical matter for family members.hhh n:o: : I would hope → by Monday or Tu:esday (0. Analysis proceeds by giving attention to the interactionally achieved and contingent features of each successive moment.=He also co:ntacted this cancer specialist so   he will be in Monday. to discover what might be learned about how speakers’ manage various optimistic concerns. and then in similar yet contrasting ways: in Dad’s reference to medical procedures (1). designed to capture not just patterns of interactional conduct co-enacted by family members facing cancer but also three interrelated sets of activities: a time-line sense of chronology for family members undergoing cancer’s development. Sacks. Son invokes and Mom responds seriously to “magic. and 6 reveal “hope/hopeful” as being invoked.hhh And they will do this → borne scan thing tomorrow. This analytic exercise is part of a more encompassing project. in press b).= Only Excerpts 1. Mom waits and relies on news from the cancer doctor (3). (. and her display of perseverance and tenacity (6). these procedures include contacting a cancer specialist and conducting “this bo:ne scan thing tomorrow. talk that is shown to be designed in alternative (at times even humorous) ways while working through troubling illness circumstances. a grounded understanding of how conversations get progressively constructed from prior interactions.hhh He said he would have somebody else look in on   her:.) . e. 4 .4 INTERACTIONAL FEATURES OF “MANAGING OPTIMISM” Hope and Uncertainty Regarding Medical Diagnosis and Procedures We begin with the initial instance.150  Studies in language and social interaction     Mom: Son: [( )] =That we’ve won. in its natural and emergent order. a personal reflection on Mom’s ill-fated circumstance (4). 1984a. Dad continues by reporting to Son a doctor’s description of procedures for treating Mom’s cancer.7) the particulars of what they’re after. In Excerpt 8 as follows. where “hope” is explicitly mentioned in the midst of talking through a family member’s cancer.7) pt they have <pin:ned do::wn>(0.” and Son’s later attempts to edify and simply cheer Mom up (7) in response to a story she initiates. Maynard.. In Line 3. 1991. So . 4. 1992. as resources forming the basis for organizing here-and-now problems and their solutions (see Beach. Peräkylä.”: 8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 SDCL: MALIGNANCY #1:6–7 Dad: . Jefferson. and (as noted) an extension and elaboration of the observed tendency for “good” topics to arise out of otherwise “bad” and troubling matters (see. 1997).

bottom-line concerns with identifying the cancer and attempting “to stop it” with radiation or chemotherapy. and later to “simplistically in my mind” in Line 11). “this bo:ne scan thing” in Line 4.” Notice again that Dad’s expression of hope (Line 4) is mitigated with a next-positioned caveat: a “course of action” (Line 7) replete with incomplete knowledge.hh And maybe this is just simplistically in my mind >but they’ll know< . First. Dad must inevitably rely on. of bad news regarding Mom’s cancer (see Beach. 2000c. but also optimism about ongoing treatment and diagnosis.7) what can be done to: to stop it >you know< . He then raises the possibility that Mom’s current cancer may also be slow growing. Dad makes reference to two basic features of cancer treatment: when something might be known and “what they’re after. was a slow growing lymphatic cancer. some 35 years ago at 25 years of age. In Excerpt 9 which follows. this excerpt represents the initial display of hopeful conduct-ininteraction. However.Managing optimism  151 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 →   Son: Dad: → →   →   >Now they may not have< the course of action all figured out. namely. 1997.) what is. Dad summarizes what is essentially a bad news description of how Mom was doing. Shifting from Bad to Good News For approximately 1 minute following Excerpt 8. in press. professionals who are expected to do everything possible while devising a plan for halting the insidious progress of Mom’s cancer.” which is quietly and briefly acknowledged by Son. he disclaims by stating “>Now they may not have< the course of action all figured out. in press). which bone scan results will aid in determining. It is clear that Dad’s source of hope is anchored in the involvement of assumedly competent medical providers.hhhh] [°Umhm°] = = They’ll at least kno:w.hhh how quickly does it spread (. each identified moment reveals some problems in offering medical descriptions. Maynard.(0.hhh what ki:nd? they’re dealing with.g. These actions follow Dad’s initial and extended delivery. Qualified and simplified moments such as these. Dad continues by describing to Son how Mom’s original neck problem. Inevitably. his attempts to describe doctors’ suggested treatment options to Son (e. are given considerable attention by family members throughout the course of Mom’s cancer. Third. That way they should know . a delicate and countervailing balance exists between “hope” and “uncertainty. Second. involving lay constructions of medical knowledge and procedures.hh radiation [or chemotherapy or Following “I would hope” in Line 4. reveal Dad’s lay attempts to understand complex medical procedures and the technical expertise comprising bone scan procedures.. His . what doctors have told him about their specialized knowledge. and report about.” Immediately next. (. but [ . Several features of Excerpt 8 are interesting but not unusual throughout the “Malignancy” phone calls. Dad then proceeds by elaborating his lay understandings of what he was hopeful about.) . however. 1996. and Son’s receipt and assimilation.

the close proximity of Mom’s reported mood.hh one and a half (0.2) she did have two nice things ha:ppen   today. in press). depressed or concer:ned” (Line 15) was inserted following his pre-announcement. She had . with “Mmhmmm:” and “Mmhm”) to quietly assessing it as troubling news. 1996. °” displays a shift from acknowledging Dad’s description-in-progress (i.2) >percodans<   in her and it wasn’t hardly slowin’ it down. She was on her way do:wn and . yet before announcing the good news that “Will? showed up. Notice also that Dad’s “↑kinda. yet designed by him to ease the burden of previously articulated grievous circumstances about which enough had been said (at least for now). 193. 1984b. particularly to recipients not especially close to the deceased. Son: Mmhm.” Dad initiates transition to a new but related topic with his pre-announcement “But (0. see also Jefferson.hhh (.< It ha: :d to be   som.” Here.2) she did have two nice things ha: ppen today. literally on the cusp of interactional time (see Maynard. as with how Dad and Son collaborate on reporting bad news as a prelude to announcing good news. Dad: And she was really having some problems with pa:in   today.hhh I just hurt too b:ad to be   anything else (0. 1997. Sacks..°.”: 9) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 SDCL: MALIGNANCY #1:7 Dad: A:: yeah . Son’s “°Mmm wow.” As an upshot of Son’s “closure implicative” action. 1992) reveals how Dad’s insertion of “good news” is on-topic.(0.152  Studies in language and social interaction portrayal escalates in its telling. immediately prior to an old friend showing up for a visit. and not inviting Dad’s further elucidation of Mom’s painful condition. following Dad’s progressively distressing update. from Mom’s “co:nf irmation and resignation” → “I just hurt too b:ad to be anything else” → “something drastic. depressed or concer:ned I guess with having >to go down< for these needle biopsies and Will? showed up. p. this “conversation restart” (see Jefferson.hh at this point it was mostly (0.] Dad: [Cause she] said. It also illustrates how the valence of social occasions are subject to change and alteration.hhh But (0. In Line 12. . reveal how everyday life is comprised of tightly interwoven relationships among bad and good circumstances. In each of the 10 instances she examined. Immediately following Son’s “°Mmm wow. the tendency to treat the .°   Dad:→.) >as I   said< pt . This response is treated by Dad as Son’s unwillingness to comment further. The shift from bad to good news evident in Excerpt 9 is also similar to Holt’s (1993) findings involving death announcements by tellers.hhh and was ↑kinda.5)   co:nfirmation and resignation.e.2) >ya know. Son: [Mmhmm: .) But she seemed to be doing (.7) something drastic.   Son:→°Mmm wow.

< 2   (1. as “hope” gets mentioned but quickly corrected by her in favor of “choice” regarding radiation and chemotherapy. experience anxiety regarding the future. or had the opportunity to say goodbye to people providing for a funeral that is less dismal). died peacefully and in so doing solved problems associated with prolonged illnesses and caregiving tasks. not uncommonly termination of a phone call. and as “keep fighting” gives rise to “being hopeful”: 10) SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:2–3 ((Mom has just informed Son that her cancer has been diagnosed as a very fast growing “adenoma type”-an update from call #1. but to a decidedly positive orientation to updating news.. in press). is that a loved one’s cancer is consequential for family members. A revealing glimpse of Mom’s construction of her own cancer dilemma is evident in three ways: as she relies on medical procedures and providers as sources of information and thus attributed (but not named) hope. in Excerpt 9. A more extended instance appears in the following Excerpt. Second. and those who do live five years or less. the very next day. In Excerpt 9. talk about good news emerged out of prior bad news descriptions. the latter focusing on how Mom was doing including problems with pain medication.g.0) . but the phone call continues for more than 15 minutes. because this is the first phone call between Dad and Son regarding Mom’s malignant diagnosis. His actions reveal how the shift from bad to good news is as an apparent resource for facilitating closure to a discussion that Son initially. two exceptions can be noted.)) 1 Mom:→ And uh: >I don’t know what else to ↑tell you. Holt observed that “there seems to be a strong link between bright side sequences and topic termination” (p. however. where Dad was not aware of the general cancer classification. Perhaps even more important. These two instances were drawn from the first phone call. and next Dad. however. “It’s real bad”. Dad and Son have been shown to collaborate in “managing optimism” regarding Mom’s cancer: In Excerpt 8. deceased persons: worked until the time of death. and grieve together for the possible or probable loss of a family member with whom extensive history is shared. In both instances. in Excerpt 9 not only is good news about friends’ unexpected visits elaborated. Dad transitions not just to a closely related topic. between Son and Mom. treated as a delicate matter. Mom has just reported that since very few people respond well to treatment. nor whether Mom’s cancer was slow or fast growing. 208). but in this case during the second phone call. First. This is not surprising. “hope” was explicitly named and commented on by Dad. Dad was reporting on prior incidents involving medical staff and procedures. Recipients not close to the deceased needn’t be directly concerned about primary family troubles (Beach. Family members routinely (often closely) monitor the course and progression of a loved one’s illness. DELICATE BALANCE BETWEEN HOPE AND CHOICE In two contrasting yet related interactional environments.Managing optimism  153 death of an intimate or acquaintance as bad news nevertheless eventuated in movement to a “bright side sequence” revealing some positive stance toward the news (e.

) So that’s all I can 32   tell you. 24   (0.hh hhh (0.154  Studies in language and social interaction 3 Mom: ((coughs)) 4 Son:→ . >You just-< . I mean I might be real lucky in five   12   years. I mean. 17 Mom: Yeah.4) 14 Son: Yeah. 6 Mom:→ No there’s nothin to say.4) just keep goin’ 11 forward. 13   (0. it becomes clear that the . 18 Son:→ . 10 Mom:→ See what he has to say. at least initially.] (. It appears.2) 22 Son: Oh bo:y.) my only choice. 26 Son: Yeah. and Lines 1–5 bring closure to further talk about the seriousness of Mom’s prognosis. and next in Lines 4 and 5 as Son affirms that.) 20 Mom:→ >Radiation chemotherapy. and (0. as recipient.2) um. Leedon today. 191). he does not know what to say. which Mom initiates in Line 6.0) 29 Mom:→ And that’s not the human condition.° 16 Son: Phew: : . Both speakers utter “I’ don’ t know” (see Beach & Metzger. I 5   don’t know what to say either. As the conversation unfolds.(. p.((coughs)). Yeah.= He’s the 8   cancer man. 28   (1.hh I’ll 7   I’ll wait to talk to Dr. 30 Son: No.hh hhh Yeah. (0.(. 27 Mom:→ It’s either that or just lay here and it’ll kill me. 23 Mom: Yeah. 15 Mom: °Who knows. It might just be six months. that Mom and Son collaborate in exiting from the topic of cancer. In this sense there is indeed “nowhere else to go” (Jefferson. 1984b. (1. first in Line 1 as Mom claims she has nothing further to tell.I mean.] 31 Mom:→ [No.5) 25 Mom:→ My only hope.4) Whadda you do: with this kind of 19   thing. 1997).0) I guess [not.< 21   (1. Yet Lines 1–5 also demonstrate a transition to talking with her cancer doctor. and = 9 Son: = Um hmm.

Leedon today. What is apparent is that by responding in this manner. Oh wow.I’ll wait to talk to Dr.” response seems to address (Lines 21 & 22).” By forwarding medical procedures as forms of treatment regimen. is to make reference to a provider-patient relationship in which she is involved. I mean-. uncertainties surrounding such an illness trajectory make it problematic for Son and Mom to do more than “assimilate” the quandary they are caught up within. at times.Managing optimism  155 insufficient knowledge they claim. whereas the possibility of hopeful news is only implied. As updates about Mom’s terminal illness evolve. and display an inability and/or unwillingness to talk further about.” provides one solution to directly stating “I have cancer. Mom also avoids addressing what Son may very well have been pursuing: more personal issues involving her coping (e. she is nevertheless left with the task of formulating herself as a sick person. When 5 years is considered fortuitous. and more or less definitive news regarding her acute medical condition. is tied only to Mom’s prior diagnosis (most notably the anguish Mom’s immediately prior news makes available) and not her ongoing treatment. it is her resoluteness that Son’s delayed and assimilating “Oh bo:y. notice that Mom’s “I’ 11. involves waiting for the doctor and whatever news he might disclose. Phew. fears. apparently and actively avoided.g. One practice for doing so. This is revealed straightforwardly through Mom’s selfrepaired “I mean I might be real lucky in five years.” (Lines 10–11).5 Second.” (Lines 9–10). the professional expertise of “cancer man. <. anxieties.g. this is but one instance of how “faith” in your doctor is grounded in moments where “waiting” is explicitly stated. = He ‘s the cancer man. A central feature of “just keep goin’ forward.” And by stating “See what he has to say. Whether Son was in fact soliciting and thus inviting Mom to talk further about her feelings remains unclear. employed here to emphasize her position and to terminate her diagnostic update for Son’s hearing. Of course.) Clearly. which Mom employs here. 1986). Yuck). 5 .” Mom immediately and quickly replies “>Radiation chemotherapy. Jesus. potentially good. anger) with what appears to be a terminal diagnosis. “whadda you do: with this kind of thing. in response to Son’s query in Lines 18–19. Mom’s death occurred 13 months following diagnosis. Third. there is no guarantee that any update of her condition will amount to whatever “good news” might imply. (As noted previously.” (Lines 7–8) implicates her having “cancer” without explicitly stating it. Thus.” (Line 10). is put forth as critical to “j ust keep goin’ forward. In this moment.. It might just be six months. just what might constitute good news is an altogether relative notion here.. Only the doctor has the expertise to announce any new. First. where Mom clearly has been diagnosed with cancer but fails to directly state it. which Mom next affirms en route to an explicit yet Work in progress (Beach 2000) is focusing on a collection of similar moments where “few words are enough” in the course of assimilating bad news (e. Three features of particular relevance to “managing optimism” emerge in Lines 6–32. Mom’s “No there’s nothin to say. in Lines 14–17. Oh boy.” is one form of an extreme case formulation (see Pomerantz. Next. Mom is “managing optimism” through steadfast reliance on medical protocol that. therefore. This is but one instance representing a larger collection where the word cancer is noticeably absent and. for now.” (Lines 10–11). Mom situates herself as recipient for obtaining any new information the doctor might impart.

” (Lines 29 & 30). Mom’s “So that’s all I can tell you.. is proceed with his own story.” (Lines 18–19) may have been designed to address (e.)     after I’m done ree:ling from this. such treatment options offer little certitude nor assurance of healing her cancer. Next. I mean-.. In the final utterance of Excerpt 10.) my only choice. (These data are not included here. which follows).) °Beats the hell out of me. Invoking and Responding to “Magic” What Son does do. where Mom stated “>I don’t know what else to ↑tell you . which her cancer experiences entitle her to reveal (see Sacks 1984. in this utterance.6 One consequence is that. Mom:→   .g. 1986).°     (1. Mom:→   $It. “hope” and the optimism it may engender appears to give way to “my only choice. any hope emerging from radiation and chemotherapy is restrictive. her story ending is punctuated in a manner not providing further access to Son who. as story recipient.” This is a curious self-repair. Further. Mom then informs him that her diagnosis is “very serious” because the cancer has metastasized. 31 Lines were deleted between Excerpts 10 and 11.<. however.) to keep being Schegloff s (1999) analysis of “word repeats at turn endings” reveal a similar resource: Tellers display their entitlement to initiate closure to stories only they are capable of narrating. It is not really a preference but an ill-fated necessity that Mom is orienting to. an explanation for which might be gleaned from prior discussion: In light of her 5-year prognosis as a best case scenario for life expectancy. informing Mom that he is aware of how the medication she is on can make her depressed. 1992).” which Son aligns with here (Line 26) and following Mom’s elaborated “And that’s not the human condition.” By so doing she exhibits her departure from this portion of an extended storytelling.156  Studies in language and social interaction fleeing reference to “hope”: “My only hope-I mean(. through word repeat. Mom’s personal feelings)..hh Is find a reason to keep fighting and (. Addressed in no uncertain terms in Lines 25 and 27. it is by reference to basic human instincts for survival that Mom expresses her willingness to be treated through radiation and chemotherapy.” (Lines 31–32) repeats “tell you” from Line 1. as it is clearly Mom’s story to tell.2) Mom:→   I guess the o:nly thing: (.he$ (. Son takes the initiative to shift orientation to cancer problems by invoking “magic”: 11) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:2–3 Son:→   Well where’s our magic wand mom.” which is itself clearly restrictive and further legitimizes her decision making (see Pomerantz. Nor can he address the scenic particulars constructed in Excerpt 10 by himself. 6 .) I: can do: is (. does not further pursue what his “Whadda you do: with this kind of thing. Mom displays an essential unwillingness to be passive while allowing the cancer to “kill me. Son:   Mmhm. where “hope” and “choice” are at once treated by Mom as interwoven yet distinct. Thus.

one that is literally no laughing matter. 1998) have analyzed them (e.. this interactional moment is unique in this sense: While Drew & Holt (1988) have shown that such complainable matters are routinely directed to others’ treatments of them.e. This is but one relational and commiserative display of being “with” (see Beach. 1996. 1992.he$ (. 346).g. Sacks. however. and (based on prior actions) apparently a set of dire circumstances preventing Mom from being capable of uplifting herself.°” may be added to the collection of “idiomatic expressions” as Drew & Holt (1988. 1988).) °Beats the hell out of me.. Hopper. “down the tubes”).. though quickly aborted. here Mom’s utterance is not treating her Son as the source of the trouble but the illness she is enduring and its varied consequences. her initial attempt at laughter ($). First. Curiously and next. 1987) that was obvious yet implicit in prior discussion. However. it stands in marked contrast to how magic wands are typically employed (i. in press-b. so does her extended utterance precisely characterize an unintentional sensitivity to the very troubles at hand: If a “magic wand” could heal an illness approaching hopelessness. >I mean-< I don’t mean to sa:y that sounding like a Here comes your Papa: : . in that it is an utterance occurring in a sequential environment clearly involving “complainable matters” (i. By so doing Mom again appears unable and/or unwilling to take the trouble lightly and thus act in a troubles-resistant fashion (Jefferson. Mom acts as recipient of her own telling situation by producing a despairing and “recognizably serious response” (Jefferson. Mom in turn accomplishes two key actions. “it’s gone tuh pot”. 1971. >That’s all a person can do. 7 . Jefferson.5) You know that.Managing optimism  157 8   10 11 12 13 14 15     Son: Mom: Son:   Mom: Son:                 hopeful. 13. this volume). But there is more here.that’s about all you 9 can do. (0. Next. Mandelbaum. and understandably so. 1993. First. The phrase “°Beats the hell out of me. a poetic and delicate preoccupation evident in her unwitting and quietly tailored “°Beats the hell out of me. Rather. °” (Line 2).” which is sufficient to achieve magical consequences). It also injects a sense of humor and brightness into a serious health scenario. a serious cancer diagnosis).2) That’s [gotta]= [We::ll] =be tough. 1984a. it would literally exorcise a dark and foreboding force from “hell” that stifles rather than improves living. In responding with “$it.< How can you do: that. “magic wand” offers more than wishful thinking. 1992. (0. 1996. 1984b. nevertheless treats Son as having made an effort to invite such laughter through his magical refraining of such critical topics. 1963. see also chap. 1996). she is totally engrossed in (and ensnared by) her diagnostic dilemma.7 Beginning with how the word “°Beats” adds valence and thus pragmatic force to Mom’s description. A:hhh. through a simple “waving. through “our” he assumes ownership of Mom’s illness predicament by making them out to be problems that can be faced together (see Beach. Goffman.e. In Line 1 Son achieves two key actions. And in unison with “°Beats” as a lexical choice reflecting the kind of force required to drive cancer out of her body.°” (see Beach. p.

” (Lines 7–8). she continues by specifying that there are uncertain and limited options for coping with cancer. remaining hopeful requires motivated fighting. As she constructs it. First.158  Studies in language and social interaction Following his humorous attempt to uplift Mom’s condition.” a bewildering formulation referencing her here-and-now reaction to a malignant diagnosis (what Dad had earlier and apparently portrayed as “co:nf irmation and resignation. earlier). a solicitation that is preempted with Mom’s announcement that “Papa” has just entered the room.” In unison with her use of “me…I…I’m” in Lines 2–5. and even protection.” in Excerpt. While falling short of magic. from having to directly confront a hopeless terminal illness. coming to grips with dying is inherently problematic. Third. Framed as an ongoing and practical matter. Though her current disposition can be explained as “reeling”. clearly.that’s about all you can do. This utterance is consequential in three key ways. it is only temporary: Her confusion will give way to a more determined and “hopeful” condition. >That’s all a person can do. By invoking third-person characterizations. Mom distances herself by utilizing “you” and “person” as devices for coping with the apparent inevitability of death. She is not disattending his prior and attempted uplifting of the dire situation.. But the despair evident in her reply is only momentary (see also discussion of Excerpt 12 in the next section).<. Line 29. . it prefaces her insertion “after I ‘m done ree:ling from this. it also sets up Mom’s “. a “fighting” perseverance that Son can himself be hopeful about. Through thirdperson references. She first discloses then normalizes her lived reality as an ordinary feature of illness management.) I: can do: is” (Line 4).hh Is find a reason to keep fighting and (.” accomplishes three critical and interrelated actions: 1. Line 3). Mom’s attempt to inform her Son evidences a movement from “I → you → person. an orientation common for others dealing with cancer predicaments (with whom she is now indirectly yet directly associated) as well.” Notice that whereas “can do” gets repeated. but (as best as possible) being responsive to it. Mom’s description becomes progressively less my-world centered as she endeavors to manage optimism in the face of bad diagnostic news. Son next withholds further commentary to her tepid response (Line 3). Second. beginning with a revelation of her experiences yet ending with a generic “person. her illness problems become less intimate and thus more easily managed at a time when. Mom sketches out a procedure for living with and through her cancer that exemplifies basic survival instincts underlying the “human condition” (see Excerpt 10. it is interesting that a key portion of Mom’s “I guess the o: nly thing: (. two interwoven yet distinct actions that facilitate the search for reasons to live. Mom reveals herself as doing “all” she can within her unique circumstances.) I: can do: is” (Line 4) is repeated two more times in Lines 8–9: “You know that.) to keep being hopeful. Mom is also designing her talk in consideration of Son’s hearing. 3. 2. Excerpt 11 draws to a close as Son continues by further pursuing just how Mom can remain hopeful (Lines 10 & 12). This stepwise shift. As revealed in Mom’s next “I guess the o:nly thing: (.

[there] there’s a small battle= [()] =That we’ve won. in this instance of “fixing cars together”. (. and she looked. = = Mm hm.she couldn’t quite figure that whoile thing out.) Good.0) [she went out] [Do not] ah (. (0. She brought a li:ner of like a. that 2) they can thus (with some confidence) diagnose together—in stark contrast to technical matters of cancer diagnosis and treatment? Analysis of a larger collection of of topic organization suggests otherwise.Managing optimism  159 A Story and its Consequences: Fighting the Battle Together As Mom exits from talking (not shown in Excerpt 11). < Mmm. >But she wasn’t gonna touch it. It is revealing to examine just what everyday topics find their way into the midst of “cancer topics”.° See.of clear water in to set it there.) me (. It is at this juncture that Mom initiates the following story about a “sign” the Son had placed in her hospital room: 12) 1 2 3 SDCL: MALIGNANCY #2:12–13 M: >By the way< your sign ‘Do not take me’ really worked. 8 . = $Right. She looked. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20.] right$ [$hhh.) take oh ( . For example. Now this is a little oriental gal. quite the contrary is the case. Mm hm mm hm [°hm°] [She] didn’t. °So that was kinda funny.$] While it may appear that “fixing cars together” is of little relevance to understanding the interactional management of cancer predicaments.4) <And ah> (1. that are seemingly not about cancer per se. 21 22 23 24   S:   M: S:   M:   S: M:   S: M:   S: M: S: M: S: M: S:                               → →   → → → and she looked. Son then requests to speak with Mom once again and announces his dinner plans to her. S: $Did it?$ M: Totally confu:sed one girl. [right. is it coincidental that Dad and Son move together to talk about 1) something they are both knowledgeable about.) [ha] [She] went out and she brought in >ya know< those things have liners? Mmm hm. Papa and Son continue talking for nearly 5 minutes about fixing cars together8 and an upcoming chili dinner Son has prepared for when Mom returns home from the hospital. how and when they appear and are terminated.

) me (. Son’s “An (d) that’s all ya can do is jus.” Next. Just as it has been observed that “research on the connections between hope and social psychological functioning” is minimal in cancer research. fighting → battle. In response to her reference to “little oriental gal. 2000a) he treats as humorous with his final “ [ha]. . by his placement of a “‘Do not take me’” sign. it is of particular interest that when Mom brings the story to a close (Line 19).] ((Mom & Son move to phone closing. CONCLUSION Faced with a serious and uncertain cancer diagnosis. she also acknowledges Son’s thoughtful effort to meet her needs. Son shows sensitivity to Mom’s “keep fighting and (.” (Excerpt 11. Son collaborates by personifying the girl’s scenic reaction with a stereotypic “ [Do not] ah (.)) That Mom even initiated such a humorous story displays her attempt to lighten what had become. prior to Son and Dad’s conversation.) take oh (. the actions built into this shift in topic mark a contrast in Mom’s demeanor: They are remedial in just the ways Mom’s initiation of this particular story appears designed to invigorate her earlier and displayed unwillingness and/or inability to take her troubles lightly. I’m gonna let you go:.. a very serious discussion of both her diagnostic condition and orientation to coping.160  Studies in language and social interaction 25 26 27 28 29       M:   S:   → → →       An(d) that’s all ya can do is jus. and that “maintaining] a sense of control” is an essential determinant of how cancer patients cope with their illness hopefully (Bunston. Son relies on Mom’s initiated story to revisit yet extend their earlier discussion (Excerpt 11): He retopicalizes and reframes Mom’s immediately delivered story (i.just [rack up the] sma:ll battles. and thus in the very midst of emergent troubles and possible despair.e. as Mom interjectively moves to close down Son’s contribution (Line 27) and end the phone conversation together (Lines 28–29). In these ways. Following Mom’s aligned recognition and their shared laughter (Lines 23–24). so can it be noted that perhaps even less is known about what comprises “hope” and “control” as interactionally organized moments of practical action.. family members rely on hope and optimism as resources for dealing with and attempting to ease burdens arising from the often harsh and restrictive impositions of such illness circumstances. a voiced switch in identity (see Beach. O[kay.” Apparently.” while simultaneously treating this as a moment for reemphasizing that they are indeed facing the problems together. Mackie. p. this utterance overextends an otherwise well-taken point. Taken together. Further. Lines 1–2). and to display appreciation for Son’s ongoing concerns with her illness predicament. our magic wand → we’ve won). which stands in contrast to her prior tepid and momentarily despairing response to his “well where’ s our magic wand mom. 79). This marked shift in Mom’s disposition does not go unnoticed by Son. & Jones.” (Lines 25–26) offers a prototypical summary that reinvokes “all ya can do. Mings.just [rack up the] sma:ll battles. however.hhh Well okay. [Rirght ri:ght uh mm] °Well° .” (Line 4).) to keep being hopeful.) [ha] ”. 1995.

Though yet further and critical implications require discussion. interactionally grounded answers.g. • Doing “all you can do” to remain capable of hoping that healing might occur. useful contrasts might also be made with interactions among acquaintances.. such delicate instances are comprised of fine-grained subtleties through which the process of “managing optimism” is being achieved. c) initiating. even a cursory inspection of these materials reveals that the query “What makes a family. Mom and Son rely on few words when assimilating the news together).g. then. In these ways.. “managing optimism” was nevertheless evident across an assortment of social actions: • Acknowledging the importance of medical personnel by steadfastly relying on medical protocol and treatment procedures. • Lightening the discussion by shifting from bad to good topics. see Gubrium & Holstein. which Mom interjectively initiates closure on by moving to end the call. Son’s invoking “magic” and Mom’s delayed telling of a funny story to counter her prior tepid response to his displayed concerns).. only four can be briefly articulated here.g. First. working to be hopeful together can also produce its own interactional dilemmas in the midst of talking about other “dreaded issues” Peräkylä.. b) moving talk forward even though family members express that they do not know what to say (e. d) uplifting and compensating for responses to such edification efforts (e. pursuing. 1990) is deserving of substantive. • Humorously going even beyond hope by invoking “magic” when Mom understandably displays an inability and deep preoccupation with not taking her troubles lightly. Further investigation is needed into how the management of family relationships is itself an ongoing and often problematic achievement. injecting humorous concerns into troubling circumstances. Clearly. Dad’s shift to good from bad news precipitated by Son’s display that enough had been said). and responding to intimate ‘and personal topics (e. Son twice querying Mom about how she copes with her condition).g. particularly when: a) doing the work of moving out of troubling topics (e. Second.. for example. Such matters as how supporting and commiserating get interactionally managed. • Offering collaboration in facing Mom’s illness together. Ongoing analysis of the larger collection of such moments (calls #3–#54) will provide a useful and longitudinal perspective for framing how the interactional activi©ties examined herein are themselves tied to. • Revealing how personal coping with cancer involves an inseparable relationship between hope and restricted choices. a family?” (e. • Proposing “fighting” and “being hopeful” as basic survival instincts even when resistance to troubles is diminishing. key moments as Mom’s cancer progressed and was treated until her death. This chapter has shown that “bright side sequences” are only one type of response available for family members . are available to the extent they are anchored in family members’ practices for working as a team: when taking turns at being hopeful. and working to protect one another from fears and anxieties so often associated with death and dying. and e) in responding to Mom’s story Son further attempts to make the point that small battles can be won together. in fact constitutive of.g.Managing optimism  161 Although only calls #1 and #2 of the larger corpus were examined. 1995).

and that family members may display “doing being” a family by making another’s problems their own in and through the ways they assimilate the news and grieve together (see Beach. denial. as described earlier (see Footnote 1).” only three of which I mention here. these family members appear remarkably sensitive to limitations on serious topics. depression. this volume). How this ongoing work gets done also merits ongoing examination. following moments where Mom’s ability to resist troubles essentially fails. Given marked contrasts between self-reporting about versus enacting social actions collaboratively in real time. what problems (if any) emerge as attempts to discuss . Similarly. she nevertheless “rebounds. albeit in limited fashion (e. even more broadly. 1988. and just beginning to realize social aspects of talking with others about his diagnosis and treatment. yet at times proceed to enact topic shifts without necessarily terminating talking about cancer per se. acceptance.” that is. I did not invent “managing optimism” as a technical term for labeling social actions of the kind examined here. And so it should also not be unexpected that Robert cited other kinds of encounters central to “managing optimism. Little has been said in this chapter about such “carry over” recurrences. A key feature of these discoveries will likely involve understanding how prior discussions. Kubler-Ross.. family members. friends. if anything. that is. anger. 1993). Finally.. environments need to be more fully inspected when. 13. Similarly. as well as “stages” of grieving (i. such as what “the doctors told them. even though the data make available such possibilities for analysis. 1974). yet without appearing morbid about the illness. 1984a. b) literally calibrating and coordinating just what and how something might be said. 1969. the experiences and interactional involvements of a cancer patient (with medical staff.162  Studies in language and social interaction dealing with cancer (see Holt. all aspects of illness progression. Third. as with Dad and Mom’s references to “medical staff). by elucidating the social actions comprising developmental aspects of coming to grips not just with “death and dying” but.e. But it seems an apt description. By inspecting how family members mutually coordinate their orientations to illness predicaments and various health concerns over time. bargaining. and colleagues alike) are much broader than what any single phone corpus might capture. activities involving both those undergoing cancer and others talking with them about “it”: a) acting “as though” everything is all right when it obviously is not. 1996. 2001. regarding talk about troubles (see Jefferson 1980. 1984b. it is interesting (yet perhaps not surprising) to note that the kinds of interactional contingencies examined in this chapter extend considerably beyond those he identified in more general terms. in press). it may become possible to describe and substantiate temporal shifts interactionally. in press). they must be shown to be more than psychological states wherein individuals’ experiences are ultimately the units of analysis. see chap.” are employed to constantly shape and update understandings about Mom’s condition (see Beach. if and when such issues as “coping or defense mechanisms” are to be understood as interactionally generated and managed. that the proximity and interwoven nature of good and bad news is omnipresent. Having been diagnosed with cancer. and c) when talk about the “same cancer” arises. but within different relationships comprised of varying degrees of background and intimacy. it was Robert Hopper who observed the tendency to remain hopeful as uncertain and even bad news emerged. Further. attempts to muster the energy required to rally her appreciation for Son’s concerns and to remain hopeful and optimistic.g.

Speech errors and the poetics of conversation. P. (1993). (in press). Mackie.A. Hopper. E. 13. Text and Performance Quarterly. W. Text. Human Communication Research 7. The structure of death announcements: Looking on the bright side of death.A. W. 398–417.M. (2000a). remain largely unearthed and thus taken-for-granted. Bunston. 379–407. Holt. London: Social Science Research Council. J. E. End of grant report on conversations in which “troubles” or “anxieties” are expressed (HR 4805/2) [Mimeo]. Facilitating hopefulness: The determinants of hope. not what scholars have validated” (Hopper 1981. D. R. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This research was made possible through funding provided by the American Cancer Society (Grant #ROG-98–172–01). Relations in public. (1997). & Holt. 23. Language in Society.. 12. Text and Performance Quarterly. England: Cambridge University Press. What is family? Mountain View. Beach. 29. Heritage (Eds. E. see Packo.g. Social Problems.A. Journal of Psychosocial Oncology. REFERENCES Beach. involving “what communicators do. Mings. 1991). & Jones. In J.). & Metzger. (2001). W. Holt. Between dad and son: Initiating. 495–522. 27. p. Drew. 13. Human Communication Research. Gubrium. 189–212. 195–211. Goffman. CA: Mayfield. Health Communication. Unpublished manuscript. Complainable matters: The use of idiomatic expressions in making complaints.A. Goffman. When few words are enough: Assimilating bad news about cancer. (1971). T. 562–588. Stability and ambiguity: Managing uncertain moments when updating news about mom’s cancer.Atkinson & J. Jefferson. P. delivering. Behavior in public places.A. W. The taken-for-granted.. (1980). J.A. (1963). withheld and/or pursued)? Living with and through cancer. & Holstein. Beach. The delicacy of preoccupation. It is obvious and compelling. (2000c). (1998). A.. Jefferson. (1988).. Text. (1992). On the organization of laughter in talk about troubles. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Drew. 346–3 69).. (1984a).. Language in Society. 113–124. D. Hopper. (1981). (1995). Conversations about illness: Family preoccupations with bulimia. 209). Mahwah. R. W. Cambridge.A. 221–250. (1990). E. 299–312. (1993). occasions diverse circumstances where “managing optimism” is interactionally achieved. Only selected and comparably few instances have been introduced in this chapter. however.Managing optimism  163 and describe the illness and its prognosis are modified (e. Figures of speech: Figurative expressions and the management of topic transition in conversation. 35. G.g. G. Beach.R. W. (1996). NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Asociates. T. Beach. Beach. W. 79–104. that the full social milieu of cancer quandaries. New York: The Free Press. Inviting collaborations in stories about a woman. E. Claiming insufficient knowledge. when disclosure is solicited and/or voluntary. and an array of other chronic and lifethreatening illness (e. and assimilating bad cancer news.A. . New York: Basic Books.F. 27. 13. Beach.

A.W. AIDS counselling: Institutional interaction and clinical practice. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Atkinson & J. Sudnow. G. Pennsylvania: Christian Publications. American Sociological Review. Passing on: The social organization of dying. D. Lectures on conversation (Vols. (1996). New York: Macmillan. 144–170. (1992). clinics.) Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Social Problems. J. 191–222).M. Human Studies. (1984b). 302–338. Cambridge. 30. Text and Performance Quarterly. G. Heritage (Eds. Cambridge. Cambridge. (1988). 16. (in press). Maynard. 413–429). 407–433. Couples sharing stories. (1967). Jefferson. G. H. Perakyla. Perakyla. MA: Blackwell. Bad news. The news delivery sequence: Bad news and good news in conversational interaction. (1991). On “realization” in everyday life: The forecasting of bad news as a social relation. Questions and answers on death and dying. D. Communication Quarterly. Kubler-Ross. (1986). Maynard. On the poetics of ordinary talk. (1974). D. (1984). (1969). . Sacks. 1. Research on Language and Social Interaction.W. 109–131. H. In J. Camp Hill. E. (1996). (1997). On stepwise transition from talk about a trouble to inappropriately nextpositioned matters.Heritage (Eds. Qualitative Health Research. Text. (1993). Cambridge. 219–229. A. Extreme case formulations: A way of legitimizing claims. A.E. Invoking a hostile world: Discussing the patient’s future in AIDS counseling. Pomerantz. and everyday life. J. New York: Macmillan. Coping with cancer and other chronic life-threatening diseases. 1–61. Packo.M. (1995). England: Cambridge University Press. 93–130. 13. E. England: Cambridge University Press. Jefferson. 35. (1987). Maynard. On doing “being ordinary”. Mandelbaum.W. Peräkylä. On the sequential organization of troubles talk in ordinaryconversation.). NJ: PrenticeHall. (1991). 418–441. A. Kubler-Ross. 1–2). In J. D. Sacks. 35. 61. Atkinson & J.164  Studies in language and social interaction Jefferson. Hope work in the care of seriously ill patients. good news: A benign order in conversations. On death and dying. Englewood Cliffs. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. 9. England: Cambridge University Press.

This architecture of intersubjectivity is a systematic by-product of turn organization: [I]t obliges its participants to display to each other. unless special techniques are used to locate some other talk to which it is directed. inspects the adequacy of those displayed understandings and exhibits their (inadequacy in the third turn position. For example. an answer). Sacks. in a turn’s talk. 1974.4) D: Just fine. 1992b. in turn. The selection of some next action (e. 1992a. 1974).g. 728) The outcomes of interpretive operations.Lawrence University of Central Florida Conversation analytic studies have demonstrated decisively that an “architecture of intersubjectivity” (Heritage. 1992). & Jefferson. I mean Jeff Over very good ((continues)) . 1984.11 Rejecting Illegitimate Understandings Samuel G. we haven’t seen much of h 5 M: 6   7 D: 8   mean your Jeff. are publicly displayed in the next turn position. a turn’s talk will be heard as directed to a prior turn’s talk.. According to Heritage (1984). The products of these inspections may contribute to or briefly impede the continued sequential development and directionality of the talk. D understands M’s deployment of “Jeff as referring to her husband who is also named Jeff.. 1987b.uh her and Jeff? D: Fine   (0. ratifying. may initiate third-position repair (Schegloff. the speaker of the talk in the first position. These studies describe interactants’ methods for accomplishing the routine and tacit tasks of displaying. The prior speaker. 1984) provides for the recurrence and stability of understandings in talk-in-interaction..g. p. their understanding of other turn’s talk.192–202 M: =How are things goin’ with her. 1991. question). upon finding evidence of misunderstanding in the next turn position. More generally. Schegloff. performed upon the prior turn in the first position.” This pro-term refers to the speaker and her husband. The displayed product of this understanding is the collective pro-term “we. and updating intersubjective understandings (Heritage. Alternatively. (1) 1 2 3 4 UTCL: Mother-Daughter. Sacks.2. (Sacks et al. the third position slot may be used for implementing actions that tacitly “ratify” understanding displays in next turn position. for example. exhibits its speaker’s understanding that the prior turn was a corresponding first action (e.

the speaker of the first-positioned talk may deny the reproducibility of that understanding as the product of some methodical analysis of the prior turn. After the repair sequence in Lines 2–3.” (2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 : UTCL: Dee Ann: Skeet : Dee Ann: Skeet :   Dee Ann: Skeet : ROMSa.1 What Doin’=h Wha’ I’m doin’? Uh huh Coin’ ta bed (0. Additionally. though incorrect. In this regard. the understanding display may be treated as intelligible on its own. (b) how the next speaker analyzes the prior turn. “your Jeff. (p. however. analysis of “Jeff (Line 1). and topical organization are utilized to explicate: (a) how the talk in first position is occasioned. Such understandings are rejected not as misunderstanding but as misconstruing the prior turn. Dee Ann used a topic initial elicitor (Button & Casey. (c) how the speaker of the first-positioned talk rejects the reproducibility of that analysis. speakers may reject an understanding display as an unwarranted or illegitimate analysis of the talk in the first position.2) Are you really? Yep . Schegloff (1992) observed: It is striking that misunderstandings are both orderly and accessible to the speaker of what has been misunderstood. “Goin’ ta bed. based on his current activity. and (d) how the speaker of the understanding display counters the rejection and provides for the methodicity of that display. 1984) in Line 1 to create a slot in which Skeet may formulate newly topicalizable materials. Analytical resources from turn. 1987a) of an understanding display that is rejected as misconstruing the prior turn.1. are not givens because they may misunderstand the understanding display in the next turn position (Schegloff. Dee Ann had called to check whether Skeet was willing to lend his ticket to her. 1307) The orderliness and accessibility of misunderstandings to speakers of talk in the first position. The data are taken from a telephone conversation between two college students. however. In these cases. After indicating that he needed the ticket and producing a topicbounding turn.166  Studies in language and social interaction M re-performs the operations that D had performed on M’s turn in Line 1 and displays their products.” in the rejection component of the third-position repair (Lines 5–6). who might well be thought to be so committed to the design and so-called intent of the earlier turn as to be disabled from appreciating that (or how) it could be otherwise understood. 1992). M’s actions of re-performing these operations and displaying their products treat D’s misunderstanding as the product of a methodical and legitimately alternative. sequence. he reports his current activity as. The present essay is a single case analysis (Schegloff.

however. thus. ((spoken in an exaggerated regional dialect)) (0.Rejecting illegitimate understandings  167 8 16 17 Dee Ann:   Skeet : Dee Ann: Skeet :   Skeet : Dee Ann:     18 Skeet : 19 Dee Ann:   Skeet: Dee Ann: Skeet : 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 20 21 22 23 24 25 Dee Ann:   26 Skeet: 27 Dee Ann:   Dee Ann:   28 29 30 r’ya si. 1984).h= =No.3) Jis okay wull.(0. but does not specifically request an elaboration of his report although an occasion for elaboration is provided.) huh huh my fault. His minimal affirmation in Line 7. it exhibits downgraded newsworthiness (Button & Casey.2) anyway (.ck? (0. This topicalizer selects Skeet as the next speaker.3) I. 1992a) that selects a candidate account from a class of accounts (glossed as “debilitating personal states”) and invites confirmation or a correction that selects an alternative account from the same class. This inquiry utilizes a correction invitation format (Sacks. Skeet in Line 10 opts for the .= =(°Yep°) I donno why: (.(. Dee Ann’s topicalizing response “Are you really?” upgrades the newsworthiness of that report and makes Skeet’s current activity available for further topical talk.° (0.) didn’t siay that Okay eKh ((laughs/coughs)) You th(h) ought it awful l(h)oud(h) thou (h) gh huh huh .) thought I’d check Because Skeet’s activity report had been solicited rather than volunteered. Skeet is positioned to volunteer an elaboration.4) Went to bed too late las’ night.2) No I’m jus tired. (0. but Dee Ann pursues elaboration in Line 8 through an itemized news inquiry (“Why? r’ya sick?”).= =Tired °Yeah. momentarily curtails topic development.

however. Skeet does not take up the invitation to laugh. Since Dee Ann and Skeet may share access to actions and events that preceded and possibly contributed to his lateness in getting to bed. Dee Ann explicitly denies culpability in regard to Skeet’s lateness in getting to bed. Skeet has an opportunity to exhibit appreciation of Dee Ann’s tease and playful stance of innocence by laughing together with her.” Third. That is. teases attribute deviant actions and/or categories based on some minimally required identity (Drew. the topical focus of Skeet’s current “unhappy” state is linked up with incipient topical possibilities. Dee Ann produced two bursts of laughter. she does not solicit the account in Line 14. How does Dee Ann come to deny responsibility for Skeet’s failure to get to bed on time? First. Dee Ann professes ignorance of the reasons for Skeet’s tardiness in getting to bed. within the temporal frame of “las’ night. Instead Skeet elected to continue speaking and volunteered an unsolicited account for his fatigue: “Went to bed too late las’ night” (Line 14). disavowing that shared knowledge is “in direct contrast to something they both know” (Drew. First. After the hearing check and its confirmation (Lines 11–12). The initial turn unit “(°Yep°) I donno why:” (Line 15) may be viewed as a teasing action.” Following a beat of silence in Line 16.” that preceded and possibly contributed to his failure. Evidence for this analysis may be found in its composition and sequential placement. thus co-implicating himself with that stance (Jefferson. In contrast. Dee Ann uses this speech register to distance herself form the delicate action of treating Skeet’s account in Line 14 as shifting blame to her. Important to note. Second. Skeet volunteers it. 232). In contrast to her prior teasing action. Instead. 1987). Dee Ann’s understandings of Skeet’s account are progressively displayed in two successive turn units. Instead.” regional dialect (possibly central Texas) that is compatible with her posture of innocence. Dee Ann’s use of “why:” exploits Skeet’s failure to get to bed (minimally required identity) by alluding to (deviant) actions that suggest a lack of personal discipline. This contrast. Dee Ann’s irony may treat Skeet’s account in Line 14 as “stating the obvious” rather than as “news. Because Skeet had volunteered the account. Button and Casey (1985) observed how tellers refrain from volunteering delicate tellings and wait for recipients to solicit them. this denial proposes a serious version of “las’ night’s” events. & Schegloff. the subsequent laughter proffers a laugh invitation (Jefferson. Sacks. professing ignorance of these actions may be a way for Dee Ann to take up a playful stance of “innocence. Her denial is done in a kind of exaggerated “countrified. coupled with the stress on and the stretching of “why:. she did not. He attributes his fatigue to his own prior failure to get to bed on time.168  Studies in language and social interaction latter by rejecting Dee Ann’s candidate account and attributing his early preparation for sleep to fatigue. In view of their possibly shared knowledge. Combined with her pre-speech laughter. namely actions and events. he displays recognition of the tease (without ratifying its humor) through his own faint and world-weary profession of ignorance in Line 18. Dee Ann had an opportunity to self-select and pursue further topical development (Line 13). Drew (1987) reports that teases occur in the next turn position and treat prior turns as “overdone” in some fashion. Instead. In Line 17. 1979).” contribute to the recognizability of the unit’s ironic import. 1987. following her terminal inbreath. Dee Ann . Skeet uses the minimizer “jus” to formulate his fatigue as having minimal seriousness. p. In the environment of Dee Ann’s ironic laugh source. Dee Ann does not pursue laughter. 1987).

1978).(. may have contributed to that understanding. 2 Notice that Skeet’s rejection is done in reference to his talk in Line 14.Rejecting illegitimate understandings  169 may have understood him as making a special point of reminding her of an incident with now “unhappy” consequences for him (Pomerantz. D used her revised understanding of M’s question to redo her answer (Lines 7–8) in a direction quite different from Lines 2 and 4. Skeet would be expected to deliver a very different sort of rejection (e. Skeet deploys “I. The pro-terms “I-” and “say” topicalize his authorship of the account. alternative understandings of talk in the first position. In this instance.(.g. and “that” ties back to. The latter treat misunderstanding displays as viable.1 In the third turn position (Line 21). 3 Referring back to example 1. This method of rejecting understanding displays in the next turn position differs from comparable practices of third-position repair. not as misunderstanding the account.) didn’t say that” to reject Dee Ann’s denial of culpability.2 Features of Skeet’s rejection exhibit its placement in the third sequential position in relation to his account (“Went to bed too late las’ night”) in the first position and Dee Ann’s analysis of it (“Not my fault”) in the next turn position. third-position repairs provide speakers of understanding displays with the resources to redo their understanding of the first-positioned talk. However. the rejection does not propose a version of the previous night’s events that would treat Dee Ann as an outsider to those events. Second. The unsolicited production of this account (Line 14). Dee Ann may have anticipated descriptions from Skeet that would have turned his failure into a consequence of her antecedent actions (Pomerantz. if Dee Ann could not be viewed as a party to those events. he denies having authored talk that could be construed as shifting responsibility to Dee Ann.) didn’t say that” rejects Dee Ann’s denial of culpability as the product of an illegitimate analysis of the account in Line 14. but as misconstruing it. that is. coupled with its scanty details. Though no independent evidence is available. This negative formulation makes an implicit contrast with what he did This line of analysis depends on the assumption that Dee Ann had been a party to the previous night’s events. Dee Ann may have understood Skeet’s account as part of an unfinished telling. with more details to come.3 Rather than providing these resources for Dee Ann. If Dee Ann had participated in activities with Skeet that preceded his failure to get to bed on time.. Skeet’s rejection accomplishes this action by reporting a negative event. without formulating. this rejection treats the relationship between the contributions in the first and next turn positions as problematic. coupled with the glottal cut-off of “I-” and the beat of silence prior to “didn’t. The delayed onset of this rejection. 1978).” display what. is the strongly unexpected character of Dee Ann’s denial. then her disavowal of blame in Line 17 may have anticipated and preempted forthcoming reminders of her participation that shift at least some of the responsibility for his failure to her. Dee Ann’s denial and its concomitant attribution of blame shifting. That is. Additionally.” Skeet rejects her analysis. Skeet stands by the import of his account as an innocuous and self-evident description of his agency in failing to get to bed on time. Like third-position repairs. the negation of “say” denies that Dee Ann’s finding of blame shifting could have been produced from any legitimate analysis of “Went to bed too late las’ night. after M had specified how “Jeff in Line 1 was properly understood (Line 6). 1 . it is difficult to surmise otherwise how she could have come to see herself as a candidate for blame allocation. albeit incorrect. for Skeet. “Huh? You weren’t even there”). “I. without imputing some type of “exotic” motivation to her denial of culpability.

the account is treated as a completed telling. This asymmetry does not mean. Skeet imputes a benign and self-evident intelligibility to that talk. but you can see what people are thinking.) didn’t say that Okay 23 Skeet: eKh 24 25 Dee Ann:   26 Skeet: 27 Dee Ann:   Dee Ann: 28 29 ((laughs/coughs)) You th(h) ought it awful l(h)oud(h) thou(h)gh huh huh . And you must learn to do it. this concession is delivered in a qualified fashion (note the use of “though” in the tag position).2) anyway (. Out of this environment. as opposed to an unfinished one. and thus Dee Ann’s misconstrual of that talk is treated as something of a breach of that entitlement. that she is without resources to counter his rejection (cf. The pro-term “it” preserves the referent of “that” (Line 21). Dee Ann acknowledges Skeet’s authorial authority over his talk. 1991). (0. (p. Skeet invokes an entitlement to having the account treated as having the plainfully intelligible character that he attributes to it (Garfinkel. and there are ways of doing it. he denies the very possibility of construing his talk as shifting .h= =No. Exactly how it’s properly posed is quite tricky. furthermore.3) Jis okay wull. 21 22 Skeet: Dee Ann: I. however.) thought I’d check In Line 23. The action of attributing “thoughts” to an interlocutor speaks to Sacks’ (1992a) remarks concerning the observability of thoughts: And this phenomenon of seeing other people’s thoughts is really an important thing. unless you want to take some notion of “thoughts” that Members do not employ. 1967).(. certainly. and the counter half jokingly concedes that Skeet’s account could not have been understood as saying she was to blame. 364) In this particular case.(0. Skeet has rejected Dee Ann’s denial of culpability and its analysis of the account in Line 14. Not in every case. Drew. In line 22. since they certainly do take it that one can see what anybody is thinking. Nonetheless Dee Ann’s counter preserves her finding of blame shifting by imputing it as a “thought” to Skeet.170  Studies in language and social interaction say. First of all. she retrieves the laugh source (Line 21) from which the counter “You th(h)ought it awful l(h)oud(h) thou(h)gh” is produced. Skeet produces a burst of laughter (also bearable as a cough upon its occurrence) that Dee Ann joins with a pair of laughs. it’s of course nonsense to say that thoughts are things that can’t be seen.

One way to reject the legitimacy of an understanding display is to deny the usability of the talk in the first position as the source of an analysis that would produce that understanding. Dee Ann provides for the methodicity of her rejected understanding by glossing Skeet’s observable activity as a “thought” and formulating that activity gloss as the source of her action/understanding display. Such a practice does not involve “mind reading” in the sense of claiming access to the “private” recesses of another’s mind. However. 1996) in Line 27 to frame the interaction that ensued from Skeet’s rejection in Line 21 as “half kidding/serious.. The laughter combined with the joke-toserious “No” (Schegloff. Utterances such as “I didn’t say that” refer to those displays (through the proterm “that”) but reject the reproducibility of such displays from a methodical analysis of the talk in the first position. This laughter was initiated in Line 23 by Skeet. the speaker of “I didn’t say that” reports a negative event that contrasts implicitly with what had been said in the first position. she is effectively prevented from using the composition of Skeet’s description of his own agency as a resource in solving this problem. Consequently the recipient of “I didn’t say that” faced the problem of providing for the methodicity of her action/display of understanding in the next turn position. speakers readily recognize that and how their talk may be understood in ways divergent from its designed import.Rejecting illegitimate understandings  171 blame to her. Skeet’s rejection is treated as a laugh source that Dee Ann retrieves to produce a continuation of joking activity as she distances herself from the accusatory import of her counter (Line 24). the unsolicited production of Skeet’s telling and its possibly unfinished character. “I had a flat tire”) and . may be potentially troublesome to formulate explicitly. subsequent understanding displays may be rejected as exceeding that tolerance. when their talk is treated as portending some interpersonally problematic action (such as blaming). This practice may be regarded as a cousin of third-position repair. Furthermore. Dee Ann faces the problem of providing for the methodicity of her denial and its display of understanding in Line 17. the former does not formulate a repair or solution to the problem of understanding. Though both action types treat the relationship between the talk in the first position and its display of understanding in the next turn position as problematic. but was sustained primarily by Dee Ann during its course with minimal participation from Skeet (Line 26). The observed solution in these data involved the speaker of the understanding display acknowledging her interlocutor’s authorial authority then imputing her understanding to a “thought” of the interlocutor. As Schegloff (1992) pointed out. To summarize: This essay reports on a practice of rejecting illegitimate understanding displays. certain methodical features of her understanding. The description “awful l(h)oud(h)” characterizes that “thought” as having a publicly conspicuous character. Having just conceded to Skeet’s authorial authority. This formulation served to gloss the publicly noticeable activity of the interlocutor as the source of her understanding.g. The delicate nature of Dee Ann’s counter lies not so much in the attribution of “thoughts” to Skeet but in the reattribution of the action of blaming to him. This finding provides a naturally occurring complement to one of Garfinkel’s (1967) breaching demonstrations.” Dee Ann exits from this topical sequence (Line 29) by returning to the previous topic and official reason for the call. In the present data. These data serve to suggest some possible limits to speakers’ tolerance for alternative understandings of their talk. Next speakers were instructed to withhold displays of understanding of the prior speakers’ commonplace remarks (e. This speaker stands by the first-positioned talk as exhibiting a self-subsistent intelligibility.

but the prior speaker uses the third sequential position to reject the prior action/understanding display as transgressing the self-evident intelligibility of the talk in the first position. The prior speakers’ subsequent outrage was clearly more moral than technical.” the parties to the present data drew upon the organization of laughter and used special speech registers as ways of framing delicate actions as “half joking/serious. “What do you mean. such notions of radical subjectivity are not in use among the parties to this interaction. So how does the speaker of the rejected understanding display manage to re-legitimate that display? One way is to formulate conduct. other than the talk in the first position. I and many others. trace the beginnings of our intellectual commitment to the close examination of talk to his graduate seminars in conversation analysis. He concluded that speakers do not merely expect to be understood but insist on an entitlement to the manifestly intelligible character of their talk. in large measure. Here that speaker preserves her understanding as the product of a gloss of her interlocutor’s publicly conspicuous activity: “You th(h)ought it awful l(h)oud(h) thou(h)gh. 4 Rejecting theoretical notions of radical subjectivity does not deny that people.” Overall. unobservable mental storehouse of speakers. He has unselfishly given of himself during the best and worst of times.” The interactional uses of these glossing practices provide both a parallel and challenge to communication models that impute messages to the private encoding of speakers’ “thoughts” and “meanings. These observations add credence to Sacks’ (1992a) remarks concerning the public observability of thoughts and underscore the dangers of premature theorizing that glosses rather than explicates the details of interactional practices.” Whereas these models treat “thoughts” as residing in the private.4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Robert Hopper was my dissertation adviser at the University of Texas in the late 1980s. he has continued to embody what it means to be a colleague by appreciating our strengths and challenging us to improve our craft. do act as “practical Solipsists. .g. a next speaker commits to a display of understanding.” The key is finding data in which the parties to an interaction orient to such practices instead of insisting upon their omnirelevance as many communication models do. It is a distinct honor to contribute to this esteemed collection.172  Studies in language and social interaction to raise problems of understanding by initiating repair (e. Rejecting the methodicity and legitimacy of an understanding display poses certain interactional “aftershocks” in which the parties orient to a possible impropriety embodied in imputing the action of blaming to a prior speaker whose talk is excluded as a possible source of such an understanding.. ‘you had a flat tire’”?) in the absence of recognizable understanding problems. In the present data. these findings contribute to our understanding of connections between the interactional architecture of intersubjectivity and the moral order. at times. that would serve as an alternative source of the speaker’s methodically produced understanding. Unlike the explosive outrage of Garfinkel’s “victims. Over the years.

. 12. Social Psychology Quarterly.E. Hertfordshire. Lectures on conversation (Vol.A.. In G. 201–218. Linguistics. (1979). A. Some sources of misunderstanding in talk-ininteraction. England: Harvester Wheatsheaf. Behrend (Eds. 115–121. (1992a). England: Multilingual Matters.A. E. Jefferson. (1985). G. Button. Lectures on conversation (Vol. E.A.. Studies in ethnomethodology. J. 50. DC: American Psychological Association. November).Atkinson & J. Attributions of responsibility: Blamings. Schegloff. In J. New York: Irvington.). England: Cambridge University Press. Topic nomination and topic pursuit. Perspectives on socially shared cognition (pp. G. E.. In L. (1991). 3–55.Resnick.Rejecting illegitimate understandings  173 REFERENCES Button. (1991).Foppa (Eds. (1987).). Analyzing single episodes of interaction: An exercise in conversation analysis. In I. P. E.Lee (Eds. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking in conversation. E.. H. Oxford.). Cambridge. 150–171). G.Jefferson. Garfinkel. Clevedon. Conversation analysis and socially shared cognition. E. Generating topic: The use of topic initial elicitors. Pomerantz. 167–190). 1295–1345. 1. Schegloff. England: Polity Press.” Paper presented at the Speech Communication Association Convention in San Diego. N. Drew. 50. & Schegloff. (1978). 25.Psathas (Ed.). N. England: Basil Blackwell.). 152–205). Schegloff.Jefferson. NJ: Prentice-Hall. Sacks. & Jefferson. & Casey. American Journal of Sociology.A. G. 8. A technique for inviting laughter and its subsequent acceptance declination. Cambridge.R. Button & J. Sociology. G. E. Asymmetries of knowledge in conversational interactions. Human Studies.M. Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. G. H. H. Sacks. In G. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (79–96). Schegloff. 696–735. Asymmetries in dialogue (pp. (1987b). (1984).A.Heritage (Eds. Notes on laughter in the pursuit of intimacy. Oxford. 21–48).A. Schegloff.Markova & K. (1996. Ed. 97. (1974). (1987a). & S.. Talk and social organisation (pp. (1984). Heritage. Language. Joke-serious “no. H. Schegloff. Ed). Washington. & Casey. (1967). 101–114. Sacks.). H. Repair after next turn: The last structurally provided defense of intersubjectivity in conversation.A. England: Basil Blackwell. Sacks. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. (1992b). Englewood Cliffs. J. Jefferson.Levine. 2. (1992). G. .

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APPROACHES TO RELATIONSHIPS In the vernacular. 1996. in a kind of conversational “tit-for-tat. They drew on subjects’ diaries and recollections to identify a set of 29 speech events. Though compelling. These two methods for taking up turns with possible problematic implications for the relationship display the interactive process of relationship construction.” social categorical definitions. and ways of talking that are characteristic of “marriage. From this perspective. to be social categories. with discursive consequences” (Hopper & Chen.12 Interactive Methods for Constructing Relationships Jenny Mandelbaum Rutgers University Increasingly in the communication field. ways of talking could provide an index for intimacy. This approach to relationships treats them as social structural entities that “exist” outside of discourse. which dominates much research in communication. because even within relationships that have “objective. could be discerned. 1996). 310). Goldsmith and Baxter (1996) emphasized the importance of this constitutive view of communication in relationships. from the particular ways in which talk is produced? In this chapter I describe two methods whereby the interactional construction of relationships can be documented. which they then divided into six groups that constitute everyday relationships. and often in scholarly work also. relational states shift. In the second method. relationships are often reified. and thus available. in and through interaction (Goldsmith & Baxter. scholars are coming to recognize that the character of a relationship is built moment by moment. as “happily married” have arguments or difficult interactions and problematic moments. Relationship states are often treated as “independent variables. this claim has proven difficult to document. They pointed out that “it might prove difficult to observe all the joint enactments of talk through which an .” one interlocutor produces a turn that could be heard to have “problematic. p. from which ways of talking follow. The speaker of the repairable’s method for repairing the problem does not take up the relationship implications.” That is. the other produces a similar turn that has the result of shifting the “disconnecting” implications to “connecting” ones. by interactants. In the next turn. we take relationships to be things that we “have. and be described by others.” for instance. conversational repair targets a turn that has possible problematic implications for the relationship. First.” or “disconnecting” implications for the relationship. In practice. In contrast to this view. an approach that sees relationships as existing external to discourse presents problems. in the way that we talk about them. Just how is the relationship between interlocutors constructed. Even those who might describe themselves. though. social constructionists and others make a strong case for seeing relationships as constructed in and through interaction. taking “spouse” or “supervisor.” for instance. static entities.

Heritage & Sefi. that is. 1987. for instance. With respect to how we ask someone else to do . using instead such terms as alignment. it formulates who they are with respect to you—someone over whom you can assume unquestionable control. 1992. Some ways of talking to or acting with regard to others. He called these “tie-signs” “evidence about relationships. conversation analytic findings reveal important features of how talk may propose and/or construct relationships. 90). Some actions.. 1997). when you ask someone to do something. Mandelbaum. and so on. the production and noticing of these tie-signs are not focused involvements (Goffman. Like identity. For instance. That is. Goffman (1971) suggested that interaction contains numerous “signs” whereby interactants make available to one another the “current character of the relationship” (p. and affiliation. about ties between persons. then. When I say to someone “Come here right now. Goodwin (1990) showed how the way that a directive is offered proposes a version of the relationship between the interactants. The “firmness” of this phenomenon is perhaps indicated by the fact that using a polite format to ask someone with whom we have a “close” relationship to do something for us may be a way of a proposing (current) “distance” between us.). For conversation analysts. 1990. using the same bottle of suntan lotion when coming to the side of the pool. Their study often is speculative. 1963) for interactants. Pomerantz & Fehr. both relational partners and others are provided with evidence of the character of a relationship being enacted. 1987). Therefore. because claims about the relational activities that interactants may be undertaking can be hard to demonstrate. Tie-signs may include holding hands. they are generally incidental to other ongoing activities. it is critical that “relationship” be “procedurally relevant” to participants (Schegloff. a performance that we owe others who are in the co-presence of a “related” couple (a pair in a relationship). Pomerantz and Fehr (1997) recommended as a final step in analysis that the researcher examine the identity and relational implications of the way a particular action is packaged. whether involving objects.g. 1989. have somewhat stable relational interpretations. 184. Heritage and Sefi (1992) showed how health visitors’ methods for questioning new mothers can propose particular alignments between participants. expressions. conversation analysts often have been reluctant to address issues of relationship. it can be hard to document the relevance of relationship to the way talk is done.). Goodwin. That is. 90. locking arms. acts. 184). though. Beavin. Conversation analysts have shown that detailed analysis of tape-recorded naturally occurring conversations provides a method for describing particular ways interacts may “do” relationships (e. although theorized to be omnirelevant.” I propose a relationship between us in which I have some legitimate jurisdiction over that person’s actions. For this reason. Through the performance of tie-signs. Goffman wrote of them as a sort of social obligation. Despite this constraint. For the most part. these relational proposals do not become the main business of talk. Watzlawick.176  Studies in language and social interaction individual’s relationships are constructed” (p. and only excluding the literal aspects of explicit documentary statements” (p. they used diary studies so that individuals could “report on the events in which they engage in various relationships” (p. For the most part. and Jackson (1967) proposed that all “messages” have both “content” and “relationship” levels. and may not be taken up at all in any discernible or overt way. lend themselves to fairly easy interpretation with respect to the relationship they propose between interlocutors. then. All talk then may be taken to contain proposals regarding the relationship between interactants.

. 1986). 1978). “tit-for-tat” and repair. in line with the proposals of social constructionists. and in this way make sub rosa proposals of intimacy. . while she was uttering her vows. Beavin. confusing the order of the names. However. or complain in a collaborative rather than a unilateral fashion. is a fairly tangible index of how we see ourselves relative to them. and inviting (Drew. (1987) showed that the use and uptake of obscenity may provide a way for interactants to collaborate on constructing intimacy. relationships are constructed and “negotiated” moment by moment in a delicate to and fro. I discuss two methods for doing this. In both cases. conversation analytic work for the most part has not turned its attention to how relationships are constructed. Scholars interested in how relationships develop note that transitions in the character of a relationship may occur at critical moments (e. It is hard to know when critical moments of relationships will take place. and Jackson’s “relationship” level of conversation may be present throughout conversation.Interactive methods for constructing relationships  177 something. but may not constitute a focused activity for interactants. the placement and nature of recipient turns in storytellings (Mandelbaum. specifically because this is frequently difficult to identify as the work interactants are actively undertaking.1 The significance of this repairable could be interpreted in many different ways. it has 1 I am grateful to Paul Drew for bringing this example to my attention. Jefferson et al. and complaints (Mandelbaum. Yet if we look at interaction closely. Among them are issues of unpredictability. presumably unintentional action. p. 1971. Morrison (1997) demonstrated how interlocutors may use “tracking questions” and answers to these questions to enact involvement. Two exceptions are the work of Jefferson. and harder to have a tape recorder or video recorder present at those critical moments in ways that will not change the character of the occurrence. In this chapter. we see that. and contrast the apparent relational consequences of each. Studying relationships involves numerous complexities for the researcher. I examine places where the often overlooked relational implications of talk are taken up in some way. For instance.” relationship members talk in such a way as to display their involvement in the life of the other. She showed how by asking a question that in effect seeks an “update. I show how both “ends” of the relationship (Goffman. and access. and Schegloff (1987). It may indicate the kind of interpersonal “power” we take ourselves to be able to enact with respect to them. Princess Diana produced Prince Charles’ name (Charles Philip Arthur George) incorrectly. Baxter & Bullis. 1984). As a unilateral. the use of reporting to do such actions as blaming (Pomerantz. Sacks.g. privacy. 188) work together to position themselves vis a vis one another. some of which can be documented through close attention to the details of talk. 1991/1992) may enable participants to blame. 1989). TIT-FOR-TAT During the wedding of Prince Charles and Princess Diana in 1981. Both Gofftnan’s tie-signs and Watzlawick. or “self determination” over their own actions. the extent to which we provide them with choice. and Morrison (1997). invite. Some conversation analytic work has looked at inexplicit relational proposals that can sometimes be disentangled in such features of conversation.

of his over-exaggerated “Yes” at the beginning of their interaction. both regarding Princess Diana’s identity (the kind of person that she is). Until Princess Diana’s death it was said that this was the last nice thing he did for her. it targets the activity to which it is reciprocal. In his vows. it could be heard in this way.” because the implications that “anyone could do it” or “it can happen to me” become available. This is immediately followed by an inquiry regarding . On the tape. Psychologists might take it to have symbolic significance regarding her feelings for Prince Charles. Though it is clearly not its “official” business. and regarding their relationship. for instance. the reciprocal name-calling proposes a kind of relatedness between the callers. That is. Though in its vernacular sense of “homosexual” queer has no apparent fit with Kip’s behavior. by doing the same action.” A reciprocal action of the same kind appears to be one way to take up a problematic activity. a telephone conversation is begun with an apparently playful exchange of name-calling. a possibly problematic or “disjoining” action on its own is rendered benign or “conjoining. In the following segment. In response. undoing the possible disjuncture. It may show that the initial action was noticeable. instead of a gaping breach of etiquette. By doing the same thing (mixing up names. although in the context the hearing is unlikely. we hear Cara waiting for Kip.] Kip: [‘ehhhhhhhhhh]hh. heeYe (h) e (h) es? Cara: ‘hh Yih que:er w(h)at[‘re ya doin. Interestingly. After initial apparent difficulty recognizing one another (perhaps due to Kip’s overdone “Yes” in Line 1). It could be taken to have implications regarding her competence or her state of mind. in Line 5 Cara calls Kip a name.6) Kip: uh ^I dunno what’re you doin you queer bait. though. (1) 1 2 3 4 5→ 6 7 8→ 9 10 11 12 Romance 8 Kip: ^ee^Y [EE::^E]S?hh huh hih heh= (): [()] Cara: =Ki^:p? Kip: ‘ehh. His “^ee^YEE::^ES?hh huh hih heh” starts their conversation. or about the wedding. Prince Charles produced Diana’s name in a similarly incorrect way. though. “getting names wrong during a wedding is something anyone could do. “Yih que:er. Kip and Cara have been put on the phone by their roommates. His “tit-for-tat” here made available the implication.   Cara: Kip: Cara: eh h[eh heh heh [Nothing?h eh hh[h “eh t(‘s) go’n on.178  Studies in language and social interaction many possible (possibly negative) implications. This tit-for-tat seems to work in a similar way to the previous instance.” which could be heard as a teasing response to his redoing. in Line 4. who were talking together until Cara’s roommate reported to Kip’s that Cara wanted to talk to Kip.   (0. the first name-calling could be heard to set the couple apart. it could be heard as a playful version of “silly” or “odd”—an original meaning of the term queer. for instance. in this case). It becomes a common occurrence.

an action by one partner that could be heard to have possible implications for their relationship. made visible. like Goffrnan’s tie-signs. In this instance. Nonetheless. The reciprocation takes up possible relationship implications in the first speaker’s turn and provides for a proposal of connectedness between them where her turn could have been heard to position them as disconnected. their relational partner’s next turn has a similar format. Cara makes a reciprocal busyness inquiry: “(’s) go’n on. but that could also simply be ignored. the first speaker’s response to repair initiation downplays the relational implications. Cara answers the inquiry that preceded the name-calling. “I dunno. but could equally. Thus a formulation of him (“you queer”) that taken literally (in the sense in which it is presumably not intended) makes her of no interest to him.” and produces a reciprocal name-calling. Talk simply moves on. is targeted. he gives a minimal answer to the question regarding what he is doing.” This name-calling is reciprocal in a special way. This is done playfully. and indicates the collaborative character of positioning activities in conversation. She has called him a “queer” that. This can be heard as a conventional beginning to their conversation. would make her not of interest to him. if it were to be taken seriously or literally in the current vernacular. This demonstrates interactants’ alertness to problematic relational implications. An action that could be heard as a tie-sign with possible disaligning relational implications. through a kind of conversational “tit-for-tat” interactants make available a connection between them. bait for Kip. As Kip’s laughter continues. REPAIR In the following fragment. . Like Princess Diana’s flub. “you queer bait. Nonetheless. In its aftermath. is recast in retrospect as making her specifically of interest to him. Immediately after talk that could be heard to indicate a reciprocated disjunctive between them (the difficulty recognizing one another). but nonetheless might raise a glimmer of the possibility that there could be a relationship between them that involves a connection constituted by appropriate fit and special interest.” He then asks the reciprocal question. Here then we see a sort of advance on the tie-sign. His response is postponed by a post laugh inbreath. “Queer bait” in response to “queer” could be heard to be formulating her as “bait” for the “queer”—that is. and nothing is made of it overtly. and more plausibly. nothing is overtly made of the reciprocal name-calling and the possible connectedness it implies. the embedded relational implications of a turn are taken up in a more overt way. yet counteracts those implications in an “off-the-record” fashion that nonetheless makes the relational implications of the first turn apparent. As Kip laughs. “what’re you doin.” and talk proceeds. In both cases.Interactive methods for constructing relationships  179 what he is doing. Cara’s name-calling makes available certain implications regarding participants’ relative positioning although these relative implications are clearly not “official business” at all. using repair. In Line 8. and redressed simultaneously by a response-in-kind. presumably currently or immediately before he took the phone call. this remains an embedded action. be heard to be directly related to prior talk (Kip’s playfully overdone greeting) is responded to in such a way as to constitute a reciprocation by the other. It thus proposes a possible relationship between them in which she is specifically attractive to him.

are eating dinner together.hh[Wz e_igh] d [y degrees here the oth]uh] = [en say] [eighty degrees]ihh] =[day. I kno:w.] =hih.[ [mn nah ah [hah [One guy thet I [wannacaw:11= [() =he usually comes ^ou: t. yihknow[so you js= [Mmhm. Vicki completes the repair in an “underdone” way (Lines 39–40).7) Wo:w.3) Ye:ah. Wir gunnuh call [up] [‘T’s in]sa[: n e . =tell’m it’s eighdy degree:s hi’ll get onna $pla:n[e [nhh[Yheh]= [Woah]= . (0. and 37).] [Wir g’n]nuh [call up sm frjiends] = [(sp thA:: d’). Shawn initiates repair in a somewhat overdone. The “underdone” character of Vicki’s repair is noticeable in contrast to the overblown character of Shawn’s repair initiation. (0. 35. Vicki and Shawn.º (0. En [then hang up] °eh heh u° [Well this gu]y =^Who[was \tha[t () [who. and Nina and Matthew. teasing way (Lines 33.= =C’ss the weather. and 28). Vicki reports an activity she plans to undertake (Lines 24. This segment occurs after about 14 minutes of recorded conversation. ih hih] [he =[hnhh heh-hu]h-h[uh Oh they hate tih hear that.180  Studies in language and social interaction Two couples. 26. (2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 12a 13 14 CDII:39–40 Shawn:     Nina:   Shawn:   Vicki: Shawn: Vicki: Shawn: Vicki:   Shawn: Shawn: 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24→ 25 26 27→ Vicki: Shawn: Vicki: Nina: Shawn: Vicki: Shawn: Vicki: Matthew:   Vickie: Matthew: Vicki: 28 29 Nina: Vicki: 30 31 32→   Nina: Shawn: [Cars ih stra:nded ‘bout thirdy sump’n people’v die:d.4) °Becuz a ‘that.

1979] the implication is available that she does not expect any of those present to be able to recognize to whom it is that she is referring. In using a nonrecognitional reference (one that indicates she does not expect that her recipients could recognize the person to whom she is referring [Sacks & Schegloff. In formulating the person who wants to call as “I. That’s my[friend. In Line 27. and her formulation of herself as the sole caller. [yeah.Interactive methods for constructing relationships  181 33 34 35→ 36 37→ 38 39 40→ Vicki: Nina: Shawn: Vicki: Shawn:     Shawn: 41   42→ 43 44 45 Matthew:   Vicki: Shawn:   Shawn: 46 46a 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 Nina:   Vicki: Shawn:   Matthew:     Shawn: =[n a h-ha-ha] [heh heh heh] =[w a i’ hey]woah w[oah [ih hih heh he[h [Wu wai’a wai’a wu. the result will be that the unnamed (and unknown-to-others-present) guy will come out.5) Oh:. her report of something she wants to do (“one guy that I wanna cawrll.” and in contrast with their joint enactment of calling someone to tell them that it is 80°.Okay it wz: friend a’mi:net[oo. (0.] [W’d is this] : : . She then reports what “you” need to say to produce the result of this guy coming out—tell him about the warm weather. From this recipients can draw the implication that if she does what at the beginning she states she wants to do (call him). Vicki begins a report about an unnamed “guy” that she wants to call. They synchronously report an action that they both claim and show themselves to be going to undertake together. [Nyejah) [Oh that’s good (thet). it is potentially hearable that she wants to call someone unknown to members of the present gathering. in Lines 10–16 Shawn and Vicki together enact what they are going to do (“We’re gonna call up some friends”)—calling people to tell them that it is 80°. and her reference to “you j’s tell ‘m…” (Line 27 and 29) could be heard to project an action she will do by herself. . [The guy (‘oo) comes out’n treats yuh? (0.” Lines 24–25). Awright. In Line 24.2) Ye:h. (0. Given the way in which she refers to the person she will call.4) One: gu::y you usually ca(h)a(h)ll? W’d[‘z’s [mm-hm m-h [m [No we [^c a\ : 1 1. [Oh: Shame’s friend. In previous turns. she tells what the guy referred to in Line 24 “usually” does.

the problematic character of the activity—habitually calling an unknown guy without him knowing—is removed. In this way. She treats it as though it were serious (Drew. and Sacks. His “wai’ hey woah woah Wu wai’a wai’a” could be heard to indicate some kind of trouble. Shawn makes available that it was . 1977). Shawn “stops” conversation in a very elaborate and overdone way. through his reenactment. In this way. In Line 42. After what appears to be a postoverlap resolution hitch. has claimed her to have said. Shawn’s repair appears to be done as a teasing display of concern. In stressing “call.” The repair operation involves dropping the “usually” and replacing “you” with “we. in Line 45 Shawn’s change of state token. She stresses “call.” and then offers another version of part of what he. In Goffman’s terms. yet Vicki gives a pofaced response to the tease. it is as though she were indicating that the activity of calling were the repairable. It was her use of “I” that made available the appearance or possible hearing that she might want to. Jefferson. although it is clearly not its principal enterprise. 1987). He then produces a turn as though it were a repeat of Vicki’s turn: “One: gu::y you usually ca(h)a(h)ll?” (Line 40).” In explicitly stating that this is what makes it okay. shows that he now has a new understanding of what Vicki meant. Vicki avoids “overtly” taking up the relational proposal his repair tries to make. the item that performs the repair operation is stressed. He then reports a characteristic of the call-recipient that he now understands: “it wz: friend a’mine too. but it is not available from this turn what the trouble could be. which Drew (1987) suggested may be characteristic of teases. “No. His “W’d’z’s” (“What is this?”) corroborates the impression that he is calling into question what is going on. His “okay” shows that this shift makes what she had been proposing acceptable. 1984). Vicki offers a disagreement token. whom she calls habitually. It is possible to hear this turn as taking Vicki to task in a teasing way for having produced the appearance that she is inviting out to see her “some guy” that he does not know.” In this way.” a word that has not been repaired. she literally de-emphasizes the word that caused the trouble—the one that pointed to who was doing the calling. What is anomalous about this repair is that she does not stress the repaired item. or was engaging in. He combines elements from the beginning of her turn in Lines 24–25 (“one guy that I wanna caw:ll”) and the second part of it in Line 27 (“he usually comes ^ou:t”) to produce a most “incriminating” version of what she said: “One guy you usually ca(h)a(h)ll?” He slightly misrepeats her talk in such a way as to make available as an understanding the strongest indication that there is a “guy” in her life about whom he does not know. Vicki’s turn could be heard to be proposing that she has some involvement that suggests disassociation with Shawn because of association with a guy that Shawn does not know. “Oh” (Heritage. Like the first turns in the tit-for-tat segments examined earlier. Normally in response to other-intiated repair. because the calling is an activity that they do together. he displays himself to be hearing her turn as offering a particular kind of tie-sign. At the same time. Stressing the nonrepaired part could be hearable as “backgrounding” or playing down the relational implications of the repair. “we ca:ll” can be heard as a candidate replacement for “you usually call. All of this is produced in a somewhat overdone. so as to be hearable as the repair (Schegloff. some activity independent of Shawn. it is clearly the word “we” that has replaced the “I” from her turn and the “you” (meaning Vicki) from his turn.” which does not appear to have been targeted as the repairable. overblown fashion.182  Studies in language and social interaction Immediately upon the completion of Vicki’s report of her future plan.

Thus we see interactants’ on-sight alertness to the “relationship” level of a conversation. For in treating it as a matter of course that it is his friend. and that po-faced responses provide a way for the teased party to “set the record straight. In her producing her repair with the stress that she does. and showing mild annoyance at Shawn’s action. display of shame or embarrassment. and to the tie-signs that talk may contain. In this way. . Rather. Though Shawn’s turn makes possible overt uptake of relational matters. and in the repair episode. In both conversational tit-for-tats. she seems to focus on issues of understanding. Shawn calls this implication into question in an overdone. and not the “we” on which the relational implications center. In this way. In this way. we can begin to see relationships as collections of communication practices. There is no playing along with the tease. However.” and so on. Vicki avoids “officially” entering into the positioning activity that Shawn’s turn takes up. It seems that moments where there are mild problems for relationships (or the appearance of a relationship) can prove to be fruitful sites for documenting the interactive work of relationship construction. whereas the other participant downplays the relational implications. teasing fashion. Shawn makes a public display of having the right to call into question with whom Vicki associates without his knowledge. the speaker whose talk contained those implications need not take them up further. Rather. and make that rehearing public. and who will then “come out” (presumably to California)—is what was problematic for him.Interactive methods for constructing relationships  183 indeed the problem posed for their relationship that constituted the problem his repair initiation addresses. he shows that the appearance that Vicki’s talk could be heard to present regarding their positioning relative to one another—that there is a guy whom she will call. talk in third position indicates that even where relationship implications have been targeted by one speaker in the talk of the other. Though Vicki could play along with the tease. This account suggests the subtle yet collaborative manner in which relationships are enacted in interaction.” Here Shawn’s repair initiation seems to target the problematic tie-sign. in contrast to thinking of them as social structural things that we have. of having been “caught red-handed. the way in which she offers the repair has more the air of annoyance. she sets the record straight in a way that seems to dismiss the tease. a second turn targets possible problematic relational implications in a prior turn. Vicki’s shows that they are not relevant here. The management of these proposals is a collaborative process. In calling the group’s attention to it by doing a very public repair. he can now rehear this as unproblematic. Drew (1987) suggested that teases are often used to produce mild social sanctions. she displays that the concern his repair indicates is not an issue. or things that we do through communication. In so doing. CONCLUSIONS These episodes demonstrate that relational implications may be taken up when they contain problematic proposals regarding the relative positioning of interactants. the appearance of illicit activity that Vicki’s turn makes. In playing down the relational implications. Vicki emphasizes the activity of calling. her talk does relationship work by not officially taking up the implications Shawn’s repair indicates. rather than relational concerns. Because it is a friend of his also. Here then we see an instance where the possible relational implications of a turn are taken up and made available by one participant.

Po-faced receipts of teases. R. Sacks.. In J.A.A. Dilemmas of advice: Aspects of the delivery and reception of advice in interactions between health visitors and first-time mothers. Goodwin. (1987). Goldsmith. 219–253... 25. (1987). D. Notes on laughter in pursuit of intimacy. (1984). Conversational non-cooperation: An exploration of disattended complaints. Heritage. 97–138.Lee (Eds. New York: Norton. 469–493. P.Alexander. Goffman. Jefferson. Pomerantz. Enacting involvement: Some conversational practices for being in a relationship. relationships: Telephone openings in Taiwan. In G. 299–345). E.).. & Baxter.Smelser (Eds. J. 361–382. Mandelbaum. E. Atkinson & J. J. 53.A.Giesen. & J. Interpersonal activities in interactional storytelling. Schegloff. Languages. Couples sharing stories. Psathas (Ed. Temple University. In J.. (1997). 53. Goffrnan. (1987).A. J. Beavin. Mandelbaum. (1989).M. Two preferences in the organization of reference to persons in conversation and their interaction.). J. (1997). & Chen. & Bullis. Philadelphia. L. Clevedon.. 25. Research on Language and Social Interaction. (1996). (1990). Hopper.Button & J.184  Studies in language and social interaction REFERENCES Baxter. N. & Schegloff. Berkeley: University of California Press. A change of state token and aspects of its sequential placement. 207–234). England: Cambridge University Press. E. C. Sacks. Schegloff. London: Sage. In G. Attributions of responsibility: Blamings. From micro to macro: Contexts and other connections. The preference for selfcorrection in the organization of repair in conversation. Sociology. Jefferson. & Fehr.C. L. Heritage (Eds.Heritage (Eds. (Eds. E.). Cambridge. Constituting relationships in talk: A taxonomy of speech events in social and personal relationships. New York: The Free Press. Mandelbaum. J. (1991/1992). Watzlawick. (1986). & Schegloff. 12. In T. A. Pragmatics of human communication. H. Pomerantz. (1987). 152–205). He-said-she-said: Talk as social organization among Black children. Human Communication Research. 359–417).) The macromicro link (pp.. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. New York: Erlbaum. 64–91). 291–313. Behavior in public places. R. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. J. 129–151). & Jackson. Morrison. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Atkinson & J. Communication Quarterly. 29. H. . 144–171.. Speakers’ reportings in invitation sequences. 87–115.A.Heritage. Cambridge. England: Multilingual Matters.H. (1967). B. (1992). H. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. cultures. Talk and social organization. Western Journal of Speech Communication. Drew..M. (1996). P. (pp. (1984).Drew. England: Cambridge University Press. Relations in public.). Turning points in developing romantic relationships. (1979). C. Cambridge England: Cambridge University Press.. Everyday langauge: Studies in ethnomethdology (pp. Conversation analysis: An approach to the study of social action as sense making practices. S. (1978). Language. B.) Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings (pp. J. 114–126. (1977). G. G. & Sacks.C. Drew. P. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Human Communication Research 12.J. 15–21). Discourse as social interaction: Discourse studies 2—A multidisciplinary introduction (pp. (1971).). In J. D. & Sefi. E. (1963).. New York: Harper & Row. A. Heritage.Munch. 23. van Dijk (Ed. E. In P. Linguistics.. 35. M. 115–121.

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and was told in no certain terms that my muchvaunted conversation analytic methods had utterly failed to handle it. Perhaps Robert Hopper’s phrase “roughing up the ground” best describes what I’m up to. presenting the phenomenon as something intriguing but that my conversation analytic resources gave me no handle on. then resolves the problem. 4     (0.13 A Note on Resolving Ambiguity Gail Jefferson Rinsumageest Just about twenty years ago. she wannid t’be on the bes’ 3     dress’ list. u-mean who goes tih college inna with a= 11 Tanzi: → = [Who even o:wns] one. someone suggested that we just go have a drink. I’ll start out with a few fragments in which it seems to me that one participant has produced a characterizably problematic utterance. the phenomenon is not exclusive to troubles-talk).] . Recently I took another shot at it—not that I can handle the thing any better now than I could twenty years ago—but just trying to suggest that such a phenomenon might exist.)) 1 Lauren:   We had this one girl she w’z from Flo:rida.4) 5 Lauren:   En’er parents apparently weren’even that 6     wealthy. and that this or that fragment of data might comprise an instance of it. Un 2     I swear t’Go::d. So ended my presentation. 9     (0. At some point. then attempts to disambiguate it without speaking explicitly.   (1) [Goodwin:60:C:1–2] ( (Two women at a block party. I came across a possible phenomenon: Someone inadvertently produces an ambiguous utterance. Although it was clear to me that something like that was going on.2) 10 Lauren: → Y’know.right? 12 Lauren:   [pegnoir set. En she wen’out’n she bought tons of 7     clothes so she c’d be on th’bes’dres-She even 8   → came t’college inna pegnoi:r se:t. whereupon a recipient produces an appropriate next utterance. chatting about college days and characters they have known. They’re a lively bunch! Even agreement turns into open warfare. I gave a talk to some colleagues at the University of Manchester. working on materials in which people talk about their troubles. Since that time I’ve every now and then come across another candidate case (and although the original instances occurred in the materials I happened to be investigating at that time. I found that I had no analytic resources to develop a case for it.

And this is ‘whereupon’ in a strong sense. earthquake. we get an appropriate next utterance. She didn’t arrive “in” one.” a pegnoir set.0) [The These two fragments and my discussions of them are taken from Jefferson (1986). it doesn’t involve the sort of ambiguity I’ll be focusing on. but immediately upon the occurrence of the clarifying phrase. As in the preceding fragment. that the young woman brought with her. They refer to each other by their locations: “City” is the Anchorage fire department and “Elmondorf” is an outlying army base. Line 10). the following occurs: (2) 1 2 3 4 5 1 [FD: Finger:2–3] E’dorf: D’you know w’t-w’t kinda news’ere broadcastin’   down’n th’States et (. Lauren: Tanzi: who goes tih college inna witha   Who even o:wns one. Whereupon Tanzi produces a next utterance appropriate to the “with a” alternative.1 The first of the two fragments comes out of a telephone conversation between two men on duty at different locations during the 1964 Anchorage.) pres’nt? City: I: heard d’fir:st Squawk: [xxxxxxx] rxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxrxx xxx) City: [ (2. On the other hand. the brazenness of wearing it. The story structure itself may be angled toward the less drastic alternative. Alaska. Tanzi may be holding off taking a position. immediately upon the occurrence of disambiguation. say. a story about someone showing up on campus wearing a negligee would probably look different from the start. . but “with” one. The following two fragments do involve that sort of ambiguity. We may be seeing Lauren discovering her error as she recycles the punchline with its problematic “in a” and immediately thereafter produces the problem-resolving “with a” (“I mean who goes to college in a with a”. that is. where a single item could mean one thing or another. There may be good grounds for Tanzi to figure that Lauren means to be saying something less drastic.A note on resolving ambiguity  187 Problematic here is that Lauren seems to be describing a young woman’s arrival on a college campus wearing a negligee (“in a pegnoir set”. funny things do happen at college. Not just somewhere afterwards. Lines 7–8). They’ve been connected by a short circuit in the telephone system. among her “tons of clothes. So. and have taken the opportunity for a chat. addressing herself to the ostentation of having such a thing rather than. In this course of that chat. While the problem in the preceding fragment does have to do with alternatives.

9) Go’head. The same reservation. And City drops out. And we can watch City’s work by reference to the squawk box. at least in part.7) broadcas’ w’ z sixty tun thr [ [Yer loud’n clear Muldoon Tower. This may generate a problem for City: which of them is being told to “Go ahead. Now comes what I’m proposing to be the ambiguity. the whole point of the exercise was that one cannot be certain that City starts to talk by reference to “Ci” and not by reference to the prior “Go ahead.” indicates that City should drop out and give the squawk box priority (Lines 10–14).4) city of Anch’rage is on dih grou:n’ Just as City starts to answer Elmondorf s question. holds for Fragment 3. in strong contrast to the instrumental “You’re loud and clear” with which Elmondorf responded to the squawk box. [Ye-u. (2. and he starts up again (Lines 3–6). Elmondorf uses “Go ahead.2) Ci ty. he may take it that someone else on duty is handling it. on an even finer scale.” which is both conversational and instrumental. he shifts to a non ambiguous item. But again. Whereupon City responds—and ‘whereupon’ in a very strong sense. and Elmondorf.” he or Muldoon tower? And it appears that Elmondorf comes to see that there is a problem and what the problem is. to which he responds immediately (Lines 8–11). that is. In his next utterance. (1. But it turns out that his coparticipant is handling the squawk box. 2 . “Just a minute. That City hears Elmondorf s “Pardon?” as directed to him and not to Muldoon Tower may be.188  Studies in language and social interaction 6   7   8 E’dorf: 9   10 E’dorf: 11 City: 12 Squawk: 13 E’dorf: 14   15 E’dorf:→ 16   17 E’dorf:→ 18   19 E’dorf:→ 20 Ci[ty: 21   22   firs’one thet dey uh. (1. remaining silent until he’s invited back by Elmondorf’s “Pardon?”.ah heard d’firs’broadcas’state det deh w’z bout sixty t’three hunner’dea:d ‘n (0. (0. (1986). just as City gets going the squawk box starts up. and interrupts him to respond to it (Lines 5–8).] [(xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]x [xxxxx) [Justa minnit. again with a conversational object. because “Pardon?” is a ‘conversational’ object.4) Go’head. (0. naming his selected coparticipant: “City”. He initially drops out (lines 3–4) and then. a squawk box on the Elmondorf side starts up with a report from Muldoon air field (Lines 1–4). after the first syllable of the identificatory word:2 Jefferson. perhaps because he gets no indication from his coparticipant that he should maintain his silence.” his response merely incidentally occurring at a “recognition point” for the identificatory word. After two such invitations go unanswered.0) Pard’n? I heard d’ [firs’broadcas’Stateside.

it is possible that David’s remark (Line 11) is addressed to her.3) No. involving as it does a mid utterance substitution. (1. And for this fragment I’m preserving the initial consonant and vowel of the actual names of two of the participants.” and Lauren’s work in Fragment 1 with her shift from “in a” to “with a.2)   Ci Ye-u. that is. Joan having raised the issue of observers in the first place.” which might lead us to wonder if the disambiguating “Jesse” was not appended to a completed sentence-utterance specifically in order to resolve a just discovered ambiguity.2) City. Elmondorf s is less obviously a matter of repair.° 2   hh °yihknow ° 3   (0. This particular session is being observed from a room behind a one-way mirror.0) Yer very ↑°conscious’v° th’m being in the : re .] [°ih° [It doesn’] rilly bother me.” And David’s shift is even less obviously a matter of repair. they have stopped interrogating him about his comings and goings.(0.ah   heard… In the following fragment. similarly to Elmondorf s work in Fragment 2 with his shift from “Go ahead. Je [sse. (0. Jesse and Joan. (Lines 5–6).)) 1 Jesse: Nob’ddy sez inning yih jis keep °whha:lkin’. [He keeps:: [↑talk [in’↓there. coming off as a through produced sentenceutterance with the disambiguating name in tag position: “You’re very conscious of them being in there Jesse.9) Go ‘head.” (But whereas Lauren’s shift. the standard ending intonation of “in the:re. in that after a bit of silence he produces a legitimate next component for a single utterance.. (3) [GTS: I:2:19: R:5] ( (Jesse is reporting a success with his parents.2) 4 5 6 3 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Jesse: Joan:     Jesse:     David:→   Joan: → Jesse: it’s °↑ bghuggin° ↓mhhe(h)now [ hm hm ] [↑Don’ta] lk tih them talk t’u: S: : . Indeed. the appending of Jesse’s name by David may be directed to clearing such a possible ambiguity. (. The fragment is taken from a group therapy session for teenagers. “Go ahead (0. in order to show just how delicate this business may be.” We’re left with some intonational details.) th. the “whereupon” feature may be really exquisite.A note on resolving ambiguity  189 1 2 3 4 5 6 E’dorf:   E’dqrf:   E’dorf: City: Go ‘head.) . is clearly a self-repair. This may be a very touchy moment. (1.4) drapes er closed now I c’n see through that liddle crack et th’window over there (2.

in the laundry room of their apartment building—the talk has turned to an allergy that Jane’s husband is suffering from.= Reva:   =Ih makes (a).     (0. At some point thereafter. then tries to achieve disambiguation without the sort of explicitness found in the prior materials. Joan could be monitoring for which of the two candidate addressees (in this case. having produced an ambiguous utterance. Je He… And that is ‘whereupon’ in a very fine sense. In the first of the four—a leisurely conversation between two neighbors. selection is achieved. And it is at just that point that Joan launches a next utterance appropriate to Jesse’s being the one addressed by David: David: Joan: Yer very °↑conscious’v° th’m being in the:re.0) Jane:   I think it has a lo:t t’do wih tha:t. at which point.2) Jane:   En the fa:ct thet (. ‘cause you-jih-you-you figure     you nevuh had it befaw ‘n all’v a sahd’n yih     getting all dih [sy:mptom [s. ° [nYah I know. would be response upon occurrence of the crucial differentiating vowel.     (1.4) .4) Jane:   °( )°     (0. similarly to City in Fragment 2. But the recognition work in this case would have to be a bit finer than that proposed for City in Fragment 2. In the following four fragments. the following occurs: (4) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 [Gold: MS:16–17] Reva:   En it’s annoying. Reva and Jane. In each of them it seems to me that someone. because in this case the name of the other candidate addressee starts with the same consonant as does Joan’s. Involved in this case. Jane:   [°Mm:.     (1. in three of the four we do get—perhaps specifically as a last resort—a disambiguating utterance. the circumstances become murkier. That failing. then. which of the two who have shown themselves to be “conscious of them being in there”) is being addressed. and no sooner.190  Studies in language and social interaction And.6) Reva: → En my sistuh call’me today she siz to me how is   → ev’rything out the:re how is it is ev’ry thing     unduh control?     (0.) they don’t know what eez     allergic to yet.

’ may yet show its relationship to the solution-bearing component. “with you. “out there” may be fitted to a trouble of the area in general. although it occurs at a distance from the disambiguating component may yet be fitted to it. “the planes are la(h)anding. (In the first place. The following fragment and its consideration is taken from the work I did on troublestalk and is one of the cases in which I first noticed the possible phenomenon (Jefferson & Lee. although not immediately ‘thereupon.” So although matters in Fragment 4 are worked out in a more dilatory fashion than in the prior three fragments. uh-huh eh-heh eh-heh. but after a next component. activities that may be attendant to a problem and its solution are embedded in bland colloquy. The situation is this: The adolescent son of divorced parents has driven down from Palo Alto where he lives with his father. e. to visit his mother in Los Angeles.. only to be given the news. At some point in the visit. in the first three fragments we have the recipients’ ‘whereupon’ responses and in the fourth.g. Sheila: ↑FI:NE .” happens to be an explicit reference to the topic. is everything under control?” (Lines 14–16). Jane responding.A note on resolving ambiguity  191 18 19 20 Reva:   Jane: →     Ah sid I guess it is the planes ah le(h)nding I say I don’knoh:. Reva quoting an exchange between her and her sister consisting of a multicomponent question and a similarly constructed answer (Lines 14–19). poetics level. there is still some evidence of a problem and its solution—for both speaker and recipient. not thereupon. with a mild laugh (Line 20) that. This may be a faithful rendering of her sister’s words. It may also comprise serial attempts by Reva to disambiguate what she has come to see as a possible reference to some sort of illness-related problem topically coherent with the prior talk. Reva presents her sister’s question as a multi component utterance. In contrast to the foregoing where. in which one component of the answer. in contrast to. their responses are completely opaque for the problem-solution issue. how is it.” And perhaps at the subsurface. (5) 1 2 3 4 5 [MDE: MTRAC:60–1:2:R:1–2] Sheila: Hello:? Monty: Hi: Sheila? Sheila: ↑YA:H< Monty: How are you. contributing nothing substantive may work as a recompleter). when what she intends to be referring to is a dramatic but short-lived strike by the city’s air traffic control personnel. “I say I don’t kno:w” (which. “is everything under control” came to be produced via its resonance with air traffic control.) In this case. He’s left the car with his mother and is flying home unbeknown to his father who is expecting his arrival by car and has phoned the mother to find out his son’s estimated time of arrival. a response that. “How is everything out there. his car is vandalized. in the remaining three fragments we lose the recipient as a resource. 1980). As far as I can tell. given the laugh particle in “la(h)anding.

2) En Nadine [Joe’s girlfriend] is going to meet im:.5) Ayund uh.t. Stolen. [En I left him there et abayou:t noo:n. (0. °Oh fer c:rying out loud° En eez not g’nna. down et the Drug Coalition ah want th’ TO: P ↓ba:ckhh.3) °.7) Bē. (0. I ↑told my ↑ki:ds.he c’d only get on sta:n’by. (0.who do this: .=Becuz the ↑TOP w’z ripped o:ff’v iz car which is tih say someb’ddy helped th’mselfs.) Did JOEY GET HOME YET? I w’z wondering wen’e left.=Right out’n front’v my house.5) Stolen. (0.] I. No(h)o [ (wut he-) [He’s flying. (0.hh° Uh(d) did ↑OH: .h (0.192  Studies in language and social interaction 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49   Sheila: Monty:   Sheila:   Monty: Sheila:   Sheila:     Monty:   Sheila: Monty:   Sheila:       Sheila:     Sheila:   Monty: Sheila:   Monty:   Sheila:   Monty:   Sheila: Sheila: Monty:   Sheila: Monty: Sheila:                                                       →     →     →       (.4) ‘hhh Oh it’s di↑gusti [ng iz a mattera’f] a:ct. <and ez a mattuh fac’ snowing on the Ridge Route.1) .[B’t that’s ↑AW ] ↓f’l [‘hh[His friend-] Yeh [ his °friend S t e e-° [ (Boy) that really makes] me ma:d. (0.4) Wut’s ‘e gun’do go dow:n pick it up later? er someth’n like [ey.h Yer nod in on wut ha:penhhnt. (0. [P o o r J o e y.4) hhh So I ↑took him↑ to the airpor’ he couldn’t buy a ticket.eez not g’nna bring it ba↑:ck? ‘h No so it’s parked in: thih gihrage c’z it w’z so damn ↑co: ld. (0.5) Uh ha:h. (1.I:. (0.4) Uh hu: [h.

hearing himself expressing concern for the car (for the second time. Monty’s treatment of Sheila’s report raises as a possible issue that the boy has been irresponsible. At worst. the initial one. and his non and minimal responses to her report of Joe’s troubles at the airport (Lines 27–32).” (Line 40). Lines 21–22). . now overlapped by his next assessment. (.) probly’s g’nna Save a liddle time ‘n: energy. prior to completion of the utterance in which that statement is packaged: “What’s he going to do. may be discovering the infelicitous direction of his concern. Okay As Sheila described what happened. However.) hhghuh: his frien’Ste:ve en Brian er driving up. it might conceivably be heard as assessing his son’s abandonment of the vandalized car. The “Yeh” is at best no help to Monty in deciding if his initial assessment has been heard by reference to the vandalism or to his son’s irresponsibility. Focusing on the arrowed series of assessments.) right after: :< (0. his non response to her report of icy cold weather in which Joe would have to be driving in a car without its convertible top (Lines 24–26). it could apply to either concern. And following on the heels of an expression of concern for the car as it does. for example. In that rapid juxtaposition is an echo of Fragment 1 with Lauren’s shift from “in a” to “with a. his response to Sheila’s initial announcement.3) school is out. minimally acknowledges Monty’s talk with “Yeh” and starts again. in the interests of keeping the peace. Which is to say. may be an attempt to repair what might look like a display of more interest in the car’s return than in the boy’s circumstances. go down and pick it up later? Or something like eyBut that’s awful. Monty’s assessment occurs in overlap with something Sheila has started to say (Lines 41–42). It occurs immediately after a statement of concern for the car’s return.” (Lines 39–40).A note on resolving ambiguity  193 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 Sheila:   Monty:   Sheila:     Sheila:   Monty: Sheila:   Monty:                           ↑SEND OUT THE WO:rd. it may be weighted toward the latter. simply abandoning a problem as adolescents are wont do do . “He’s not going to bring it back?” (Lines 21–22). Monty exhibits what seems to be more concern for the car then concern for his son. hh°hkhuhh° (0. the assessment he uses is non selective. “And he’s not going to bring it back?”. which starts up immediately after her “Yeh” (Lines 42–43). She. Oh I see So: in the long run ‘hhh it (.3) Bu:t (. having cut off her overlapped utterance. Monty.3) Yeah. (0. accepting—if most minimally—his assessment of the boy’s (and her own) handling of the situation. cf. attempting to repair that with a self-interruptive display of concern for the boy. “But that’s awful. As it happens.” And as Lauren may there be discovering her error. En then hill drive dow:n here with the:m. hearable as Sheila.

Sheila’s concurring “Oh it’s disgusting” (Line 45). is everything under control?” And it may be that the offering of a same or similar item can alert a recipient to a problem in their response to the initial item while preserving non explicit reference. or for him to decide what she is saying.or wrongly commital “Yeh” that Monty makes a next attempt at disambiguation. And given the persistent bivalence of the talk so far. which does not select for one or the other alternative but refers to whatever “it” is that Monty is referring to.“(Boy) that really makes me mad” (Line 43) cf.” (Line 46). being enlisted specifically to resolve the as-yet-unresolved ambiguity. an expression of anger on his son’s behalf such as “Boy I bet he’s mad” might not only have done such reoffering work but could have fostered selection of the vandalism alternative. It may be that he has found himself forced to produce something so drastically over solicitous to make himself heard through the crescendo of blame that has only intensified with each next utterance. But. . But in this case. with “minimization of gap between its initiation and prior turn’s completion”. this expression of pity. that a father cares more about the welfare of his son then about a chunk of Detroit metal—and assume that the speaker and his recipient share those proper concerns. And what occurs next is an utterly explicit utterance that resolves any possible ambiguity. 1984): Sheila: Monty: Oh it’s distgusti ng [ Poor Joey. as a sequential object “Poor Joey” comes off as an understanding/agreeing response to Sheila’s utterance. It appears that in this case the father does not feel able to depend upon those conventional proprieties for deciding how is ex wife is hearing what he’s saying. occurring in slight overlap (Pomerantz. whereas. and not at all as some sort of repair. so unlike the sort of talk that Monty has been producing throughout the interaction. as in Fragments 2 and 4. could at least possibly be concurring with his prior utterance as an assessment of the boy’s abandonment of the car and not the vandalism. as in several of those she showed. In armchair-psychological terms.” he offers another item of the same sort. we need to refer to and rely upon our shared knowledge of the conventional proprieties—for example. Elmondorf s repeated “Go ahead” and Reva’s added “…how is it. “Poor Joey” may have been generated out of the fact that Monty does blame his son and is in fact angered by the boy’s just walking away from the vandalized car. in this case.194  Studies in language and social interaction And conceivably it is in response to the non. for example. rather than producing something more selective of one or the other relevant alternatives than was his “But that’s awful. that is. Nevertheless I would argue that “Poor Joey” is indeed some sort of repair. and thus can hear his own words and those of his recipient as at best not clearly enough not blaming the boy. Monty’s expressing his own anger allows for (and perhaps even promotes) selection of the irresponsible-kid alternative. “Poor Joey. For Monty’s assessments and Sheila’s concurrence to be unequivocally understood as addressing the vandalism and not the boy’s behavior. [ That is to say. This utterance is positioned in just the way Pomerantz described for second assessments.

] =‘hh Oh that’s ni: ce hhuh heh heh heh h [uh. (6) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27   Linda:   Ann: Linda:   Ann:     Linda: Ann:       Linda: Ann:       →   Ann: → Linda: Ann: -> Linda: Ann: → Linda: Ann: [TCI(b):16:25–26] So:: ↑What’d Stev’n ↓wa::nt.car with th’kids en then I ‘hh-’hh did the sa:me fer he:r. with the attendant conventional proprieties. [ [’hhhh En. Ann has already bought some for her own kids. that is. [I [(B’t) he keeps tell in’ yi.= hhhhh(h)y(h)ihkno(h)w] [ [M m : : : : . [Yea [:h? h? [’hhhh An’that’s a’only thing yihknow he kept telling s. Again the disambiguation does not come off as a ‘solution’ or ‘repair’. one of Ann’s children. Linda is asking what Steven.Donna one day she went with me tin the store en she stayed in th. [heh] heh hhhh] hh= [Ye: ah . I don’t know I rilly(d) (0.u. and again the recipient’s responses are inscrutable. wants for Christmas. To Ann’s “I don’t know” she responds “I don’t know either” (Lines 1–5). she speaks of herself as a candidate gift giver in search of the right gift (and perhaps something pretty special) for her friend’s little boy. Christmas is approaching. ‘hhhh a:n’ uh:m sh. At one point she’s remarked that “what I’ve got for them there’s no way you’re going to be able…to get it in your car”. Mmhm.2) ‘hhhhhh Oh:::(m) ‘tch I: don’t kno [w. are chatting on the telephone and talk has turned to presents for the kids.2) ‘p’hhh He’s . [ [‘tch I don’t know eether. Here’s the situation. As the fragment begins.hknow before he mentioned thet he said he wannid uh ( .] =Bu:t.u] [heh he] h= =He ain’t gett’n one.Steven said he wannid the tra:ctor. Ann and Linda.) grader uh not graders b’t tra:ctor things out [here. which sounds pretty impressive. I don’know’f they have those liddle To: nka things? b’t he’s go-ot two a’these (. and also some for Linda’s kids.) ‘tch a tra::ctor. Two young mothers. (0.A note on resolving ambiguity  195 The following fragment also involves the relational-pair categories parent-child.‘t she said thet s.

So : : (m) ·tlk ‘hhh I don’t know just (0.. one question might be whether Linda is listening to the anecdote that that information is embedded in as a story recipient or as an information seeker. . And it is. when Ann summarizes the foregoing talk by mentioning some things that she’d like Steven to have. her ironic self-quoted response to the storied announcement that Steven wants a tractor. (While Ann might have avoided the whole problem by simply not mentioning the story of Steven’s telling their friend Donna that he wanted a tractor. Linda’s responses give no indication that she sees herself off the hook when it comes to the toy tractor.) Ann’s initial attempt to defuse “Steven said he wanted the tractor. That is. perhaps.) what tih git im [this year] [eYea:h.]   ((ca 8 lines omitted. Ann’s problem here may be the reverse of Monty’s in Fragment 5. I do: n’t I don’know I really don’t wannim tuh hhave a lotta stuff . When Ann does mention something Steven really wants.] [Yeah. heh heh” (Line 25)..196  Studies in language and social interaction 28 29 30 • • • 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45     Linda:       Ann:   Linda: Ann:       Linda: so ha:rd. tuh figure out (. just game you know. “Oh that’s nice huh heh heh heh” is received by Linda with a little laugh (Lines 23–24). in the same vein))   I got im a lotta things tih jis:siddo:wn en [: [Ye:a:h. (That the next place Linda produces that sort of utterance is at the fragment’s end.2) ga: :me yihknow books’n:: stu [ff he c’n] do stuff ·hh [Mm::. “So. therefore that we get the disambiguating “He ain’t getting one. that she’s not being heard as not wanting her child to have the toy he so much wants for Christmas. books and stuff (Lines 43–45) suggests that its initial occurrence might also be produced as a “response to a gift suggestion” made to her by Ann. I don’t know. Linda as candidate gift giver in search of a gift for Steven may be what sets up the ambiguity problem here. And what may be happening in Ann’s series of utterances following “Steven said he wanted the tractor” is an attempt to convey to Linda that she’s neither to run out and buy the kid a tractor nor to feel accountable for not doing so.” a don’t take this seriously marker.= =·pk en do things. without saying so in so many words. a toy tractor (Lines 16–20). whereas Monty may be not at all sure that the conventional proprieties are working for him so that he’ll be understood to be more concerned for the boy than for the car..” To the mention of the tractor (Lines 21–22). That is. Ann may be discovering that the conventional proprieties are working too well. the laughing recompleter “(h)y(h)ou kno(h)w” is overlapped by Linda’s simultaneous appreciative “Mm:::. she might forsee Donna’s mentioning it to Linda and be trying to head off whatever problems that might entail.) Ann’s next attempt.

J.”.)) Medrano:→ That also (.’ And a bit further on. 4–24–95] ((Manny Medrano. I’m not worryin’ about it.) [HospSite: PIS:8–27–92:21–22] ((Senior attending physician Slater is commenting on intern Fitch’s suggestion that a patient be scheduled for a “psych consult”)) Slater:   It ↑might be worth it ‘cause…it might be Y’know kind of [an unstable mo ment where [ Fitch:   [°Mm° [Mhm Slater:   ·hhh just getting on a waiting list’n having an: (0. asked about the feasibility of using professional jurors. 1. New York Post columnist)) Adams:→ If there’s a better system anywhere I ain’t found it yet. Slater: → ‘hhh It’s not that she’s got a crisis it’s just this is the m. that instead of toys. “he’s not doing that. …” 3 .b. Simpson trial. shorter one.” p.” She’s to be heard as doing ‘talking tough to get a point across.) something happen in a couple   → months just (. “yer not talking tuh someb’ddy:.the right ti:me     (.. 5. “I’m not g’nna have it done. This is the only occurrence of “ain’t. she’d prefer him to have game books. looking through some medical data collected in 1992. 57. (6.” p. not only with the appended laughter. things that promote activity (see Lines 41–44). 60.) [TV news.” p. caught in passing] ((Cindy Adams.” All other utterances that could be done with “ain’t” are done with standard syntax. the possible callousness of “He ain’t getting one” is shown to have been a matter of motherly concern.C. but with the “ain’t.” (6. A quick note about “ain’t. p. Several times I heard “ain’t” used in the way Ann uses it.3 Not long after I’d put together an earlier draft of this exercise.) ain’t gonna do the jo: [b. I began watching coverage of the O. For example: (6. And just recently. Fitch:   [Yeah.) ain’t gonna happen f’the feeruh-r-f The reason thet it rilly flies in the face of Constitutional protections. 15. p.) Fitch:   M [hm Slater:   [period in which something ought to nappe [n. this very long one (ca 45 minutes) and another. And in some instances.. But there’s something inherently wrong with what’s happening in this case. “It’s not rilly like a cowboy thing”.) [CNBC Special Report.A note on resolving ambiguity  197 I have a feeling that this utterance is as uncharacteristically callous as Monty’s “Poor Joey” in fragment 5 is uncharacteristically solicitous. But in this case the callousness may specifically be produced to be taken lightly. “that’s not yours. commentator. 79. For example (and these are all by Ann): [TCI(b):16] p.” I’ve transcribed two phone calls between these two women. the “ain’t” was embedded in language a cut above the ordinary.a.1 came across a physician making similar use of “ain’t.7) ·hhh (. “We’re not answering.” [TCI(c):12] p. 13. Fitch:   [Mhm.

uh [hnh [hnh ha] ha-ha-ha [h.)) 1 Lily:   Jo:dy’s mothe:r? 2     (0.6) 3 Cora:   Oh ye [h ((very hoarse.[hhhhh] hh-hh-hk (. And once again. it appears to be enormously susceptible to contamination by other types of activities. The final case and its consideration. comes out of the early work on troubles-talk (see Jefferson & Lee. And in that regard. here and throughout call)) 4 Lily:   [Jo:dy Lih. but as an idiomatic resource she’s put to work to make herself utterly clear in an environment of persistent ambiguity. this one has no explicit. Unlike the preceding three. someone has phoned with a project in mind (leaving her little boy to be looked after for a while so that she can go shopping) and discovers that the intended coparticipant in the project (the babysitter) has a trouble that may be consequential for that project (she’s got the flu). then.] [ [·hhhhhhh]hh ‘Cause uh: ah’v really ghhot it. we get a series of ambiguous utterances.) yo [u sure-] [Ah-] . Slater returns to the standard syntax of “It’s not that she’s got a crisis …”) These sorts of materials can lead us to see Ann’s “He ain’t getting one. the point being made is that although troublestalk seems to have the potential for progressing as an orderly sequence. One such contaminant is the negotiating of a plan. 1980). 8 Cora:   ·tch ah got the flu. Lily is the caller and is now identifying herself to Cora.2) 7 Lily:   Are you si::ck. the issue of proper parental concern for a child seems to be involved. like Fragment 5.” not as an expression of callousness.) ·hh [Wul that ni:ps it’nna bu:d.tempi.198  Studies in language and social interaction (Especially nice here is that having used “ain’t gonna do the job” to make his point. In this section of the troubles-talk report.’ hh ah w’z gonna ask yuh if yih c’d keep Jo:dy fer a c(h)ouple hours but yih can’t if yih got the flu:: ·tch Ah wouldn’wan’im aroun’me ho:n. last-resort component. As in the preceding three fragments. in which one participant’s trouble is the other’s obstacle. it may well be that Monty’s strikingly solicitous “Poor Joey” is a similar sort of resource being put to similar work in a similar environment. Dr. In the following fragment. (7) [TCI(b):7:1–2] ( (Call opening unrecorded. 6     (0. (. Things—if they are adrift—remain adrift. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Lily: Cora:   Cora: Lily:     Cora:→ Lily: Cora:→ Lily: Lily: Cora:                           aOh::::. 5 Cora:   Oh: yen.’t= nNO::::.

)] [’ t Oh: :] my God ah been ‘hhh running th’highes’tempihtures you ever sa:w. that is. “You sure sound awful” (Line 24). it ought not to be that this sick woman “can’t” take on the job.” This utterance strikes me as a proposal offered for confirmation or disconfirmation.” which eventually closes off discussion of Cora’s flu (Line 31). Omy go:sh well let me hang up’n letchu git back tuh be:yudh= =eh huh [uh uhh] h h [So:rry]I disturbed you. perhaps because stating it makes it sequentially relevant. but that if she is sick the child ought not to be exposed to her. that something will take but a little while is a routine component of such negotiations. having announced abandonment of the project. So. the trouble is talked about by reference to its consequences for Lily’s project. And in the description of the project is at least one detail that might tend to urge for its being taken on by Cora. and the babysitter has been put into a position of confirming or disconfirming that she “can’t” take on the job. the proposed grounds for abandonment of the project are specifically disattentive to what ought to be a crucial concern if ‘the flu’ is being taken seriously. that is. in this utterance that announces itself as abandoning the project. [(hoarse.] =Ha’yih doin’ hhon= =Oh jes fi:ne. there is a minimizing not only of the task (just a couple of hours) but of the obstacle (no concern about contagion). Less drastically. several alternative courses are available to her. Instead. Then there is the proposed reason for abandoning the project.A note on resolving ambiguity  199 22 23 24   Cora:→ Lily:       25 26 27 28 29 30 Cora:     Lily:   Cora:             31 32 33 Lily: Cora: Lily:       (. This is perhaps because a feature of the term ‘the flu’ is that it gets applied to almost anything and may here be naming something quite mild. Across the fragment. Also. And it appears that although Lily announces absolute withdrawal of the project. The presence of a symptom (hoarseness) and the announcement of ‘the flu’ does not in itself terminate the possibility that the project can be carried out. She might at this point introduce the “Sorry I disturbed you. there is mention of the briefness of the intended period of babysitting (“a couple of hours”).) But ah’d be glad=do it if I wasn’t sihhck. and a feature of hoarseness is that it can be residual and not at all debilitating. where. will the fact that Cora has “the flu” stand in the way of her minding Lily’s little boy. she is allowing for and perhaps specifically pursuing its being carried out. So the sheer assertion “I’ve got the flu” (Line 8) and the presence of hoarseness are in a range of ways unreliable indices. she might now initiate the diagnostic inquiry that occurs midway into the discussion. For one. “Well that nips it in the bud” (Line 13). that is. she goes on to describe it: “I was going to ask you if you could keep Jody for a couple of hours” and her grounds for abandoning it: “but you can’t if you’ve got the flu” (Lines 13–15). -yousure sound aw:ful ul. a response to it is due. “but you can’t if you’ve got the flu. .

[nNo::.. but as a third-party report.b is especially instructive.) awf’lly ba:d though b’course Fre:d ditn say ‘e ↓ looked so ba:d but uh: (0. sick person as a source of contagion (again with the self-quarantining. So. (7. that is. or some sort of common knowledge is being invoked.e. hon” (Line 16). for example. while Mattie quotes her fellow new grandmother as saying “I can’t go and see her. We get both aspects specifically referred to. it appears that Cora is addressing the seriousness of ‘the flu’ by reference to possible contagion with “I wouldn’t want him around me. at least in the cases I’ve noticed. → Sh’s’z I ca:n’t go anywhe(h)re nea(h)r them an’ →   she do(h)n’t feel like it anyway you [know.4) what kinyih do:. This is a very real issue.2) her mum rang me this morning ‘n (0. he’s ho:me en yee ah mean they can’t have → the kids aroun’ distur:b Yihknow…   And in the following fragment a woman is talking about her daughter-in-law’s “mum. It is at least conceivable that what is being referred to is the child as a nuisance to a sick person rather than (or as well as) the sick person as a source of contagion for the child. but providing a sort of buffer by forming it up as a statement about her and not by her. (7.200  Studies in language and social interaction Now we come to the target series. In the utterance that confirms that the project ought to be abandoned. But the utterance is ambiguous. and it does show up in conversation—but interestingly.” who has yet to see her newborn granddaughter. the covert character of the latter is interestingly invoked. returning to Fragment 7. stay away formulation: here. So. not as a person-to-person assertion. not quoting but asserting “and she don’t feel like it anyway. i. and sick person as in any event unwilling.b) Mattie: Leslie: Mattie:   Leslie: [Holt:88U:2:4:3]   And uh (0. “I can’t go anywhere near them. She is in effect hanging up a quarantine sign. it appears that the understanding of Cora’s “I wouldn’t want him around me.h Fragment 7.” she does something else with the unwillingness aspect. in the following fragment a woman is talking about her daughter Janet’s very ill father-in-law. I’ve got bronchitis.” How ever she may have come to that conclusion (whether the other woman actually said it. Further.a) Emma: [NB:IV:13:R:5–6]   Janet s’d he ↓looked (. Mattie is not ascribing those very words to her.” in Fragment 7 “I wouldn’t want him around me”). hon” as an assertion of self-quarantine in the interests of protecting . that is. no ill person would “feel like it”).3) they could get from Salsb’ry just uh within a day but sh’ sez I can’t go ‘n see ‘er I’ve got bronchi:ti [s   [Oh dear what a sha↓:me.

the “nNo::::. solidarity.’ Compounding that. h’ hhh] hh   In any event. not only for positive but for negative priors.” Comparing British and American uses of “No” as a response token (not an answer to a question). Clara: Uh huh. and so on. “Because I’ve really got it” (Line 18).” with which Lily receives Cora’s “I wouldn’t want him around me. hon” is not unequivocally selective of either alternative (‘quarantine’ or ‘do not disturb’ and.A note on resolving ambiguity  201 Lily’s little boy from contagion is based on a conventional public propriety.” and so on.J. (7. Americans deploy “Uh huh. Cora. as in similar circumstances in Fragments 4. having said “I wouldn’t want him around me. that is.)) becuz André never stayed home all day tih call ↑anybuddy [Y. I found that whereas British speakers use “No” for negatively framed priors. may have good grounds to suspect that she is being heard to be invoking the ‘do not disturb’ alternative.’ Given these factors. : :. A quick note about “nNo::::.] [NB:II:2:R:19] ((Nancy knows that André lied. specifically. for example: (7. in contrast to the prior fragments with their disambiguating third items. that Lily herself is exhibiting no concern about ‘quarantine. Cora perhaps attempting to alert her recipient to the existence of a problem while remaining non explicit. : En I don’know where she keeps that sorta stu:ff. sympathetic “nNo::::. But there turns out to be that covert aspect.e) [TCI(b):8:2–3] ((re: allergy medication)) R. Cora produces yet another non explicit utterance. and 6.) yihknow when she’s com[ing [No::. is the local context.f) Maggie: Dawn: (7. Dick: Y:ah reserving “No” for affiliation.c) Kath: Polly: [Wheatley(1):16] So ah don’t kno::w.” (Line 17). often where values and morals are concerned.g) Nancy: Emma: [JG:II(a):3:2] ((Maggie blacked out at party)) she asked me if it w’z becuz I’d had too much t’ dri:nk en I sid no becuz et the t] i: me… [ [N O : : . But. 5. another non disambiguating item is offered. (. hon” and receiving a drawn-out. that behind the ‘quarantine’ sign is one that reads ‘do not disturb..d) [SBL:2:2:R:1] Jean: Allen doesn’know anything new out there eether.” “Yeah. for example: (7. for showing sympathy. for example: (7. “But I’d be glad to do it if I wasn’t sick” .

And whereas in each of the preceding fragments the problem can be ascribed to the one who is producing the ambiguous talk. the proprieties in hopes that the recipient will come to see that her prior talk exhibited a misalignment to those proprieties and now produce talk that will exhibit correct alignment. the speaker may be deciding that tactful ambiguity is preferable to possibly confrontational disambiguation. and so on. In which case. that “without thinking about it. A closing note. this speaker might be characterized as invoking. how well it understands what I say” (Sacks.202  Studies in language and social interaction (Line 23). Specifically. but that the child should not be exposed to her—and that that ought to have been the mother’s first concern. on any given occasion.” He goes on to offer a rhapsodic description of a possible consequence of that assumption. One question that raises is. you know in the way I told it to you.’ which involves that the way in which we’re talking to each other is in principle adequate for understanding. and the ambiguity is left unresolved: Is she expressing concern for the child or for herself? It is certainly possible that she is using ambiguous talk to pursue attention to her troubles while not explicitly saying poor-me-and-the-devil-take-your-kid. do we get “Go ahead” again? Why. One thing we can notice is that whereas in Fragment 7 disambiguation (possibly for good reason) did not occur. and I suppose that in producing any next thing I say. then. when an initial non explicit reference seems to be getting into difficulty. resolving some particular problem by explicating. while specifically declining to explicate. something that might be called ‘understanding assumed. 1992. do we get another indexicalized complaint (“That’s awful” followed by “That really makes me mad”)? This may have to do with a general feature of interaction. 184). the ambiguity may be a by-product of an attempt to avoid being seen as trying to instruct a mother on the proper grounds for abandoning the project. Where. could constitute a rupture of that in-principle condition of understanding each other. whereas in each of the preceding fragments the one who produces the ambiguous talk solves the problem with a disambiguating utterance. the work I do is to find for any item you say—no matter how grossly it misunderstands what I say. in the preceding materials we did see an eventual move to explicitness. in Fragment 7. On the other hand. why do we not see an immediate move to something explicit? Why. p. as the recipient appears to remain dense to the problem. for example. that is. across a series of attempts. The materials I’ve been exploring here may involve a rather more prosaic working out of ‘understanding assumed’ on particular occasions when that assumption falters. in Fragment 2. in Fragment 7 it may be that the trouble lies with the recipient. . explaining. its speaker may attempt to alert its recipient to the problem while preserving the utterance’s original. non explicit character. Sacks talks of how “monumental in its import” it is that in their interaction “people suppose that what we’ve been talking about all along. In which case. and thereby preserving the assumption of understanding—it being only when that attempt fails that the assumption is breached and explication is brought to bear. In one of his lectures. that it’s not that Cora “can’t” baby-sit. in Fragment 5.

A.Atkinson & J. England: Cambridge University Press. In J. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Human Studies. (1992). 2. Notes on “latency” in overlap onset. Lectures on conversation (Vol. . H.R. Pomerantz.Heritage (Eds. G.M. 153–183.A note on resolving ambiguity  203 REFERENCES Jefferson. Jefferson.). On the sequential organization of troublestalk in ordinary conversation. 184). Cambridge. England: Basil Blackwell. 59–64).Jefferson. G. (Ed). (1980). (1984). (SSRC end-of-grant report). [Lecture 2]. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. (1986).E. 9. p. C. Oxford. & Lee. In G. J. Sacks.

And often enough what was suppressed is the best lead as to how come it was suppressed.Schegloff UCLA I was first alerted to the phenomenon I sketch here by an incident in which I was a participant. it’s “in his brain. 1 .” and some constraints on “later. there may well be grounds I am. we may find evidence there to support a claim about what was suppressed. but one should not discard candidate phenomena only because they have come to attention in this way. a meeting (“job interview” would probably be the more accurate term) with the Vice Chancellor of a small New England university in the early 1970s. if it was wanted to be kept out of the talk once. After the end of the interview.1 Here’s the note: Talking to Vice Chancellor. And it needs detecting. because it is a recurrent occurrence in conversation (if it turns out to be) and it is our job to describe such things.14 The Surfacing of the Suppressed Emanuel A. that’s a “raw description. he says “it’s already in the fan. I wrote a note about what I had noticed on—you won’t believe this—the back of an envelope. second. first. As we see herein. and what prompts the suppression. replying to a suggestion that it not be made public.” How can we refine it? And why. not recommending this way of working. And. then we sometimes see the suppressed item pop up in the talk later. but on recorded data that can be inspected over and over again to give us the best possible chance of detecting this phenomenon.” surely it cannot be indefinitely later. especially for getting started on a project. It is set up for “the shit will hit the fan. is it of interest? As an initial take. because we may well find ourselves called upon to explore and register what has been suppressed when talk is self-interrupted.” as witnessed by: a few moments later. How can we refine the rough initial account? At the very least it would be nice to put some constraints on the claim that something said later is “the suppressed item.” So there in a nutshell is a raw description of the phenomenon. As I say. he tells about an administration report that slams some departments and the trouble to be expected when the report becomes public. If we ask what happens to the talk that gets suppressed when an utterance gets aborted before being brought to completion.” but he censors it. it should go without saying. If we have grounds for looking to a particular place and knowing how to recognize what is to be found in it. Still. The episode was not taped. And surely we want to press such refinements not on anecdotes written on the backs of envelopes. what happens to suppressed material often appears designed to escape notice—for obvious reasons. I noticed the key occurrence when it happened in the course of the interaction. we might say it is of interest. or how.

which can be addressed at <http://www. I can examine only a few exemplars.4) 35 Bee: Eh-yih have anybuddy: thet uh:? (1. and you succeed in not saying it.ucla. and the item hypothetically being avoided (“Blacks”) is not the one subject to displayed suppression and does not in fact come out subsequently. she employed the term “suppression-release” (at pp. in the first of the instances for which she introduced the term..org/>. phenomenon. That’s a long time to escape detection! Here.”2 A FIRST TAKE: INITIAL OBSERVATIONS AND RESOURCES Let me begin with an exchange that presents (at Line 29) a very simple and accessible version of some of the central features of these occurrences. on my home page. the details of the occurrences and their analysis are different.) (1) TG. 2 . In fact. and it sneaks out in the next utterance” (p. but that was not done as a suppression—was not done as a displayed suppression. The extract is from a telephone call in the late 1960s between two young women who grew up in the same neighborhood and attended the same college until Bee transferred to another school. here Bee is asking about the school that she has left and that Ava still attends. in a format suitable for most platforms.The surfacing of the suppressed  205 for keeping it from figuring in the talk subsequently as well.2) I would 36   know from the English depar’mint there? 37 Ava: Mm-mh. 18. but not unrelated. with a link to the present paper. 4:34–5:31 (simplified) 34   (0. By that term she meant “You’re being very careful not to say something. 8). Jefferson developed a cogent account of an ongoing suppression of some word or theme that subsequently comes out in the talk. by cutting off the talk that would articulate the suppressed material). 20 and 24) for a somewhat different. I found my most recent instance while preoccupied with some other topic.edu/soc/faculty/schegloff/>. So although Jefferson’s account of what she referred to by suppression-release is tracking something that is thematically closely related to what I am examining here. but it is applied prematurely. in none of the instances that she examined in this regard is there an overtly displayed suppression of the talk (e. Should this web page cease to be available.sscnet. there is a displayed suppression. 8. but I think we can at least sketch some of the key features of this phenomenon. notational conventions are explained in Appendix A. =<Did they geh ridda Kuhleznik yet hhh 01 Ava: No in fact I know somebuddy who ha:s huh [now. in data that I have been working on for about 30 years. (The reader is urged to examine the transcripts with some care and not “read around” them. Readers are invited to access the audio of this and virtually all the data extracts in this article. 02 Bee: [Oh 03   my got hh[hhh In Gail Jefferson’s article “On the Poetics of Ordinary Talk” (1996). talk that subsequently is “released. However.g.” In three of the four instances. which I am calling “the surfacing of the suppressed. readers should contact me directly or search the California Digital Library at <http://cdlib. 38 Bee: °Oh. Tch! I don’t think so. data that were in fact collected several years before my episode with the Vice Chancellor.

” Such a reuse of a word from a question (Line 38’s “Did they get ridda Kuhleznick yet”) deep into an extended answer sequence is a practice for marking or claiming the end of the answering (Schegloff.tshe reminds me. a sequence whose second try (at Line 38) asks whether “they” (i. I think evrybuddy’s had her hm[hhh! [Ohh. fer the firs’term of English.4) Uh-ho that’s [a.3) °Yeh.hih-ih.206  Studies in language and social interaction 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 Ava:       Bee Ava   Bee Ava Bee Ava Bee Bee Ava   Bee   Bee Ava   Bee Ava       Bee:->     Ava: Bee: Ava: [Yeh en s’ he siz yihknow he remi:nds me of d.that’s a s[wee:t co:mplimint] [Kuhleznik. [hhhhhhuh huh= =.” a teacher who is held in low regard by both Ava and Bee.] (0.T She’s teaching uh English Lit too.= [I said gee:.e.hhhh (0.] [°M]mmyeh. Ohj: :. 1998). And here (at Line 29) it appears that Bee is aligning with this move to close the sequence by agreeing with the claim with which Ava has proposed to end it with respect to the fate .hh [Said] yih all gonna gitch’ mouth shuddup= [ֹhhhh!] =fih you yih don’t sto:p i [t. [she’s the biggest] pain in the a:ss.. no more composition. meaning me:. (0. tha:n]ks a lo:[t honeh. the authorities at the college) got “ridda Kuleznick yet. she die::d hhuh-uhh [‘hhh [Oh:. t!’ hhhh in the firs’ term there.” and explained by Ava (Lines 25–27) by reference to her knowing somebody “because all those other teachers they got rid of.” the import of which is registered by Bee (Line 24) as having “moved up in the world. She died in the middle of the te:rm?mhhh! = =Oh that’s too ba:d hha ha!= Note then that this extract begins with a topic-proffering sequence initiated by Bee to Ava. and it turns out that she has not only not been sacked. She’s moved up in the wor[ld] [She] must know somebuddy because all those other teachers they got rid of. but is doing very well—“teaching English Lit too. ‘hhh of you. .3) Yeh I bet they got rid of all the one::Well one I had. no more composition. [ -fih something. They “work up” the Kuhleznick case for a bit.

”3 But it is aborted before getting there.” This ends up being a single phrasal person reference—“one I had in the first term there. First.” but it is “fractured” in the middle. At one point. “well” being often deployed as an opposition. an The brackets enclose a plausibly projectable continuation of the talk that was not in fact articulated. Jefferson. projecting a continuation as “…got rid of all the one[s I had]. But note how Bee starts this “exception”: “Well one I had t! . It is turned into an exception to what Ava had said. both with the tongue click and with a substantial inbreath. 1974.” Although this is epistemically qualified to a supposition by the “I bet. or ground the reconstruction of. we almost reflexively use those words to either reconstruct.” Bee’s backing away from the alignment we are examining. is just one appearance of something deeper and more pervasive going on in this interaction and in the relationship of which it is the most recent (and possibly the last) episode. is derailed.” Still. what that aborted ending was going to be. because that is where Bee called her and she answered. “waitamminnit. and thereby at best a nonalignment. Physically anyway. As it happens. 1979) that. having secured from Ava an agreement that she is home (she must be.” It exemplifies a suggestion made some years ago (Schegloff. Bee remarks in frustrated vindication (or vindicated frustration). The turn is arrested in a relatively unusual way—not with a cut-off but with a sound stretch (marked by the colons near the end of Line 29). sound stretches ordinarily initiate repair on talk as yet unsaid. perhaps even a disagreement and challenge (a characterization resonant with the “well” that initiates the new departure. I’m just thinking of something that makes what I was about to have said not quite right. concerning getting rid of teachers. cf.The surfacing of the suppressed  207 of the faculty they knew in common. whereas cut-offs commonly initiate repair on the talk-already-produced. this outcome characterizes virtually every sequence and topic in this conversation.” and so forth. Note two things.hhhh in the firs’ term there. Ava finds a way to distance herself even from this inescapable truth: “Yeh-1 believe so. what follows the suppression of the ending of the turn unit that was aborted includes in its very beginning just the words that appear to have been suppressed—“I had. “Yeh I bet they got rid of all the one::. and this is before “callforwarding” technology).” the turn-so-far still appears on the way to alignment. 3 .or disagreement-marking token). And so Bee aborts the “about-to-have-said-ness” of it. (0. and tells what problematizes it: One of her former teachers could not have been gotten rid of by the secular higher-ups (so to speak). It seems to convey.2) You are home. I finally said something right. because she died.4 Second. note the break between “one I had” and its descriptor “in the first term there. and an alignment of their views and the closing of the sequence. 4 As we do with error correction. And thereby what was on the way to being an agreement with what Ava had said.” Indeed. “See? hI-I’m doin’ somethin right t’day finally.

= 24 Sher =Their pineapple’s ca:nned.”5 Here is another.208  Studies in language and social interaction inbreath that displays the at least transient “unit-in-itsown-right” status of this chunk.just turn my 29   stomach. he suppresses it. [mmh] (0. .(•) s.(Well. 27 Sher mmh 28 Mark hhhh HUH-HUH ·hhhh hh they really.) it’s still terrible.i:ne. 12:15–40. c’est la vie. instance (at Lines 38 and 41). 21   ·hh. 2001) as a correctionmarker. When he comes to the “payoff component of this turn-constructional unit (at the start of line 39).hh 31 (??) [hhhh ·hh] 32   (0. and the persistence of the boundary that was projected to occur after “had. Sump’m after dinner [(ih) (-)(’s)] °turning 30   in yer stomach .= 36 Mark °=eyeh° 5 37 38 39 40 41 42   Mark: :-->   ?Kar:   Mark: :--> (1.don’t eat their pineapples.5) 26 Mark (°I ‘on’t care. one might almost hazard the conjecture that this further extension of his talk at this juncture is designed to accommodate the surfacing of the suppressed element of the prior talk.<’t least m. Mark has been visiting and “schmoozing” with Sherrie.I find one thing . Then: (A) SN-4.5) 33 Mark But U: m: 34   (1–2) 35 Kar: C’est la vie. and Ruthie in their dormitory room in the mid-1970s. Clift.) (0.4) 19   [°henh 20 Mark: [A:nd uh: like-(-) ‘t’s r:ea:lly weird. 22   They make yer stomach imme:diately after dinner 23   really feel lousy. 25   (1.2) going out [actu] ally. Karen. The “correction” from what hewas about to say to “the truth” is even underscored by the “actually” which serves here (as it often does.7) I’ af tuh start studying no:w Mark is apparently starting to complain that he has done nothing but s[tudy]. quite similar. ( too). 15 Mark: Yih know my stomach after every meal now feels 16   r:ea:lly weird ’n it’s been giving ‘hh Mi:les got 17   Digel tablets? ‘n stuff like tha:t? 18   (0. 1999. and confesses that he has done nothing but good times. And then the suppressed “studying’” surfaces in the turn to repentance which follows (at line 42).2) That’s about it hell I haven’t been doing anything but. talk mostly dominated by Mark’s recounting of his recent social life. which is (by the testimony of his own prior talk) the opposite of the case.

Or consider the following extract from earlier in the same conversation. only to surface anyway”. That gives us something to look for and a place to look for it.uh:f: not f:: exactly funky   but not (.” “Funky” has not been “suppressed. but. may surface in the immediately following talk. it may look like the “surfacing of the suppressed. the word “exactly”—before the word he was in the process of saying. We add to and shape this observation as we examine additional candidate exemplars. ones in which the “suppressed” item pops up in immediately following talk. Stan is soliciting advice from his sister Joyce about where to purchase a hat and a pair of sandals. EXCURSUS: SUPPRESSION AND INSERTION There are occurrences that look very much like suppressions. we have this: what was suppressed—that is.” But Stan has in effect put the utterance-so-far on hold in order to insert something—here. which however are a quite different phenomenon. Na.The surfacing of the suppressed  209 So the candidate finding I want to take away from this instance is that something that has been suppressed in the course of producing talk in a turn may pop up in the same words in the very next spate of talk. thus “not f:: exactly funky. for now.) a r-regular type’a ‘hhh >well yihknow   I I< have that other hat I wear. At Line 02 he appears to suppress something—which begins with an “f’—when he says about the hat that he is looking to buy. “not f::. after which he returns to the saying of it. yihknow? Joyce: Yeah. it has been held in momentary abeyance to insert something before it. Then: . and those two things—position and composition—are major parts of all sorts of practices and phenomena in talk-in-interaction. In this telephone conversation recorded in the mid-1970s. this practice is as deserving of careful analysis as suppression is (because it is as much an issue for recipient as suppression is): How shall we understand a speaker’s disruption of the production of the talk to insert some element—this element in particular—at this juncture? What does its insertion do to the upshot of the turn? To what possible understandings of the talk by recipient does a speaker show orientation by inserting this element when it was not included in the previously articulated composition of the turn? Etc. But these questions are different than the ones mobilized by suppression.” And when a moment later the word “funky” comes out.” Thus for example: (2) 01 02 03 04 05 Joyce and Stan. 4:07–11 Stan: And fer the ha:t. the word or words that were suppressed (if they appear to have been projected). Stan has asked his sister the outcome of a traffic ticket incident in which she was involved and she has reported deciding to pay the ticket rather than contesting it. They are instances of same-turn repairs accomplishing the operation of “insertion. I’m lookin fer somethi:ng uh a --> little different. To be sure.

“I would just have to g-. as we see later. and with its potential sequential implicativeness for what should be said next in response. the possibility of returning to the point of abandonment—the point of “suppression”—and lingering on its import is attenuated. is this. Joyce:--> Yihknow I’d hafta go down there ta pay it. Although this is not the place for a substantial comparative treatment of “suppression” and “insertion. Stan: Yeah.4) in order: I would just haf   tig. and this is ordinarily implemented by employing the same grammatical form and lexicon—by “doing resuming” as part of the practice of “doing inserting. It may be necessary to track the subsequent development of the talk in order to determine exactly what practice the earlier “abandonment” of a TCU-in-progress (TCU stands for turn-constructional unit) was the product of—necessary both for the co-participant and for the professional analyst. and differentiating suppression from it. fer a month   an a half.210  Studies in language and social interaction (3) 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 Joyce and Stan. Joyce appears to be suppressing something when she says (at Lines 04–05.make t. in regularized orthography).” at least this much can be said here. the larger point of which the selfinterrupted utterance is a first part. “I’d hafta go down there ta pay it. And. Stan: Yea[h. once engaged with that subsequent talk. that is. A speaker can show that “insertion” is being done by having the previously abandoned and now repeated or returning element be implicated in the same trajectory of utterance as was initially in progress. Stan is offering a guess about why his sister Joyce has chosen to pay a parking/traffic ticket rather than contesting it. the “suppressed” element—when surfaced—is often virtually unrecognizably different from what was in progress or “due next” grammatically and semantically rather than resumptive of it. One upshot of registering the practice of same turn insertion repair..) ta come back there   again.” In suppression. .wo trips down there:. for the coparticipant. Joyce: Then make an appoi:ntment (. Stan: Yeah. Joyce: [An’ they wouldn’t give me a date. Joyce:--> ·hh I figuired (0. Stan: Right. Joyce has temporarily put this utterance on hold while inserting “make two trips down there” before the “go:”—inserting.” But it is clear that here again an insertion is being done.” with that something surfacing at Line 07. 01:20–30 Stan: [I guess it would ye you figured out finally   found out it’d be too much ha:ssle ta take care   of it. and is implicated in a different trajectory of utterance.

and the search that they permit. Quite early on in the conversation there are opportunities for each to tell anything major that happened during the day.· 13   (·) 14 Nancy: B’t ‘e jis like orpened up. but a good deal of talk about other matters gets done as well. 20   (·) 21 Nancy: It (js) hurrt so bad Hyla I wz cry:::ing. 15   (0.] 23 Nancy: [nNo:]::’He really hurt me he goes 24   I’m sorry. 2:1–25 1 Hyla: [Bu:t] 2 Nancy: [My f]:face hurts.ng.= 22 Hyla: =Yhher khhiddi[.= 3 Hyla: =°W’t-° 4   (.The surfacing of the suppressed  211 SECOND TAKE: PAYOFFS: EMPLOYING THE OBSERVATIONS AND RESOURCES Returning now to suppression itself. yield on another “specimen.)] 10   (·) 11 Nancy: With this thing I don’ee I wzn’even looking I 12   don’t kno::w.4) 26   so. . and it is in such a telling by Nancy that the utterance we examine occurs (at Line 24).” In this telephone call between two college women in the mid-1970s.) 5 Hyla: Oh what’d’e do tih you. 6   (•) 7 Nancy: GOD’e dis (•) prac’ly killed my dumb fa:ce.] 9 Nancy: [(With.6) 16 Nancy: a lo*:t* y’know(’v) 17   (0.’ hh wehh ‘hh I khho th(h) at dznt make 25   i(h)t a (h) n (h) y better yihknow he wz jst (0.= 8 Hyla: =Why: Ho[-ow.4) 18 Nancy: the pimples I ha:ve¿= = 19 Hyla: =Eoh::. e-he didn’t mean to be but he wz really 27   hurting m[e. Hyla has called her good friend Nancy ostensibly to talk about the arrangements for going to the theater that evening. (4) HG. let us see what the resources developed on the first exemplar (before the excursus).

Recall that recipients parse a speaker’s talk in real time. so to speak. and orientation to its projected completion. they are very hard to detect. it is a way in which the word or words that have been suppressed find a way out. turn-so-far by turn-so-far. 1996] on collaboratives or anticipatory completions) can often allow such a recipient in effect to say the projected next part of the utterance for or with the current speaker. she reports herself to reject the apology (Lines 24–5). We return to this theme later. “He was just (0. are displayed by production of the candidate suppressed element.” “cruel. without actually saying the suppressed thing. 1991. they are a form of camouflage. what it is coming to. For discussion of several exemplars of this. although still not “saying” the suppressed. It (so to speak) grounds the “energy” left unspent by the nonsaying of the projected. 6 . They are projecting all the time.” And when they come out in such a radically different usage.6 How about “mean”? “He was just so mean?” Look then at the immediately following talk after the suppression. 1996).” “He was just so” what? In the aftermath of pain infliction and an apology that is treated as rejectable? He was just so…what? I take it that this can be not only a question for us external analysts. 7 Consider the blizzard of tokens of the suppressed item in the following episode of mutual accommodation in arranging to take a meal together. So Hyla is not listening in a docile manner for each next bit of Nancy’s turn to fall into her lap. and using each next bit of the speaker’s actual talk to confirm or modify their projection of where the talk is going—to re-project. sometimes they are the same lexical items used in an entirely different sense. whose close attention to the turn-so-far. Nancy has reported her exchange with the doctor after crying in reaction to the pain: He apologizes (Lines 23–4). There are grounds then for taking the recipient to be oriented to the possible turn completion that is being suppressed and not delivered (just as recipients can be demonstrably oriented to it when suppression is not an issue). so to speak. “He was so…” There is a virtual tension built up by the recurrent cycle of projection (by the recipient) and delivery by the speaker of a next bit of the turnso-far.” and the like. Sometimes they are the same lexical items used in the same “sense”—as in “one I had”. Indeed.212  Studies in language and social interaction Looking at Nancy’s turn at Lines 23–27. perhaps even at some level to ground the energy or tension set up by the “unfulfilled” projection of the turn completion. its ending suppressed.4) so. the recipients of the talk.” was a descriptor (an “adjective”)—was the “mean” of “nasty. projecting where it is going. Then (in standard orthography). see Appendix B. what it will take for it to be possibly complete. e-he didn’t mean to be but he was really hurting me. we can note that here too an utterance is aborted. a tension deprived of resolution by the suppression. The “mean” of “He didn’t mean to be but… “is a verb—the “mean” of “intend. allowing the suppressed talk to come out. in just such a place as we have arrived at. it can be an issue for the parties as well. in the fashion that (as we have seen from such work as that of Sacks [1992] and Lerner [1991. one often enough finds the recipient chiming in at the point of the hesitation and supplying the missing item (Lerner.7 One sort of evidence for this line is suggested by the suppressed elements reappearing in the immediately following talk not of the suppressing speaker but of the recipient. if it was “mean. although using its word(s).” Still.” What is suppressed in Nancy’s turn. She is listening proactively. as with “mean. In effect. and notice: “He didn’t mean to be but…” Now this is clearly a different “mean.

1987.0) adjust my time accordingly. and reappearing in the next spate of talk (composition and position). Thus. another ingredient of the phenomenon being described here. Witha Big Mac. we would like to motivate or ground the suppression interactionally. but then. Which d’ya think is best fer you. What is “missing” here is quite clearly the word “ass. We want to show not only the suppression reappearing. it shows the recipient to also be capable of “thinking that thought” and saying it. y’know I c’n:uh:: (1. 1986. This can take the form of full or partial suppression. This involves a display of orientation to public “cultural norms” in the very course of transgressing them. collaboratively.8 (B)         MTRAC. even when they do not command full assent or conformity from the speaker her or himself.0) Well I don’tuh::: (1.” which figures in similar contexts later in the story and is articulated there. and where it is so grounded. the speaker omits articulation of the transgressing elements. Schegloff.5) I. 90–2. So what is so delicate or problematic in the episode in Extract 4? Here is another piece of the puzzle.6) And the silence at Line 24 is broken by the intervention of another party to the conversation. The phenomenon can still be there without “heavy” interactional motivation. Although he later shows himself willing to articulate far more offensive language. Such problematicalness or delicateness also commonly figures in a speaker’s providing an opportunity for anticipatory or collaborative completion by the recipient (as in the work of Sacks and Lerner cited earlier). Marcia: Fiona:   Marcia:--> side 1 Bu wai. come to terms with the camouflaged appearance that it sometimes takes. (1. Mike is telling about a fight at the race track the night before. perhaps. There is a closely related phenomenon and practice that deserves brief mention and exemplification here. in a storytelling episode discussed in various papers (Goodwin.” none of which is the “know” that she|suppressed (which was the knowing of “what…is best fer you”). Getting the recipient to say the delicate item allows them to have said it together. I take Marcia to be saying “Well I don’tuh:::[know]” with the “know” suppressed.I’m adjustable.The surfacing of the suppressed  213 But what is so important about “not saying the suppressed”? In many such instances. In the former. 1992).I’m. 1987.d’ya wanna have lunch? ‘r dinner. 1988. he begins the storytelling itself this way: 8 (C) 23 24 Auto Discussion. 6:23–4 Mike:--> Evidently Keegan musta bumped im in thee (0. it is most centrally an artifact of the speech production machinery under interactional control and shaping. But here there is a sort of obeisance paid to the cultural impropriety of the . I think if I know now. what is suppressed is suppressed because in some fashion it is problematic or delicate. without full treatment. But then note the flurry starting with “…if I know now y’know. that is.

All of the   motels are in California. Nancy is a young woman. I think that’s () So uhm uh:: they have a grand time at the crap games. as what I am inclined to call “quiet improprieties. you know in Las Vegas. ((very quiet)) You   know. a woman “of some years” is telling her friend about a holiday trip to Lake Tahoe in California. and it is fully suppressed.it is. reverting to a child’s grasp of pain—it is inflicted by those who administer it because they are “mean. we didn’t see any Jews.” usage. ((voice moves to low-normal))   But we saw lots of Orientals. . Bev: iinfinitely different. and orientation to. and the comparative virtues and drawbacks of the venue. are always very well dressed. -hh Ann: Yeah. T2: C4. in the transition between adolescence and adulthood. or conjecture.” For example. all the ga(h)mbling   places. and the big hotels. she nonetheless lowers her voice to register an awareness of. In partial suppression. in her late teens. (D) 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 18a 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 SBL. 3:1–30 (simplified) Bev: So you go outta California into Nevahda. the improper talk is produced in lowered voice. And they’re tremendous gamblers. Bev Ann: Bev:-->   Ann: Bev: Ann: Ann: Bev:   Ann: [You see. it appears that she is “regressing” a bit. Mm hm. are in Nevada. Ann: Mm hm. And I don’ know. sotto voce. This includes what could be reckoned to be prejudiced comments about various so called “minority groups. but at Ann: =[Uh huh. Bev: And os it’s. Mm hm. Bev:--> The other thing that we noticed. I think they come in from San Francisco. Ann: I wouldn’t be surprized. Ann. Under the stress of the pain and the telling about it. Mm[hm. ((voice returns to normal)) And the Orientals. Bev:--> And very few Negroes.   you [know how you see those greasy old women an’= Ann: [Uh huh Bev: =[men. Mm hm. you know. but I   think—they’re stealing a lotta Los Vegas.” Although she has little reason to believe she can be overheard. Ann [Mm hm. the impropriety of what she is doing.214  Studies in language and social interaction So what is the problem or delicate matter here? I offer this proposed analysis. in the following phone call recorded in the mid-1960s.

it’s a something to see. this time from an adolescent boy. reacts to a mention of the “Dear Abby” advice column by launching into a story: “Oh:. but one way in which “culture” in the anthropological sense. he doesn’t care if you’re goin forty five you must be doin somethin wrong. Formal notice is thus taken of the cultural norms applicable here. which embodies just the usage I have suggested for Nancy.” “Mean” here is a kind of generic negative. He doesn’t have to have a reason… Here again the adult who does something painful to the kid does so because he is. for example. Here.” and as soon as Nancy asks her to go on. as in the following characterization (by the same “Mike” cited earlier in this note) of the villain in the story. Curt: = [Mmhm. 9:23–27 Mike:--> D[eWa:ld is a [big burly ( (silent))ba ( (vl)) sterd= Curt: [Jeezuz . as part of doing 29 30 3. Mike: = [jihknow. “mean. ‘n I had a wonderful time doin’ it.The surfacing of the suppressed  215 There is evidence of such a stance elsewhere in this very conversation. (5) 1 2 3 4 5 GTS Roger:   -->   Al: When a cop sees a hopped up car.” in which. she retracts the “mean” as a descriptor. in the very course of showing a lack of commitment to abide by them. “Well ih wasn’t mea:n b’t it wz really stupid. there are gradations between full suppression and “reduced offensiveness. a “hotrodder” in 1960s Los Angeles talking about the relationship between teenagers and the police.” So here is Nancy poised on the very verge of a relapse into this “childish” way of seeing the world: She does not treat the doctor as hurting her incidentally. she said something mea::n yesterday I didn’ like her. a little later on. But here is another instance of the usage of the term. he can bust you on a thousand things.1 Bev: Bev:   [They They really at uh. appear in talk-ininteraction. Finally. and yet not some thisinteraction-specific matter of delicateness. What we have in the various gradations of this practice. a speaker mouths the words or parts of them without actually voicing them. . (E) 23 24 25 26 27 Auto Discussion. Hyla. and I’m glad I saw it. and an orientation to cultural prescriptions as privileged points of reference. for example. appears to involve more than simple word production apparatus per se. or begins that way and then gradually allows some voicing to set in. [ Phyllis: [·hhhh hhehhhhhhehheh. the first syllable of “bastard” is mouthed silently and its remainder is voiced very quietly (“V1” is an abbreviation for “Very low”). then. and if he wants to be mean. or wants to be.

and included her recorded response to an inquiry during an interview (Lines 5–13). the “any” is converted into the start of the idiom “any more or 9 Compare the relationship of this surfacing of a suppressed item with the earlier-discussed reappearance of an item held in abeyance to allow an insertion before it.hh that’s. (0. In a striking restructuring of her TCU. what she backs into is precisely the adult counterpart to the childish view—it’s not that he means to be hurting her. Journalist Joanne Silberner developed a story on the attitude of obstetrician/gynecologists toward doing abortions. . and characterizes him as…just as she is about to say “mean.hhh or . taken from an interview on National Public Radio’s news program “Morning Edition. and when he apologizes she rejects the apology as ineffective.2) more a less important. this would.8) of. have been fuel on the fire.” In the context of the public controversy that prompted the story and interview in the first place. As she approaches the problematic element of her TCU.hh I’m   pregnant=I want ta have a baby.of my jo:b. . but it hurts just the same. Foster was reported to have performed a number of abortions—these being treated as “immoral” by one segment of the press. It’s j’s. Morning Edition. EG: Just as if a woman comes in an’ says.216  Studies in language and social interaction something for her.:ll.” But note how it creeps out nonetheless. ”.it’s a part of it.try to give her good prenatal ca:re. as in Extracts (2) and (3) and the discussion of them. and as a “medical decision” by another segment. and one part of the story reported on Dr. Henry Foster to be Surgeon General of the United States. of course.) -helping her take care of that is just another aspect.h I don’t want to be pregnant en I g:et her on the pi. she slows and pauses. And in the very course of articulating this newer adult part of her. and the nomination had run into trouble in its pursuit of confirmation when Dr.” President Clinton had nominated obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. Garrow is on the way toward summing up how abortion presents itself to her in her practice—as “just another aspect of my job” (Lines 10–11)—by saying “I don’t see it as any [moral issue]. and the public. she leaks out—in camouflaged form—the bit of childishness she has almost let escape.” she backs away. and suppresses “moral. it seems apparent that Dr. the Congress. I don’t see it as any: (0. 2/23/95 JS: …Elizabeth Garrow does one or two abortions a week   as part of her practice in suburban Virginia. Elizabeth Garrow (Lines 1–4). She   says it’s one of many services she offers her   patients. And note. At Lines 11–12. en I. (6) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 NPR. . ‘f=sh=s’s I am pregnant en I don’t want ta be:.(.9 A rather more public problematicity and delicateness informs the next instance.

it appears that the “I had-” at Line 33 suppresses “I had [fun.2) [more+a+1]+ess…” In the very swerving to avoid the publicly problematic “moral.) Ava: [Yeah fuh like an hour enna   ha:[If. Ava is telling Bee about how she came to be “so tired. ‘hh en oh I‘m knocked out. This comes from the conversation drawn on for the first extract that we examined—a telephone call between two young women in late 1960’s New York. some a’ the guys who were bedder   y’know wen off by themselves so it wz two   girls against this one guy en he’s   ta:ll. and that I finally saw while examining something quite different.I j’s played ba:ske’ball   t’day since the firs’ time since I wz a   freshm’n in hi:ghsch[ool.]’hh Ava: =term wz there. Bee: Nhhkhhhh! ‘hhhh Ava: Ripped about four nai:ls.= Ava: -> =B’t it wz fun-You sound very far away Here.] Bee: [Ba::] sk(h)et=   b(h)a(h)ll? (h) [ (°Whe (h) re.The surfacing of the suppressed  217 less [important]. by reducing the “or” to “a”.) Ava: Yuh know [half the grou]p thet we had la:s’= Bee: [O h : : : . Bee: In the gy:m? [ (hh) Ava: [Yea:h.] Bee: [·hh] Where didju play ba:sk[etbaw. where.]” Note first that the “fun” surfaces a bit later in “the funniest thing” (Line 34). Let me end with the instance that had escaped me all these years. Bee: [ֹhh Bee: Uh-fo[oling around.] Ava: [(The) gy]:m.I couldn’t stop laughin it   wz the funniest thing b’t y’know you get all   sweaty up’r en evrything we didn’ thing we   were gonna pla:y.” (7) 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 TG.<’n we [jus’ playing arou:nd.” But her articulation of this phrase. Ava: [·hhh Ava: Eh-yeah so.” it occupies the turn in camouflaged form and in the very next bit of talk. ‘n okhh! Bee:--> Fantastic. the sense of . Like grou(h)p therapy. I had.   (. however.Y’know? [·hh Bee: [Mm hm? Ava:--> En. incorporates the suppressed “moral” like this: “any: (0. 02:10–38 Ava: I’m so:: ti:yid.I wz.

and pursuing.” “merely technical.” “purely technical. Several ties connect this exit line with the earlier site of the suppression.” rather than “I had fun.” This is a long way from where we started (though subsequent developments can be brought to bear on the episode with the Vice Chancellor. “Why whatsa matter with y. even as a reduced descriptor.” Now “sounding happy” would not ordinarily be characterized or made accountable as “something the matter with you” The allusion here.218  Studies in language and social interaction “fun” (as “having a good time”) is masked by the sense of “funniest” (as “laughter prompting”) given by its following “couldn’t stop laughing. so that the later “y’sound sorta cheeerful” that follows Ava’s denial of being “happy” would. then pursuing it in its own terms promises to deliver an analytic resource whose scope of relevance cannot be properly imagined in advance. never being content. But what is going on? I would like to end with an(other) illustration of an unexpected way in which having a sense of such a phenomenon as “suppression resurfacing” as a real thing can figure in our understanding of entirely different aspects of what is going on in some episode of interaction. Bee says a curious thing after detecting in the sound of Ava’s voice and in her apparent “kidding around” a note that properly warrants notice by a recipient in an opening.” Then note that. be a noticeable.” Note as well that the first thing to follow the initial suppression at “I had-” (Line 33) was “I wz-” (itself cut-off in turn). Ava says.”) So the features that have recurred in other instances of suppression that we have examined appear to be present here as well. and that “wz” returns in the exiting line “it w’z fun” (Line 40). but it grounds the claim of suppression in a larger canvass of the speaker’s conduct. and grounds Bee’s treatment of Ava’s sounding happy as “something the matter with her” in an actual display of “happiness avoidance. quite).” and the like altogether. Taking seriously. (Note by the way that Bee’s otherwise odd “fantastic” (Line 39)—odd as a response to “knocked out” and “ripped about four nails”—may invite understanding for its resonance of “fantastic” with “fun. If something is correct as an account of a possible event or practice or phenomenon in talk-in-interaction. . always complaining. then. The moral of my story is this. can make available a resource whose bearing on the warrantable analysis of what is going on in interaction is by no means “purely technical” in the pejorative sense ordinarily attached to that phrase. This is not quite something that motivates the suppression. In the opening. But this had been mere supposition. this is the same “fun” that was suppressed earlier (as compared to the “funniest” as the superlative of “funny” that is not. she says. an observable for the purely technical object it can be. interpretation with little in the data to support a stronger claim of analysis. even if only conjecturally for lack of a recording of the exchange). I had always taken it. just before a final quick exit line from this topic at Line 40. “But it was fun”. And here—in the suppression we have been examining—we see what may be such evidence: Ava cannot bring herself to say she had fun—“I had fun”—even though everything about the telling about playing basketball conveys that.y’sound happy. was to Ava being a “sad sack” type. Perhaps the larger moral is to remove the pejorative sense attached to terms such as “technical. The suppression and its reappearance (or the capacity of the reappearance to warrant that there was a suppression and what it was) throws new light on something odd in the opening of this conversation. but she still manages to deflect it from herself to the situation as a whole: “It was fun.

etc. Dealing with “suppression” (and “repression” as well. . and that line of analysis can be grounded in the relevance rules by which a first pair part constrains. In the episodes examined in this chapter.” With respect to the first of these sets of issues. if this is a long-term. one consequence of the sequencebuilding resource dubbed the “adjacency pair” (two-turn sequences such as greeting-greeting. Here. individuals and their psyches. have I danced around this memorable phrase. and has thus in effect “escaped. relatively superficial. but is what was specifically not said earlier. to my mind. the silence is understood as a failure to answer or a withholding of answering. Here I have been dealing with “suppression”.” however. the “return of the repressed. and settled for something that retains both its semantic sense and its poetic alliteration. yet only a very limited part of that set can relevantly be noted to have been “not said”—by parties to the conversation in the conversation or by external analysts about it. given the methodological obstacles to rigorous and clear thinking in this domain) remains to be determined.” The relevance rules that underlie such a claim therefore have to be more fine-grained than those underlying characterizations of missing responses to first-pair parts. request-grant/reject. of course) involves us in nontrivial issues of interpretation and evidence. what is claimed is that some word(s) or phrase(s) or topically specific fragment of talk—some sayable in particular—has been specifically withheld from articulation. one can say what was not said/done. character-revealing tendency of a regime. First. “suppression. one can not only generally say who was silent. it may be worth reviewing in as compact a form as possible the problem of negative observations. then. and casts an interpretive key over the moments directly following it. After a question. Still.” Why. has been “suppressed. As noted early on in the conversation analytic literature. but not its literal identity? “Suppression” and “repression” have.) is that when there is no response to the first part of such a pair. and this in two respects. shapes. even though no one has talked. “repression” long-lasting. it involves showing what was not said—and this implicates a host of issues bound up with making negative observations.The surfacing of the suppressed  219 POSTSCRIPT It will not be lost on readers that my title alludes to a phrase generally associated with psychoanalytic theorizing. question-answer. an indefinitely extendable set of things was not said at any specified point in a conversation. “suppression” shallower. formulating what was not said takes the form of a characterization of the activity or action that was not implemented. in both of them. The negative observation implicated in a claim of “suppression. “repression” fundamental. to what degree the discussion turns out to be relevant to “repression”-(whatever that term may be understood to denote. Second. it can involve (and does in the present case) arguing that something that was said not only was said. slightly different connotations. then. “suppression. shorter term and transient (a government may “suppress” an uprising. “Repression” is deeper. can be more detailed and specific than this. or participants in episodes of interaction. and with Freud in particular. we speak of it as “repressive”).” at least potentially. grounds are found by actors for affirmatively avoiding the externalization of something assertedly (by the analyst thereof) present in the scene and informing the conduct of participants in the scene—whether these be thought of as regimes and bodies politic. but we do not speak of it as “suppressive”.” at least potentially. Strictly speaking.

or in due course. Readers coming to the article from a background in psychiatry or psychoanalytically oriented psychology will find in the Postscript some reflections on the relationship between the sort of conversation-analytic work presented here and those traditions of inquiry—as reflected in the title. and import of what is going on. November 1997. Robert Hopper called to my attention possible convergences with discussions in Jefferson 1996. and presented at.” But I hope to have indicated one way in which we can approach taking them seriously and beginning to deal with them. This article is co-published in German in Volume 1. . and orientation to its projected completion. the participants’ own demonstrable orientations to the setting. It would.220  Studies in language and social interaction With respect to the second set of issues. whatever the force of the statistical or experimental or interpretive data marshaled on their behalf. under support provided to the Center by The National Science Foundation through Grant SBR-9022192. but is what was specifically not said earlier. one eschews analytical claims warranted only by the theory one brings to the data. a matter taken up in Footnote 2. Whatever categories of action the analyst’s theory has generated. and warranted by.” to such an understanding of the import of their actions. and may wish to consult it first. Stanford. are displayed by production of the candidate suppressed element. CA. Their relevance may extend past conversation analytic work itself. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First. one feature of the type of understanding of interaction (and social life more generally) sought by conversation analysis and kindred pursuits in the social and human sciences is that analytic characterizations of actors’ conduct be grounded in. and has thus in effect “escaped. of course. then that line of analysis is not tenable. context. Appendix A Suppressed Elements Surface in Recipient’s Utterance This appendix presents brief accounts of two episodes in which suppressed elements reappear in the immediately following talk not of the suppressing speaker but of the recipient. if we cannot show the participants to be oriented to the conduct in its course by reference to such “categories.” These are some of the more general issues mobilized by the empirical occurrences with which this chapter engages. The present version of the chapter was prepared while I was the grateful beneficiary of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship and a fellowship in Residence at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences. prepared for. 4 of the new journal Psychotherapie und Sozialwissenschaft. Consider first the following opening of a telephone conversation. No. be presumptuous to claim that they have been “solved. Chicago. whose close attention to the turn-so-far. the annual meetings of the National Communication Association. But are we then to argue about talk that has “slipped out”—as is implied by “the surfacing of the suppressed”—that this captures the orientation of the parties? The import of the conduct for them? That is what is involved in arguing that something that was said not only was said. In this enterprise.

Dina: I CAlledju las’ night. as Bernie’s first “howaryou” at Line 4 was by-passed by reporting the effort to call him. Here it is suppressed (perhaps because it is a further display on her part of interest in him which may not be reciprocated or appropriate).” something that is often accompanied by “that’s [very] fUnny” (at the beginning of an unanticipated phone call). Dina: That’s good.tch! Oh   I. 1986). Bernie: Yeah. Dina: N. which is not sequentially constrained by Dina’s prior turn.”). Dju: anything happen?   (0. Note then that it pops up three turns later. Bernie: Wha’ ti. Dina: yea:h. In its place he replies to the “Nobody was home” of Line 12 with what is in effect a disagreement or rejection or correction.I don’t remember b. in the recipient’s mouth (“I think I was home last night.n. First. Bernie: Okay. hurdles are overcome for this utterance to be produced here.:me. Bernie does not do it. Bernie: You di:d. Bernie: hhhh[hhhh Dina: [Gee I was just th.4) . Dina: Uh::: about seven uh’clock. (9) 01 02 03 Joyce and Stan.” which was the suppressed element of Dina’s earlier turn. or was it e. nie:--> Almost certainly Dina was saying at Line 14.that’s very funny. 01:09–02:12 Stan: ‘hh First of all how’d that thing turn out with --> the ticket.The surfacing of the suppressed  221 (8) 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 D&B. and Dina’s “howaryou” was marked by its stress on the second syllable as a “first” inquiry of a reciprocal pair (Schegloff. regarding the “non-immediacy” of the position: This is the first turn of Bernie’s following the suppression. BerTch! hhhh I think I was home last night. A reciprocal “howareyou” question is in order.nobuddy was home. “Gee I was just th[inking about you]. 1:1–17 Dina: Hello? Bernie: H’llo. Dina? Dina: hhhHI! Bernie: Hi. The second exemplar occurs early in the conversation between Joyce and Stan examined earlier in the discussion of “insertion” (Extract 3). and indeed is the larger sequence in which that insertion occurred. Where the reciprocal inquiry was due. how’re you.but I calledju. its contrariness marked by the epistemic downgrade of the “I think. Second. -->   How are you. Two observations may be made about this.

Yea[h. [An’ they wouldn’t give me a date.4) tch! (. ·hh Yihknow just the principle ‘a thing that bugged me. so I was able ta go to ta night court . Yeah. Then make an appoi: ntment (. Oh:.make two trips down there:. fer a month an a half. ‘hh I figu:red (0. Right. yihknow.9) the case [just wu [(Plus) ya gotta yih gotta put down the money. Yeah. (0. I(h) kn(h)owh[h [I guess it would ye you figured out finally found out it’d be too much ha:ssle ta take care of it .4) in order: I would just haf tig.) So wudja do pay it through the auto club¿ Yea:h. l:ater.222  Studies in language and social interaction 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 Joyce:--> Stan: --> Joyce : Stan: Joyce :   Stan: Joyce : Stan:     Joyce:   Stan: Joyce : Stan: Joyce:   Stan: Joyce :   Stan: Joyce : Stan:   Joyce : Stan: Joyce : Stan: Joyce: Stan:     Joyce : Stan:   Joyce : Stan: -->   Joyce :   Oh. ahead a ‘time. Yihknow I’d hafta go down there ta pay it. Fifteen fifty? Mm hm.) ta come back there acjain. Bitch.= [ (Yeah the) = [ (see an’) = [The way I beat mine it was a pa:rking ticket. Yea:h.2) Bitch. (0. Yeah. (wu) then beat the ten dollar ticket. Decide (d) ta pay how much was it¿ Fifteen fifty. Yeah t [hey give it back to you. Yea:h. I just decided ta pay it. An‘I figu:red (0.= =U: :m (1.5) .

England: Cambridge University Press.H. see also Jefferson. 245–91. Schegloff. Lectures on conversation. 283–316. (1988). C. E. e. 1–61. Sacks. (1979).Thompson (Eds. England: Blackwell. 206–216).A. 1974. NY. “Oh. S.). Schegloff. Button & J. 238–276). Jefferson. New York: Academic Press. On the syntax of sentences-in-progress.A. Paper presented at the 84th Annual Meeting of the National Communication Association. G. Schegloff. (1998). Stan uses it again (at Line 41). Goodwin. Oxford. G. I just decided ta pay it.). 23. Meaning in interaction: The case of ‘actually’. (1974). C. H. (1992). Error correction as an interactional resource. The relevance of repair for syntax-for-conversation. Human Studies.Duranti & C.A. Interaction and Grammar (pp. R. 1–24. (1987). In T. England: Multilingual Matters. Lerner. Rethinking context: Language as an interactive phenomenon (pp. Once out in the open. Goodwin.A. Interaction and Grammar. Cambridge. Unilateral departure. Discourse Processes. On the “semi-permeable” character of grammatical units in conversation: Conditional entry into the turn space of another speaker. 16. 261–288). University of Essex.Jefferson. (1996). Ed. Talk and social organisation (pp. 2. Cambridge. and he shifts to a non-agentive form of the inquiry. Ochs.A.A. E.). . Practices and actions: Boundary cases of other-initiated repair. 20. In A. The routine as achievement. Cambridge. Schegloff. November.. one that does not introduce the relevance of any particular action on Joyce’s part (which she might have to report having failed to do. New York. 50. Word repeat as a practice for ending. Schegloff. 1979) REFERENCES Clift. & S. Description in the social sciences I: Talk-in-interaction.). 1998. as he brings the the topic/sequence to a close. In E. 9.Schegloff). (1991). & Thompson.E. England: Cambridge University Press.A. E. participation and interpretation.” Language 77. (2001). 1997).). (1996). (1997). Schegloff.Goodwin (Eds.Lee (Eds. Schegloff. Language in Society. Language in Society. Schegloff.A. E. (1986). 193–227). Schegloff. Ochs. 111–151. Analyzing single episodes of interaction: An exercise in conversation analysis. (1986). E.A. IPRA Papers in Pragmatics. E. 6. Clevedon.. Jefferson. England: Cambridge University Press.A.. (with introductions by E. 441–458. In another context. E. 181–199. Audience diversity.A. Essex Research Reports in Linguistics 26. G. G. Text. (1996). Lerner. E.). E. R. Social Psychology Quarterly.g.” and is then repeated by Stan (Line 05) as a form of registering the response (Schegloff.The surfacing of the suppressed  223 On the theme that the suppressed item may show up in the immediately following talk of recipient. (1999).Givon (Ed. G.H. Grammar in interaction: The case of’actually’. In G.R. 2. note that Stan surely appears to suppress something at Line 02: “Djuianything happen?” He is starting to ask an agentive question: “Did you: [pay it]” The sound stretch on the “you” shows him thinking the better of it. (For further discussion related to this general topic. (1992). Then note that the suppressed item shows up in the next turn by the recipient. 101–114. 499–545. On the poetics of ordinary talk. Schegloff. Clift. Syntax and semantics 12: Discourse and syntax (pp. (1987). Text and Performance Quarterly. (2 vols. E.

g. there are claims that women use more tag questions. Recent studies tend to treat such claims as problematic (see West. such as maintenance. and Audiotape: On Invoking Features of Context to Explain Laughter in Interaction Phillip J. listen. For example. style difference arguments pose women and men as coming from different cultures or even different planets (e. Laughter can do such conversational work as displaying involvement or interest and achieving “maintenance”. and hedges. including behaviors to signal interest and involvement (p.. Researchers offer various conceptual explanations for such differences. 1992. and that differences between men and women reflect more fundamentally different power currencies. In its simplest formulation. to the extent that such work is more common for women. 1995). There are shared cultural assumptions (perhaps based in stereotypes) that men produce more laughable. . Some argue that these may not reflect behavioral differences as much perceptual differences: that people perceive women and men as speaking differently. affiliation. Tannen (1990) claimed that women give more audible and visible feedback when listening than men do. Tannen. 157). this may suggest women do more laughing in the presence of.15 Sex.Glenn Emerson College Laypersons and analysts sometimes invoke gender as an explanatory variable that. Gray. Others account for variations as reflecting different primary styles of communication. Wood (1996) summarized research findings indicating a tendency for women to do more “conversational maintenance” work. and so on. and that men interrupt women more than women do men. Initially researchers were willing to explain such differences in terms of lesser confidence or competence on the part of women. it is presumed. 1990). disclaimers. than the converse. Laughter. 1994). move. perhaps more so than men. Pushed to an extreme. and suggest that differences may in fact show women as being highly competent. humorous behavior. men. and that women do more laughing in response to men. and the least took place when women were talking and men were listening (reported in Kluger. shapes or even determines some feature of interaction. The differences then are found in particular features but also in clusters of these features adding up to activities. this variable shows up in studies devoted to identifying differences in how women and men talk. Underlying such studies is an assumption that particular features of speech or interaction reflect and constitute gender differences. or support. Another explanation lies in asserted power differences: that speech features reflect varying degrees of relative power. and responsive to. In an observational study Robert Provine found that most instances of conversational laughter between two persons occurred when men were talking and women were listening. Laughter may be one feature of discourse that reflects and constitutes gender differences.

depending on sequential environment. Thus the organization of laughter seems subsumed under the organization of a more fundamental set of activities. men more often showed appreciation for women’s laughables-with-laugh-invitations by laughing along than women did for men. then our task as analysts is to examine the means by which people accomplish such differences in single instances. her claim is not a straightforward one that women laugh more than do men. Claims of gender difference notice trends across numbers of cases. or. Increasingly. Hoffman. “courtship-relevant” and “noncourtship. and that the binary. 1997). Rather. Garfinkel (1967) noted the “omnirelevance” (p. the increasing number of cells made for such small sample size that results remain inconclusive. In general. If people communicate differently from each other. displaying receptiveness or resistance. emphasizing the cartoonish nature of the crude female-male binary split. However. biologically based categorization scheme of “women” and “men” is an appropriate way to conceptualize this variable. 118) of sexual status in everyday life in that humans continually display features . she referred to participants in her data as “Tarzans” and “Janes. women were much more likely than men to produce negative laughables at their own expense and offer first laugh. the male would not join in laughing” (p. When they separated data into two kinds of interactions. 1).” some numerical gender difference trends emerged. in researcher’s terms. display “receptiveness” or “resistance” to what the other speaker is doing. Outside of courtship situations. if the female laughed.Sex. if the male laughed. Empirical findings reflect this in proquantifier terms like “more often” or “less likely. Jefferson cautioned against making too much of these tentative claims. it is that laughing (or not laughing) may. However. This suggests another way in which laughter may mark gender differences: that women may be more likely than men to laugh as an accompaniment to self-deprecation. a female speaker of the laughable would provide second laugh. In courtship-relevant interactions.” Glenn. scholars are calling for more context-sensitive treatments of gender as socially constituted (see Wodak. laughter. we do not live our communicative lives in the aggregate. Whether laughing or withholding laughter in any particular instance displays resistance or receptiveness is shaped in part by the immediate sequential environment. Research questions driving such studies begin with the presumption that communicative differences do exist. This contradicts Jefferson’s receptiveness-resistance theory. However. Within courtship. instances of laughter produced responsive to another’s laugh more closely supported patterns described by Jefferson. We live them one moment at a time. and audiotape  225 Two recent studies make use of naturalistic data to investigate gender differences in conversational laughter. or at least may exist. the female would join in laughing. From analysis of a collection of instances of laughter in interactions of women with men. their counts did not match the trends Jefferson identified. she found tentative support for some gender difference trends. however. one instance at a time. and Hopper (1996) set out to test Jefferson’s preliminary claims in a larger corpus of laugh instances. Jefferson (1994) explored the possibility that “in male-female interaction. When one speaker offered a positive laughable without laughing and the other showed appreciation for it by laughing. but a male speaker usually would not. Her gender difference argument is that men more often display resistance and women tend more to display receptiveness.” However. and if they do so systematically in some way linked to biological sex or gender role.

The sense of contextual features being located in the moment is different in an intrinsicto-messages approach. In the show. and so forth. There is a suspension of theoretical explanations in order to retain as long as possible analytic focus on what is being done and how it is being done. The analytic focus. among others). How can we develop and support a claim for gendered communication being part of a particular communicative moment? This may be understood as a question of context (see Tracy. but as a site for creativity. EXAMPLE: “EVEN WILDER” The following instance comes from the radio program “Car Talk. we may make the strongest empirical claims about the relevance of some feature of context (such as gender) in explaining communicative phenomena when evidence exists in the data that participants themselves orient to that feature as relevant. culture. relationship.226  Studies in language and social interaction readable as gendered. In addition to giving advice. sequences. surrounding talk. the moment can be investigated. not as a site for the inevitable realization of gender or some other feature(s) of context. This “intrinsic-to-messages” approach (Hopper. then. I argue. Many individual attributes or features of context are potentially available as participant resources in the ongoing tasks of organizing and making sense of conduct. the initial interest is less in individual behavior than in joint construction of actions. the brothers joke and play. For analysts too. and constitution. However. or a woman uses a tag question and a man does not. and broadcasting to an overhearing radio audience. that acoustic and sequential features of laughter can display participant orientation to gender. gender is but one of many features available to draw on for explanations of communicative phenomena. dispense advice to people calling in with carrelated problems. brothers Tom and Ray Magliozzi. that shape and help explain features of the text. fluid. 1992) helps avoid the danger of the researcher imposing a priori theories that may unduly limit or mislead analysis. Making a distinction between text and context helps us examine words. in close proximity to laughter. actions. there is not an a priori assumption that such differences arise because the actor is a woman or a man. Thus. telephone interaction with the caller. utterances. I treat context as emergent. change. and locally occasioned by participants in interaction. For this purpose I selected an instance of talk in which gender (and sex) clearly become relevant for participants. setting. . is on details of talk and action as patterned ways of accomplishing activities in interaction. often punctuating the talk with laughter. If a man interrupts a woman. In other words. 1987. The following analysis is aimed at investigating the possibility that people orient to gender in the organization of conversational laughter. I begin with a hunch that something gendered is happening with laughter here. somewhat apart from features of the individuals. Thus. this does not mean that people orient to gender equally at all times. and so on. Rather. 1998).” broadcast live on National Public Radio affiliate stations. this analysis stands as an example of how to demonstrate empirically the relevance of gender as a feature of context. In the present study. with evidence from this instance. Consistent with this perspective (one advocated by Schegloff. who run an automobile repair shop in the Boston area. The show combines face-to-face interaction between Tom and Ray. and less in imposing external explanatory variables than in trying to characterize the procedures by which people do whatever it is that they do.

) Of particular interest for this article are Lines 21–27. 1986). National Public Radio.for a woman 16 Chand: my last name my last name’s even wilder. 4 Chand: ↑Hi this is Chandler? I’m calling from 5   Denver? 6 Ray: ↑Chandler= 7 Tom: =tsh::andler [ 8 Chand: Yes 9 Ray: From ↑Denver= 10 Chand: =Yes 11 Tom: ↑sh:andler 12 Chand: Yes [ 13 Ray: That’s an unusual (. advising. .) 2   nine two eight seven=Hello you’re on Car 3   Talk.9) 18 Chand: Anyway [ 19 Tom: ↑Even wilder 20 Chand: Yes= 21 Tom: =Ooh! Chandler’s even wilder than the last 22 Ray: 23 Chand: 24 Tom: 25 26 Tom: HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH (. It comes from the beginning of a phone call.) first name? 14 Chand: Well (.) I know I’m not supposed to tell you [ 15 Ray: for. The fragment under consideration is shown in its entirety as follows. In Lines 21–22. ↑I: have (.) •hh huh huh 27 Chand: :”-huh huh •u h h h h [We:ll. Tom playfully assesses the caller as “even wilder” in contrast to “the last girl” he went out with. [ 28 Ray: There’s a 29 Ray: there’s a hyphen in there? 30 Chand: ehNo 31 Tom: No it’s just a sentence 32 Chand: It’s just a sentence? That’s right 33 Tom: [Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha •hh 34 Ray: °Well?° 35 Chand: Anyway. 30 March 1997 Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Caller 1 Ray: One eight hundred (. and closing (Crow. As is shown later.) I have this problem. 36   I have a Ford Escort (.Sex. the second one broadcast on this particular day: Car Talk.) three three two (.) wagon (. 17   (0. laughter. and audiotape  227 The interactions with callers typically reflect a structure common to other advice-based talk shows: opening. problem formulating.

let’s back up and trace how the participants get to this moment. Are the laughs themselves contributing to gender marking? Do they display orientation to gender? Before addressing this question. the repeat returns the floor to other to confirm or amend the repeated item. they retrieve some prior item and make it available for further talk or action (they also divert.” This use of first-name-only plus location for self-identification is standard practice on the show. This appears to be a moment of highly gendered. as someone he might go out with. At the least. 7 8 9 10 Tom: Chand: Ray: Chand: =↑sh::andler [ Yes From ↑Denver= =Yes Tom repeats the name again (line 11). I’m calling from Denver? ↑chandler= =↑sh::andler [ Yes Repeats can function as next-turn repair initiators (Schegloff. laughable. Ray repeats it with increased melody and emphasis. this is Chandler?. 4 5 Chand: ↑Hi this is Chandler? I’m calling from   Denver? The name gets immediate and marked attention. once more with marked. All three participants laugh. She again confirms it. and she confirms “Denver” as correct. “from Denver. from moving toward the purpose of the call. Ray now repeats the second half of Chandler’s self-identification. In overlap with Tom’s second repeat.” This too fitting the structure of a next-turn repair initiator.228  Studies in language and social interaction in this utterance he treats the caller as female. . in “Car Talk” such playful diversions are common).” This repeat has a marked melody paralleling that which he used in repeating her name a moment earlier. Chandler confirms that this is her name. shifting the pronunciation of the initial affricate ch to sh and stretching it. and laugh-inducing talk. 4 Chand: 5 6 7 8   Ray: Tom: Chand: ↑Hi. melodic intonation. less affiliative stance toward the laughable than those of the brothers. Consistent with the structure of repair sequences. It is a poetic moment: the melody echo emphasizes the rhyming of “Chandler” and “Denver. & Sacks. although her laughter displays a different. Jefferson. and as “wild” with possibly sexual implications. at least momentarily. it returns the floor to her. 1977). The caller identifies herself as “Chandler from Denver. Tom does the same.

not for all people. Several possibilities are relevant here. 1989) of his prior turn: 13 14 Ray: Chand: 15 16 Ray: Chand: “-That’s an unusual (. This added prepositional phrase modifies his assessment such that the name “Chandler” is unusual. the repetitions open up possibilities for topicalizing her name as something to talk about. would make relevant further talk about her first name. see Hopper & Glenn.) I know I’m not supposed to tell you [ for. although she now has shifted focus to her last name. for the first time in this call. laughter.9) Anyway [ ↑Even wilder Yes= Tom’s repeat/repair initiator picks up on and furthers the topical shift she had made from her first name to her surname. perhaps including an account for it. She assesses this name comparatively as “even wilder” than her first. Tom repeats her preceding phrase “even wilder. Instead. After she says her last name is “even wilder.” 16 Chand: 17 18 19 20   Chand: Tom: Chand: my last name my last name’s even wilder. Two of these three possibilities get pursued almost simultaneously. Ray assesses the name as “unusual” (Line 13).) first name? Well (. Chandler speaks. Her unfolding turn does not attend explicitly to the delayed completion.for a woman my last name my last name’s even wilder. They could talk more about her first name. although such talk might be limited because Tom and Ray do not have the name itself as a present resource. She confirms his repeat.Sex. In contrast to her “Anyway.” By this he introduces gender explicitly into the talk. but states the program’s rule prohibiting use of last names. Ray (Line 15) produces a delayed completion (Lerner. but “for a woman. Through this turn she continues the pattern of playful assessments of her name yet shifts attention from her first name to her last. Rather. They could talk about her wild but unstated last name. 1994). with questioning intonation. Chandler begins to speak. In overlap.” his repeat displays willingness to delay proceeding to the business of the call. This assessment. and her “Anyway” displays willingness to close this section of talk and move on. (0. She does not actually produce it. . They could go on with the business of the call. Chandler shifts to discussing her last name.” there is a pause. In overlap. and audiotape  229 11 12 Tom: Chand: ↑sh:andler Yes That it’s been repeated multiple times and already confirmed provides evidence that this is not a problem of hearing or understanding on their part. and/or for keying a playful treatment of it (on repetition’s role in keying play.

” displaying recognition of the joke in progress. The jibe is clever: he uses her words to assess her playfully by invoking a nonexistent dating/romantic relationship between them and implying that within it she is wild. participant identities as heterosexual woman and man who represent. for each other.230  Studies in language and social interaction Now comes Tom’s joke. albeit jokingly. on category-bound activities). More specific than simply the broad categories “female” and “male. pp. not to her last name as she had done. Tom’s use of “girl” in the jest about her being “even wilder” suggests a younger orientation and perhaps playfulness on his part (contrast to Ray’s prior use of the term “woman”). Vol. Tom must provide something or someone against which to compare Chandler. 21 22 23 Tom:   Ray: =Ooh! Chandler’s even wilder than the last girl I went out with [ Hu hu hu ha ha ha ha ha ha Chandler starts laughing at completion of Tom’s utterance and following several syllables of Ray’s laugh. 1992. Now comes the laughter. To retain the contrastive form of the adverb-adjective assessing pair. the assessments “wild” or “even wilder” may carry sexual meanings. potentially dateable partners. not the biological category. 1998). it is also sex—the act. It seems fitted as category to the activity “go out with” (see Sacks. For such persons. 1. Ray begins to laugh immediately after the words “last girl. it is not just gender that creeps into talk (Hopper & LeBaron. She produces two initial closed-mouth syllables then six open-mouth syllables: 21 22 23 24 27 Tom:   Ray: Chand: Chand: =Oooh! Chandler’s even wilder than the last girl I went out with [ Hu hu hu ha ha ha ha ha ha [ Hhhh hhh huh huh huh huh huh huh •uhhhh Tom’s is the biggest laugh of all. He does so by inventing “the last girl” he went out with. loud and hearty (Lines 25–26). 594–597. 21 Tom: =Ooh! Chandler’s even wilder than the last girl I went out with 22   He repeats the assessment “even wilder” but applies it to her. He produces a lengthy and mirthful stream of laughter. In this utterance. 21 22 23 24 Tom:   Ray: Chand: =Ooh! Chandler’s even wilder than the last girl I went out with [ Hu hu hu ha ha ha ha ha ha [ Hhhh hhh huh huh huh huh . 515–516.” the talk now invokes. It’s prefaced by an exclamation of delight or excitement.

26 27 Tom: Chand: huh huh [ We:ll. By laughing at the sexual jest. the caller’s name serves as a resource for play. Ray suggests an implicit pun. The brothers’ laughs align with each other and appreciate the jest.) I have this problem. The word “well” is spoken with a tone of mock indignation. Drew. concerning the range of responses to teases). Chandler resumes nonlaughing talk. ↑I: have (. in that hyphenating surnames is a practice more often characteristic of women than of men. Tom laughs. Chandler displays some willingness to play along (cf.) In this passage. which is done (however innocuously) at her expense. and audiotape  231 25 26 27 Tom: Tom: Chand: [ HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH]= HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH (.there’s a hyphen in there? ehNo No it’s just a sentence It’s just a sentence? That’s right [ Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha •hh °Well?° Anyway. Tom uses Chandler’s name and her own words to construct a sexual jest about her. and Tom pauses briefly. Placed here.Sex. for his reference to “hyphen” invites a hearing that “Even-Wilder” literally is her last name. and Tom ceases laughing (ends of lines 26–27). sexual talk (although gender still may be remotely relevant. [ There’s a there’s a hyphen in there? Ray’s grammatical jest provides a way for them to continue playing with her name without continuing the explicitly gendered. Chandler produces an audible inbreath (Line 27). but neither of the other participants does. however. At that moment. Ray’s laughter ceases. laughter. I have a Ford Escort (. More laugh particles following inbreath may show willingness to keep laughing and constitute an invitation to renew and extend shared laughter.) •hh huh huh = [huh huh •u h h h h [We: ll. Perhaps sensitive to this. Chandler then moves on to the business of the call: 28–29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Ray: Chand: Tom: Chand: Tom: Ray: Chand: 36   There’s a. 1987. By laughing less enthusiastically and . the brothers abandon the laughable plus shared laughter to resume speaking. produces an inbreath. 26 27 28 29 Tom: Chand: Ray:   huh huh =[We:ll. and may invoke marital status). then laughs a bit more (Line 26).) wagon (. following Tom’s jest about her “wildness” plus shared laughter. it shows some degree of resistance (albeit playful) to what has just gone on.

Gray. offers a method for demonstrating empirically the relevance of gender to interaction. (1987). Women are from Venus: A practical guide for improving communication and getting what you want in relationships. Perhaps more subtly. they allow participants to orient to gender and thereby. Studies in ethnomethodology. but laughter stands as one of a host of phenomena through which people engender sexual identities. REFERENCES Crow. and the situation. J. This analysis. Drew. and Society. It is also intended as an alternative to assuming that the study of gender equates to the study of difference. March). Participants mark the relevance of sex categories and sexuality as features of context. Laughs orient to context through their acoustic features. & Hopper. That is. This argument shows one way to locate context in talk.. length. B. At the first sign of lack of enthusiasm from Chandler. Men are from Mars.J. Culture. man: Gender and the sequential organization of laughter. Talk continues on topics for which gender/sex seem not to be foregrounded: a hyphen in the sentence. NJ: Prentice-Hall. The instance here turns out to be consistent with Jefferson’s (1994) preliminary claim that. 457–484. (1986). Glenn. Conversational pragmatics in television talk: The discourse of Good Sex. Chicago. The choice to laugh or not to laugh provides partial clues for hearers and analysts concerning the “work” that laughter may be doing. The laughs themselves reflect and constitute different orientations to this invoking of context. all of which contribute to marking laughter’s footing in relation to the laughable. R. allow analysts access to the social constitution of gender in discourse. Chandler’s laughing shows her to be receptive to what the brothers are about. she helps move them away from the sexual reference. and more. Placement and production features of laughs help show laughter to be affiliating. This “Jane” may not be thrilled about what happens. By resuming talk. the participants. but she is willing to laugh along while at the same time—through features of her laughter—distancing herself somewhat from the stance of the two Tarzans.” she displays some resistance to the jest. 219–253. H (1967). 25. laughter. 8. Providing evidence in details of interaction that participants are orienting to some feature of context (such as gender) provides an empirical warrant for invoking that feature in an explanatory fashion. New York: HarperCollins.. It is intended as an alternative to beginning with a priori assumptions that gender is always equally relevant for participants. Woman. To the extent that these displays are about gendered issues. Po-faced receipts of teases. Finally. a Ford Escort wagon. E. or partially affiliating with some evident resistance. all pragmatics researchers must deal with how and under what circumstances to invoke features of context to explain discourse. 17). Englewood Cliffs.232  Studies in language and social interaction responding with “Well. Participants sometimes foreground gender issues explicitly as topic of talk. Tom and Ray immediately move away from sexual innuendo. (1992). Media. in laughing along. . Paper presented at the American Association of Applied Linguistics Convention. P. and sequential placement. disaffiliating. They do so in the service of word play and shared laughter. Linguistics. The laughing that women and men do may not always differ from each other. P. then. (1996.K. they sometimes orient to gender through features of the sequential organization of interactions. “Janes interacting with Tarzans exhibit receptiveness” (p. Hoffman. Garfinkel.

1–28.Alexander. Tracy. Jefferson. Wodak (Ed. Between macro and micro: Contexts and other connections. In R. G. Gendered relationships (pp. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. (1994). New York: William Morrow. (1992). Unpublished manuscript. Discover.T. January). Analyzing context: Framing the discussion. R.Munch. Sacks. C. Western Journal of Speech Communication. H. Jefferson. Repetition and play in conversation. Introduction: Some important issues in the research of gender and discourse. Gender and discourse (pp 1–20). Lectures on conversation (Vol.) (pp. 53. You just don’t understand: Women and men in conversation. How gender creeps into talk. Schegloff. 6.Smelser (Eds. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Language. (1995). Wodak. She says/he says: Communication. 31. J. Discourse & Society.. Notes on overlap management in conversation: The case of delayed completion. Tannen. Ed. Kluger. 107–131. pp. Cambridge: Blackwell. NJ: Ablex. K. 16–20. & Glenn. 361–382. The preference for self-repair in the organization of repair in conversation. Mountain View. G. Sacks.A. R. Women’s competence in conversation. 167–177. London: Sage. and conflict in heterosexual relationships. P.Gieson.Wood (Ed.). (1992). 29–40). C.. 149–162). (1997). In J. D. (1994. Telephone conversation. A note on laughter in “Male-Female” interaction.. In J.T. Johnstone (Ed. Survival of the funniest. Wood. Hopper. E. Repetition in discourse: Interdisciplinary perspectives (Vol. R. & LeBaron. caring. laughter. The macro-micro link. (1990). Lerner. H.). In B. CA: Mayfield.). and audiotape  233 Hopper.). (1996). Research on Language and Social Interaction. Schegloff. (1994).J. (1998). R. & N. 31.C. Norwood. G. Hopper.. 59–74. 1) (G. 53. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. E. . II. R. (1989). J. (1987). (1977). Jefferson.).Sex. B. (1998). West.

Okay:. 7 C. =How about you.=   10 R.   9 C. 1990/91:370 a. 1   ((RING))   2 R. If the caller recognized the answerer from the voice sample in the answering turn. Good. 3 tion: . For in example. (c) greeting sequence.   8 R. Phone openings have been studied ever since.=This is Carla   6 R. Schegloff (1979) studied North American telephone openings and found a pattern of four canonical sequences: (a) summons/answer sequence. 1 turn recogniC. especially by Emanuel Schegloff and Robert Hopper. Don wants to know… Schegloff showed how the conversationalists establish the participants’ identification. Hello Ida?   4 R. For example: (1)                       Hopper et al. 5 C. Hi Carla. d. the second in the call. Hello Missiz Feldman. Hi Bonnie.   11 C. (b) identification/recognition sequence. 3 C. we see that conversation analysis (CA) has developed from Sacks’ observation of how North Americans open their telephone conversations. Hello b. (Hell)o. Hi. How are you. Yeah c. then the caller should show (or claim) such recognition in the next turn. he or she will answer this summons by providing a voice sample (“hi” or “hello”) to be recognized by the caller. 2 tion: turn recogniA. the answerer displays recognition of the caller. in Fragment 2: (2) Schegloff 1986:127   summons:   ((ringing)) turn answer: A. Subsequent to the caller’s recognition of the answerer. When somebody hears the ringing of the telephone. (d) “how are you” sequence.16 Gender Differences in Telephone Conversations Hanneke Houtkoop-Steenstra Utrecht Institute of Linguistics When we read Harvey Sacks’ very first Lecture Notes of 1964. Fine.

” In Table 16. This is shown in Fragments 3 and 4: (3) Houtkoop-Steenstra 1991     ((ringing)) SelfA.:   C. =Hi:.5 100% . I refer to this set of data as “late 1980s data.” as happens in Fragment 3. Before Dutch answerers mention their names. Dutch telephone conversationalists self-identify. In 78 cases the answerers provided a self-identification. Note that the “with” is the remains of “you’re speaking with” In 1991 I reported a study of 87 Dutch phone openings (HoutkoopSteenstra.” for example.Gender differences in telephone conversations  235 This is different from how people in the Netherlands deal with the tasks of identification and recognition. usually “Good Morning/Evening” as in Fragment 4. U spreekt met Annette ident. With Francien de Veer. e. Good Evening. ident.7 4. Good evening. Met Mies Habots= ident.1: Late 1980s Data   Answerer provides self-identification Answerer provides voice sample Variant cases. Rather than doing other-recognition.6 5 4 87 5. with Anneke de Groot. with So-and -So. and then the caller does. Goeienavond. 1991) that were recorded in the later 1980s by Paul ten Have and myself. ident. First the answerer mentions his or her name. With Mies Habots= SelfC. The rest of the 4 cases were referred to as “variant cases.g.:   A. Goedenvond.:   A. SelfC. =Da:g. they may provide a greeting token. This greeting token then tends to be returned by the caller in his or her next turn.:     Bos van Marktonderzoeksbureau     ((NAAM)) uit Amsterdam   C.” TABLE 16. switch calls   N % 78 89. A more common way of answering the telephone is to say “(Hello). Met Francien de Veer..1. (4) Houtkoop-Steenstra 1998     ((ringing)) SelfA. answerer picking up the phone by saying “just a second please. and in 5 cases they provided a voice sample. You’re speaking with     Annette Bos from Market Research     ((NAME)) in Amsterdam. met Anneke de Groot.

and the like. that is. In the literature we find three variations: providing a voice sample. Hopper and Doany (1989) spoke of “Arabic” openings. ((with an American accent)) Yes? It’s ↓Doug. Egypt. Especially in countries in which answerers’ selfidentification is the norm. it is as infrequent and marked as in the Dutch data. B. Robert Hopper and his students. 165–166). (1990/1991) mentioned the possible effect of language on opening sequences. have shown differences with respect to how members of different speech communities routinely answer the telephone in domestic contexts. Hopper & Doany (1989) did not find evidence for this in a follow-up study. English answerers say either “Hello” or give their telephone number (Sifianou 1989). It seems plausible to expect possible differences to occur in speech communities rather than in languages. This suggests that their findings also apply to other Arabic-speaking countries. It is possible that the ways in which members of speech communities answer the phone may have been influenced by a country’s colonial history. Spain. 1989).1 Such a difference then suggests that there are differences between speech communities with respect to how people answer the phone. 1989). 1996). no cell phones and no telephone sets that have the provision of displaying the caller’s telephone number. and mentioning the household’s telephone number. Answering the phone by using some form of voice sample was found in Taiwan (Hopper & Chen. explicit self-identification. Hopper et al. As Hopper and Doany pointed out for the former French colony Lebanon: “the use of ‘allo’ as a response type in Arabic calls in Lebanon is the result of linguistic borrowing of the term” (pp. such as Morocco.236  Studies in language and social interaction It was on the basis of these data that I came to the conclusion that in the Netherlands we find a strong preference for answerers’ explicit selfidentification. B. Hi: Doug.4 The example that follows shows how two speakers from different cultures. whereas in the United States. One of these appeared in a call that seemed to involve some technical problem. Lindström (1994) showed that.3 Adler (1993) reported a similar procedure for Germany. 4 As telephone technology is changing. followed by the phone number. Although “Hello” is used in Lindström’s data. Three of the four remaining instances were produced by the same person. 1   A. here North America and The Netherlands. in Sweden. Doany. in Lebanon2 and England (Hopper & Doany. may stick to their own opening procedure. and Paraguay (Hopper. 3 “Hello” was found in 5 of the 100 transcribed openings. in Northern Mexico. The opening has been transcribed from memory immediately after the call took place. Based on her own intuitions as a member of French society. it should be stressed that all studies mentioned apply to calls to “pre-modern” telephone sets. as well as various other authors. In fact. However. it is possible that such technical devices may change the way in which people 2 . & Drummond. 1990/1991). explicit self-identification is the most common answer to a summons. we typically find other-recognition. ((ring)) Met ↑Hanneke ↓Houtkoop H↑annek↑e. and in Greece (Sifianou. A. ↑oh. A. Godard (1977) claimed the French use voice sample too.

and public transportation. Theoretically speaking.) . “Hi Mom. because a voice sample suffices as a selfidentification (cf. 378). we may state that selfidentification is the typical..” and “hello?”) are marked forms. they may know who is calling before the telephone has been picked up. Schegloff wrote: The work of identification [is] the initiator’s work. for example. “Police Desk”). especially his unpublished dissertation (Schegloff 1967). 1990/1991 on the possible effects of technology on how people answer the phone. (pp. 1998). and callers know this. 44–45) This is fundamentally different from the Dutch situation. for it is his entitlement to [start] the conversation that may be at issue…. So. shops. because I see culture as a set of typical behavanswer the phone. and (b) the caller versus the answer beginning the work of identification.” (Compare Hopper et al. unmarked form. “yes. Answering the telephone with a self-identification is pre-emptive because it does the work of identification before the turn-taking organization has provided caller his first opportunity for doing so. In discussing self-identifications by North American answerers (e. (1990/1991) seemed to suggest that the difference between answerers providing a voice sample versus explicitly self-identifying falls within the scope of withincultural variance in the details of telephone openings as Schegloff (1979. in which the answerer begins the work of identification. In the situation in which answerers can read the incoming telephone number. I see them as cultural differences. This may have an effect on the way people answer these calls.g. He wrote: “‘Hello’ is the unmarked form of answer to the telephone. there are two clear differences between the North American and the Dutch situation. Whether or not these are “cultural” differences depends on how we define the concept of culture. such as ‘Police Desk’ may type it as ‘business’” (p. 43). A second feature of cell phones is that they usually are not shared with other members of the household. France or Holland—and all from North American data!” (p. If we read Schegloffs work closely. in the case of telephone conversation the caller’s work.’ and a self-identification form of answer. Schegloff (1967) furthermore stated that it is up to the caller rather than to the answerer to start the identification work.” “hello. For the Dutch situation. where strangers can listen in to the conversation. More generally. They considered the systematic practice of answerers and callers self-identifying as fitting within Schegloffs model: “In fact. this provides for the possibility to answer the call by saying. whereas ‘yeah’ or “Hi” may type a prospective conversation as ‘expected. Sanders.g. and all other forms of answering the phone (e. Cell phones provide for the possibility to be used in public spaces such as streets.Gender differences in telephone conversations  237 There is an ongoing debate in CA on the question as to whether or not these differences in how members of certain speech communities routinely answer the phone reflect a cultural difference. (a) “Hello” versus self-identification being the typical answer to the summons. Answering the call by mentioning one’s name is thus a redundant action. Schegloffs (1979) discussion of identification and recognition includes virtually every format that have been argued as being unique to Greece. how universal is Schegloffs description of the four canonical sequences? Hopper et al. it is clear that he saw the voice sample “Hello” as the typical answer to the summons. 1986) and Hopper (1989) found in North America.

in 1964. but also books on etiquette would instruct the Dutch how to behave in case of a call. to give the caller the opportunity to put back the receiver and disconnect. Lentz asked himself: Did the Dutch always self-identify. pushes it against the ear. 1” of 1881 instructs telephone conversationalists as follows: “If the member is called by the telephone bell. or may they have started out in a different way? The problem with studying the history of telephone conversation is that we do not have recordings of calls that were done before the last few decades.” This time the directory also gave accounts for the advice: “this in order to prevent loss of time.” but also how not to do it: “Do not say just “Hallo” because “this does not inform the caller.2     Turn 1 Turn 2 USA The Netherlands Summons A. Apart from the issue of whether or not these are cultural differences.” Not only directories. Self-identification C.’ The call should be answered immediately. norms and values that are largely shared and oriented to by the members of a (speech) community.” The “Namelist for the Interlocal Telephone Service” of 1925 says: “In case of a call. mention your name. it seems safe to say that the Dutch practice does not quite fit Schegloffs description of the first two sequences. one says his name and does not shout ‘Hallo. it breaks down as in Table 16. Voice sample Summons A. who’s there?’ but mention shortly and consisely one’s name or give one’s tele- . Other-identification HISTORIC DEVELOPMENTS IN ANSWERING THE PHONE My Dutch colleague Leo Lentz (Lentz. Schematically. and in case of a wrongly dialled number.’ but mentions name or telephone number. In 1945 it was written that “The etiquette requires that the one who is being called self-identifies immediately. No.” Ten years later it was said: “One does not answer the telephone with ‘Hallo. The very first “Official Guide of the Dutch Bell Telephone Company.238  Studies in language and social interaction iors. another etiquette book is even more precise: “We do not begin our conversation with the silly ‘Hallo. one takes the telephone off the hook. and listens.” A few years later. Lentz analyzed theater plays and novels written between 1920 and 1940 with respect to the use of the telephone. TABLE 16. makes clear he is present. What Lentz found is the following.2. whereas in the Netherlands it is the answerer (in Turn 2). the summons/answer sequence and the identification/recognition sequenc: especially not because the party who starts the identification sequence in the United States is the caller (in Turn 1).” A book from 1960 not only explained how to do it: “In case you are being called. there is an indirect way to approach the issue. 1997) introduced me to the thought that conversational practices (like answering the phone) may change over time within a culture. He also studied early telephone directories that not only provided telephone numbers but also instructed the Dutch people how to use the phone. However. Self-identification C.

3   N   self-identification 78 non-self-identifi5 cation       83 X2=0.3 shows what she found. that I have done since 1991. more people who answered the phone would say only “Hello” or “Yes. Moreover. Lentz came to the conclusion that in the early days of telephone communication. right?” They seem to see this as a safe practice that protects their privacy. rather than saying “Hello. I collected hundreds of recorded survey interviews that are carried out from Dutch survey research centers. A second point of interest is that people can gradually change a conversational practice for whatever reasons. Dutch people. because.’ Table 16. So.40 LATE 1980s DATA SURVEY INTERVIEWS 1995 % 94 6 N 129 13 % 91 9   100%   142   100% .” either with a rising or a falling intonation contour. The second mundane observation derives from my research on interaction in telephone survey interviews. the Dutch must have started out their answering practice by saying “hello. TABLE 16. especialy women. This impression was based on two mundane observations. sometimes state that they say “Hello” when picking up the phone. This may well be in line with the fact that more and more Dutch people have unlisted phone numbers nowadays.70.” Only after World War II and after the Dutch phone company had kept telling their costumers to mention their names.Gender differences in telephone conversations  239 phone number. I had the impression that the Dutch way of answering the phone was slightly changing over the last several years. Note that the four variant cases of the late eighties data reported in Houtkoop-Steenstra (1991) are left out here. Titia transcribed the first 142 opening sequences of these interview tapes. I proposed she might look at my interview data and compare the openings with the late 1980s data that were reported in HoutkoopSteenstra (1991). DF=1. When one day.” the Dutch gradually developed from providing a voice sample into selfidentifying. my student Titia Houwing asked me for an idea what to study for her thesis.” As we see later on. leaving out the cases that would fall into my 1991 category of ‘variant cases. as it was an unlisted number. compared to the late1980s data. These interviewers randomly phone to Dutch citizens’ homes. Listening to these recordings I got the impression that. First. I wondered if the Dutch might be moving up a little toward the American system. P=0. As a member of Dutch society. An interesting point in Lentz’s work is the idea that some new piece of technology requires a conversational practice that does not yet have a precedent that can simply be followed by newcomers in the conversational arena. after all. it seemed as if these were the people who angrily inquired how the interviewer got hold of their phone number. as they say: “You don’t know who’s calling. providing one’s telephone number never made it as a practice in the Netherlands.

240  Studies in language and social interaction
Let me first make clear why I use the term non-self-identification rather than voice sample
in this table. Anita Pomerantz pointed out (personal communication) that if my Dutch
informants claim they say ‘hello’ in order not to be recognized by creepy callers, they can
not be seen as providing a voice sample. Remember that a voice sample is meant to be
recognized by caller (Schegloff 1972, p. 353; 1986, p. 123).5
Table 16.3 shows that there is no significant increase in the percentage of answerers who
withhold self-identification. Maybe the people who claim they answer the phone by saying
‘hello’ nowadays, do not actually do say ‘hello’ once they are being called. Perhaps it is less
easy to say goodbye to a conversational routine than one might wish.
GENDER DIFFERENCES IN 1995
The next step in this study was to look for possible gender differences in the way Dutch
people answered the phone in 1995. Could it be that the 9% of the answerers who withheld
self-identification were mainly women?6 As was said earlier, it were especially women
who claimed they answered the phone by saying “Hello” in order not to be identified. After
going through the transcripts again in order to find out whether the answerer was male or
female, we did not find significant gender differences, as Table 16.4 shows.

TABLE 16.4
 

% of Men
1995

self-identification
54
non-self-identifi4
cation
 
 
 
58%
X2=0.60, DF=1,P=0.439

% of Women 1995

93
7

75
9

89
11

 
100%

 
84%

 
100%

As we reanalyzed the transcribed openings, we came to realize that “selfidentification” is
a broad category that comprises different ways of selfidentification. When answerers perform the activity of self-identification, they also choose a certain formulation with which
they self-identify. There were four ways in which the Dutch self-identified in these 1995

Pomerantz’ remark is a challenging one, which, however, can only be confirmed if we would
know what action the Dutch answerers intend to perform when saying “Hallo.” And it may well be
that some mean to withhold self-identification and/or to invite the caller to self-identify, whereas
others mean to indeed provide a voice sample to be recognized by the caller. As we have no clear
means to decide on participants’ intentions, we need a less interpretive term than voice sample for
the Dutch situation. Therefore I use the more descriptive term non-self-identification.
6
Conversation analysts are very reluctant to engage in quantitative and distributional studies of
conversation for reasons that were laid out by Schegloff(1993); see also Hopper (n.d.) and Schegloff (1987). I wish to point out that the problems that Schegloff discussed appear not to apply to
the study at hand, that is, the study of the response to yet unknown caller’s summons.
5

Gender differences in telephone conversations  241
data: (a) mention first name: “(With) Hanneke”; (b) mention both names: “(With) Hanneke Houtkoop”; (c) mention last name: “(With) Houtkoop”; (d) Title+last name: “(With)
Misses Houtkoop.” Theoretically speaking, one could also provide one’s telephone number, but nobody did so.
After we did a statistical analysis of our data, we found some striking gender differences
in ways of self-identifying (see Table 16.5).
TABLE 16.5
Self-Identification

Male

Female

 
%
N
N
First Name
8
15 19
First+Last Name
18
33 24
Last Name
28
52 16
Title+Last Name
0
0 16
 
 
 
 
 
54 100% 75
X2−21.77, DF=3, P=0.000

%
25.0
32.0
21.5
21.5
 
100%

The most striking finding is that whereas 21.5% of the women in this sample say “Mrs. Last
Name,” not one man says “Mr. Last Name.” The background of this difference is unclear.
Another result is that only when it comes to the percentage of persons using First+Last
Name men and women act the same. The genders score very different on the other two
ways of self-identifying. The women provide First Name almost twice as often as the men
do (25% vs. 15%), whereas the men provide Last Name more than twice as often as the
women do (52% vs. 21%).
What do answerers do when they identify themselves as First Name or as Last Name?
Providing a self-identification as such may well be a cultural specific routine, but making
the choice for one form of self-identification over another, is a different issue. Do people
present a certain aspect of themselves, when choosing for one or the other form? Do people
project informality when they present themselves by First Name, and do they project formality when they present themselves by Last Name?
There is a yet unmentioned aspect of these calls to domestic homes that may be relevant here. In two thirds of the cases, the phone was answered by women.7 If we leave
out all women and men who live on their own, and concentrate on households, this may
mean that answering the phone is primarily the business of the woman in the house. So for
women, the telephone may be part of the domestic and private world of relatives, friends
and aquaintances. And in answering the phone by providing first name only they recipient
design their answer and are “doing being intimate” (cf. Lindström 1994). Dutch men, on
the other hand, may consider the telephone as belonging, in the first place, to the public
domain, where more formal ways of speaking are being used. So, one might suggest that
Ton Boves (personal communication), a Dutch survey researcher confirmed that in The Netherlands calls from survey research centers are answered far more by women than by men.

7

242  Studies in language and social interaction
the different ways in which a large proportion of Dutch men and women answer the phone,
reflect their different orientations to the category of people whom they expect to call.8 One
could object to this line of reasoning by saying that Dutch women, just like Dutch men, are
being called by potential strangers in their workplaces. However, if we look at the statistics
of the Dutch labor market (NRC Handelsblad 1998), it turns out that in 1969, only 30 years
ago, no more than 30% of the Dutch women had a paid job. For the men, this was 98%
(See Table 16.6).
TABLE 16.6
Dutch Labour participation (20–64 years old)
 
1969
1998

Men
98%
80%

Women
30%
58%

If we also consider the fact that a large percentage of these women’s jobs were, and still
are, part-time jobs, it seems reasonable to say that for Dutch women the telephone used
to be primarily part of their domestic lives. And for Dutch men, the phone used to belong
to their public lives. These then are the different settings in which the genders may have
come to develop their gender-related ways of answering the phone. For the time being I
think that the gender-specific way of self-identifying is, in the first place, a reflection of
the traditionally and still existing very unequal labor division in the Netherlands. If this
suggestion holds true indeed, and considering the growing number of working women in
the Netherlands, we may expect the gender-related differences in answering the phone to
gradually decrease in the future.
From a conversation analytical point of view, one might say that in the way the Dutch
men and women in our data answered the phone they displayed an orientation to a different class of potential callers, and that they recipient designed their answering utterances.
Although this may well have been the case in specific cases, I strongly believe that the
way in which individuals answer the phone is a case of socialization and routine in the first
place. Dutch children are explicitly taught to answer the phone by mentioning their names.
There is no research on how Dutch children develop their phone answering practices, but
one may expect the following: They start out answering the phone by saying “Hello?” as
my collection of telephone openings suggests. Soon their parents instruct them to mention their name when answering the phone, which they take as mentioning their first name
only. And in hearing how adults answer the phone, they will gradually come to see that
adult women provide First Name or First 4- Last Name, whereas the adult men provide
First+Last Name or Last Name only. At some point in their lives a large proportion of the
Dutch children will adopt this gender-specific way of answering the phone. Had these
children been raised in the United States, they would have learned to answer the domestic
phone by saying “hello.” As Hopper (1992) says about this American routine, it was established in the early years of telephone use and has remained somewhat stable.
I owe this perspective to Gitte Rasmussen, with whom I discussed these gender-related differences
in self-identifying.

8

Gender differences in telephone conversations  243
The way in which people answer the phone is not only a matter of socialization, but also
of routine behavior.9 Each Dutch person has his or her own idiosyncratic routine; they not
only differ in the form of self-identification they use but also in whether or not they begin
their self-identification with “Hello” and/or “with,” and in the intonation contour of the
answering utterance and their speech rate.
CONCLUSION
When discussing how telephone conversationalists proceed in establishing the parties’
identities, it was already suggested that cultural differences exist with regard to how to
carry out the interactional task of mutual identification. In some cultures, answerers typically provide vocal recognition cues; in other cultures, they typically self-identify. This
study shows that there may also be genderrelated differences within one and the same culture when it comes to how to answer the phone. These differences may be seen as stylistic
differences (cf. Hopper et al. 1990/1991). In Dutch society, the genders do not differ in
whether or not they self-identify, but in how they self-identify.
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
I thank Huub van den Bergh, Paul Drew, Paul ten Have, Henk Lammers, Leo Lentz, Joost
Schilperoord and two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments on an earlier
version of this paper.
REFERENCES
Adler, J. (1993). Telephoning in Germany. Telecommunications Policy, 281–296.
Godard, D. (1977). Same setting, different norms: Phone call beginnings in France and the United
States. Language in Society, 6, 209–219.
Hopper, R. (n.d.). Quantity envy. Unpublished manuscript, University of Texas at Austin.
Hopper, R. (1992). Telephone conversation. Bloomington, Indiana University Press.
Hopper, R., Doany N., Johnson, M., & Drummond, K. (1990/1991). Universals and particulars in
telephone openings. Research on Language and Social Interaction, 24, 369–387.
Hopper, R., & Doany, N. (1989). Telephone openings and conversational universals: A study in
three languages. In S.Ting-Toomey & F. Korzenny (Eds.), Language, communication and culture (pp. 157–179). Newbury Park, CA: Sage.
Hopper, R., & Chen, C.H. (1996). Languages, cultures, relationships: Telephone openings in Taiwan. Research on Language and Social Interaction 29, 291–313.
Houtkoop-Steenstra, H. (1991). Opening sequences in Dutch telephone conversations. In D.Boden
& D.H.Zimmerman (Eds.), Talk and social structure (pp. 231–252). Cambridge, England: Polity
Press.
Lentz, L. (1997). The history of opening sequences in Dutch telephone conversations. In L.Lentz &
H.Pander Maat (Eds.), Discourse analysis and evaluation: Functional approaches (pp. 87–111).
Amsterdam/Atlanta: Rodopi.
It is striking that in Lindström’s Swedish data it was one individual who was responsible for 3 of
the 5 “Hello”-answers.

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244  Studies in language and social interaction
NRC-Handelsblad. Vrouwendeelname groeit. [Women’s participation grows]. (1998, July 2). p. 4.
Lindström, A. (1994). Identification and recognition in Swedish telephone conversation openings.
Language in Society, 23, 321–352.
Placencia, M.E. (1998, July 19). Telephone conversation openings in Ecuadorian Spanish and British English. Paper presented at the 6th IPrA conference, Reims, France.
Sanders, E. (1998, October 7). Ik zeg: Hallo. [I say: Hello.]. NRC Handelsblad.
Schegloff, E.A. (1967). The first five seconds. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of
California at Berkeley.
Schegloff, E.A. (1972). Sequencing in conversational openings. In J.J. Gumperz & D.Hymes
(Eds.), Directions in sociolinguistics (pp. 346–380). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Schegloff, E.A. (1979). Identification and recognition in telephone conversation openings. In G.
Psathas (Ed.), Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. 23–78). New York:
Irvington.
Schegloff, E.A. (1986). The routine as achievement. Human Studies, 9, 111–151
Schegloff, E.A. (1993). Reflections on quantification in the study of conversation. Research on
Language and Social Interaction, 26, 99–128.
Sifianou, M. (1989). On the telephone again! Differences in telephone behaviour. England versus
Greece. Language in Society, 18, 527–544.

III
Talk in Institutional Settings
The importance of social institutions is indicated by the extensive attention devoted to
them in scholarly work (e.g., Drew & Heritage, 1992; Labov & Fanshel, 1977; Morris &
Chenail, 1995). Drew and Heritage pointed out that an occasion’s institutionality is not
derived simply from its setting. Rather, “interaction is institutional insofar as participants’
institutional or professional identities are somehow made relevant to the work activities in
which they are engaged” (p. 4). Thus interaction is central to the constitution of institutional settings. As Heritage (1984, p. 242) pointed out, interaction is both context shaped
and context renewing. Work in language and social interaction (LSI) has examined institutional settings from a number of different perspectives. In this section authors focus on
a range of institutions from several different perspectives, showing both how institutions
impinge on interaction, and how interaction is constitutive of institutions.
A formal distinction between casual and institutional talk (see Heritage & Drew, 1992;
Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson, 1974) assumes that casual conversation occupies one end of
a continuum of speech-exchange systems, the other end of which is marked by increasing
restriction on turn taking. Other than distinguishing various institutional events by their
turn-taking features (such as meetings, interviews, and debates), little work has attempted
systematically to explore variations in talk in different types of institutions. In chapter 17,
Paul Drew explores the possibility that formulations, which are utterances providing a
summary or gist of preceding talk, might vary across four different institutional contexts.
Drew addresses this question while reflexively considering analytic issues raised in the
process.
Robert Sanders (chap. 18) explores how methods and findings designed for studying
face-to-face and telephone talk might apply to interactions taking place over Marine VHP
radio between people on different boats. This medium carries particular constraints on
interaction due to the limitations of being unable to use the same channel for both listening
and speaking. Sanders shows how participants manage coherent interactions despite these
limitations. In particular, he demonstrates how laughter gets accomplished between speakers who cannot hear each other laugh in overlap.
Next, the article by Jennifer Molloy and Howard Giles (chap. 19) exemplifies work on
intergroup communication, taking up the important but understudied area of communication between civilians and law enforcement officers. This chapter shows how sociolinguistic research can have real-life applications that offer hope for improving communication
between groups. It pays tribute to an interest area of Robert Hopper, who coauthored with
his former student Dennis Gunderson a textbook for law enforcement officers on communication (Gundersen & Hopper, 1984).
The next three chapters examine interaction in a therapeutic setting. This has been a
popular site for research on LSI. Harvey Sacks, a founder of conversation analysis, made
some of its earliest applications in the study of a therapy group for troubled teenagers
(e.g., 1992, pp. 281–299). Since the publication of Labov and Fanshel’s (1977) classic,

Part III: Talk in institutional settings  247
Therapeutic Discourse, analysis of clinical discourse has flourished. Through close observation and analysis of therapy recordings (e.g., Morris & Chenail, 1995), researchers
have shown how therapeutic discourse may be structured in ways that “ordinary” talk
is not, which has practical import for the discourses of healing that clinicians and clients
interactively bring about.
First, G.H. Bud Morris (chap. 20) examines preventatives, that is, utterances that orient
to and forestall the possibility of interactional trouble. In this study he builds on previous
research on disclaimers and accounts, grounded in the study of alignment as a fundamental interpersonal activity. He briefly introduces seven types of preventatives and offers
an instance of each type, arguing for both an ordering of them in terms of seriousness
and a time sequencing of them, such that speakers may start with the mildest and build
toward the strongest. He suggests that preventatives serve an important role in minimizing interactional problems that could deepen; he also argues that a rule of “the earlier, the
better” guides the doing of preventatives, as people seek ways to keep interactions going
smoothly.
Next, Duff Wrobbel (chap. 21) examines a recording of a family therapy session, focusing on several minutes of interaction leading up to an “aha” moment in which the wife
experiences (or at least displays) a sudden flash of insight or self-revelation. The author
identifies various “external antecedents” associated with the wife’s “internal experience,”
including subtle communicative moves on the part of her therapist.
Taking seriously the social constructionist view that individual “selves” and psychological “states” are largely products of social interaction, Kurt Bruder (chap. 22) promotes
a discourse analytic approach to therapeutic intervention. The author argues that therapists can (perhaps should) analyze (in real time) the moment-by-moment and turn-by-turn
unfolding of therapy sessions, noticing and calling clients’ attention to the “inevitable display and enactment of identityconstituting talk.” Not only would the therapist gain insight
into a client’s discursively generated psychosocial experiences, the argument goes, a therapist could share these insights with the client, who might thereby be acculturated into
processes of self-healing.
The last three chapters in this section examine interaction in the medical setting. Anita
Pomerantz’s article (chap. 23) on modeling as a teaching strategy is part of an ongoing
research project concerning medical precepting, the process through which supervising
physicians train and oversee medical students working with patients in clinical settings.
She argues that modeling provides a solution to the complexities of needing to ensure
proper patient care, instruct interns, and yet avoid compromising the interns’ professional
role in front of patients. The chapter examines not only interactional phenomena, but also
participants’ perceptions of the effectiveness of a particular pedagogical strategy, as determined through surveys and interviews, which are standard ethnographic methods.
Douglas Maynard and Richard Frankel (chap. 24) examine a sequence of conversations
between a doctor and a female patient whose mammogram results were mixed, warranting additional tests (e.g., ultrasound) that also turned out to be indeterminate. The authors
focus on diagnostic news as an interactive and emergent accomplishment: The patient in
this case happens to also be a registered nurse, able to interpret test results and ready to
resist the doctor’s conclusion that the results constitute good news. By attending to the
details of this particular case, the authors show how diagnostic negotiations are delicately

248  Studies in language and social interaction
woven into conversations between health care professionals, who sometimes joke (in a
self-conscious or self-reflexive way) about the medical practice in which they simultaneously participate.
In the final chapter of this section, Daniel Modaff (chap. 25) investigates coordination of
talk and subtle body movements during doctorpatient interviews. Specifically, he examines
transitional moments interactively brought about: Doctors sometimes turn away from their
patient and toward some object in the room (e.g., a stool), indicating a shift in the immediate focus of attention, giving the patient an opportunity to align with the transition possibly
being cued. Through such small and subtle forms of interaction, large social institutions
(such as a medical community) are sustained day by day, mostly taken for granted.
REFERENCES
Drew, P., & Heritage, J. (1992). Talk at work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gunderson, D. & Hopper, R. (1984). Communication and law enforcement. New York: Harper &
Row.
Heritage, J. (1984). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. Cambridge: Polity Press.
Labov, W., & Fanshel, D. (1977). Therapeutic discourse: Psychotherapy as conversation. New
York: Academic Press.
Morris, G., & Chenail, R. (Eds.). (1995). The talk of the clinic: Explorations in the analysis of
medical and therapeutic discourse. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Sacks, H. (1992). An Introduction Sequence. In Lectures on Conversation (2 vols.) (G.Jefferson,
Ed.) (pp. 281–299). Oxford: Blackwell.
Sacks, H., Schegloff, E.A., & Jefferson, G. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of
turn-taking in conversation. Language, 50, 696–735.

17
Comparative Analysis of Talk-in-Interaction in
Different Institutional Settings: A Sketch1
Paul Drew
University of York
INTRODUCTION
There has in recent years been some discussion and debate (e.g. Hak, 1995; Hopper, 1995;
and Schegloff, 1992) concerning the study of talk that takes place in ‘institutional settings’. Much of this debate is about how (and whether) ‘institutional’ interactions are to be
distinguished from those that are not institutional: for instance, if the family is an institution, why then are telephone calls between members of a family not ‘institutional’? But
the question about what is special or different about ‘institutional’ interactions shades into
others, including whether, since the practices and organizations of talk are generic to talkin-interaction, and are not specific to talk in any given setting, it is appropriate to separate
the study of talk in one setting (for instance in medical consultations, courts, or in news
interviews) from others? There is a tendency, it is argued, to treat the conduct of talk and
interaction in a particular institutional setting as unique to that setting. Because researchers generally focus on one specific institutional setting, they commonly assume that any
patterns or practices that are observed in that setting can be attributed to the particular
organizational features and exigencies associated with that setting.
The analytic connections between the very identification and delimitation of ‘institutional’ interactions, and the readiness to attribute to features of talk in a given setting a
certain kind of uniqueness, is summarized succinctly by Hopper in a trenchant commentary
about whether the study of ‘institutional settings’ might, as he puts it, “blunt the cutting
edge of conversation analysis?”:
“A problem with analyses of institutional talk is embedded in describing it as “institutional talk.” This terminology carries the traditional setting divisions of communication study. Given a characterization of a strip of talk as “the opening of a medical
interview,” or given a title of an essay as “Host Talk on X TV Show” it becomes
difficult to resist offering an institutional setting explanation as the explanation for
whatever we find in these materials.” (Hopper, 1995, p. 374)
This paper is based on a talk which I first gave at a meeting of Nordic sociolinguistics projects,
held at the Swedish School of Social Sciences, Helsinki University, in May 1992. A previous version was published in H.Lehti-Eklund ed., 1998. In revising this for publication in this volume, I
have benefited from the particularly thoughtful comments of two anonymous reviewers: although I
have not accepted all their suggestions, I have borrowed from these at certain points without further
acknowledgement.
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250  Studies in language and social interaction
Hopper develops these arguments in a number of directions, some of which have also been
articulated by other voices in this debate. I would like to take up just one of these directions
here—one which is more or less implicit in his commentary, but which is quite explicit at
some points in his own research (Hopper and Drummond, 1992; Hopper and Chen, 1996).
That is, that comparative analysis may be required in order to assess how far a certain pattern, device or practice is generic to talk-in-interaction, and therefore not restricted to any
one type or setting; or whether, perhaps, there are systematic variations in the occurrence,
scope, properties and form of certain practices—variations associated with the specific
settings in which they occur and the activities in which participants are engaged in those
settings.2
Although work on institutional interactions often implies or explicitly claims a comparative justification for attributing a pattern or device (or the salience and import of that
pattern or device) to a given setting, nevertheless it is true that those claims are generally
not supported by comparative research. Hopper is correct when he points out that “Most
essays about talk within institutions have treated just one setting, which foregrounds setting-based explanations for things happening as they do” (Hopper, 1995, p. 373). Typically,
researchers (and I include myself here) investigate interaction in the particular setting they
are studying, perhaps with only an indistinct comparative perspective in mind—a general
awareness that what they are finding in their data/setting is unlike patterns or features which
(probably) obtain in other settings, but without exploring that suspected comparative difference at all systematically. And there is something further which is worth highlighting in
a remark which Hopper makes about such comparisons, “Analyses of talk in institutional
settings frequently proceed by posing comparisons between practices used in that settings
and those in mundane conversation—practices that seem relatively context-free” (Hopper,
1995, p. 372). I take this to mean, in part at least, that we can claim about a practice that it
has some relatively specialized use or consequences in a given setting—even though the
practice itself is not restricted to that setting (just as oh is not restricted to mundane conversation) and is therefore “relatively context-free,” and despite our not having investigated its
various uses or properties in other settings (hence the tendency to attribute to that practice
in that setting some unique properties, or to explain its occurrence in terms of the special
properties of that setting).
As a way to begin to address some of these issues of comparative analysis, to sketch
what such an analysis might involve and what kinds of properties of a practice we might
investigate, it occurred to me to bring together some findings about a particular ‘conversational’ practice, that of formulating what another speaker is saying or has said. Plainly
the practice is in some respect ‘context free’; it is not restricted to any particular context,
whether mundane or institutional. However, I wondered whether the practice may exhibit
some systematic variations associated with the settings in which it is used. What follows,
This is a slight re-statement and amplification of the proposal which Heritage and I made, that
“The basic forms of mundane talk constitute a kind of benchmark against which other more formal or ‘institutional’ types of interaction are recognized and experienced… ‘institutional’ forms of
interaction will show systematic variations and restrictions on activities in their design relative to
ordinary conversation” (Drew and Heritage, 1992, p. 19).

2

without first having to check their interpretation of what the other meant. Heritage and Watson (1979) argue cogently that formulations are themselves events or moves within the talk. assigning this to one of those generic practices of talk-in-interaction—or rather. 350). or are about to be engaged. The meaning of what someone said or what we have been talking about can be described—or formulated—in different ways. In their seminal paper on formulations. or furnish the gist of it. and as such may be geared primarily to participants’ ongoing. I take it that formulating is the practice. or translate. participants in a conversation take it that they have understood the other’s meaning sufficiently to be able to produce a relevant response. Indeed we can see that formulations are produced in very specific interactional environments or circumstances in various kinds of institutional discourse. the objective of which is to enquire whether. Heritage and Watson (1979) (following Garfinkel and Sacks) identify and describe a range of types of formulations. I shall focus here on those in which a speaker offers his or her interpretation of what the other meant—an activity which generally takes the form (So) what you mean/are saying is…. In this respect. expressions through which participants comment on the nature of the discourse in which they are engaged. specific practical interactional tasks. or a turn in a conversation. That is to say. we should let it rest there.” Heritage and Watson can be taken to imply that formulations are the realizations of a generic practice in talk-in-interaction (mundane conversation as well as other forms of talk). is a sketch. participants “May treat some part of the conversation as an occasion to describe that conversation. But more of that in a moment: for the present. But from time-to-time. or take note of its accordance with rules. or characterize it. they are as much part of the talk as any other kind of turn or discourse practice. or explicate. Thus formulations are a means through which participants may make explicit their sense of “what we are talking about.” or “what has just said”: they are a means for constructing an explicit sense of the gist of the talk thus far. part of a conversation. p. One reservation I have with the term wetacommunication is the implication that such expressions stand above or outside the talk. or something resembling that. or summarize. whether the practice is molded into distinctive shapes by participants when they engage in the specific interactional work associated with certain institutional settings. and that they serve to perform specific interactional tasks which vary according to the setting. if a practice appears to be context free. a member may use some part of the conversation as an occasion to formulate the conversation…” (Garfinkel and Sacks 1970. These are familiar to linguists as metacommunicative acts. and that a formulation is the object or device through which the practice is mobilized by participants in a given interaction. I supposed . Of course most of the time. FORMULATIONS The sense or meaning of a conversation. or remark on its departure from rules. to explain it.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  251 then. Just parenthetically. is not unambiguous. At any rate. I want to make an initial observation about the claim I made earlier that they are contextfree. FORMULATIONS IN ORDINARY CONVERSATION In their title “Formulations as conversational objects.

4) 11 Nan: Also he sid that (0. They were describing the properties of what they took to be a general (if not quite generic) practice: they did not then have the more accurate nomenclature talk-in-interaction (which as far as I know was introduced by Schegloff in the early 1990s) with which to refer to its scope.= 6 Hyl: =Hm: . 14   (0. This is one of the only two clear cases I found during a not-quite-exhaustive search. into assuming that it was primarily in ordinary conversation in which participants employed this practice.t what you ea:t.Tetracykuhleen? 3   (. they were from a variety of institutional contexts. 20 Hyl: [Yeah buh whatchu ea:t if you 21   eat greasy foo:d= 3 I think that the use by Heritage and Watson of conversational in their title was owed in part to how enquiries in conversation analysis were cast. (1) [HG: 4–5] (Talking about Nancy’s skin problems. and the medication she has been given) the l 1 Nan: So ‘e gay me these pills tih ta:ke= 2 Hyl: =What.252  Studies in language and social interaction from the title that Heritage and Watson were describing a practice/device that had its home base in conversation. 7   (0.hhh e[:n. 10   (0. 17   (0.3 I was wrong.2) 8 Nan: He sai:d.2) 12   end how you wash yer face has nothing tih do 13   with it.3) . .yihknow. 16 Nan: [nNo:. mostly news interviews. (0. I discovered that none of the instances they show (at least. (0.4) 18 Nan: He says ‘t’s all inside you it’s ‘n emotional 19   thing’n.2) sometimes Tetracyklene 9   jus doesn’ he:lp. I was surprised to find almost no instances of formulations which in any way resembled (So) what you ‘re saying is…. . at least. Re-reading the article. none resembling the form I outlined above) was taken from ‘ordinary’ conversation: instead.PT NO: cuz I usetuh take that an’ it didn’ 5   he:lp so ‘e gay me something e:lse. What they might have meant by conversational was general: however that misled me.8) 15 Hyl: Yer kiddin[g. This led me to make a search of the recordings of mundane (mostly telephone) conversations we have (much of this data obtained in the years since Heritage and Watson wrote their article) in order to check whether their data were skewed by their happening to have been working at that time on news interviews.) 4 Nan: . at the time they wrote (1979).

as I knew from some previous research. Ian Hutchby and Esther Walker. 1995. In order to pursue this question. 11. news interviews and industrial I am drawing here particularly on work of two of my previous graduate students.) . 18 and 22 what the doctor said to her. and not therefore the practice on which I am focusing here). were identical. whilst the practice of formulating may be context-free.hn Here. I will briefly describe instances of formulations in psychotherapeutic consultations. its use in talk in any setting in which it occurs (this to paraphrase Hopper. This then is a practice/device that might be generic.h[hhhhhh Y’mean I c’d sit here en eat french fries ‘n ez long’z I’m not worrying about it I [won’t break ou]hhhthh [I g z a : :]:ctly. we cannot discern a generic device through which the practice is implemented.huhh [. though not much found in conversation. However. respectively. This is in contrast to various institutional settings in which. p. Their research into. Moreover in producing this version of what Nancy means.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  253 22 23 24 25 26→ 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 Nan:       Hyl:     Nan:   Hyl: Nan:   Nan: Hyl: =We:h he said it’s no:t the fact thet you’ve eaten the greasy food it’s a’ fact thet you worry about it. I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to their work.Teh.k. This led me to considering how this practice was employed in other settings. we need to explore whether it has properties which are ‘context-free’ in so far as they are exhibited in.4 such formulations are very frequent indeed. However.hh[hh] ‘t’sa [buncha [h:::::::[horse:]: [I] belie [ve ‘im [too he’s[rilly-] (. (. 4 . as he said such-and-such: these are instances of indirect reported speech. 372). Hyla is making a move that is a preliminary to expressing her scepticism with the doctor’s advice (Lines 30 and 31.) [e. call-in radio programmes. and whether its properties. [. it’s a bunch of horse feathers).-he’s rilly a [smart. it is reasonably clear that Hyla is being tendentious in her ‘interpretation’ (remembering that Nancy is reporting what the doctor said to her. So this practice of offering an interpretation of what the other meant is employed in mundane conversation—but apparently only very infrequently. radio call-in programmes and negotiations between management and unions in an industrial setting is cited in the bibliography. without being very technical about this. in Lines 26–28 Hyla seems to offer an interpretation of what the other has said (note that in #1 Nancy reports in Lines 8.t. to regard this as a generic practice.] [(isk-skih-) f: [father]s. or whether instead the design features associated with formulating in various settings differed systematically according to the kind of interactional work which formulating is done to manage in particular settings (a kind of correspondence between ‘form’ and ‘function’)—in which case. and underpin. En that makes you [break ou[. but she is doing so in a fashion which makes it evident that she is aligning with or accepting what he said). from which many of the data extracts are taken. its form or linguistic features. .

(.4) Laurel: Mmhm   (26. The patient is constructing a sense of what the therapist might be alluding to in her comment/observation. as in “Think she might be trying to tell you something about you?”).k better:   with her.4) Brenda: .254  Studies in language and social interaction negotiations.hh . to hint at but not make explicit some point to be found in the patient’s telling.) u-lately.p. and do so in ways which seems to relate to the interactional task (function) which the formulation serves in each setting. allusive or indirect ‘message’ which she discerns in Laural’s remark.hhhhh (0.2) . FORMULATIONS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY An instance of a formulation in psychotherapeutic sessions.4) s-aid that I shouldn’t   have sent her to school when I did. which illustrates what appear to be some of the characteristic features of such expressions in this setting. (1.) in   a long ti. Space allows me to show only a single example in each setting: but this will perhaps be sufficient to sketch a comparison—one which will suggest that the precise linguistic forms that such formulations take may differ. the patient’s account.7) Laurel: May not create a problem: it might make it   possible for a problem to come ou:t   (12.5) And   that’s probably what caused it.-ime.hh (0. or making an observation about.9) e-Oh: Go:d but   that couldn’t I mean if that ever created a   problem like I’m having no:w.   (l. ‘N he: (0. The therapist responds (Lines 7–8) by commenting on.1) Brenda: You mean she could’ve always felt like this. for the therapist to confirm.   (0. is perhaps to be found also in .6) mYou know Sam’s been very upset   about this.pl. The patient’s formulation (Line 10) is an expression through which she offers her interpretation of the characteristically implicit. such ‘commenting’ may be done in an interrogative form. (0. putting that implicit message into ‘so many words’. then I had been (. and seems to offer an alternative association between Brenda’s improvement and her daughter’s apparently increasing problem (in other instances. The patient (Brenda) has been telling about some aspect of a problem she is having with her very young daughter: in her first turn in this fragment she appears to notice a paradox between an improvement in her conduct (I’ve been better with her lately) and the worsening of her child’s problems (a problem like I’m having now). is the following: (2) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10→ 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 [Therapy: PB:5–31–72:7] Brenda: Well hhm I’ ve been ah:m. The sense of the therapist’s intending to be allusive.

namely showing that she is seriously considering the implications of the alternative association which is implied in Laural’s remark (that the daughter’s problem hasn’t been caused by Brenda’s recent conduct. there is evidently an orientation to a strategy whereby the therapist guides the patient towards finding for herself what might be the true nature of her problem. Whatever topic a caller had called in about. Brenda’s formulation is an attempt to put into words that implied ‘message. (w’-) wa:lk the next da:y.hh e::r it. see also Davis. and whatever position he or she held. 8     9     10→Host:   Er you s-seem tuh be suggesting that they go A simple way to put this is that Brenda is checking her understanding of what Laurel has said.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  255 Laurel’s minimal and unelaborated confirmation of Brenda’s formulation/understanding check (see Line 12).5 In this way. But at any rate. pp. So that checking her understanding can be a way to show that she is considering this possibility. it 2   lea:ves-=the scent that is left behind even if 3   you:. in this kind of therapy at least. .hhh is a mar:ker. 6   when ‘e gets tuh that ma:rk. . he does the same 7   thing again. it is evident that the patient treats the therapist’s comment or observation in Lines 7–8 as implying or alluding to something about the problem. or which concerned them). which goes beyond what she (the therapist) has said explicitly. a program broadcast by a London radio station. Moreover. she may be doing so in the service of another activity. Among the moves which the host made in seeking to defeat the caller’s view was to formulate the caller’s argument. but is the result of pre-existing circumstances or events which have only now come to the surface). (3) [BH:2/2/89:12:1–2] (from Hutchby 1996. FORMULATIONS IN RADIO CALL-IN PROGRAMMES In his study of radio call-in programmes (specifically.h An’ when ‘e 5   comes on ‘is e::r. . 5 . to summarize the gist of what he or she was saying. her formulation embodies an orientation to the reciprocal role of therapist and patient. in which listeners called in to air and discuss with the program host their views about any matters of current interest. and showing that she is finding. and the behaviors expected of each (on formulations in psychotherapeutic settings. the direction in which the therapist is pointing her.’ and thereby constitutes an action that is part of her finding. However. 70–71) (The caller has phoned in to recommend a product which will prevent dogs fouling the footpath outside one’s home) 1 Caller: U: sually when a dog fouls:. the host invariably managed to challenge their point of view and contested their argument—so that often the most unexceptional views were turned into the subject of a controversy between host and caller. Hutchby (1996) focused on the ways in which the host ‘constructed’ controversy. clean up with boiling wa:ter an’ 4   disinfectant. 1986).

108–109) 1 IE: What in fact happened was that in the course of 2   last year.=doesn’t it. perhaps as further evidence that he understands the host’s strategy. 1985). in ‘quite often’ (Line 13). .= =An[d other [dogs will: also.hhh and-uh the blenders did take . [This. the absurdity of holding that a dog always poops in the same place). pp. it is constructed to serve the host’s purpose to challenge and undermine the caller’s position (there are several features which are associated with that tendentiousness.[This mea:ns that they never go in a diffrent pla:ce. In order to avoid being seen to align with the IE. It is readily apparent from this extract that that formulation is the first part in an argument sequence: after the caller confirms this formulation. So the host’s formulation is likely to have been analyzed by the caller as a move which has the aim of ‘setting him up’. Three features of this formulation are worth drawing attention to at this stage.hh the price went up really very 3   sharply. Ooh yes. or defend. And third.256  Studies in language and social interaction 11 12 13 14 15 16 17     Caller: Host: Caller: Host:   t’the same place ev’ry ti:me. or in other ways to treat his or herself as the primary recipient of the talk. the IR manages to give the IE the opportunity to comment further. . IRs regularly use formulations of the gist of the IE’s prior answer—formulations which do not exhibit any empathy or alignment with the IE’s position. and is trying to deflect it). 1985. is possibly evidence that he has recognized the host’s strategy and is trying to head off an anticipated line of argument. Becuz they’ve been there buhfore.”. or elaborate.h e:r. (4) [News interview: TVN:Tea] (from Heritage. 1985). In Lines 10–12 the host formulates the caller’s account (opening turn) as amounting to an argument that when dogs poop on the pavement they “go t’the same place ev’ry ti:me. oh) to answers which interviewees give to their questions (Heritage. is to make explicit something in the prior answer.= =Yeah but er(h)n(h) then:. it is tendentious. First. All that such formulations do. But by highlighting some particular aspect of what the IE has just said. but which topicalize or highlight an implication of what the IE has said in answer to a prior question (Heritage. . Second. the caller’s attempt to qualify his confirmation of that formulation. for the IE to confirm or disconfirm. interviewers do not respond with news marks (particularly. his or her position. the formulation is the initial move in a sequence designed to challenge and defeat the caller’s position. officially. including ‘extreme case’ constructions such as ‘same place every time’).=quite often ye:s. the third turn in that sequence being the host’s rebuttal in Lines 16–17 (an attempt having been made in Line 14 to go straight to that third turn rebuttal—an attempt which collides with the caller continuing to support or defend his position. the host subsequently constructs an upshot of the caller’s position. an upshot which reveals the absurdity of that position (here. FORMULATIONS IN NEWS INTERVIEWS Heritage reports that in news interviews. Becuz they’ve been there buhfore.

The following is a particularly transparent instance. one or other side (i.hh And so this means that prd. In her study of negotiations in the workplace between management and trades union representatives. p.) move in concert or anything like that but we’d like the trade to be a bit more competitive. FORMULATIONS IN INDUSTRIAL NEGOTIATIONS The final setting that I want to consider as part of this comparative exercise is that of industrial negotiations.7) So you-you’re really accusing them of profiteering.2) blenders which have together eighty-five percent of the market ..ce in the sh. 110). In formulating the IE’s position in such dramatic.3) . either management or union) may formulate the position each is taking. of course.=Th’re four (0. Walker (1994) reports that formulations are used at particularly critical junctures in negotiations. pp. .=We’re also saying that-uh: it’s not a trade which is competitive as we would like it. summarizing where they now stand.the prices in the shops have stayed up . expect the IE to deny such a strong version of his position.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  257 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12→ 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21                 IR:   IE:               advantage of this:-uh to obviously to raise their prices to retailers.7) . The IR characterizes the IE’s stance as being particular critical of the tea blenders: this is perhaps “designed to commit the interviewee to a stronger (and more newsworthy) version of his position (in relation to the blenders) than he was initially prepared to adopt”—the point being to test how far the IE is prepared to go in criticizing the blenders (Heritage. 108–112): it invites the IE to assent to a rather strong or dramatic version of what he has said in his previous answer.hhh No they’re in business to make money that’s perfectly sensible.e. (0. in which we’ll agree to x if you agree to y. (0. controversial or conflictual terms. 1985. (0.hhh They haven’t been so quick in reducing prices when the world market prices come down.hhh and-uh we’re not saying they (. in an effort to explore whether they can reach an agreed settlement—a compromise. The IR may do so in the interests of making the item more newsworthy or controversial (if only by getting the IE to go ‘on record’ as denying something). .hh really rather higher than we’d like to see them. The IR’s formulation in #4 is an instance of the kind of formulation that Heritage describes as an ‘inferentially elaborative probe’ (1985. Following periods of extensive discussion on a matter under dispute. the IR might.

) in essence what you’re 7   asking us to consider is the six percent on 8   basic which we’ve already offered you (.258  Studies in language and social interaction (5) [PORT: WGE:2:A:314] (From a wage negotiation between management.. to include discussions about a shorter working week) (from Walker.2) during the period of this agreement. The union is seeking a package. 1994) 1 Andy: Er:m (1. Andy’s enquiry (Line 21)—to which Pete responds with an interpretation of the “six months” stipulation which would make it more acceptable to Andy (ie.e.) again 21 Andy: You want to be specific an’ say six months do 22   you 23   (1.) we now seem to have come down 6→   to a position where (. his objection is only to one aspect of it. It may be noted that although the union representative (Pete.) from 3   people (.3) 24 Pete: I think you have to () bu’ I mean if you: 25   (.”). In effect he is correcting only that part of Andy’s formulation of his (Pete’s) position which concerns the period in which the union are seeking to have discussions begin on the issue of a shorter working week (Lines 19. and the work staff’s union. about reducing the working week.4) er so (1. in Line 17) objects to this formulation of what his (union) team has been demanding. in return for management agreeing to enter into talks. Management are offering a flat rate pay award. is an attempt to summarize where they have got to in their discussion. with no additional deals/inducements. represented here by Pete.) still hundreds of 5   miles apart (.) a paragraph 13   indicating the willingness to (. starting in six months.0) you’re (.0) 19 Pete: I says in six months time to have a look at it 20   (.) but 9   you would like in addition to that for us to 10   consider the possibility (. here Andy. and to construct a package in which the union will recommend a pay rise of 6% (they had been asking for more).4) 17 Pete: N:o (. “during the period of this agreement.) talked about it for six months as well… Andy’s extended formulation.) you (.) have dialogue 14   on the subject of a thirty seven hour week 15   (1. 18   (1. would bring it into line with the management’s preferred timetable)—is a ‘preagreement’ move towards his accepting the compromise settlement adumbrated .) started off giving me the 4   impression that we were (.on the 2   basis of feedback you’re getting from (. during the next twelve months (i.) com. and talking for six months.) of: an increase 11   (. 20).) that’s not wha’I said. 16   (3. which begins with “in essence what you’re asking us to consider is…” (Lines 6–15).) bonus rate (.) and to include in 12   any agreement we reach (.) on the (.

by way of checking her understanding of the therapist’s implicit meaning (this being associated with the therapist’s strategy of making a comment. although ostensibly formulating only what the other side is saying. or asking a question. Although these are likely to be representative of such collections. the one doing the formulation) is willing to agree to. It appears that formulations have different interactional functions in the different settings reviewed—where by ‘interactional function’ I mean that participants manage different activities through formulating. So the following points sketch the dimensions or properties in terms of which formulating in different settings can be compared. the patient formulated a version of the therapist’s prior comment. what . Through that formulation he was proposing a compromise that struck a balance between the interests of the two sides. and the kinds of conclusions that emerge. So his formulation of the other side’s position played a key role in achieving an agreement on the matter of the wage rise. which is therefore associated with different kinds of activity sequences. Recalling that this is a sketch or an exercise.e. one cannot yet draw firm conclusions on the basis of this preliminary review. which leaves it to the patient to find for herself what the problem is. formulations in these negotiations occur after there has been discussion about some issue of contention.. and an alternative one proposed (Lines 21–25). rather there are clusters of similarities which relate to the kinds of activities which are managed through formulating.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  259 in his formulation of what the union is now asking for. These forms (objects or devices) are not unique to particular settings. Hence formulations are the objects through which a settlement is proposed. Because of their strategic character—one side may be trying to ‘slip in’ to the wording of the formulation something in line with their preferred outcome. DISCUSSION: COMPARISONS BETWEEN THE INTERACTIONAL FUNCTION AND LINGUISTIC FORM OF FORMULATIONS IN DIFFERENT SETTINGS The single instances I have shown of formulations in each of the four settings are taken from collections of such objects in these settings. these formulations are constructed in a turn package which conveys what the proposer (i. in a (successful) attempt to reach agreement. In psycho therapeutic sessions. So in comparing formulating in the different settings considered above. That is. and they are constructed to articulate what each side may be willing to offer by way of a compromise package. all I mean to indicate is that these are the kinds of comparisons that can be made. I am not claiming that these are anything like definitive findings. whilst elsewhere the other side may avoid explicitly accepting or rejecting the formulation but instead give a very qualified version of what they are saying (a version which avoids commitment to the principle which the other side’s formulation attempted to build into the settlement). In summary. the forms through which it is realized are not. so they are not setting-specific. then. at least on the basis of these limited data. if we are to consider whether formulations are a generic device of talk-in-interaction—and I think it would follow from these comparisons (if the observations on which they are based hold for large-scale data sets) that whilst formulating is a generic practice in talk-in-interaction. and something which the other side may wish not to accept—the other side may be cautious in confirming such formulations: for instance in #5 the formulation was rejected.

And finally. of the kind represented here). In the radio call-in programmes. in the form of You mean…. are each core activities in these settings. organizationally salient activities that they are for the settings discussed here. We may engage in these activities in conversation from time to time. saying is used in each of the others but ‘stronger’ forms. Moreover. in extract #1—in which Hyla constructed a tendentious version of what Nancy was ‘saying. he used formulations such as What you’re saying is and You seem to be suggesting. formulations are done in interrogatives. as an initial move in an argument sequence (confirmation by the caller of the formulation. in constructions like So you’re really accusing them…. getting the interviewee to elaborate. negotiating. and making it more conflictual and newsworthy). News interviewers formulate the upshot of what an interviewee has just answered. but not in the other settings. whilst characterizing this in a package designed to be acceptable to the other side. as a means to invite or encourage them to elaborate on some particular aspect of that answer (often as a means of dramatizing the issue. Constructing controversy and undermining the other’s argument.). in so far as we do not. The principal difference between these is the lexicalisation of the verb describing the kind of ‘saying’ attributed to the other. 1996. as well as suggesting. etc. figuring out the implicit meaning in a therapist’s comment. . Mean occurs in psychotherapy. Each of these activities is central to the tasks in which participants are engaged in these settings. why formulations of this kind might be so rarely employed in mundane conversation: formulations are the means of conducting these activities—and though these activities are not unique to these settings.6 but they are not the kinds of routine. with which she was aligning). and You’re asking us…. We begin to see. generally speaking. the host formulated a (tendentious) version of the caller’s argument. And in industrial negotiations. In the call-in program in which the host challenges callers’ arguments. with the doctor’s argument. So that formulations are associated with activity sequences which are especially characteristic of certain forms of talk-in-interaction (psychotherapeutic discourse.260  Studies in language and social interaction should be done etc. now. including for instance accusing. In psychotherapy (at least. or present what they’ve said in a more dramatic or newsworthy way.. in So. It is worth noticing the similarity between this and the formulation shown from ordinary conversation. in an effort to construct a compromise which will settle the matter under negotiation—the formulation being designed strategically to hold on to one side’s preferred conditions. see Schegloff. formulations seem restricted to forms such as (What) you’re saying is…. epiphenomenal activities. leading to a reductio ad absurdum by the host). and uses a wider range of verb forms.). set someone up in order to challenge their argument. in industrial negotiations one side offers a formulation of what the other is saying/proposing. need to arrive at compromises after long negotiations in mundane conversation. News interviewers offered formulations of interviewees’ prior answers. such as 5 On being allusive in conversation. They are not peripheral. and trying to arrive at a compromise settlement with which both sides in a negotiation can agree. they are relatively restricted. nor do we need to be allusive. it appears that small but significant differences in the linguistic realization of formulations in these settings may be associated with their different activity environments. .’ before expressing scepticism with the latter’s argument (or rather.

the devices or objects through which it is realized are shaped by the activities. Samtalsstudier: A Festschrift for Anne-Marie Londen (pp. 8. In psychotherapy. These varying patterns of lexicalising the verb with which a formulation is proposed (i. So you’re…being used in news interviews. the lexicalisation of the verb with which what the other is saying is formulating is different in the different settings/activity contexts. 29–42).). So in a very exploratory fashion. I think also that there may be prosodic differences between otherwise identical lexical verb forms. Lehti-Eklund (Ed. P. are associated with attempts by interviewers to inject something controversial or newsworthy into the interview: of course such a verb would be alien to psychotherapy and to industrial negotiations—in the latter case. predominate in news interviews and are not used in the others. were one side to claim that the other is accusing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1986). the verb of saying) are associated with the different activities in each of these settings in the following way. the patient is involved in a search for the meaning to be found in the therapist’s allusive remarks or questions: the patient is endeavoring to interpret and show that she understands what the therapist is meaning to say—hence the lexical selection you mean with which the patient formulates a sense of the therapist’s prior remark. In the other settings. .Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  261 accusing. Hence the object or phenomenon is employed in different activity sequences. so that saying in radio call-in programmes has different prosodic features from saying in negotiations (on prosodic aspects of the realization of the ‘same’ lexical token. Prosody in conversation: Interactional studies. The more dramatic verbs to be found in news interviews. K. and thus the settings. but not in the others. Sociology of Health and Illness. there might be good reason to avoid any suggestion that one is having to interpret what the other is saying. Comparative analysis of institutional discourse: The case of ‘formulations. Drew. But there are differences also in other features of the turn design package. most notably in industrial negotiations. and you seem to be…occurs in the radio call-in program..—here the phenomenon of formulating what the other is saying—and find that the same object is associated with different core activities in each setting. such as accusing. Davis. REFERENCES Couper-Kuhlen. see Couper-Kuhlen and Selting. Helsinki: Forffatarna. in which they are employed. whereas interpretation is associated with speech that is opaque in its meaning. 44–74.’ in H. I have tried to show that we can track a particular linguistic phenomenon through its use in a range of different (institutional) settings. and Selting. and suggesting is used in news interviews and in the radio call-in program. a speaker is aiming to be able to pin on the other side this transparent sense of what they are saying (rather than having to resort to an interpretation). M. (1996). associated with the different contexts in which it occurs—and by context now. A speaker’s purpose in formulating what the other said is to claim a certain transparency to what they said.e. but not in negotiations. Hence if formulating is a generic practice. Furthermore. So in an industrial negotiation. E. but apparently not in the others. this might lead not to resolution and compromise. (1998). The process of problem (re)formulation in psychotherapy. 1996).. I mean the different activity sequences in which it is to be found—are patterns of different linguistic realizations of the object: for instance. but rather to outright breakdown.

Negotiating work. Heritage. 109–137. 102. P. McKinney and E. 18. & Heritage. 18. In J.A. 337–366). Tiryakan (Eds. University of York.D. In G. Walker. Communication Yearbook. J.). (1979). Van Dijk (Ed. asymmetries and power on talk radio. J. Ethnomethodology and the institutional order. Hak. London: Academic Press. American Journal of Sociology. Analyzing news interviews: Aspects of the production of talk for an overhearing audience. In T. E. (1996). Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. I. (1970). R. (1985). Confirming allusions: Toward an empirical account of action. NJ: Erlbaum. Unpublished doctoral thesis. R. 371–380.). (1995). H. and Watson. .262  Studies in language and social interaction Drew. (1997). Garfinkel.). Formulations as conversational objects. Hutchby. New York: Irvington. New York: Appleton-Century Crofts. T. 123–162). 95–117). J. Heritage. H. Mahwah. Handbook of discourse analysis (Vol. (1995). 3) (pp. Schegloff. Talk at work: Interaction in institutional settings. Human Studies. 161–216.). Confrontation talk: Arguments. E. Studying conversational interaction in institutions. Psathas (Ed. (Eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1994).A. (1992). and Sacks.. Hopper. On the formal structures of practical actions. Theoretical sociology (pp.

each of a marine VHF radio’s approximately 55 talk-receive channels is reserved (including two channels for hailing. repeating information. It is used for official communications by law enforcement (the Coast Guard. in channels and harbors. a number of recreational boaters do not observe these restrictions and protocols of use (at least in the waters of Long Island Sound.3 And the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designated for whom. 1 . Unlike CB radio. for coordinating search and rescue operations. six channels for marinas and recreational boaters. I can’t think of a more fitting place for this study than in a volume in honor of Robert Hopper. port operations and traffic control). and probably around the United States generally). I have in mind at least one project of his I know of. It’s not so much because it resonates with his interest in telephone conversation. 2 A growing number of boaters are also using cell phones for communication in coastal waters. use any clear channel for transmission rather than just the ones reserved for them. marine VHF radio is not intended as a folk medium. marine police and harbormasters). marine VHF radios are not becoming obsolete. and widely but not universally installed on recreational vessels. in search and safety operations. However. as on CB radio. ten channels for commercial users. and. 3 Perhaps in conjunction with the FCC having stopped requiring recreational users to have radio station licenses. for making known the location of obstructions.18 Conversational Socializing on Marine VHF Radio: Adapting Laughter and Other Practices to the Technology in Use1 Robert E. requesting priority on a channel. pronouncing some words and numbers (“see-lonce” for silence and “niner” for nine) and pronouncing letters when spelling (“Alpha. and so on. eleven channels for port operations and traffic control. SUNY Marine VHF radios are the primary medium for communication between vessels in coastal waters and between vessels and shore facilities. and some recreational boaters use a cell phone exclusively. one for search and safety. prefacing messages to index their urgency. by towing/salvage services. Many have imported CB-radio jargon and protocols. acknowledging transmissions and ending them. and commercial operations in coastal waters (drawbridge operators. or movements of vessels. or for what purpose. some relatively early work on the way persons playing pinball adjusted their turn constructional practices to accommodate the interruptions to be expected from the noises and activity of playing the game.” “Bravo”…“Yankee” “Zulu”). and nine channels for connecting to a landside telephone line). The broadcast capabilities of radio make it essential for vessels in distress to call for help from anyone in the vicinity.2 They are standard equipment on commercial vessels. and so on.Sanders University at Albany. one channel for digitized emergency broadcasts. There are prescribed protocols and language—drawn from long-standing procedures for signaling at sea—for hailing other stations. six channels for the Coast Guard. but more his broader interest in the adaptation of conversational particulars to the technological environment.

other genres of conversation.e. with neither of the speaking persons aware of it and the person(s) listening unable to intervene. commentary. that is. the radio technology makes it physically impossible for more than one person at a time to occupy the floor. it needs a brief exposition. they cannot tell they are doing so as long as they continue speaking. calling water taxis for transportation ashore when moored.264  Studies in language and social interaction However. third persons outside a conversation can inadvertently “step on” (block) the transmission of someone with whom one is speaking. It is definitive of such talk that it not be material to transacting “business” on any practical matter. and pressing and holding down the microphone’s transmit key. Second. They are also commonly used for matters of logistics and convenience. Anyone transmitting cannot hear (i. CONVERSATIONAL SOCIALIZING Because the phenomena of interest here come mainly from this genre I call “conversational socializing. and so on). Although the practices I observed in that regard might occur in other media. unlike other aural media. This alone delays ..” and because the genre itself is of interest. nor for bringing about any particular result—except to have spent time together entertainingly. Hence. to make oneself heard one has to do more than just vocalize. what is of interest here is how those phenomena reflect and have been adapted to the operational contingencies of the medium of two-way radio. other cultures. contacting fellow boaters about mooring together at day’s end. One has to take the prior. It is while auditing conversational socializing on marine VHP radio that I observed the two practices of interest here. First. And sometimes. physical steps of bringing the microphone up near one’s mouth. and laughter and other affiliative responses. Use of marine VHF radios for conversational socializing is most widespread among recreational boaters. furthest from FCC intent. contacting others who are fishing to exchange information about where the fish are. they talk about matters that are entertaining. involving gaps and conversational discontinuities. especially by recreational boaters (contacting marinas to arrange for overnight dockage. but occasionally tugboat captains engage in it while in transit between harbors or while docked waiting for a barge to be loaded or unloaded. only the one with the strongest or closest signal can be heard by the other(s) in the conversation. And if a person in a conversation and a third party outside that conversation transmit at the same time. but as a folk medium for conversational socializing when there is no particular business at hand. or present each other with news items. receive) others who are transmitting at the same time. for carrying out the business of safely operating vessels at sea and providing marine services. Further. if two persons in a conversation speak (transmit) at the same time. these radios are not used in service of marine operations at all. THE TECHNOLOGY There are two prominent technological differences between the telephone and two-way radios in general that seem responsible for the phenomena I examine below. and gossip about subjects or persons of mutual interest. When persons engage in conversational socializing. in practice marine radios are not consistently used as the FCC intends.

it is often as a stand-in while “the captain” is engaged in operation of their vessel. The transcripts of these social conversations use notation conventions developed by Jefferson (e. When transmission on a channel is detected. with the exception of one example in my notes. too late to record it. in recording a conversation. I came upon a final fragment of another conversation that exhibited a practice in which I had become interested. Sometimes when I resumed scanning after a conversation had been recorded. THE DATA Because conversational socializing comprises a minority of the transmissions being made at any time on marine radio. On the nine channels dedicated to connecting with the land-based telephone system. the conversations in which the phenomena of interest were exhibited were all between men.. This is probably an artifact of the extent to which men dominate boating (though women have the option: Two boats of approximately 46 on my dock are owned and operated by women). the marine telephone company that provides this service sends out a masking signal that prevents the boater’s transmission from being heard on other VHP radios. the methods I employed do not make it possible to estimate the relative frequency of the practices of interest here. or to fishing. other conversations that may have been taking place at the same time on other channels necessarily went undetected. I took notes on some of these. in Atkinson and Heritage. so that one may temporarily not have a free hand to operate the microphone even if one could otherwise have continued talking while taking action at the same time. usually after they had already begun.4 locating and recording such conversations is somewhat happenstance (barring the use of 40 receivers each on a separate channel and 40 recorders). and whether women would adopt different conversational practices. 4 . The spontaneity of responses is further reduced by being unable to make oneself heard until the other person stops transmitting. Conversations thus got “found” in that way and recorded.5 seconds are not hearable as delays in response in this medium and were not Although there are a total of 55 talk-receive channels on marine VHP radios. I should note (given Hopper’s interest in gender and communication) that the great majority of speakers on marine VHP radio are men. some channels are not potential sources of conversation between boaters. It remains to be seen whether this is incidental to the corpus or reflects a gender bias in the medium itself.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  265 response and reduces its spontaneity.g. but with two slight modifications. Hence. scanning is suspended for 4 seconds so that the transmission can be listened to. gaps of less than 0. Further. only the land-based side of the conversation is hearable. On those relatively few occasions when women use the radio. and they can occur on any of about 40 talk-receive channels on which boaters contact each other. I relied on a scanning radio: My radio completes a scan of all talk-receive channels roughly once every 3 seconds unless it comes to a channel on which someone is transmitting. And there is a potential for further delay in responding if something occurs just then that is material to operating one’s vessel. First. A few of these are now in use by civil authorities ashore and are avoided by boaters. but they occur more often than I was able to record. and then scanning resumes unless it is manually stopped. Hence. 1984).

the party waiting for a response is careful generally to avoid making the other person accountable for the gap. GAPS AND DISCONTINUATIONS It is not uncommon in the conversations I recorded for there to be gaps between conversational turns of 5–6 seconds and longer. it’d be so much nicer. Persons waiting for a response often do not prompt the other at all. these gaps are much longer than what these same speakers would generally find tolerable in face-to-face or telephone conversations ashore. without any closing. and if they do. they all (want) us to go up to Hooters. # (9. these gaps are sometimes “terminal”: The conversation just ends for lack of anyone taking a next turn. we’ll do anything. something I attribute to the operating requirements of this medium.) goin’ out to eat? # Ah. Finally. gaps of 9 seconds and longer went unremarked. they invited us to go out to Hooters tonight they’re so happy. not to indicate any relatively greater loudness. # Yeah:. let’s. the symbol “#” denotes the electronic “click” sound made at the end of transmissions when the current speaker’s transmit key is released: Notating this serves as a reminder that the ends of transmissions are audible. At the furthest extreme. laughter was transcribed with symbols intended to more closely reflect its actual phonetic qualities. (.7) I got a visual on Penfield reef now:. # (9–5) Read today’s Newsday? # Okay. # (5. and to then press his or her transmit key and begin speaking. I wish she would. and allows notating any occurrences of “dead air” between the speaker’s last utterance and release of the transmit key. it is not as quickly or directly as they might in a different medium.# heh-heh-heh-heh # (19. as explained below. Yet on marine radio.let’s take up a collection. Based on my own experience in the region and subcultures of the Northeastern United States. they want Ja:ck ‘n Gary myself.# Can’t Ginny talk % im into: (. these prolonged gaps are almost always tolerated and not oriented to as breaches.= we’ll seh-h-nd ‘im to Alaska h. Second. Moreover.) We’ll pay for ‘im. In the following examples. and ended when the next speaker finally did respond: (1)   M1:     M2 :   M1:      M2 : (2)   M3 :      M4: (3)   M5:   M6:   M5:      M6   M5     M6 :     →     →               →   Hey:. # We’ll take ‘im. the guys on the boat here.266  Studies in language and social interaction noted: It takes at least that long for the next speaker to register that the prior transmission has ended. and it appears in boldface to set it apart visually from the surrounding talk.2) That’s right. # That right? They’re gonna go hoot ‘n holler.2) How’d doctor Mike do today? # . then you must be in sight o:f me.

2) Coin’ back to nine ((“nine” is the standby/hail ing channel. (0.5) Works pretty nice.5) but.5) You stick the rod in the rod holder.5) They’re great. (0.2)   M4: → Alone Again.rcle hooks. The person seeking a response after a gap begins hailing the silent vessel. as in Examples 1–3. (0. Happy Days. this declaration is equivalent to hanging up a telephone)).5) -hh uh: ya hook (. (0.) ninety nine percent of all y’r fish in the (lip). # Long gaps were not always ended by the next speaker eventually taking a turn.° (. Alone Again. # ((a hail to the vessel “Alone Again” to answer the vessel “Happy Days”))       (7. This implicates that it is not a matter of a response delayed too long. This is evident even in the one instance in my corpus when the prior speaker did directly prompt the next speaker after a gap of 6.7) Talk t’ya later.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  267 The likely reason for the occurrence of such notable gaps and the evident respect they are given is that. # (8. # → (6.0)   M3 :   How far’re you from Penfield? # (6)         M9:   Nine miles ‘n hour. # (9. same speaker sometimes resumed after a gap to prompt the other indirectly for a response. ya put the brake on: (0. This was accepted without protest and the conversation ended exactly then: (4)   M7:      M7:   M8:   M7:   I’ll tell ya.) over.2) Alone Again.5) #   Ah:. The next speaker replied by citing his current attention to fishing as a reason not only for the gap but for thereupon ending the conversation. (0. an accidental happenstance that warrants an effort to reestablish contact: (5)             M3 :   M4 :   M4:           →   Okay. ya got Happy Day#       (7.. (Dan)? (0.2) °over. but of having lost contact. #   Awright. (0. Having a hand free is not something one can count on from anyone currently operating a vessel or fishing. then you must be in sight o:f me.7) Ah:: they’re a son of a gun t’ get ou:t.ya don’t gut hook many fish at all.2) → Di’you copy that.2) over. as one would do in making initial contact.1) . the technology requires the speaker to have one free hand to hold the microphone and operate the transmit key. (0. (0. did you receive my transmission). Although it is atypical as in Example 4 to directly prompt the next speaker. like we gotta fish on. you gotta use these ci. ya get a really () fish. #       (4.e. I gotta leave now.2 seconds (Example 4 below: “Di’you copy that”. as noted.7) I got a visual on Penfield reef now:. (0. i. Alone Again.

((7–10 second gap)) Switching back to nine. # (9. Do you think we’ll get any sleep? You know. As it happens.5) (Any ideas?) # ((possibly a transmission from a third party in another conversation)) (6. A case from my notes in which the conversation does continue after a gap reveals an orientation by both parties to the potential for discontinuation after such a gap. What is important about F1’s response is that she apologizes—presumably for producing a gap that it would be warranted for M11 to infer was terminal.268  Studies in language and social interaction                         M9:   M10:   M10:     ():   M10:   M10:                       → (What’re) you doin’? # (5. if talk occurs . and the potential for discontinuations. 1979. In arranging for their boats to tie up together at anchor that night. With two different accounts of the same practice—attributed to the practicalities of boating on one hand. Fl responded anyway (probably aware that while persons often do switch channels right when they make such announcements. It seems that in both cases. the conversation just stopped continuing. sorry Tom.7) ‘Bout fifteen hunderd. However. gaps sometimes were not closed at all. and to Native American communal values on the other—it would be parsimonious to find a common denominator. # ((possible reference to RPM)) (32.5) (it) like Jo:hn. Mil’s announcement after the gap that he was switching to the standby/hailing channel is the equivalent of simultaneously saying goodbye and physically hanging up the telephone—it is not the same as opening up a closing where one then waits for the other to respond. we were just working on a comeback. ((“nine” is the standby/hail ing channel)) No. 1981). they are sometimes slow to do so and may still be listening). There is thus a relatively greater tolerance for gaps during conversations on marine VHF radio. There are several examples of this in my corpus. whe:re are ya? Finally. as was noted.1) (uh) I got eight point o:ne. # ((possibly his speed)) (0. and attributed to the communal value they give to privacy and autonomy (Basso. than one is likely to find in conversations ashore among these same speakers. That M11 did this after a notable gap displays an orientation to gaps as possibly terminal. Scollon and Scollon. Frank’s snoring and all. M11 expresses the joking concern to F1 that F1’s husband might snore too loudly: (7)     M11:             M11: F1: → →     Yeah. note that similar tolerances and potentials have been observed among Native Americans. but I dunno. thus canceling the implicature of termination.2) (Glitterbox). there is one. However. She continues by giving an account for the gap as interactionally produced.

such elaborated acknowledgment tokens not only have an affiliative function but a turn coordination function. Schegloff. the talk will be suspended whenever it interferes with that activity. I gotcha. 1974). But on two-way radio it is impossible to bearably make simpler back channel responses while the other’s turn is in progress. it often implicates the speaker’s readiness to take the floor just then and produce a full turn at speaking (Drummond and Hopper. However. even . and Jefferson. but they lack a functional complexity on two-way radio that they can acquire in conversation ordinarily. In my corpus. there are few or no newsmarks. whether these are practical/material activities. so that producing an elaborated acknowledgment token cannot display a change of state. affiliative responses in radio conversations. they took the special steps needed to transmit just to make laughter heard. is not about values placed on privacy or autonomy. and simplifying other. The one affiliative response that is not pruned out or functionally simplified on marine VHP radio is laughter. if one has clear air to transmit the elaborated token and does so. such acknowledgment tokens can only serve an affiliative function on two-way radio.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  269 at the same time speakers are engaged in an activity that the community of speakers gives precedence. or spiritual or cognitive ones. persons who are conversationally socializing via marine radio press down the transmit key. and so on. acknowledgment tokens. then end that transmission. and the resulting gaps and discontinuities tolerated. Rather. 1993). A notable exception is affiliative responses—for example. they transmit laughter. not only substantive but affiliative responses have to be “saved up” until one has clear air in which to transmit. This in itself is evidence that speakers are capable of being “knowing” and deliberate. newsmarks. In that case. I hear y’a. the presumption is that one’s substantive reply to. what the current speaker is saying in the moment will be withheld until it is one’s turn to speak (Sacks. This has the apparent effect of pruning out some. In other media of aural conversation. Jefferson. If a person produces simpler back channel acknowledgment tokens during the current speaker’s turn. or follow-up on. LAUGHTER AND OTHER AFFILIATIVE RESPONSES In conversation generally. Speakers did sometimes produce linguistically elaborated acknowledgments at the next opportunity (in this corpus primarily. laughter—“spontaneous” responses to what is just then being said that are ordinarily produced by the listener while the current speaker still has the floor. Accordingly. whether on a two-way radio or not. then. or marine exigencies. Perhaps what has been observed among Native Americans arises from their giving most or perhaps all other concurrent activities priority over conversation. acknowledgment tokens. it is about the priority that the community gives to conversation relative to specific other activities that persons can be engaged in concurrently. The opportunity for and the spontaneity of affiliative responses is thus greatly reduced during conversational socializing on marine VHP radio. one already has the floor and the issue of speakership is moot anyway. The cultural aspect of the tolerance for gaps and discontinuities. 1993. Besides that. supportive assessments. For boaters. there are certain practicalities that are given precedence over talk. At times. in conversation on two-way radios. and then produces an elaborated form. for example. I copy that and Yeah::).

It is these phenomena that are of particular interest here. 5 . there was a marked delay before the laugh response was transmitted. we’ll do anything. (. at the first opportunity—after it is occasioned. Ordinarily the functionality of laughter as an affiliative response depends on its being. In example 8 (from the same excerpt as example 3). In itself. then transmit. sometimes several seconds in duration. # We’ll take ‘im. 1989. One has to wait for clear air.” But when this happens.nto: (. but my own experience is that such gaps do not register as a delay in response when one is accustomed to the mechanics of two-way radio: (8)             M5: M6: M5:   M6:   M5:   Can’t Ginny talk ‘im i.) goin’ out to ↑eat? # Ah. and is transmitted “immediately” (though not spontaneously)—that is. it’d be so much nicer.# heh-heh-heh-heh # However. especially if it actually is genuine. The relative immediacy of a laugh response will be enhanced the extent to which the current speaker ends his transmission just when laughter is occasioned. there is actually a gap of a few l0ths of a second between M6’s occasioning remark and laugh particles. # (5. moreover with the apparent presumption that it is genuine unless there is reason to think otherwise. this The one exception would be if laughter were delayed because the person did not immediately “get it. that function to cancel any implicature that the delayed laughter is artificial. more so than previous analysis has revealed. this did not occur in my corpus.= we’ll seh-h-nd ‘im to Alaska h. Further evidence of this is presented below. an immediate and spontaneous response to what occasions it (Glenn.let’s take up a collection. But this is impossible to display on a two-way radio. or being made to seem.) We’ll pay for ‘im. and be marked in that way. and M5’s laugh response. in any other medium. let’s. there is usually a marked display of “getting it” when the delayed laughter begins. even verbalizations such as “Oh:: I:::: get it”. about the social functionality of laughter. it was not unusual that when the current speaker ended transmission as soon as he or she occasioned laughter. Although there is no obvious reason why delays for that reason would not occur (or be feigned) over marine radio as in other aural media. and conversely. It is not any more difficult to produce laughter with the requisite vocal qualities on two-way radio than any other medium. sometimes take special measures to establish it as genuine when there is a circumstantial reason to doubt it. Let us posit that a laugh response on a two-way radio is presumed genuine the extent to which it has the requisite vocal qualities of genuine laughter. 1984).2) That’s right.5 But laughter is produced on twoway radio anyway.270  Studies in language and social interaction calculating. I wish she would. 1979. and a marked deliberateness about making it hearable. Ordinarily this would make laughter seem artificial. and this is common. so at minimum there is an unavoidable micro-delay before laughter is heard. 1991/1992. The evidence for this is that persons laughing on marine radio sometimes take special measures to register their laughter as artificial. Jefferson.

# (1. laughter can be made to seem artificial (not genuine. whaddya suppose he’s doin’ over there? (0.5) Chuck.5) Yeah::. and he gave the laughter a guttural quality reminiscent of the villain’s laugh in an old movie: (11)             M16 :   M17:   M16:                   M17:   →   Hey (A1).) two guys on top. despite a notable gap between the occasioning utterance and the laughter in response.HEH-HEH-HEH:::::::::::::*# . it ↑works.5) *YEAH: : : : .5) # (2. as we see in examples 12 and 13 below.2) Set the anchor. # (1.# (5.5) Come in Anthony. and so persons have to rely on vocal quality alone to register laughter as artificial. In example 8. In general. there were instances when active steps were taken to mark transmitted laughter as artificial. right pal? # (3.2) hah-hah-hah-hah #   It doesn’t work that way.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  271 would mark the laughter as artificial. how are ya? (1. delaying or withholding laughter is not distinguishable on two-way radio from being unable to immediately transmit it. # (1. (. M17 produced laughter that was too loud and intense a response to what occasioned it. 9 and 10. # (1. (.pa:l.2) heh-heh-heh # In contrast. no such effort was made in the following examples.” Of course. (9)                       (10)     M12   M12 2   M13   M12   M12   M13   M14:       M15:   (in) Anthony.) pull against the anchor.5) I missed that voice. # (1.5) That voice. But then why take the trouble to transmit it? The alternative is to suppose that delays in transmission on marine radio are accepted as potentially unavoidable. That’s okay:. (0. Of course it is possible that in these instances the persons responding did not care whether their laughter seemed genuine or not. we know how t‘take care o’ that.1) Probably (checkin’ on our) maneuvers. insincere) by positioning it so that it is bearably delayed or withheld. his final laugh particle was artificially elongated. Although extra effort could be made to establish laughter as being genuine anyway. canceling the implicature that delayed laughter is artificial. and/or by giving it vocal qualities that are not “natural.

not the business context. I mean. where it expressed M18’s affiliation with M19 on something that Ml8 had been disputing. ya know: ‘hhh ya know ya’ (never) gonna have thirty people all make their payments on the exact same time or be prompt. apparently commercial fishermen or lobstermen. In the instances when this happened. but I mean that’s just the rule of thumb. Note that he transmits laughter twice in two contiguous transmissions separated by a gap of 4. We still hate him at (Jethrey’s). separated by an interval. ‘n I think that’s ((mic noise)) where we had problems.2) I mean(.# (4. ‘n uh::: you take any thirty guys Zs gonna be: : ·hh a certain amount of “em that’a al:ways pay their bill on time=‘n there’s gonna be a certain amoun:t ‘v ‘em y’always gonna have t’ chase down:: ‘n look for. (12)     M18:         M19:      M18:      M19:      M18:→      M18:→   Well. In example 12 M18’s laughter could potentially be regarded as insincere because it came in the context of a mild disagreement.= There’s always ((noise)) fusing. ·hhh ‘n I think that’s where a lot of problems used to stem from. there was reason to doubt that the laughing person would have been genuinely amused by what occasioned the laughter. the laugher was marked as genuine by means of transmitting it twice. In their conversation.pickin’ out any names or anything like that. Ml8 gives the appearance of finding M19’s quip so funny that he actually sustained laughter during the interval between his two transmissions (or at least the appearance that on reflection he had found M19’s quip funny again and . # (2. (.) we haven’t changed. # (2.(was/noise) at Bayshore we hated him. -hhh ‘N I’m sure Pete had to do that with some of us too. ya know. one does occasionally find that speakers take steps to establish their laughter as genuine.5) (). uh:::.5) W ha-ha yeah:: h-h. even though nothing new (interactively) occurred in that interval to occasion the second transmission. I:: -hhh I:: I’m not.2) eh: heh-heh. don’t forget. Ml8 and Ml9. # (0.2 seconds. when he.7) hu-hu-hu yeah-h-h. ya know -hhh ‘n always sitting there trying to collect money from thirty different guys.ya know. disagreed whether a supplier of theirs treated customers badly because of the business pressures involved (as Ml8 contended) or because he was a hateful person in his own right (as M19 contended).2) Was always the same ↑guys. too. In general. M18 responds with laughter even though he presumably disagrees. # (0. (0.gotchah-h.272  Studies in language and social interaction Conversely. After Ml9 finds a pithy way to make his point that it was this person’s intrinsic qualities that made him hateful.) now he doesn’t have to worry about as many. ‘hhh Ya know.# By transmitting his laughter twice.ya know. but.

given that that second laugh particle was transmitted long after it was occasioned.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  273 resumed laughing). # Yah.5) WA. (#) ((1. I haven’t seen you in awhile. (0. just screw yourself right out of a seat at the table ya keep goin’. If it was M20 who produced the laughter.2) heh-heh (0.2) # Of interest here is the second laughter token in the transcript’s last line. if it was M21 who transmitted that laughter.”).5/garbled utterance. In the instance that follows. (almost) three year old daughter. as in the prior example. perhaps because they dot the landscape and are slow to move out of the way)) (0. A second laugh particle is transmitted after they have closed. I take M21’s response as an indirect disclosure that he had a vasectomy (“(I) better not [have more children]. it could not mark previous laughter as genuine because he had not previously laughed (aside from a smiley voice in closing). ((Tugboat captains sometimes refer to pleasure boats or boaters as cattle.=((smiley voice)) Take ↑ca::re. M20 and M21 are tugboat captains who evidently have known each other for a time. The only evident laughable is M21’s allusion to his vasectomy.ha-ha. (Alright there. He then complains that continuing to have children would leave him without a seat at the dinner table. # Yeah.5) (just) before Christmas. (keep your sanity with the cattle). # Aw:right. However.5) We’ll talk to ya. we’ll be talkin’ to ya. At that juncture. though I could not identify who produced it. then like M18 8 in example 12. He thereby marks his first laugh response as genuine by transmitting the second one.5/open mic) ( ).# (2. transmitted after they closed. Hence. # (0. that token has a similar functionality. I got two and a half. where M20 did laugh. (13)     M20:   M21:     M20: M21:         M20: M21:   M20:   M21:       M20:       Ho::ly smoke. No matter which of them transmitted it. he affirmed the genuineness of his laughter about a matter he might have not found amusing. okay Steve. In the course of catching up on personal news. M20 responds with laughter and then moves to closing. But it would affirm that he had alluded to his vasectomy as a joking and not a delicate matter. M21 reports that he has a young daughter now.2) I’ll be after that doctor with a baseball ba:t. it displays sustained amusement.=she’ll be three in uh: : (0. # (Then) don’t have no mo:re.2) I’ll be after that doctor with a baseball ba:t. (0. ending with rising inflection)). and M20 comments that he should therefore not have more children.) ·hh you have a good trip back in there. and underscore his own residual . (0. # (I) better not. either a continued transmission by M21 or a transmission from some third party. (. a potentially delicate matter is introduced.5) (little Emma).-hhh I:: gotcha. Su: re! # (0. Rod). but have been out of touch for several years.

when persons make contact on marine VHP radio and engage in conversational socializing. CONCLUSION The operational differences between the telephone and two-way radio foster the distinctive effect examined here that the radio technology has on conversational practices.. or indirectly checks on the well-being of the other person or the relationship). Of course. even when a telephone call is made solely for the purpose of conversational socializing. it is to a particular person who is being sought out. or strengthens or affirms the relational tie. and often all parties. When there is a business reason for making contact. But marine VHP radio is also distinct from the telephone functionally. whom the dial-up system allows one to seek out specifically. In my corpus. it discharges an obligation to stay in contact. More often. there is only one clear exception. The production of that laughter might also have dispelled any doubts on M20’s part about the appropriateness of his laughter or whether he had given offense. and the distinctions I am making involve general tendencies. Persons may seek to contact some specific person just because they know that that person is boating just then and available. and they want to engage in conversational . On marine VHP radio. and excludes conversational socializing. conversely. infrequently. when there is a business reason for telephoning someone. are engaged just then in the operation of a vessel or a marine service. it is usually serendipitous—between persons who know each other who happen to be on their boats at the same time. however. boaters may conclude talk on nonessential business—such as checking time of arrival with another boater—with a quip and then a closing. and is a source of data of a kind not readily available otherwise. Second. it is when there is no practical business for either party to address. The difference between them makes conversational socializing on marine radio different in important ways from conversational socializing on the telephone. M11 makes a joke about F1’s husband’s snoring. after arranging to tie their boats up together at anchor. when telephone calls are made. talk on other matters besides the reason for call may also take place. I am basing this comparison on personal experience coupled with much of the published data on telephone calls. the conversation was over. including conversational socializing. In contrast. where. Occasionally they “bump into” each other when one hears the other transmitting to some third party and makes contact.g.274  Studies in language and social interaction amusement and good feeling about the conversation. But note how relatively quick M11 was to infer that in not getting an immediate response to his quip. When there is conversational socializing. but not necessarily because it is that person in particular with whom they want to do conversational socializing. There is no room for conversational socializing. A conversation between a tugboat captain at the dock and the company dispatcher late at night started with the business of checking the schedule. the two functions are strictly segregated. and to that extent the socializing may have a functional aspect (e. not absolutes. boaters do actively seek contact with particular others. and then they engaged in conversational socializing. First. Besides that. Perhaps this reflects a standing presumption that business-related radio traffic will end when business is concluded. We see this in example 7. it is for the purpose of socializing with that particular person. Hence. the calling party. and to that small degree conversational socializing may also take place.

not given in advance. whereas persons making phone calls have no basis for anticipating the other’s availability for conversational socializing. not usher in anything serious or business-related. it is more accessible on marine radio. that they would be able or willing to talk about. I do not claim that serendipitous conversational socializing only takes place on marine radio. topics are not given in advance. of course. let alone record. Yet such conversations. especially phone conversations when there is a reason-for-call and business-related conversations in institutional settings. potentially have much to reveal about how conversation works—its coherence and coordination—and language and social interaction more broadly. if the other person is at the dock. Topics have to be found in the moment that both persons would find interesting. This is because persons engaged in serendipitous conversational socializing potentially face two problems unique to that genre of social interaction. their potential for crab-like progress or no progress at all. with whom they can socialize. their shifts from the serious to the playful and back. Even when there are matters to talk about from a prior encounter. It is a genre to which it is hard to reliably gain access. there is no assurance that they would be of interest or would be safe in the present encounter. because the matters that topic will range over for the other(s) involved are not fixed. pro or con. This is understandable. any acquaintance. until someone he knows answers. recreational boaters can count on the persons who answer their call to be at leisure (at least. or in open water in good weather). not even in conversational socializing with others who are specifically sought out for the purpose. But in serendipitous conversational socializing. i.e. but unlike telephone callers. First. But in serendipitous conversational socializing.. But as a site of conversational socializing. in business-related or socially functional conversation. as opposed to serendipitous conversational socializing. Hence. there is likely to be a process of proffering. and so on. or when persons go to a restaurant or tavern where they expect to find acquaintances. the topics that are available or obligatory to talk about are known in advance. marine radio is a medium that should be of interest for more than the effect of its operational peculiarities on conversational practices. with their structural fluidity. Hence. Conversational socializing that takes place in serendipitous encounters is likely to exhibit aspects of conversation we would not otherwise see. Second. the stance that each speaker has toward the topic at hand is contingent and emergent. . at the market. and so on—to display (or conceal) one’s stance during serendipitous conversational socializing than in other genres of social interaction.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  275 socializing with someone. more has to be done—in phrasing. engaged or detached)—if not on the basis of personal knowledge of the other. This can also happen on the telephone. It also happens when acquaintances or friends run into each other on a bus. Hence. One sometimes hears a boater hail first one boat. the stance that each speaker will take regarding the topic(s) at hand can be anticipated (serious or amused. then on the basis of role-stereotypes. Even the person speaking cannot fully anticipate his or her stance towards the topic at hand. It is arguably something that should concern us that the stuff of conversation analysis is mainly agenda-driven conversations. vocal qualities. and that would be safe. in business-related or socially functional conversation. and pursuing or discarding topics in serendipitous conversational socializing one will not find in other genres. affiliative responses. then another. assessing.

J. G. New York: Irvington. NJ: Ablex. (Eds. Glenn. M. K. On the organization of laughter in talk about troubles. & Heritage. 79–96). and face in inter ethnic communication.Psathas (Ed. & Scollon. 53. 50. Current speaker initiation of two-party shared laughter. Jefferson. 26.. Caveat speaker: Preliminary notes on recipient topic-shift implicature. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Scollon. (1991/92). . (1989).M. P.). Jefferson.J. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. 26. Basso. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Back channels revisited: Acknowledgment tokens and speakership incipiency. G. Sacks. J.Heritage (Eds. (1993).. 25. Initiating shared laughter in multi-party conversations.).276  Studies in language and social interaction REFERENCES Atkinson. P. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.A. (1993). 157–177. Schegloff. (1979). Research on Language and Social Interaction. Portraits of “the Whiteman”: Linguistic play and cultural symbols among the Western Apache. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Jefferson. S. G. 127–149. 696–735. literacy.Atkinson & J. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 139–162. G. & Hopper. (1974).B. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. Drummond. H. J. E. Glenn. & Jefferson. (1981). Language. Western Journal of Speech Communication. In G.K. R. (1979). A technique for inviting laughter and its subsequent acceptance/declination. K. 1–30. In J.. Research on Language and Social Interaction. (1984). Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis.) (1984). Norwood. Narrative.. R. 346–369).

However. But to kill a police officer. Intergroup theories of communication offer a unique and useful perspective to aid in our understanding of the complex psychological and communicative dynamics of police/ citizen relations that can lead to strained relations between these groups that can end in violence and even death. intergroup theories of communication. 1984. ministations. Toward this end. Santa Barbara Howard Giles University of California. In this brief chapter. however. basketball fan. we address police/citizen relations and COP in light of the insights that intergroup theories of communication can provide. research and thinking in police science has rarely drawn on communication theory and research to assist its insights and approaches.. Guarino-Ghezzi.19 Law Enforcement and Community Policing: An Intergroup Communication Approach Jennifer L. 1994). son. Unfortunately. in certain circles. in press. 1988. killing a cop earns one much envied status. Gundersen & Hopper. husband. Finally. This example is but one of many involving charged police/citizen interactions that are principally “intergroup” and communicative in nature. 2000). In tandem. Efforts to improve police/citizen relations can already be seen in community-oriented policing (COP) programs such as foot patrols. father. Perlmutter. most empirical investigations are hindered by a lack of relevant theory (see Yates & Filial.Molloy University of California. ABC news reported the story of a Los Angeles police officer. Social identity theory (see Tajfel & Turner. 1998. . public relations campaigns. we examine some of the intergroup dynamics currently challenging effective COP development and implementation. are utilized in order to better understand police/citizen relations and the effectiveness of COP programs. although some efforts have been made to utilize theory to better understand COP and its implementation (see Greene & Taylor. one must also kill the other social identities attached to the human being wearing the uniform (e. we first address the importance of communication in police/citizen encounters and explore the somewhat conflicting social roles inherent in being a police officer. Then. etc). 1986) suggests that people relate primarily to one another in terms of their memberships in different social groups rather than as unique individuals. and how this can contribute to citizens’ images of the police (both positive and negative). our discipline has not been involved much in police/citizen relations. shot through the head as he sat in his patrol car. or law enforcement/ community policies. Giles. and door-to-door visits by the police. 1996). Wearing a uniform showing his identity as a police officer was his only crime and. Santa Barbara On August 14. police training (see. combined with a discussion of the stigma associated with policing.g.

sensitively and strategically. on a daily basis. They noted that. In effect. as well as their own. He suggested that the ability to use coercive force is the universal and distinguishing means of policing in that: . with neighbors and spouses. It is generally understood that social conditions outside the control of the police. one of the implicit criteria for hiring officers today is the latters’ codeswitching skills in being able to shift. [police] intervention seems necessary” (p. 9). The advent of COP revealed a new era in attempting to redefine (the nondefined) and improve the police role and image. thereby putting officers and civilians in psychological or physical harm’s way. 10). This oversight is ironic given that Womack and Finley (1986) viewed communication as “the central. according to Thompson (1983). Further complicating the picture are the seemingly conflicting roles police play in society. deal with “numerous people whose backgrounds. all while striving to address each situation. and prejudices vary dramatically. Patrol officers serve as mediators and diffusers of potentially volatile interactions between citizens in our community. Sykes and Brent (1983) found that conflicts between citizens tended toward confrontation or reassertion (of a position) rather than cooperation. 14). That said. The potential consequences could not only include perpetuating people’s negative attitudes toward the police. 188). moment to moment…” (p. The very different personalities that officers encounter necessitate that they adapt their style of communication to those of citizens. COP revealed a public belief that crime prevention was at the heart of the police role. determine crime levels in communities. & Coupland. and police/ community relations. most important commodity that the officer has at his [or her] disposal” (p. officer/citizen relations. back and forth through their accommodativenonaccommodative gears (see Giles. effective communication. rather than brute force. In their research. Bayley (1994) attributed this myth: That the police are not able to prevent crime should not come as a big surprise to thoughtful people. In actuality. by the fact that officers. The neglect of communication theory and research in the study of COP holds potentially serious implications for officer training in COP and the implementation of COP in various communities worldwide (see Kidd & Braziel.278  Studies in language and social interaction COMMUNICATION AND POLICE ROLES When reference to theory is made in COP research. Klockars (1985) suggested that the belief that police should be able to do something (e. 1999).. attention to the significance of communication issues in COP is all but ignored.g. In fact. for example. points of view. but also potentially place strain on officer/departmental relations. Coupland. The safety concerns inherent in officer/citizen interactions are further complicated. prevent crime) inaccurately defines them in terms of end results rather than means. 1991). is the best weapon officers have to ensure the safety of civilians. we often call on the police when efforts at communicating. as well as outside the control of the criminal justice system as a whole. have failed or when we have not even bothered to communicate in the first place. they see themselves as a “band-aid on cancer” (p. In a phrase police often use. because “these civilians are unable to limit their conflict and come to some resolution. needs.

an insignificant band-aid covering a deep and infectious wound. 2000). 2000. This useful definition (which we revisit later) reveals how power in policing makes them both a valued and devalued social group. Lurigio and Skogan also noted that officers can and do experience resentment when community members are consulted before they are about COP “which touches a deep and sensitive nerve in the police culture” (p. given a prior metaphor. Wycoff. 332). Ironically. If it did not claim such a right. & Sadd. 1988). The apparent unwillingness of residents to involve themselves with the police may thus be less a product of apathy than of fear and suspicion grounded in their largely negative experiences with police in the past (p. and officers felt improved relations with community members (see McElroy. 316). In other words. Ross. Moreover. which claims that “to be successful. Wycoff & Skogan. 1994. However. Yeh.Law enforcement and community policing  279 [No] police anywhere has ever existed. of police power. COP efforts can sometimes be viewed as the “cart-before-the horse” phenomenon because programs have been implemented “without first creating the organizational environment to sustain them on a large scale” (Rosenbaum. INTERGROUP ISSUES CURRENTLY AFFECTING COP We see such precursors to strain in police/community relations in Lurigio and Skogan’s (1994) work on staff perceptions of COP. In his final analysis. This is not to say that COP cannot have beneficial effects on officers by means of increased job satisfaction (see Rosenbaum & Lurigio. 36). However. and a source of concern to. 1994. community policing initiatives must be compatible with the existing culture and organizational climate in a department and with the basic concerns and needs of police personnel” (p. The obstacle of COP overcoming historic wounds within communities fearful of the police illustrates but one intergroup issue hindering the development and implementation of effective COP programs. any citizens’ resistance to COP can serve to damage police attitudes toward community members. p. COP may seem to citizens like. the power woven into the fabric of police identity is simultaneously desired by. 12). nor is it possible to conceive of a genuine police ever existing. Cosgrove. Reciprocally. Reiss (1967) described this as a double-bind situation. Sadd & Grinc. Such fears can foster a reluctance for civilians to partake in seemingly well-intentioned COP programs. 329). 451). & Wilkinson. 1993. if not distrustful. stating that citizens are “skeptical. citizens. disorganized areas of the city where residents have for generations borne the brunt of police abuses. 1993. thus symbolizing the potential for police violence even toward law-abiding citizens (Lawrence. it would not be a police (pp. in turn. even police administra- . 9–10). 1993). yet they see police power as the most obvious solution to their problem” (p. Klockars defines the police as “…institutions or individuals given the general right to use coercive force by the state within the state’s domestic territory” (p. Grinc (1994) noted that: …community policing projects are usually initiated [in] typically poor. that does not claim the right to compel other people forcibly to do something. The fact that police have this power opens up the possibility for it to be abused.

if officers do not believe in COP.g. After all. COP implementers assume and trust that citizens’ newly acquired positive feelings toward COP officers will carry over to all officers in their department. Without clear operational definitions of COP from those developing and implementing the programs. otherwise. Even citizens highly supportive of the police and their efforts are restricted from active involvement without such clarity. and what roles they can play in it. which suggests that positive interpersonal contact between members of groups can lead to liking between the individuals involved (e. However. As Grinc (1994) noted.. However. could benefit from its enactment). thus leading them to feel hostile toward community members unwilling to “better their own lives” by partaking in COP activities (Grinc. citizens can either discount . having officers be plain-clothed and talking about their own personal lives as citizens. This finding raises some interesting notions about the influence of various social identities within the police force on attitudes toward COP. few would argue that community involvement is central to the success of COP. This notion plays off traditional intergroup contact theory (see Hewstone & Brown. older officers. 1994). Just as the implementation of COP may strain intradepartmental relations by disrupting the status quo. THEORIES OF INTERGROUP CONTACT AND SOCIAL IDENTITY At all levels. 461). He further suggested that more heterogeneous community populations make the task of assessing community values and the perceptions of problems all the more difficult for police departments shifting to COP programs. but law enforcement in general. such an oversight could serve to strain police/community relations during efforts to strengthen them through COP. 1986). Clearly. Interestingly. Ironically. too).280  Studies in language and social interaction tors and officers initially excited about COP can meet with unaccommodating citizens out in the field. despite COP’s definitional ambiguities. though. police and civilians need a better understanding of each other’s social identities in the process of COP instigation and development. Rosenbaum & Lurigio. 329).” Otherwise. many citizens are also unaware of what COP means. and higher-ranking officers expressed more favorable attitudes toward community policing in Chicago” (p. “police. Although more contact-based approaches to policing have become popular recently (see Grinc. then. current research shows no guarantees that residents will actively involve themselves in the process. to be truly effective in changing attitudes toward “the police” per se. why should civilians? Lurigio and Skogan (1994) also found that “minority officers (especially African Americans). from the interpersonal to the organizational level. “that people live in the same ecological space and possess the same racial and class backgrounds is by no means an indication that they define values and problems in the same way” (p. positive contact must be combined with citizens’ beliefs that the target officers are typical representatives of the social category. COP must improve citizens’ attitudes not only toward local officers. 1994). 1994. so too may it damage relations between groups in the community (who. COP programs typically reveal an unreferenced reliance on encouraging very favorable contact between officers and civilians. To be truly effective. communication research and theory is virtually invisible in the COP literature. We will now draw on intergroup communication theory with the conviction that it can contribute to a much fuller and pragmatic understanding of COP effectiveness.

when a group vocally. a clear need exists for a better theoretical understanding of how to best improve police/citizen relations and communication through COP. 1979). however. and sometimes with civil actions. The communicative parameters of the processes involved have been applied to a number of different intergroup settings.” and changing the meaning with the acronym.g. A further set of “social competition” strategies are invoked.. intergroup communication theory has not been utilized with regard to police/citizen relations where the creation of communicative distances from both parties are rationale tactics leading to misattribution. Indeed. developing new.Law enforcement and community policing  281 such contacts as individual exceptions or confine them to a unique subcategory while leaving their previous attitudes toward officers. and the generations (Harwood.e. Asian American. 1996. Fox & Giles. outgroup. more dominant. Examples also come in the form of having law enforcement refer to themselves as “peace” officers and using negative terms to their advantage (as in adopting the negative slur for an officer. Cargile & Giles. questions the status and power of another. COP efforts are socially creative because they demonstrate an innovative repackaging of the police image. 1999). Weatheritt (1988) noted that the . by adopting more positive group labels.. persons with and without physical disabilities (Fox & Giles. The essence of Tajfel and Turner’s (1986) social identity theory (SIT) suggests that we define ourselves in terms of our membership in various social groups. In all of these. Such differentiation between self and others is readily apparent in an examination of the stigma sometimes associated with policing (see later). or even worse. intact (see Hewstone. Contact (and hence communication) between groups can then bring both our personal and our social identities into play. 1995) as well as in critically examining training and social policies designed to engender healthy intergroup contact (e. To date. 1993). under certain psychological conditions. & Ryan.. Negatively stereotyping other groups (i. 1986) is often neglected in the COP literature. we feel good about ourselves when we have achieved a positive group identity. Indeed. The authors argued that we constantly strive to feel good about our membership in our social groups in order to maintain a positive self-image. or diverge from. and so on. Giles.g. In effect. “pig. through the use of taunts and slurs) is a not infrequent way in which people can feel good about their own group membership and obtain a feeling of positive distinctiveness. These groups of ours can range from being a police officer. & Routh. PrideIntegrity-Guts). valued art forms including dance and music). Hopkins. 1996). moves to nonaccommodate to. Knowing whether these social identities are positive or not depends on where our particular social groups stand in comparison to other social groups in society. see Tajfel & Turner. gay. ethnic groups (Giles. miscommunication. With national attention being brought to this issue by former President Clinton and a number of high-profile cases involving the charge of police brutality. An important feature of SIT is the so-called “social creativity strategies” that members adopt in order to assume a more positive identity (e. in general. the speech and nonverbal styles of outgroup members are fundamental strategies of social differentiation by people in search of a sustained or enhanced positive identity. such as between: the genders (Boggs & Giles. female. the need to build strong personal relations between civilians and officers (so-called “high interindividual contact”) while not underplaying or camouflaging the fact that two distinct groups with their own codes and values are actually engaging each other (“high intergroup contact”. 1992). Returning to SIT.

1967. This reasoning opens the door for the possibility that anyone may be stigmatized depending on the social context. ironically. with COP programs. Although Crocker and Major (1989) did note similarities between ingroup-outgroup and stigmatized-nonstigmatized group interactions. traffic stops) but. the stigma often associated with policing further reveals the dynamic of differentiation (distinguishing “us” from “them”) inherent in SIT. much of citizens’ (oftentimes negative) attitudes toward the police (see Ennis. media are exported throughout the world. and should. Crocker. As an outgroup. However.282  Studies in language and social interaction nebulously defined COP was actually used by British police to raise their public image without making substantive behavioral or organizational changes. but by the broader society or culture” (p. 2000). instead. 1982) are not based on personal experience (e. all of this makes it difficult for officers to be treated fairly in society. discounted one” (p. Unlike being a member of a stigmatized group. dedicated. The advent of COP was based on recognition of a societal negativity felt toward officers and an acceptance that “coercive force” needed to be publicly accountable. they are quick to mention that “stigmatized groups are devalued not only by specific ingroups. to combat negative media images of the police is not an easy task. then. stereotypical images of the police characteristic of the U. but in the possession of that attribute in a particular social setting. According to Van den Bulck (1998). and Steele (1998) made the important point that the devaluation of a particular social identity resides not in the actual stigmatized attribute one possesses.g. 609). 1967. and professional—qualities that are valued in our culture—“may. Combined with the taunts and slurs often lobbied at the police. action oriented or romantic. Arcuri (1977) argued that even television shows that help the police image by portraying officers as competent. is all-consuming in the eyes of others and nearly eradicates the possibility that this stigmatized person will be viewed as a unique individual who merely happens to have a devalued attribute. A “master status” stigma. lead the public to expect too much” (p. be balanced by. wherever possible. creative and joint problem solving with the community it serves and of which it is a part. Reiss. including those in a position of power. may be informed substantially by media influences (Perlmutter. Indeed. However. and stigmatizable. “in almost every movie or television series—be they serious or comic. groups. a characteristic shared by stigmatized. well trained. The possession of such an attribute reduces that individual in the eyes of the nonstigmatized “from a whole and usual person to a tainted. 237). the police can at times be both revered and despised depending . being a member of an outgroup in and of itself is not sufficient to indicate societal oppression or make clear one’s place in the social hierarchy. 3).. Gofftnan (1963) used the term stigma to refer to an attribute of an individual that is tarnishing in a highly discrediting way. Major. in effect.S. to make policing palatable to the public by challenging negative media images and stereotypes about the police. mainstream or alternative— there is at least one cop” (p. being a member of a profession such as law enforcement challenges the assumption of a societal consensus of devaluation with respect to stigmatized groups in general. or even give way to. Furthermore. White & Menke. Although the typical goals of COP appear to be legitimate and admirable. COP is an attempt. 1). In fact. STIGMA AND POLICING As with taunts and slurs.

Indeed. However. The fact that people choose to go into law enforcement—with the ease of putting on or taking off their uniforms reflecting the voluntary nature of this identity—demonstrates the likelihood that citizens who do stigmatize law enforcement may judge them more harshly. blemishes of individual character. Furthermore. having power both separates the police from typically stigmatized groups and helps make them one. 1984)—practically become abominations of the body due to the negative attitudes that can be triggered in citizens simply by seeing an officer on duty. The 60s. The desire to go into law enforcement may be viewed by many as being most akin to the second of Goffman’s (1963) three types of stigma. in which two AfricanAmerican men try to convince a peer to join the Black . 4). the example of the slain officer at the opening of this chapter shows this to be the case.Law enforcement and community policing  283 on the situation and the social identities of those interacting with these officers. he did argue that this type of stigma “can be transmitted through lineages and equally contaminate all members of a family” (p. The fact that officers can be hailed as valued heroes or frowned upon as evil-doers reveals a dimension of social status attainment unlike that of typically stigmatized groups. because Jones et al. tribal stigmas. 56–57). With respect to law enforcement. Ironically. abominations of the body. the perceived controllability of stigmatizing marks also play a role in classifying the police as stigmatized. (1984): [Many scholars] concerned with stigma hold that the afflicted person’s role in producing the mark is an important influence in the stigmatizing process…[and] that a marked individual is treated better when he or she is judged not to be responsible for the condition (pp. Officers have been thought of as oppressor. believed that those who can conceal their stigmatizing mark will do so. Although Goffman (1963) claimed that tribal stigmas are explicitly related to race. This increased degree of felt responsibility for the creation of the mark runs counter to Goffrnan’s (1963) first type of stigma. The notion of passing down a tribal stigma makes sense with respect to law enforcement when the history of their power is taken into account. yet different from. According to Jones et al. Having any of these traits suggest that one could control them if only one tried. Although this perception could stem from the legal and weaponry powers accorded them. nation. which includes supposed character flaws such as being weak-willed. they contribute to construing law enforcement as a stigmatized group when viewed through the lens of Goffman’s third type. or rigid in one’s beliefs. domineering. thereby helping to create and reinforce negative public attitudes toward the police. before the Civil Rights Act (1964). such people are often treated more sympathetically than those believed to have some control over it. a commonly held belief is that those with an authoritarian personality are more prone to go into law enforcement. uniforms—a major form of nonverbal communication (Gundersen & Hopper. and religion (rather than law enforcement). Because having a physical deformity usually stems from a genetic anomaly. For instance. an oppressed group. All this makes law enforcement similar to. One example comes from an NBC television miniseries. officers enforced seemingly now unethical and immoral laws of racial segregation.

although four White police officers were cleared of any wrong doing in their shooting of a 20year-old African-American woman (December.. the final stage in SIT. And. boomerang recipients of oppression themselves. see Giles et al. It is our believe that intergroup theories of communication such as intergroup contact and social identity theory (as well as communication accommodation theory. and brutally. and evaluation of COP programs. it might just work. irresponsibly.g. “They oughta have two new requirements for being on the police [force]: intelligence and decency. this means little without widespread community support. implementation. law enforcement was viewed by some members of stigmatized (and nonstigmatized) groups an instrument of societal oppression. Long-standing racial and police/citizen divides are further strained by a lack of public understanding for police action. to some degree. 1991) can aid the COP process at all levels by providing predictive and explanatory power. suggesting that social competition. Although they have power. Indeed. although the police assisted in desegregating the public school system in the 1960s.. The Pig takes him down” (February 8. this reflects both current and decades-old notions about law enforcement acting inappropriately. numerous members of the African-American community challenged the court’s findings through public outcries and protest marches. This vividly illustrates that. but any convincing rationale for it has been under-disclosed to the community by the police via the media. For example. George Carlin. COP reflects an attempt by police to retool their public image. 1998). public questions concerning racism in policing today seem almost natural given the legal and weaponry power available to the police. The use of intergroup communication theories in our understanding of COP and officer/citizen relations becomes all the more important given media depictions of the police. 1999). family occasions—where gang violence in previous years had been intolerably acute—are not only historically-misunderstood by young people. The communication inherent in police/citizen encounters dictates the need for more theory-based research concerning the development. In fact. a large-scale police presence and zero tolerance for even seemingly inconsequential misdemeanors (e. officers have become. Every time a black man tries to show his pride. the stigma associated with policing.284  Studies in language and social interaction Panthers in the midst of a street riot. Although just one example. This “shoot the messenger” type tribal stigma is still evident today. at least at this point in time. and the conflicting attitudes toward the police due to their controversial legal power. . One of them says. jaywalking) on festive. instances of perceived police brutality have called police power into question. it certainly hasn’t been tried yet” (February 1999). Having been perceived as agents of oppression through both tribal and blemishes of character stigmatization. You never can tell. EPILOGUE The complexities of police/citizen relations suggest that COP programs face many challenging obstacles that must be addressed and overcome before such programs can be very effective and truly change negative public attitudes toward the police and police practices. “We don’t blame you if you’re scared. may start to unravel more traditional methods of policing. in his HBO Comedy Special suggested—to raves of cheers from the audience—that.

. B. to hone in on and study its various dimensions.P. & Giles. Crocker. Criminal victimization in the United States. 3) The kinds of accommodative strategies adopted by these groups in their intergroup encounters are critical if COP is to be effective. 423–451. Taking into account intergroup communication dynamics allows for a fuller understanding of what happens before. Clearly. the definitional flexibility of COP allows us. Handbook of social psychology 4th Ed. within and between their groups. stereotypes. Negative attitudes toward law enforcement. can be explicated. L. 7. in turn. H. (1999). Communication Yearbook 19. H. Let the wheelchair through! An intergroup approach to interability communication. as they apply to COP. Police for the future. (1977). J. Fox. (1998). (1993). In W. & Giles. Crocker.H. A. & Giles. Washington. and perceived power differences between officers and citizens may all serve to undermine COP efforts. (1994). P. Human Relations. and they include: 1) A blend of high intergroup plus high interindividual contact between officers and citizens is most conducive to changing civilians’ attitudes toward law enforcement in general. C. 96. in press). B. & Giles.F. (1967). McGraw Hill. Cargile.. International Journal of Applied Linguistics. “The canary in the cage”: The nonaccommodation cycle in the gendered workplace. 215–248). Gardner. However. You’t take fingerprints off water: Police officers’ views toward “cop” television shows. Departmental. Government Printing Office. Major. only a flavor of the implications of the aforementioned theoretical positions.. (1989).Gilbert.). S. (1996). 504–553).. Intercultural communication training: A critical review and new theoretical perspective. (1996).Robinson (Ed. 22. 608–630. 2) An awareness of each other’s social identities can aid departmental and community members alike in understanding and predicting their relationships. 237–247. 385–423. A. Accommodating intergenerational contact: A critique and theoretical model. DC: U.... this chapter is a call to scholarly arms for communication theorists and researchers to contribute their much needed expertise to the timely area of communication and law enforcement (Giles. Bayley. Boggs.Law enforcement and community policing  285 Given spatial constraints here. as communication scholars. media images.S. COP is in many ways a conceptual enigma. & Steele. J. Ennis. C. H. H. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann. In D. this intergroup arena. Social groups and identities: Developing the legacy of Henri Tajfel (pp.). S. (pp. and after COP implementation. New York: Oxford University Press. 223–245. Social stigma. Fox. holds many unique possibilities for testing the tenets of a range of inter cultural and intergroup models. REFERENCES Arcuri. & S. This knowledge would allow the developers and implementers of COP programs to fully utilize the aspects of COP that work.H. police/community. Psychological Review.. Journal of Aging Studies. & Major. and community divisions can erupt from a lack of understanding of just what COP is intended to accomplish and just who is responsible for its success. D. Social stigma and self-esteem: The selfprotective properties of stigma. 30. during. with respect to COP implementation and development. however.Fiske (Eds. Simply put.

(2000). M. and evaluation findings. (1988). J.R. (1994). Amsterdam: John Benjamins. Contact is not enough: An intergroup perspective on the “contact hypothesis”. (2000).J.286  Studies in language and social interaction Giles. In J. Grinc. NJ: Erlbaum. Cosgrove. E.Greene & S. V. Making news of police violence: A comparative study of Toronto and New York City. Yeh. NJ: Prentice-Hall. 219–234. Crime & Delinquency. In M.J.). (in press).. Lawrence. (1986). (1992). Gundersen.. (1994). Guarino-Ghezzi. E. Coupland. H.. Harwood. Ethnicity markers in speech. Miller. New York: Harper & Row. D. & Taylor. Englewood Cliffs.G. & Scott. “Angels in marble”: Problems in stimulating community involvement in community policing. Oxford: Blackwell. 133–159).. New York: Freeman.Brown (Eds.F. Cognitive models of stereotype change: (1) Generalization and subtyping on young people’s views of the police. S. pp. Crime & Delinquency.L.G. A. Law enforcement. San Francisco: Acada Books. S. Giles. 40. Hillsdale. 1. & Skogan.H. communication. New York: Cambridge University Press. D. D. Markus. H. The politics of force: Media and the construction of police brutality.T. 1–44)... J. (1984). Ross.R. 40.. Government Printing Office. 40. R. Crime & Delinquency. R. and criminal justice. Jones.. & Lurigio. Contact and conflict in intergroup encounters (pp. Crime & Delinquency. & Wilkinson.. A.J.M. (1967). Cop talk: Essential communication skills for community policing.S. D. 437–468.. & Sadd. J. Jr. Crime & Delinquency. R. The idea of police. D. McElroy.Hewstone & R. In Studies in crime and law enforcement in major metropolitan areas (Vol. Community policing: CPOP in New York. In K. A..). C. H. & Coupland. N.H. Giles. (1995).Scherer & H..P.). Hewstone. An inside look at community policing reform: Definitions. In J. Berkeley: University of California Press. and intergroup theory: Social identity and intergenerational communication. CA: Sage.I.Nussbaum & J. Rosenbaum. 299–314..) (1991). 315–330. Reintegrative police surveillance of juvenile offenders: Forging an urban model. Public perceptions and recollections about crime. and community. organizational changes. Giles. Aging.. Hopkins. 34–47). Policing the media: Street cops and publics perceptions of law enforcement Thousand Oaks. (1984) Communication and law enforcement. Winning the hearts and minds of police officers: An assessment of staff perceptions of community policing in Chicago. Greene. A.. (1994). DC: U.Giles (Eds. W.). 331–353.. Washington.P. (1985). 40. R. R.. 22. (Eds. E.).. Perlmutter. communication. Reiss. Stigma: Notes on the management of spoiled identity. law enforcement. (1994). (1999). CA: Sage. Impact of community policing on police personnel: A quasi-experimental test.B. H. Social stigma: The psychology of marked relationships. A.B. Klockars. 40. & Hopper. & Braziel. A. (Ed. 195–223). & Routh. Hewstone. & Ryan.Coupland (Eds.B.E. & Brown. M. R. Goffman. Handbook of communication and aging research (pp. New York: Praeger .. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (1979).. Beverly Hills. (1994). Community-based policing and foot patrol: Issues of theory and evaluation. D. The contexts of accommodation. J. New York: Praeger. J. R.D. (2000).. Newbury Park. (1963). 251–289). H. Kidd. Mastrofski (Eds. Farina. S. Social markers in speech (pp. Lurigio. Community policing: Rhetoric or reality? (pp. Rosenbaum. C. N. European Journal of Social Psychology.. Hastorf. 131–153. CA: Sage. (1993).

G. New Brunswick.F. Assessing the mood of the public toward the police: Some conceptual issues.C. NJ: Rutgers University Press. In J.M. 1–8.G. 10. Psychology of intergroup relations (pp. H. M. & Skogan. Thompson. Springfield.M. B.Greene & S.D. (1986). R.). Community policing: Rhetoric or reality? (pp.. New York: Vera Institute. Van den Bulck.R. Verbal judo: Words for street survival. Wycoff. E. Attitudes toward community policing: A causal analysis. IL: Thomas. Sykes.. J. 103–120). (1988). “Sideshow Bobby”: Images of the police in Flemish film and television. H. (1983).D.. J. (1993).Austin (Eds. DC: The Police Foundation.L.. & Grinc.J.E. Communication: A unique significance for law enforcement. S.Greene & S. M.Mastrofski (Eds. (1986).). 33. . Yates. (1998).. In S. 211–230. 193–209. & Brent.Worchel & W.H. G. The benefits of community policing: Evidence and conjecture. (1993). In J. White. M. & Pillai.A. Weatheritt. Criminal Justice. Chicago: Nelson-Hall.). & Finley. Issues in community policing: An evaluation of eight innovative neighborhood-oriented policing projects (Final Technical Report). (1982). Community policing: Rhetoric or reality. D. Washington. Springfield. IL: Thomas. The Social Science Journal.K.. New York: Praeger.Law enforcement and community policing  287 Sadd. W. 225–238). Wycoff. Tajfel.E. M. & Turner. (1983).R. (1988). (1996). Womack. New York: Praeger. Community policing: Rhetoric or reality? (pp. 7–24).. The social psychology of intergroup behavior. 4. & Menke.Mastrofski (Eds. Public Voices. V. R. Policing: A social behaviorist perspective. M. Quality policing in Madison: An evaluation of its implementation and impact (Final Technical Report).

each of which arises before the chance to accuse another person of wrongdoing. Morris. don’t fix it. 1991. By engaging in alignment. Ragan & Hopper. San Marcos When individuals feel they have been wronged by another party.Morris California State University. they face the choice to pass over the present (Hopper. (c) giving an advisory. and (g) formulating a problem with another’s conduct without making an accusation. how and when is it prudent to engage in the process of alignment? This essay is a celebration of early. But how serious must a divergence be in order to warrant remedial intervention? Can earlier. Similarly. explicit reproach by another person. Morris & Hopper. These opportunities include: (a) Not creating an expectation that will probably be violated. It argues that when it comes to alignment in social interaction. 1975. Alignment is interactional sensemaking. (b) crystallizing expectations.” This dichotomy is of some importance for the study of alignment (Hewitt and Stokes. In either case. the promised party has the right to expect that the promise will be fulfilled. an expectation is established that the agreed upon action will occur. to disclaim. (e) disclaiming offensive intent. 1981) or to take some form of remedial action (Goffman. to acknowledge the pending problem.” On the other hand. when a promise is made. the better. When problems do occur. occur before and may make unnecessary. 1981) because it gets to the heart of how and when people align. overlooking or avoiding a problem has much to recommend it because it might avoid transforming nonserious troubles into more serious problematic situations: “If it ain’t broke. more drastic actions unnecessary? Overall. one can avert being held accountable for actions by declining to promise to do them or otherwise . the earlier. Several opportunities.H. 1971). 1987. when individuals are in the process of doing something they anticipate another person may not approve. preventive attempts to keep interactional problems from deepening. they can be dealt with before neglect or poorly executed remedial work worsens them: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. (f) giving a proactive account for an apparent divergence. 1984). milder remedial actions make later. taking an early opportunity to remedy a potential or actual problem can restrict or contain the problem and keep it from growing in seriousness. NOT CREATING AN EXPECTATION THAT WILL PROBABLY BE VIOLATED When one person invites another to do something and he or she agrees. Thus. Similarly. collectively referred to here as “preventatives” (McLaughlin.20 Preventatives in Social Interaction G. and accounting for divergences. These earlier opportunities to align. they can choose whether to desist. are illustrated. 1980. Its key processes are creating expectations for interactants’ conduct. (d) notifying someone of a pending divergence from expectations. or to account for their actions. participants forge tighter correspondences between their actions and expectations. formulating divergences from such expectations.

1994). She declines the invitation with no equivocation and it appears from Pam’s reply that no expectation was created.Preventatives in social interaction  289 creating an expectation for performance. & Iltis. This would appear to be superior to another choice available to her.. For instance: UTCL. which would be to accept the invitation. 1972) of rules. White. one outcome of their remedial/legislative interaction is a crystallization (Cushman & Whiting. Glo’s description of her prior promise suggests that it would not be possible to both do what she has previously obligated herself to do and also go with Pam. Moreover. Morris.and I promised her that I 04   would…go over there cause I have…to return the 05   car and then she’s babysittin so we’re…going to 06   take the little girl to go get her something to 07   eat… 08 Pam: ((laughter)) Okay well just thought I’d call. and this account explains why the invited party cannot do what has been invited (Heritage. and this has the potential to avert problematic interaction in the future. 1989. When people experience problematic situations. earlier crystallization of rules might circumvent later troubles. In this instance. For instance. Such failures would occasion later remedial attempts that would be more challenging for the parties to negotiate than if no failure had been allowed to crop up in the first place. A21:12–13 (simplified) 01 Pam: I’d love for you to come if you want to 02 Glo: Well I would but I just talked to my sister 03   a few minutes ago. and possibly fail to conform with one or more of them. try to accomplish all four expectations. Examinations of declined invitations show that when invitations are declined an account is generally provided. CRYSTALLIZING EXPECTATIONS Morris and Hopper (1980. 1987) considered alignment partly as a matter of achieving greater consensus on rules governing interaction. the therapist’s instruction to one party to let another speak may have been unnecessary had ground rules for this already been established and understood: FAM:B2 (simplified) 01 TH: Oh you gotta house er somethin? 02 RP: He’s gotta property right around the corner he 03   doesn’t havta pay rent deposit he doesn’t havta pay [anything (he owns his own) property] 04   05 TH: [Let me hear it from him cause he’s] 06   gotta deal with the reality 07 F: I’m probably not going ta stay in the area .. in the following excerpt from Jones and Beach’s (1995) analysis of therapy talk.

So. For instance.290  Studies in language and social interaction It is not known whether earlier opportunities to align were used in the preceding case. GIVING AN ADVISORY It sometimes happens that a person can anticipate that another person is likely to commit an error in a particular circumstance. So . 01 Attendant: Okay now Doctor Smithers. 1991). when initiating talk in first sessions of therapy. 1988) is a technique for averting the problem by issuing the needed information or reminding the other person of the need to perform some act.) 09   things are going in a good direction. the woman’s narrative about what brings the couple for therapy unfolded without unsolicited contributions from the husband. . simplified). In the following instance. Recognizing that members’ explanations are likely to differ. either of 10   you. and it is plausible that the therapist’s clarification of his expectations helped to bring this about. the therapist queries the couple about this. it is typical for a marriage and family therapist to call for an explanation of what brings a couple to therapy. by whom. For instance. Giving this warning at this point was. 01 TH: how will you know when actually (. We don’t close at 04   midnight on Saturday like usual The aim of this advisory is to forestall a repetition of a problem that had happened the previous day. an error might be probable because that person lacks a critical piece of information. successful in preventing a more serious problem of either having to stay open for 5 hours in order to release a car or closing and ruining the goodwill of a regular customer.hh I wanna ask each of you (. For instance: Parking lot (Morris. 1988. you could 12 W: hhhhh Alright In subsequent talk. Giving an advisory (Morris. to reply: O’Hanlon Session (Simplified. 02   Now you come back here to pick up 03   your car by seven today. in turn. whoever wants to start 11 H: You made the call. from Gale.) how 05   will you know and then I may ask you some questions 06   so I make sure I understand that in a pretty good 07   way and I wanna know how you’ll know ultimately 08   and what will be the first sign you’ll see (. asking explicitly for each member. But such opportunities do occur typically in early sessions and/or when particular kinds of interventions are being set up. in fact. the therapist might establish some ground rules to govern what will be talked about.) things are 02   better? and uh or things are where you want them 03   to be in your relationship or whatever you are 04   coming for.

he also bids to “work something out. 1975). the opportunity often exists to alert the expectant party to the pending problem in time for him or her to be less inconvenienced by the failure. creating interpretations of potentially problematic events intended to make them unproblematic when they occur” (p. Hewitt & Stokes. This student’s account of his illness explains how the troubles he encountered kept him from finishing the assignment on schedule. I also had some stomach and diarrhea problems. 1984. if someone is not going to be performing up to specifications.Preventatives in social interaction  291 NOTIFYING SOMEONE OF A PENDING DIVERGENCE FROM EXPECTATIONS When a social actor first learns that he or she is going to be unable to do something another person expects. which may lessen the penalties that may be assessed. disclaimers are prospective. a woman is telling a marriage and family therapist why she and her husband sought his help. and whereas she is shortly going to explain their problems as stemming from his having had an affair. perhaps he or she can at least get credit for a good attempt to comply. For instance.” Because the student’s speech is almost ready. I know this will put a bind on your speaking schedule and I’m very sorry. which are retrospective in their effect. 2). DISCLAIMING OFFENSIVE INTENT By offering disclaimers (Bell. defining the future in the present. Following is a note that illustrates this kind of prior notification: TS1. Disclaimers are given along with or immediately preceding a potentially offensive deed. Today the fever is gone but I still have diarrhea with an upset stomach. she offers a disclaimer of her intention to hurt him as she discloses his affair to the therapist. social actors forestall an undesired-but-likely-to-be-ascribed interpretation of their conduct. I hope we can work something out. . I woke up yesterday with a fever. In the following example.” A couple of the features of this note may be characteristic of such advance notifications: First. 1978:4 (A student’s note sent through an intermediary)   I’m sorry but I will not be in class to give my speech today. it shouldn’t be too hard to make new arrangements. Quite truthfully. Second. Zahn. Recognizing that his failure presents a scheduling problem for the teacher. some of which represent him more negatively than others. the note seems to minimize the extent of the failure by characterizing the situation as a “near miss. Achievements such as these would be more difficult to undertake after a failure has already occurred. Hewitt and Stokes wrote that: “Unlike accounts and quasi-theories. Because there are many ways to explain such a thing. I’m not quite through with the speech but probably could have managed if I hadn’t gotten sick. & Hopper. teachers are often notified that students are not going to be in class on the date an assignment is due.

Uh Uh What I came up with is that I could prepare it . is between an embedded and a late disclaimer. Providing an unsolicited account of a problem gives the actor the first chance to characterize the situation and provides an opportunity to suggest ways to handle the consequences of the situation. If the consequences of the failure can be handled easily.hhh um coming home late 04   from work 05   (1. perhaps the account will appear more acceptable. however. and Sias (1995). It averts surprise and elicits consent. These authors argued that such embedded disclaimers were superior to “early” disclaimers in the medical hotline calls they examined. In addition to giving explanations and possibly providing relief. an actor can account proactively for the situation.   S: 02   1978:1 ((greeting exchange)) I’m trying to figure out how I can get my speech in. 1971). parties can and do discuss and attempt to manage consequences of the divergence. however. The important distinction here. the disclaimer in the preceding example is “embedded” in that it occurs close to the possibly offensive action it is designed to cushion. 12   he wasn’t there I just could see it in his eyes. the student first bids to address how to handle the situation: (3C)   01 TS1.He’d been >comin home< late from 11   work and he just was.292  Studies in language and social interaction “Laying in Limbo” 01 W: …and that’s what led up to this point 02   Recently .didn’t didn’t care.hhh he had beem . in the follow-up meeting to the student note case previously examined.I’m not saying this to hurt you= 07 H: =^I know 08 W: It’s to help us= 09 H: =I know 10 W: so::. Ward. 13   Well he came home February thirteenth 14   and announced that he was seein somebody… In terms developed by Hopper. in each of which some form of medical disclaimer was obligatory. To illustrate. and the superiority of the embedded disclaimer should be evident.hhh February thirteenth I’ll never forget 03   the date . after an exchange of greetings. GIVING AN UNSOLICITED ACCOUNT FOR AN POSSIBLE DIVERGENCE After a possibly inappropriate act has occurred but before being reproached. and this account may or may not be relieved (Gofftnan.6) 06   pt and. Thomason. This may include considering the penalties that may be assessed. A key advantage of providing an unsolicited account is that lesser penalties may result.

but uh (. after the student accepts her counterproposal of Line 22. it (.) turn in what I’ve done and everything and get partial credit or something for it. In the following instance. I could do mine then. uh written out lengthwise for the speech. the teacher measures out the penalty she plans to exact. 1998.) it was something (. Simply by formulating the problem with another’s conduct (Morris. The parties agreed to a lesser penalty than would have been assessed had the student not taken the initiative to account for and address the consequences of his failure. and then if I don’t get a chance to do it (. Had it.) What do you think about that? About having it ready and like last time at the end there was people who didn’t show up to give their speeches or anything. a state tax enforcement officer is calling a delinquent taxpayer: . FORMULATING A PROBLEM WITH ANOTHER’S CONDUCT WITHOUT MAKING AN ACCUSATION. and I was gettin’ ready to do the note cards when (. 1988).) fever and diarrhea. Saturday. the student recycled his earlier apology and account before again bidding to address how to handle the consequences of his failure: 07 08 09 10 11 12 13 14 15 16                     17 18     19 20 21 22       T: I’m really sorry about what happened. When it comes to the point that one person’s conduct has diverged from expectations. uh. November). uh.) just turn it in (. and another person opts to initiate a remedial episode rather than passing over the present.) I don’t don’t what it was (. there is still a chance to align without engaging in an aggravated reproach (Cody & McLaughlin. I’ve got everything pretty much finished now and the only thing I have to do is get the outline typed up.) I didn’t get better until Thursday (. There is another option… In later action not shown.) I found out I had some sort of flu ((cough)) but uh. Only then does she provide relief for his account.Preventatives in social interaction  293 03 04 05 06         so like I could have it ready and then like if somebody’s absent and didn’t show up to do their speech. 1978) and aggravated disparagement (Morris. a person can elicit an account and thereby foreswear blaming (Pomerantz. Uh When the teacher did not reply. 1985). Well. no previous opportunity was taken by either party to align.

stating also the evidence he has for this claim. (1.at that time (. 06 TP: Right 07 TC: Right 08 TP: And (. The problem .4) 17   Urn and I you know to get everything up to date.) everything and I am putting it 13   togethe::r a:::nd uh I am planning to have it all (1. He focused entirely on the technical problem of acquiring the tax return and never addressed the taxpayer’s account. the tax collector might have offered some sort of response (e. Warrens Good morning. Mundie will be your [last 24 25 TP: [yeah 26 TC: day. Well. the tax collector did not use his turn at Line 07 to further expound on the problem or attribute blame for the problem to the taxpayer. He does so by announcing that he does not have a tax return for the taxpayer.is what I 15   I’m tryin to use as a target time for myself 16   (2. Okay… As the caller. When the taxpayer has acknowledged that this is correct.) in April May and June. This occasions the taxpayer’s report about his attempts to file the returns and the troubles he has had in the process.ov.g.) I’m in the process of getting all that 09   together at the present time I. Youyou 18   don’t have one for that period or for the next period 19   right 20 TC : No we don’ t.7) 10   I:: uh stopped using the accountant that I had 11   been using up to that point.overdue 22   now is it 23 TC: No sir the third quarter will be not is will not be due?   until Mundie. an assessment) to this account. 02   I’m with the state comptroller’s office 03 TP: Yes sir 04 TC: I’m looking at your record in front of me? and we: 05   do not have a return (. This is Ernest Joseph sir. he seems to treat his announcement as now complete.4) a::nd so I got 12   behind but I have (. let’s see it isn’t over. 21 TP: Not quite. but he did not.5) 14   together hopefully this weekend is what I. by repeating the taxpayer’s certification of what he had reported (“right”). Instead. 27 TP: Yeah 28 TC: HHH If you can get that postmarked Mundie? And mail it 29   to me we can honor it without chargin you penalty 30 TP: Yeah.. At Line 16. the tax collector is obliged to make known why he is calling.294  Studies in language and social interaction Tax Collector/Merchant 01 TC: Mr.

R. & Sacks. interpretation of the possibly offensive deed can be transformed.. With such a proactive approach. and after the commission of inappropriate actions. Communication Quarterly. 217–238. American Sociological Review. 1993) that may be repetitive and may compound and intensify the problem (Watzlawick. Weakland & Fisch. 22. Through a succession of opportunities prior to..J. Two types of institutional disclaimers at the Cancer Information Service.Cappella (Eds. The talk of the .Antaki (Ed.L. (1991). Norwood. P.P..). Goffman.. In fact. Cody. Human Communication Research. Disclaimers. 1985). R. Heritage. not just one. For the perpetrator of actions that others might disapprove. participants can manage to align their actions without ever resorting to any sort of aggravated reproach (Cody & McLaughlin. allows participants to formulate. alignment has been made more difficult because there are at least three accountables. (1989).. (1981). & McLaughlin. 1977) in social interaction which would operate to make reproaching another’s conduct an accountable act. 1–11. REFERENCES Bell.N. In C. There may be a general preference for self-repair (Schegloff. Buttny. 1974). Sequence and pattern in communicative behaviour (pp. M. (1985). Cushman. NJ: Ablex. 28-36. Sage. R. The taken-for-granted. R. Morris & R. and correct for an unfortunate situation without prompting cycles of blaming and accounting (Buttny. (1975). & J. & Whiting. (1971). Bevery Hills. J. Social accountability in communication. The reproacher is accountable for failing to allow the person who committed the offensive deed to initiate his or her own aligning actions with respect to it. An approach to communication theory: Toward consensus on rules. Hewitt. Accounts as explanations: A conversation analytic perspective. & Hopper. Conversation analysis of therapeutic discourse: The pursuit of a therapeutic agenda. J. Hopper. G.Chenail (Eds. M.M. 32. The actor is accountable for an actual failure to comply with expectations and is also culpable for not having used the prior opportunities to avert the problem. (1972). Jr. W. at the point of.C. In R. 40. R. Models for the sequential construction of accounting episodes: Situational and interactional constraints on messages selection and evaluation. Ward. CA: Sage. Jefferson. 195–211. Disclaiming. finding a use only when parties failed to grasp or execute earlier opportunities to align their actions and expectations.R.). Thomason. Thus. 7. 127–144). In G. expectations can be revised. R..A. D. If so. Zahn. E. Hopper. by the time an actor is reproached. Journal of Communication. aggravated reproach would appear to be a measure of last resort.H. (1993). London. (1995). early alignment is in both party’s interest. explain. C.L. Relations in public. & Sias.Street. J... Gale.Preventatives in social interaction  295 formulation with which he commenced the business of the call was entirely sufficient to dispose of the problem and the need to reproach the taxpayer never arose. and arrangements can be made that lessen the consequences of inappropriate acts.). DISCUSSION Both parties in problematic situations have several chances to dispose of shallow troubles before they become deep troubles.J. J. & Stokes. New York: Harper & Row. Making use of the earliest chances to align. there are very powerful strategic advantages of providing aligning actions without first having been reproached. (1984). 50–69). Analysing everyday explanation (pp.. finally. London: Edward Arnold.

Morris. New York. 12. Morris. Conversation: How talk is organized.H. (1987). Research on Language and Social Interaction. CA: Sage.H.296  Studies in language and social interaction clinic: Explorations in the analysis of medical and therapeutic discourse (pp. & Hopper. & Iltis. White.H. 7. Jefferson. & Fisch.H. & Beach.Morris & R.\Anderson (Ed. R. (1998. 401–411). & Sacks. New York: Norton. 53. Morris. (1981). Ragan. 27. G. Journal of Language and Social Psychology. Beverly Hills. (1980).. J. Quarterly Journal of Speech. Newbury Park. ..H. A. CA: Sage.. 49–69). Chenail (Eds. Hillsdale.A. C. 66.A. Research on Language and Social Interaction.L. McLaughlin. NJ: Erlbaum. (1988). Hillsdale. Morris. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association. (1977). Pomerantz. Weakland. Language. C. Journal of Applied Communication Research. NJ: Erlbaum. Schegloff. Alignment talk in the job interview.H. 266–274. Change: Principles of problem formation and problem resolution. Sociology. W. 123–144. S. but”: Reexamining the nature of accounts for problematic events. Attributions of responsibility: Blamings.H. G.. (1991). & Hopper. 1–25. The talk of the clinic: Explorations in the analysis of medical and therapeutic discourse (pp. 14 (pp. In J.J. R. M.. R. R. G.. H..). R. Alignment and aggravated disparagement: Malignant receipt of a problem formulation in therapy. 1–21. (1984)..L. “Well. (1974). E. 361–382. 9. Alignment talk and social confrontation. & Hopper. G. (1994). Watzlawick. Remediation and legislation in everyday talk: How communicators achieve consensus. G. Finding fault. 266–274. Jones. G. Morris.H.M. Therapists’ techniques for responding to unsolicited contributions by family members. In G. 21. Communication Yearbook. Symbolic action as alignment. 85–103. (1995).). Morris. 171–184). (1978). November). P. ordinarily I would. The preference for selfcorrection in the organization of repair for conversation. G..

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build their arguments only from the interactive. 247). but rather in behaviors exchanged by interactants. 1984. It also implicates several conversational devices in the construction of an “aha. These authors and others argue that understanding is a social creation. for example. it follows that understanding can never be a wholly individual phenomenon. Any consideration of understanding then should include a close examination of the participants’ interactive construction of that understanding. internal. for transcription conventions): . negotiated through interaction. which she provides in the following (see Jefferson.21 The Interactional Construction of Self-Revelation: Creating an “Aha” Moment E. Thus.” During this session. the counselor asks the wife for an account of the results of their discussion. not in one person’s mind. and psychological. communicative behaviors that are available to the participants themselves. what someone “understands” in interaction is not so much a psychological question as a social one. a wife (W) moves from one understanding of a discussion with her husband (H) to another. Pollner (1979) suggested that understanding is neither an entity nor an object in the mind or psyche of the actor. Frankel and Beckman (1989). In other words. 61). their counselor (C) discussed the need for this troubled couple to do a better job working out the details of their child care. Of particular interest to this study is the as yet unaddressed question of how new and novel understandings first emerge—what occasions a so-called “aha moment”? This brief essay provides data and analysis showing that even this seemingly most internal and psychological of moments in the understanding process may have an interactive component. They had been given the task of working through their next child care discussion calmly and effectively as “homework.Duff Wrobbel Southern Illinois University. Edwardsville We generally think of self-revelation—the sudden flash of insight the instant that we understand what something means—as something wholly individual. but rather is “a shorthand way of referring to a behavioral process or transaction in which the actor participated” (p. It exists. Is understanding then beyond the reach of ethnomethodology? Conversation analysts suggest otherwise. In a previous meeting. already in process.” ANALYSIS Let us now visit the data and consider how. during a therapy session. argued that “speakers and hearers continually negotiate meaning in and through conversational exchange and in so doing create social reality” (p. Conversation analysts. on the other hand.

and 418 that result in a “fleshing out” of the discussion by the wife. the counselor provides continuers (see Schegloff.8)     . 412. 414. The husband then offers a correction in Lines 422–423 (6 nights rather than 6 weeks).how was the negotiation process for the two of you (0.The interactional construction of self-revelation  299 408 409 410 411 412 413 414 415 416 417 418 419 C: W:     C: W: C: W:     C: W: 420 421 422 423 424 425     H:   W: C: °Um° Because we’re making a a change on Tuesday nights because I’m ‘11 be helping a friend go to some birthing classes? Urn hm? And um (.) for six weeks °Um hm° And he agreed he’s gonna watch em at my hourse and get em in bed and everything cause then I won’t get home ‘til like nine fifteen Well not for six weeks but for six (.) decided that we called them in and told them we was gonna do.0) Yeah So have you been heard? Uh huh (0.) I’m her coach Urn hm? And uh we start tonight and so I asked him is: if he would watch em both on Tuesday nights (. °Um hm° How was that. this correction is ratified by both the wife (Line 424) and the counselor (Line 425).) Tuesday nights [yeah [six Tuesday nights= =Yeah= In this sequence. Here. and (c) that the class will run for 6 weeks.2) did you feel like you had been heard (0. (1.2) like your. we learn that the wife (a) recently accepted an outside obligation as a friend’s birthing coach. 1982) in Lines 408. and the conversation continues: 426 427 428 429 430 W: H: C: W: H: =You can handle     =Six   431 432 433 434 435 436 437 438 439 440 441 C: W:   C:       W: C: W:   Um hm And uh and right after we (. (b) that her husband agreed to watch the children while she is gone.

2) I you know that I may (. All interactants seem to be “on the same page” when the wife resumes the discussion: 447 448 449 450 451 452 453 454 455 C: W:   C: W:     C: W: °Okay° He said that he wouldn’t be taking one of ‘em at night then °Mm hm° Since he’d be <putting ‘em in> bed and everything •hh which is fine and it was fine with them Mm hm? And then At this point. Line 439) and the husband (the third query.2)that (0. the counselor has asked three times about various aspects of this couple’s discussion. and she receives a positive response from W in Line 438.300  Studies in language and social interaction 442 443 444 445 C:     H: How ‘bout you did you feel like you had been heard? (0. She then “checks in” individually with both the wife (the second query.) make one of those nights also •h =as much advanced notice I me. To this point. Lines 442–443) to see if each agrees that their needs were met in this discussion. and both husband and wife have provided positive responses each time. then. thus collaboratively negotiating a positive understanding of this event. the husband rejoins the conversation and interjects a qualification: 456 H: 457 458 459 460         461 C: 462 463 464 465 466 H:   C: H:   also said that there’s a possibility that something could come up for me:: (0. The wife then continues to offer details (beginning as follows in Line 448) which the counselor encourages with additional continuers (Lines 450 and 454).) not be able to (.) yeah 446 C: A brief moment of levity (Lines 426–430) is brought to a close by the counselor in line 431.I don’t kno:w of anything Um hm And I can’t see anything happening but there’s a:lways that possiblity so . and each responds in the affirmative. The counselor then asks both W and H (Lines 434–436) about the relative “success” of their discussion (the first query).4) Sure was okay it yeah (.

When none is forthcoming. that there is no substantively new content added here. he offers the “life goes on“cliché. Recall that when asked earlier. however. The counselor continues: 483 484 485 C:     486 H: 487   So how’s that feel to you when there’s (0.2) like a window open and don’t put it in cement (1.8) You know (1.) (have a) 479   480   481   482   that When the counselor finally does provide the uptake the husband sought in Line 468. Note. At this point. This. it is notable that the counselor has once again asked the wife a question about how she feels about her discussion with her husband—a query very similar to several already asked and answered. provides less overt encouragement for him to elaborate.0) (life) goes o:n The husband suggests that he was happy to commit as long as the wife was willing to allow him some flexibility—an aspect of the discussion that the counselor also initially draws out with continuers (Lines 461 and 464).2) so (0. however. The husband orients to the nonencouraging nature of the counselor’s first instance of nonresponse by ceasing to provide additional elaboration and instead soliciting further encouragement in Line 468. though allowing the husband to continue.The interactional construction of self-revelation  301 467 468 469 470   H:   H: (0. First. Why might someone ask a question so similar to ones that have only just been answered? One possibility is that this may suggest that a .0) there’s always something that could happen (0. he immediately (in overlap beginning at Line 478) adds to his earlier qualifier. the counselor then continues: 471 C: Hm (0.0) There are three issues of import in this brief exchange.2) to doing that just to know that (1. Note. the wife described her discussion with her husband as successful (Lines 404–407).4) 478 H: while while while I was committing to it you know (0. the difference in the quality of the counselor’s responses as she changes from continuers (Lines 461 and 464) to nonresponsiveness at the TRPs (Lines 467 and 469).3) *although I don’t (. thus seemingly signaling the completion of his qualification. and then twice again responded to more specific questions (Lines 434–436 and 439) positively (Lines 438 and 440).

The wife now describes her understanding of the discussion not as a success. the wife begins the slow process of reconsidering the discussion in light of the counselor’s reformulation. These seeds immediately begin to sprout. 1979) of the husband’s qualifier as an “open window” (one that he readily ratifies in Line 486) and directs her question directly and only to the wife about this particular aspect of the discussion.4) °Hm° If he could (1. (b) to suggest that something is amiss with the wife’s previous answers to questions of this discussion’s success. (0.8) I mean I guess I always knew there ‘d be a possibility (1. as seen in the following: 488 489 490 491 493 494 495 496 W:     C:   W:     497 498 499 500   C: W:   Well I don’t remember him saying that earlier but (1. when the counselor asks this version of her question. as follows: 501 502 503 504 505 506 C:       W: C: 507   But that’s (0. 493. The combination of these sequential elements serve (a) to refocus the discussion from one about the couple’s discussion to one about the couple’s discussion in light of the husband’s qualification. Also. the counselor has just actively “sown the seeds” of a specific revelation—hardly a professionally neutral role. but rather as something she has resigned herself to accept.nk about it like that just ‘felt like I probably didn’t have a .302  Studies in language and social interaction different answer is now preferred.2) then that’s alright with you? to be responsible to find someone if he (.0) I’ll just have to get my brother or somebody to watch ‘em for me (0. Note that this previously “asked and answered” question is revisited immediately after the husband has finished detailing his qualification—a qualification that the counselor has pointedly not encouraged. After allowing the wife this period of reconsideration. and (c) to suggest an alternative reading of this qualification.) can’t? (2. In a very real sense. the counselor then asks her once again to consider her understanding of this event. 497.8) What’s that. The counselor nurtures the seeds she has sown by allowing the wife to “twist in the wind” a bit through pauses (TRPs at Lines 490. and 500) and the use of only very minimal prompts (Lines 491 and 498). she provides a reformulation (Heritage & Watson.4) ↑well (0.4) Throughout this exchange.4) <I didn’t really> thi.

the wife seems to be vacillating between her (and his) earlier.I’d have to take 526   her to the Kid’s Playhouse or something an (. more positive understanding and the new alternative.0) Here again.The interactional construction of self-revelation  303 508 509 510 511 512 513 514 515 516 517 518   C:   C:   W:   W:   C:   choice but to do that Okay (1. which she finally does in Line 513.4) 524 W: But if there did and if there was I mean if 525   all else failed I probably. requires more thought. answered promptly so often before. as at this point.it’s something that I can’t mirss (1. This reading of the pause is validated in Line 506 when the wife explicitly indicates that her understanding is evolving. In this permutation. less positive understanding. the counselor first calls the wife’s prior acceptance into question.) 527   pay for a babysitter 528   (1. As the wife begins to display a different (and less favorable toward the husband) understanding of the event.2) come up but 521   (1.6) you know that 520   would (0. the recycled question has a consistent alternative reformulation nested within it.0) 529 C: Hm 530   (2.0) °Okay° (2. the husband rejoins the conversation and attempts to mitigate his earlier qualification as follows: 519 H: There’s probably nothing (0. The very long pause at Line 504 suggests that this time.0) Cause I. thus suggesting that her answer is still not the preferred response. the question. The “okays” in Lines 509 and 511 function as continuers and prompt the wife to pursue this reevaluation.0) His mitigation seems to have some effect. The husband interjects as the wife continues: . and then “summarizes” W’s acceptance with another reformulation (we have now moved from her flexibility to his irresponsibility).2) 522 H: °Its uh° 523   (0.0) I mean I can’t just tell her I can’t go one week [you know] [Mm hm ] Mm hm (1.

4) something like that °Hm° (2.4) 545 C: 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 556 557       W:   W:       C:   talk about that issue cause that (. suggesting a possible moment of disagreement (Pomerantz.0) It wouldn’t be that mu:ch anyway it li. but receives no response whatsoever from the counselor. accept this responsibility. asking the husband if he is saying that he will.2) To take care of them (0.304  Studies in language and social interaction 531 H: 532 W: 533 534 535 536 537 538 539 H: C:       C:   my brother could watch ‘me or someone Which I would also feel responsible for So you’d feel like if you couldn’t come that would be your responsibility to pay for a sitter (1. the husband is then prompt to “accept” some responsibility for paying the sitter.0) actually When the husband provides his qualified answer—that he would feel responsible for half—the counselor uses repetition in Line 542 to flag “half of one” as important.it’d be like four dollars an hour (0.” The wife indicates her understanding of this as reasonable in Line 549.) thing that may (0. and then directs the wife and husband to “talk about it. but he does not answer (pause at 537). 1984).2) two and a half hours (0.6) Having raised the question of paying for a baby-sitter after the counselor has recast the husband’s qualification as evidence of his irresponsibility rather than of her flexibility.6) That would be fair (.) sounds like an important (. She finally receives the husband’s qualified response as follows: 540 541 H:   We: 11 I was thinking of haj_lf of a sitter 542 C: 543 544   H: (0.2) fer (0.4) total (0. and is again unsuccessful. And. The counselor attempts to clarify in his prior turn in Lines 534–536.) half (3. in fact. though transcripts do provide an . She tries this again in Line 538. though she does not suggest why it is important.

4) and who’s going to be taking the responsibilty so 572 W: 573   cause I didn’t 574 C: 575 576 577 578 579 580 581 582 583 584 585   W:                   someone would be there (0. the counselor pulls together and positively reformulates the details of this couple’s discussion as she understands them. 1994) to put closure on the whole exchange: 558 559 560 561 562 563 564 565 566 567 568 569 570 571 C:                           •h So it sounds like (2.4) and if something happen he couldn’t then he just couldn’t and it would be my responsibility •h (0. the seeds the counselor planted earlier burst into full bloom (quite literally.) these are like your set nights for visitations (0. one really must hear this exchange to appreciate the palpable pressure and oppressive weight of this particular pause.” Then in Line 572.0) if you couldn’t be there you would have to get your own babysitter that (0.8) that there are times: (0. and so the counselor begins a summary sequence (Wrobbel.0) when there are commitments that either of you need to make which doesn’t involve just the children but (. Thus.6) if we really had those s:e:t (.The interactional construction of self-revelation  305 excellent visual representation of spoken interaction.4) and if (0. as this utterance emerges loudly and in overlap) as the wife suddenly . The wife finally offers an account for her assessment in Lines 551–554.6) and its important to be able to negotiate (. This would suggest that she has discontinued her efforts to move the wife to a different understanding of the discussion and is now just “making the best of it. although the counselor continues to create opportunities for the wife to adopt and display the alternative understanding. at what is for all practical purposes the last possible moment to do so.4) but really I mean that’s (. Finally.) for either parent you need to be away from the children (0. but again receives minimal uptake from the counselor.) what is fair around child car (0.) there are times when i.2) kids are certain that someone I GUess that would be ri:ght of that Between Lines 558 and 570.) like you know these were your set nights for visitation? (1. the wife continues to defend the previous one.4) I mean I guess I was just thinking of it as he was doing me a favor? (0.4) its important for the kids to know that they can count on the other parent to be there to fill that gap but sometimes both parents are c called away •h (0. it seems that there is little more to be said.(.0) then if (1.

So what does the analysis of this extended segment of dialogue reveal? First. & Jefferson. and then not only accepts it. (1984). Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. thus marking this as her “aha. G. the counselor said nothing to directly contradict her. CA: Sage. (1984). Sacks. & Beckman. (1979).).Psathas (Ed. (1989).).” or the precise moment of insight.B. Sacks. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. New York: Irvington. When the wife initially indicated that she understood her child-care discussion with her husband to be successful. London: Academic Press.Schenkein (Ed. Explicative transactions: Making and managing meaning in traffic court. B.306  Studies in language and social interaction “gets it. On the preference for agreement and contiguity in sequencesin conversation. 7–57). 57–101). & Watson. Jefferson.Dervin.” This analysis also shows that the method the counselor used to occasion this revelation included two elements: (a) revisiting previously asked questions as a way of displaying a preference for a different response. Studies in the organization of conversational interaction (pp. 2: Paradigm examplars (pp. ix-xvi). Transcript notation.). In G. but displays it as her own unique insight into this event. (1978).Button & J. England: Multilingual Matters. H. Atkinson & J.Heritage (Eds. At this point (Lines 576–585). The counselor immediately breaks off her summary to allow W’s insight to emerge. the counselor then went on to construct a therapeutic environment that clearly facilitated the wife’s “change of mind. & E. H. whereas the wife first interactively evades the new perspective. D. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp.). In J. coupled with the use of various speakerselection devices and continuers to keep the question on the floor.. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. In G.. conspire to create an interactive environment conducive to the emergence of self-revelation.O’Keefe. such as this moment of self-revelation. Heritage. New York: Irvington.). In G.Grossberg. the wife then displays her “new” understanding of her husband’s qualification as (voilà) his irresponsibility rather than her flexibility. In J. 227–256). Clevedon. E. Lee (Eds. G.Atkinson & J. Schegloff.).R. Rethinking communication: Vol. may have communicative antecedents.M. Wartella (Eds. Through his participation in this process.Psathas (Ed. In B. However. Formulations as conversational objects. much of the substance of the wife’s changed understanding was shown to have actually come from her counselor through an extended negotiation. Pollner.A. .). A. (1987). REFERENCES Frankel.J. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. the husband displays his clear “vote” for the extant understanding.M. J. Conversation and compliance with treatment recommendations: An application of micro-interactional analysis in medicine. In this segment. (1979). Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp.M. H.R. working hard to keep it alive. L. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. London: Cambridge University Press. In J.E. R. and (b) reformulations of the subject of those questions as a method of “pointing the way” toward the preferred response. 54–69). Heritage (Eds.. 60–74). Pomerantz. These elements. Beverly Hills.. 123–162).” She has a moment that she clearly marks in Line 573 as novel understanding. M. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking. All three participants in this interaction played a role in the construction of M’s self-revelation. it provides evidence that even the most seemingly “internal” of psychological experiences.

The interactional construction of self-revelation  307 Schegloff. 71–93). Georgetown University Roundtable on Languages and Linguistics (pp. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. University of Texas at Austin. DC: Georgetown University Press.). Tannen (Ed. Wrobbel. Washington. E. (1982). . Discourse as an interactional achievement: Some uses of “uh huh” and other things that come between sentences.A.D. Microanalysis in therapeutic interaction. E. (1994). In D.

However. however. And Eternity in an hour. and even societal. Perhaps it will resonate with others who have had him for their “hearing aid. We may distinguish this as a kind of prescriptive turn in the discipline. 1 . Among some discourse analysts. offering a demonstration of the prescriptive use of discourse analytic concepts and practices in a therapeutic setting. I think that this theme best summarizes Robert’s effect on me. Robert’s contribution to me—an improved capacity to notice and make use of little things people do in interaction—has proved beneficial in its therapeutic. there has been a growing aspiration to the development of discourse-sensitive means for the deliberate alteration of people’s communicative practices in pursuit of improved personal. Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand. outcomes. Nor am I implying that Robert Hopper would endorse the use that I routinely make of discourse analytic tools in therapy. and consequences—my practice as a helping professional has matured. And a Heaven in a Wild Flower. As I have studied such talk—in terms of its structure. flow.Bruder Emerson College To see a World in a Grain of Sand. “Auguries of Innocence” In the field of discourse analysis. —William Blake. Some have employed these tools in order to explore and account for the mechanisms of conversation as such. is situated against the backdrop of my own history as a student of Robert Hopper. scholars have typically emphasized adequate (if not exhaustive) description and explanation of communicative events in various contexts. others have sought to disclose important features of the life world shared by members of diverse speech communities and/or by humanity at large. I would not be as helpful to the people I counsel were it not for Robert’s guidance and inspiration. Robert always impressed me as someone motivated not merely by an academic wish to know more. This essay. application. no less so than in its scholarly.” I am not suggesting that my work as a therapist is altogether an outgrowth of my training as a student of talk-in-interaction. both professionally and personally. but by a profound desire to help others. who taught me to pay attention to the minuscule details of everyday social activity as transparent to the infinite web of relations that structure our world.22 A World in a Grain of Sand: Therapeutic Discourse as Making Much of Little Things1 Kurt A. This is something that I seek to emulate in my analysis—both in session (“on-the-fly”) and after the fact (with recordings)—of talk-in-therapy.

with tested techniques for implementing these principles” (p. THE ANALYSIS OF TALK AND COUNSELING With his pioneering commitment to recording and transcribing therapy sessions. make use of the little things that are said in the local (re)construction of the client’s subjective response.e. Buttny & Lannamann. but equally.e. emphasis in original). plans. 1990. the counselor is frequently cast in the role of “detective. it will be rather more subtle. Gale (1991) suggested several areas pertinent to counseling that require inquiry. Such self-presentation is.” and “the issue of the observer as helping to shape the research system” (p. The now-objectified symbolic behavior was itself subjectively organized around the client’s past (i. Freeman. things unsaid.. hopes. Morris & Chenail.“A world in a grain of sand”  309 In helping relationships such as those that occur in counseling. The point is that clients. clients have an opportunity to organize their subjective responses—acts of self-creation in the present—around this or that bit of their own very recent (though. if differentially. of course. I draw a theoretical connection between one’s particular communicative practices and one’s psychological experience. paying attention to the manner in which each of the interlocutors coordinately. including “the interactive talk of the clients and the therapist. a “slip of the tongue. therapeutic interaction. Gale. Finally. reconstructed memory) or future (i. Waitzkin & Britt. perhaps. Whatever their qualitative or quantitative character. Often. 1987. though by no means limited to. aspects of the client’s participation in the therapeutic encounter—like the broader repertoire of communicative practices that are the client’s means of manufacturing and maintaining her or his self-structure—constitute the raw material with which the counselor may work. In the remainder of this essay I propose.” distinguishing those features in the client’s unfolding story that call for therapeutic interaction and intervention. demonstrates how the close inspection of therapeutic talk . 1984. made to others.. in this very moment of reflective awareness. encounter the possibility of novelty—of changing who they are—in and through the creative revision of their self-presentation. habitual) symbolic behavior. fears). Carl Rogers (1942) anticipated the inception of discourse analysis (in its several forms) by decades. Such a feature may be a major narrative theme.” Second. In this way. and more significantly. and the way they’re said into objects of reflective awareness. 1991.” the “nonverbal…features of the therapy talk. especially one’s subjectivity. This connection is observable in.” or a pause of greater-than-expected duration. 1995. it is made to themselves. responsive to these concerns. Believing with Rogers that through the examination of such recordings. to discuss how the close analysis of talk has been used thus far in the “talking cure. others interested in clinical discourse have turned their attention to the investigation of the therapeutic process that close inspection of talk (typically assisted by electronic recording) allows (Buttny. My effort in counseling (evidenced in the fragment under examination later) is to problematize features of the client’s discourse—making things said. I attempt to “unpack” a stretch of talk-in-therapy. first. Frankel. 1987. 434). “psychotherapy [may] become a process based on known and tested principles. 1993). 16. Gale’s own study of the recording of a single family therapy session.

[But] it is a fundamental error to think that psychological processes are internal states that are manifested or displayed in the uses of language and other symbolic systems. “Rather than seeing the important business of psychological processing taking place underneath [the] content” of conversation. this perspective “treats this content as literally where the action is” (Potter & Wetherell. Harré (1992) described this identity relationship as follows: Many. p. and institutional experience of the interlocutors. We may observe that in counseling interviews. it is possible to recognize both the life—constructing function of discourse and the identity of social and psychological phenomena. phenomena. the “T phase” of the self . 82). that portion of the “internalized conversation of gestures” (Mead. Even our sense of self is the outgrowth of social interaction with others. 1934. And this noticing allows the client to adopt an external perspective vis a vis her own social activities. one may alter one’s life experience in terms of the symbolic operations by which one represents it to oneself and others. 1995. Because all of our talk (even that which is not externalized) contributes to our psychological experience (to a greater or lesser degree). and cognitive states. He modeled an approach to counseling research that is alert to the manner in which “participants themselves construct and define the meaning of their actions” (p. When we attempt to examine our own behavior (whether in the moment of its performance or at some temporal remove from it). indeed. discourse is the essence of that experience. However. The manifestations and displays just are the psychological phenomena. affective. personality and relationship. by examining one’s talk-in-interaction. modified and displayed in discourse. 515–516. there is the potential to notice—and call clients’ attention to—their own inevitable display and enactment of identity-constituting talk. entities. the commonsense notion that language is merely a vehicle for the expression of “psychological entities and processes that already exist or that have already occurred. THE INTERDEPENDENCE OF TALK AND SUBJECTIVITY When examining the details of interaction. of moments of interaction between people—form the psychological. The accumulation of particular actions—or. substantial insight into one’s discursively generated psycho-social experience may be obtained. relational. if not altogether. 1992. (pp. perhaps most cognitive. 520). Of course.” “manifestations of hidden goings on in mind or brain” (Harré. 32). that are naively attributed to individual minds just are properties of conversations. we become an object to ourselves. engendered in certain discursive practices…. etc. feeling. and action. rather. To make use of the language of Mead’s (1934) model of social selves. p.310  Studies in language and social interaction may be employed to discover the means by which counselors effect change in the clients’ experience. 156) that we may call a person’s “self talk”—that which is not spoken aloud—remains empirically unobservable. p. as these are formed. processes. blinds us to the reality that our talk is the very stuff of thought. emphasis added) In other words. inaccessible: the substance of human consciousness. This as yet unconventional perspective on talk affords us the possibility of exploring what has been supposed to be largely.

This results in a kind of defamiliarization of the artifact. this capacity to see within is gained by looking closely at externalized representations of one’s own social conduct. but each is designed and applied with a view to affording clients increased awareness of. 92. Corey (1996) said the role of the counselor is “to create a climate in which clients can examine their thoughts. assesses it. of the interdependency of oneself and other people (and everything else). One is both subject and object. the deeper his knowledge of himself becomes” (p. Watts. the more other the form in which man learns to recognize himself. spiritualities.. Increasing one’s sensitivity to what. yet identity-generating. “what we try to do when we’re doing good therapy [is to] get people to see things from new angles” (p. the analysis of one’s own talk-ininteraction would seem to be an excellent counseling tool. self and other. Watts (1961) said that “the more unfamiliar. and “owns” it (or otherwise). If. all share an orientation to assisting clients in their attempts to examine and improve their lives. or cultivating self-acceptance and responsibility. As can be seen. 22). this process also encourages the client to perceive the self as if it were an other. I have actively imported the theoretical understandings just presented into counseling interviews like that discussed herein. and actions and eventually arrive at solutions that are best for them” (p. examining one’s own talk-in-interaction becomes a means to insight and personal transformation. one looks at the interchange between self and other. x). 1961). developing insight. my effort was to draw the client’s attention to the fact and manner of his interactively . and control over. when. inspecting one’s own talk may also lead to the blurring of conventional distinctions between self and other. and psychotherapeutic traditions (e. the shape of their lives. By enabling clients a defamiliarizing glimpse of the very discursive practices that constitute their psycho-social experience. ANALYSIS OF THERAPEUTIC TALK In my capacity as counselor. emphasis in original). resulting in a shift the viewpoint of the observer through the doubling of perspectives. On the other hand. Such a recognition may. feelings. artifacts of social activity that they in fact are.“A world in a grain of sand”  311 looks at the “me” of a moment before. In attending to one’s own talk-in-interaction. What clients themselves have said at a point in time—and to which their conscious attention is currently being drawn in the interview—may be treated with a quality of detachment (as if it were another’s behavior) that would be otherwise unavailable. They may focus on making the unconscious conscious. as O’Hanlon (1991) suggested. a grasp of the integrated character of life that may prove to be profoundly therapeutic.g. Despite distinctions among sundry therapeutic approaches.. in turn. and how one says things in conversation (even in as contrived an environment as a counseling interview) allows one to recognize one’s own communicative practices as the objective. The therapeutic benefits of giving attention to the self-as-object in the context of social interaction have been long recognized across cultures. affording both practitioner and client an uncommon depth and clarity of insight. permit an understanding of one’s interconnection with others. Such identity-talk is rendered strange by the objective stance facilitated by and in its inspection. Ironically.

I argue that there is a recurrent metacommunicative pattern of talk in which certain identityimplicative interactive particulars are recognized and depicted (i. Certainly. Because the objective is.312  Studies in language and social interaction constructed self-sense.. Like his father. the testimony of those who have considerable experience in the close investigation of talk provides (admittedly anecdotal) evidence for increased capacities in distinguishing subtle interactive details—even within communicative events to which the analyst is party. increased when undertaken after the fact using recordings of the talk in question. “Harlan” (a pseudonym) comes from a deeply religious African-American family. 1 2 3 4 K:   K:   …Well »I mean<< thats a:ll (0. highlighting the possibility of personal transformation through the positive manipulation of perhaps otherwise unexamined—and unquestioned—habits of self-representation.e. Harlan was an ordained Pentecostal minister. First..e. (2. Two potentially controversial issues should be addressed at the outset. rather. social. how he acted. The theme of “integrity”—being who one says one is. including early in the interview from which the accompanying transcript is excerpted. in principle. “H” is Harlan. party-goer. etcetera.e. the sorts of conversational activities that might happen in the absence of the student of communication). the fact of my participation would present an insurmountable obstacle to any claim for the generalizability of my findings. Harlan felt himself to be divided in terms of his several roles: preacher. 30 seconds.5) Its all about integrity. one of the participants to the interaction to be examined—myself—also occupies the role of analyst. brought to the attention of the other). painful revision in what he knew.5) . The following excerpt occurred late in the hour-long interview. At several points in the following encounter. were the goal of this essay to explicate features of so-called “naturally occurring discourse” (i.2) the same theme (0. but he had begun to question formerly unquestionable facets of his life and world. The multiple. Second. But this does not preclude the possibility of insights gained “on the fly” in conversation. the idea that one can perform analysis of talk-in-interaction in real time (i. as the social exchange is unfolding) may be greeted with some skepticism. father. to illuminate a potentially useful intervention in counseling. Harlan had on several occasions expressed his appreciation for and aspiration to integrity. the relative adequacy—of the client’s self-constituting talk. the potential for depth and precision in analysis is.. my dual status as interlocutor/analyst seems less problematic. doing what one says one will do—emerged as a useful construct in our discussions. I transcribed approximately 4 minutes. “K” is the counselor/ author. student. and that these social activities are organized with a view to achieving therapeutic results. Surely. and who he was. critically. The dissonance between his former and present worldviews was part of a radical. of a 1 hour counseling interview with a college student in his mid-20s. We pursued this area of concern for several months on a fairly regular basis. and temporal nature of his (and every human being’s) self-experience became apparent to him. we may observe the counselor orienting to the fact—and. in part because of his program of study in college..

5) >>Because (.2) Hmm (.0) anxious to (0. Uhum? (.) . Harlan says he’s “uncomfortable.8) have.) Ah: :mm and I’m unco:mfortable now being aware «of the::>> (1. (. Harlan locates the discursive source of much of his discomfort with his own inconsistency in our prior talks together (Lines 28–29).8) °ah-° (.7) I’m anxious to:: (1.3) I’m just °uh-° (1.0) importance of integrity (1.” and “bother[ed]” now when he sees that he is not “in integrity.2) Ah::m (0.5) I (0.0) when I find myself not in integrity ↑it really does bother me. he now has an existential standard—who he says he is and what he says he will do—against which he may subjectively compare his objective actions.” “disturbed.7) In Lines 10–30. 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 H:   K:   H: K:   K:   Ahm: (0.5) Why (7.) become disturbed (1.have that complete so called integrity I guess (0.) Ahm especially after our talk:s: ya know it really does ↑bo:ther me (0.“A world in a grain of sand”  313 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 K: H: K: H: Which Its kind of a motif ah (0. Harlan confirms the recurring character of the issue of integrity throughout our talks and displays his anxiety to have it operating in his life.3) a recurring theme K: H:   H:   H:     K:   H:     H:     K:   H:     In our talks: Right (0.” Harlan acknowledges that integrity has become for him a criterion for living.) Umkay.

47 H: 48 49 50 51 52         K: =Nbw I I.) confo:rm to: (0.I don’t want.and it’s like »well who are you really trying to be<< and it goes back into this: cycle of (0. (2.” Harlan is acutely aware of his failure to live in integrity as implying an abortive attempt at being anyone at all.5) nothingness (0. Harlan employs the metaphors of disease and exhaustion (Line 40) to characterize his displeasure at not “being himself. Harlan metaphorically expresses his anxiety over his felt inability to be himself in terms of a “cycle of nothingness. In Lines 48–49.0) me.” Harlan responds (Line 35) that it is because he’s not being himself.I’m uncomfortable (. (2.) begin to (0.5) hhhh I’m I’m s:ick and tired of not.) A:nd um .7) about (.2) the society in a box <<societal.8) Humm= In Line 33 I asked Harlan why he is “bothered.0) concerns= =Umhum? (. who are you really trying to be?”—suggesting a critical awareness of self-as-object.3) it’s almost like I lo::se me.) with that and I’d rather (1. Harlan adopts the second-person pronominal relation vis a vis himself—“well.1) <<A: :nd>> (1.8) «not having to::>> (1. (0.) who I am. he identifies his failure to maintain integrity with the ambiguous feeling of losing himself (Lines 43–44) as if he only truly possesses himself when he can recognize an integral relationship between who he says he is and how he behaves.it’s like everything (1.2) »↑Hum« Harlan uses the visual metaphor of a “blur” to characterize the phenomenological experience of a lack of distinction and clarity concerning his own person (Line 47).314  Studies in language and social interaction 40 H: 41 42 43 44 45 46     H:     K: I don’t (0.(. (0. being.8) ↓chuhh I need to be <<comfterble>> (1. 53 H: 54 55 56 57       H: 58   59 60 61 62   K:   H: And I(h) I. Using a common idiom.5) becomes blurred I an.0) always (.1) And then when Im not in integrity I.>> (1.

) Yah ther. express uncertainty regarding who we are—and even who we wish to be—is a compelling demonstration of the plasticity and symbolically organized quality of the selfsystem. he indicates a preference for internal (i. nevertheless concluding that it’s “a good question” (Line 69).5) I haven’t completely allowed.3)ah:m: (1. self-definition) as opposed to external forces (i. dependent association with his former cluster of significant relationships. as in previous conversations) for his religious community. 67. In Line 63. were he to be freed of the contingent. Harlan’s allegiances to multiple communities—together with their corresponding variety of values. I was not implying that it is possible to fabricate a self in a vacuum.7) Therell be activities that w(h) (h)hhh no(h)t condoned   H: K: (.the box people. its members. (1. I ask who Harlan would be “if all that wasn’t there.) ayuh I know I would enjo:y. Harlan displays his uncertainty concerning his identity apart from his past associations (Line 65). part in initiating this party. or even isolates. (1. . (0.(0.(. definition by others). each vying for the exclusive subscription of the subject—yield the palpable tension manifest in his talk.know.0) Hhhhh >>I don. The fact that we human beings routinely and recursively experience and.<< (1.” In asking this question.e. narrow container that encloses.0) I really don’t know I um:. (1. as in this fragment.(.2) »oh like tonight there’s a-<< (0.) going to be a party >>in which<< (0. 69). only attempting to query Harlan about the sort of person he authentically wishes to be.) I’m still. That’s a good question Harlan restates his discomfort. With a marked sigh. In Lines 57–58.0) ↑I don’t know..” a term reserved (here.e. (. but intimates that he has “conform[ed] to the society in a box.. and signifies his felt “need to be comfortable” about who he is (Lines 53–55).“A world in a grain of sand”  315 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 K:   H:   H:   H: Well who would you be if all that wasn’t there.3) I think because I’m partially still in the box that. It is significant that Harlan thrice says that he doesn’t know (Lines 65.4) giant birthday party for me. 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85   H:         H:     H: K: (. which is metaphorically represented as a small.) /•Hhh Um: : I have in fact I played aha significant h by bo.

Harlan exhibits his awareness that the respective—and mutually exclusive—behavioral expectations of each community. In other words. 92 93 94 95 my 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 H:   K: H:     K:   H:   K:   H: K: H:   K: Ah:::m::.5) Um have full intentions of taking part. In Lines 76–80. (0. Harlan fully expects that the party-goers will be involved in behaviors that will be inconsistent with the official morality of his religious community. one inhabited by his religious persona and the other his irreligious. partygoing persona.are <<questioning>> that Hmm (0. Each of these communities is acknowledged as a relevant social referent in the fabrication and maintenance of Harlan’s sense of self. °in the festivities=° =Umhum. and frankly states his intention to “take part in the festivities” (Lines 88–89). (1.” Though remaining nonspecific about these activities (perhaps signaling his embarrassment concerning them). (. Harlan plans to do those very things of which his religious compatriots disapprove.316  Studies in language and social interaction 86 87 88 89 90 91 H:   H:   K:   And uh I (1. Harlan admits his role in initiating the party (Lines 83–83). parts of me. Yeah. Harlan recognizes the disparity between his commitments in two personally important social domains.4) And then again ny-= =But you have every intention of partici ev(h)ery intention ↑I know that I’m going to particirpate . together with his membership status within each context.7) Ye it° even though it’s:<< (.) a party for   ↑births↓day. (1. before turning to a specific. Harlan distinguishes the party as an event at which “there’ll be activities not condoned by the box people.2) parts of me ar-ar. is both constitutive and illustrative of the source of his inner conflict.4) Ah::!!!:.2) are uncomfortable (0. Harlan begins—but does not complete—two further utterances on this theme (Lines 72–73).) Harlan offers an insightful hypothesis as to the reason for his continuing uncertainty: He’s “still partially in the box” (Lines 71–72). illustrative case in point: a birthday party to be held that evening in his honor (Lines 73–74).

“A world in a grain of sand”  317 In Lines 92–95. I suggest that the existence of the invitation does intimate “a kind of commitment” to attend the party (Line 112).) a:nd Even if you printed em mbff-hhhh huh huh ↑print them. In a telling moment of reflective awareness. I use a paraphrase to underscore Harlan’s intention to participate.0) behavior H: Okay.) although it shows up in text= H: a printed invitation with your name on it K: =Rig H: Right. we share laughter over the suggestion that Harlan’s commitment to attending the party might be emboldened by the possibility that he himself printed the invitation.7) K: Or discourse (. a sentiment that Harlan readily confirms (Line 113).) the uh party together I guess ° (ge- look at In Line 110. •Hhh bu(h)t uh huh.   (0. In Line 104.) a bit of (1. Harlan first says that he has to participate.) commitment   that as as like Right. Harlan reiterates his dualistic identification both with the party (it is for his birthday) and with the parts that are questioning his participation in the selfsame affair (Lines 95–99). some of these parts have very different sorts of ethical commitments than others. Harlan reasserts his ownership of the party with an appeal to an external artifact: His name is on the invitation. I feel an =Ri↑:ght (. •Hhh my name is on it and-and the «tea:m» that put to. 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 121a   H:   K: H: K: H: K: H:     K: (0.(.2) My name’s on the invitation so I have to participate no I choose to participate °I don’t have to° hh uh:m: = =Although there is a kind of (. In Lines 116–120. 120 121 121a 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 K: party together I guess ° (gelook at that as as like   (.5)   . rapidly amending his description of agency to the status of choice rather than mere obligation (Lines 110–111). but-. Harlan employs the metaphorical figure of “parts” of himself to describe his discomfort. a statement that he enthusiastically echoes (Lines 105–107). K: °•Hhh° can you <<feel>> how that does provide an   obligation?   (0.

preparing and sending the invitation) as projecting a commitment to a sequence of future activities that.) yeah.my name’s gonna be there. in essence. (1. (0.expectations that are gonna ↑live in that environment. and that he is responsible for inviting these people (Line 135).) That are gonna provide for:. now results in internal controversy. (. and his ambivalent talk about it—making it into an object for reflection. (. In Lines 121–127. I ask if Harlan “can feel how that does provide an obligation” to attend (Lines 129–130).5) Right And there are certain s:.. I am suggesting to Harlan that in so doing he. set one version of himself up for condemnation by another. ↑Yeah. Harlan again affirms that his name is on the invitation. that people expect him to be there (Lines 132–133). Right Although (.) so I have you ↑know this. 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 K:   H: K: H:     K: H:   146 K: 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157   H: K:     H:   K:     H: 158 K: 159 160 H: K: And even which you is gonna show ↑up is pretty much determined= =Oh ↑ye ↓a:h By the of the show up there ↑preaching can ↓I.0) this Harlan as opposed to another Harlan to show up (0. I problematize Harlan’s involvement in organizing the party—calling attention to the invitation.) people expect me to ↑he ↓there.2) at the party.) not without perhaps a certain amount of . I’ve in↑vited people.e. My effort was to foreground Harlan’s prior social activities (i.318  Studies in language and social interaction 132 133 134 135 H:   K: H: ↑sure (. given his (at least sometimes) divided self-system. (0.) ↑No cause it wouldnt fit the cont (. ah. Exact party Harlan will show up.3) Right (.

I direct Harlan’s attention to the reality that these historical facts certainly influence the quality of personal performance. Well becuz (0. rather. (.) (there would .2)>it depends on which me youre ↑talkin about. that would be likely at the party. the expectations of his fellow party-goers would be violated by Harlan if he were to present himself in his preacher persona. I state that the self-created exigencies for the event determine that “the party Harlan will show up. ↓Right. but you s:. the ↑preacher Harlan ( ) (dudnt) ↑preacher man is. or selfpresentation.) ↓So.4) I prefer to be me: :. programmatic character of expectations (his own and others’) in relation to the matter of self-presentation in a particular social environment (Lines 154–156).5) the: you that you pre↑fer (0. adding that he “can’t show up there preaching” (Lines 140–141). In Lines 136–139. 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182   K:       H:   K: H:     K: H:   K:   H: (. and suggest that the party-goers’ expectations for Harlan’s behavior have been determined by conventions for parties as social environments. whose availability in memory—will be the cause of his discomfort (Lines 163–165). Harlan affirms this analysis (Line 138).” whose concurrent existence—or.) ↑Right.” to the exclusion of any other style of selfpresentation.0) in such a ↑wa:y ↓that (1.you talk about a real me:. what if you arranged your lif :e (1.3) could always show ↑up (2.<< (. After Harlan verifies this assessment (Lines 144–145). each with its own repertoire of predetermined behaviors (Line 158). I confirm that such behavior wouldn’t fit the social context (Line 143). I emphasize his mindfulness of this systematic connection between his historical commitments and anticipated behaviors (Line 146). I suggest that although certain social environments call for coordinate behaviors. I call Harlan’s attention to the projective. (.3) Theres a ↑problem with that.) ↓Right. Harlan identifies the specific self.0) other me:s including preacher man (. Harlan may still feel discomfort because of the multiplicity of lifestyles he enacts from context to context (Lines 160–161). (1.) Right. why.2) As op↑posed to (1. Specifically. (0. “preacher man.is gonna be uncomfortable.) Okay.“A world in a grain of sand”  319 161 162 163 164 165     H: K:   discomfort cuz (.

. “real” self from Harlan-as-preacher. Harlan provides an account for the fact that he does not identify his “real me” and “preacher man” (Lines 194–204).320  Studies in language and social interaction 182a 183 184 185 K:     never once: (. (6. I call Harlan’s attention to the fact that he has—in this conversation and others—talked about a “real me” that is distinct from several others that he routinely personifies. so you’ve already ↑labeled [ a certain style of being Harlan Umhum= =As the real Harl[an. it depends on which self one is talking about (Lines 174–175). 195). “what if you arranged your life in such a way that the you that you prefer could always show up?” Understanding Harlan’s discomfort as a product (at least in part) of inconsistency in self-presentation. ↑oh::::. attempting to lead Harlan to the realization that his discourse provides evidence that he does not identify but. 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 H:   K:   H: K: H:   H:   H:     K: H: >>There is none-<< ther. Harlan acknowledges that there are multiple selves that he enacts. barkening back to our earlier discussion of integrity.) Chum (h) hhhhh huh ↑hah (well) [ >> (Yeah and ya know) In Lines 186–187.5) between preacher man and the real me In Lines 167–169. I ask him to imagine what his quality of experience might be if his manner of communication of himself—both to himself and to others—was unified. Harlan confirms that these inconsistent selves are “distinctive. I then state that Harlan has never “drawn an identity relation between preacher man and the real me” (Lines 183–185). Harlan says that although he prefers to be himself.. as the real Harlan” (Lines 188–191). That is. After I ask why this should be a problem (Line 164).7) ↑Yeah but I don-. I see what you’re ↓saying [ (1.. (.” whereupon I infer that he has “already labeled a certain style of being Harlan .) I ca have ever heard •Hh have drawn an identity relation (0.they’r. uhm. including “preacher man” (Lines 177–180).they’re uh: : distinctive the [re ( ↑okay. I’ve never. Following a long pause (Line 170). I ask the provocative question. changing from context to context. Harlan admits to the fact that “there’s a problem with” such a strategy (Line 171). Harlan’s uptake of my meaning is marked as immediate and emphatic (Line 192).0) ↑He’s always the guy that’s looking so I’ve never be he’s never been looked at. distinguishes his genuine. interspersed with two long pauses suggesting careful consideration (Lines 193. rather..

Of course.” as “the one that’s trying to figure out…what the hell’s going on. 1934). This identityconstructing social work is accomplished no matter our level of intentionality. =And (2. Harlan depicts the real self as “examining everybody else. perhaps. The real self is the subject onlooker. the other selves are objects of the real self s metaphoric gaze. 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 K: H:         K: H:     Chum(h)hhhhh huh hah (well he ain’t gonna be)<< and he’s the guy that’s always examining everybody ↑else. and employ such knowledge in the organization of present action. Harlan is an intelligent person who sincerely wishes to be “real” with himself and others.0) so ↑no: he’s (1. 1998). The self-as-subject may observe and critically appraise the self-as-object. In Lines 201–204. the self-system is conventionally composed of both subject and object. Harlan distinguishes his real self as a subject—or. we may observe the counselor guiding the client in a sustained. however rudimentary its quality.” Harlan is displaying an appreciation of the distinctive functions of these two phases of his own interactive process of selfing (Bruder. one can be who and what one chooses to be. Harlan identifies his real self with the “I-phase. the province of the subjective aspect of oneself (Mead. rather.“A world in a grain of sand”  321 This account is telling both of Harlan’s internal struggle and of his capacity for reflective awareness. Inasmuch as one can secure . as the experience of subjectivity—as opposed to the object of perception. This possibility suggests that. Such a choice may serve as a kind of fixed point in social space—a commitment into which one enters with others in the context of relationship— that “holds” one to the course of action one has articulated.8) uh: :m: (1. but the systemic quality of the process admits the possibility of purposiveness: the deliberate application of interactive means to programmatic ends. I endeavored to direct the flow of the interview so that Harlan would realize that and how he creates and maintains his identity in and through his interaction with others—and with himself.well he’s ↑gotta have a character. 1934). Yet Harlan has begun to grapple with the implications of the multiple phases of his own discursively ordered self-system. admits the possibility of discursive reorganization with a view to positive change in one’s sense of self. The tentative quality of Harlan’s utterance suggests. This understanding.0) ah:: :: >>excuse your french but<< what the hells goin ↑on= =Umhum.” This realization leads Harlan to question whether his real self actually “has a persona or a character” (Lines 206–208). recurrent consideration of the sorts of social actions whereby the latter fashions his sense of self.” and the other selves-in-presentation with the “‘me’-phase” (Mead. He’s the one that’s trying to figure out (1. CONCLUSION In the foregoing. of “I-phase” and “‘me’-phase. the novelty of his ruminations regarding the different aspects of his self.2) he’s (.0) a personna or a character or he. within certain personal and social limits.) I don’t know if he ↑has a (0.

Text. R. produced in the practice of looking closely at talk in which one has participated. Unpublished manuscript. K. with a view to affording clients a new way of seeing themselves. Monastic blessings: Deconstructing and reconstructing the self. CA: Brooks/Cole. Introduction. From sentence to sequence: Understanding the medical encounter through microinteractional analysis. (1992). & Lannamann. R.322  Studies in language and social interaction agreement from significant others to modify their expectations of one—an essentially discursive venture—the horizon of one’s self-reconstruction remains open. Symbolic Interaction. Framing problems: The hierarchical organization of discourse in a family therapy session. Conversation analysis of therapeutic discourse: The pursuit of a therapeutic agenda. & society: From the standpoint of a social behaviorist. themes: first. Pacific Grove. Counselors wishing to expand the therapeutic tools at their disposal might profitably undertake to increase the “level of magnification” through which they consider clients’ talk. (1991). Frankel. (1987). We then played out that theme through a cooperative examination of Harlan’s symbolic presentment of his own recollected and projected life experience. 78.H. Theory and practice of counseling and psychotherapy (5th ed. S. 515–527. Symbolic Interaction. (1987). J. Harré. (1996).). of experiencing life. even to the appreciation of what would otherwise seem to be insignificant details—especially those that feature (because they are constitutive of) clients’ efforts at self-presentation. (1934). 27(1). R. (1990). Freeman. Counselors might also assist clients in examining discourse to which they themselves are a party (both within and outside of the therapeutic context). self. and related. Attention to these practices is itself therapeutic. REFERENCES Bruder. Norwood. The discursive creation of human psychology. inasmuch as one cultivates awareness of one’s discursive practices—activities that are responsive to the “moves” of one’s interlocutors. Focusing on his own selfpresentation afforded Harlan the possibility of discursive self-transformation. Corey. 3–17. Blame-accounts sequences in therapy: The negotiation of relational meanings. I recognized and thematized it. Semiotica. 7. Discourse Processes. J. 135–170. Second. The present essay extends the range of application of this method for analyzing therapeutic interaction in terms of its practitioners.. When “integrity” came up in this therapeutic encounter. (1984).W. 219–248. and effects. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. many of which may be rendered visible through the examination of talk-in-interaction. This way of seeing. is organized around two central. Buttny. R. yielding not only substantial self-knowledge. Buttny. but fostering increased capacity for generating the same over a lifetime. objects. Mind. G. Mead. 87–116. NJ: Ablex. G. . (1998). 75(4). that one’s life and world are constantly created in and through specific discursive practices. yet also capable of intentional selection—one may be empowered to modify one’s life and world through the programmatic performance of practices productive of more satisfying psycho-social outcomes. Gale. Verbal communication in medical encounters: An overview of recent work. 7.

The use of electrically recorded interviews in importing psychtherapeutic techniques. Social Science & Medicine. T. Processing narratives of self-destructive behavior in routine medical encounters: Health promotion. Preface. C. 80–92). Psychotherapy east and west. R. J. Rethinking methods in psychology (pp.. R.. (1993). G. & L. In J.Van Langenhove (Eds.).). Waitzkin. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry.. Potter. 12. (Eds. In J. Newbury Park. and the discourse of health care. & Britt. 36.R. (1995). (pp. (1942). (1991). ix-x) Norwood NJ: Ablex. NJ: Erlbaum. 429–434.Smith. Conversation analysis of therapeutic discourse: The pursuit of a therapeutic agenda. M. Rogers. A. O’Hanlon. Hillsdale. . & Chenail. W. H. disease prevention. 1121–1136. New York: Vintage Books.Harré. & Wetherell. CA: Sage. (1961). Discourse analysis. The talk of the clinic: Explorations in the analysis of medical and therapeutic discourse. (1995).“A world in a grain of sand”  323 Morris.Gale. Watts.

appreciated about the preceptor’s teaching strategy. it is discretionary.23 Modeling as a Teaching Strategy in Clinical Training: When Does It Work? Anita Pomerantz University at Albany. called a preceptor. in other circumstances. In training programs in ambulatory clinics in the United States. Though teaching is important when preceptors see patients. This training opportunity. After conferring. medical consultations are structured with the dual goals of teaching and patient care. On the less participatory side. potentially compromising his or her position as a professional in the patient’s eyes (Pomerantz. It is precisely this choice that the intern. 1997). The dilemma of the preceptors’ wanting to teach while at the same time wanting to avoid compromising the intern’s position as a professional in front of the patient has a variety of solutions. On the more participatory side. teaching in front of the patient puts the intern in an awkward position. SUNY Two important goals of clinical training in medicine are to teach interns to become competent professionals and to ensure that patients receive quality care. The preceptor then may see the patient. Fehr. After a medical intern takes history and examines a patient. In some circumstances. quoted as follows. it needs to be accomplished with some sensitivity to potentially conflicting interests of the intern and the patient. an intern may interject information he or she previously elicited or inquiry about areas of the patient’s history that need clarification. Although the preceptor’s seeing the patient clearly serves the purpose of ensuring good medical care. the preceptor and intern leave the examining room and confer again. it is institutionally and/or legally mandated for the supervising physician to gather firsthand information on the patient’s condition. has a built-in complexity: Whatever teaching and/or learning is displayed occurs in front of the patient. the intern returns to the patient to discuss diagnosis and treatment plans. One solution is to move the teaching out of the examining room. When the preceptor sees the patient. When the preceptor concludes the interaction with the patient. & Ende. however. Because the activity of teaching defines the one being taught as not fully competent. the intern is present in the examining room and participates to a greater or lesser extent with the patient and the preceptor. an intern may situate him or herself on the sidelines and minimally acknowledge information that the patient gives to the preceptor. it also affords a training opportunity. he or she presents the case and discusses it with a supervising physician. .

” (emphasis added) As would be expected. viewed the videotape of the medical interactions in which he or she had participated. we found that the ways a preceptor interacts with an intern in front of the patient generally is an important issue for interns. they did not explicitly teach. and this. preceptor/patient/intern in the examining room. For 6 of these 20. Between May 1990 and August 1995. stimulated recall sessions were held. the preceptor or the intern. or when you’re trying to . pointing out physical manifestations of medical problems. much of the time. This chapter describes some features of using modeling as a teaching strategy and discusses some strengths and weaknesses of this practice. together with a member of the research team. preceptor/intern interaction in the teaching room or the hallway. More frequently. and the intern/patient interaction in the examining room. METHODS Data Collection This investigation was part of a larger study of medical precepting conducted in a general medicine clinic at a university hospital. The instructions to the preceptors were “Stop the tape when you think the intern needed to be guided. These recordings included the five interactional phases of each case: intern/patient interaction in an examining room. and starts more like kind of telling me what to do in front of the patient. 32 patient visits in the General Medicine Clinic were videotaped with the consent of all the participants. On only one occasion in our corpus did a preceptor instruct by commenting on the inadequacy of an intern’s performance while she interviewed the patient in the presence of the preceptor. and showing the intern how to manipulate the patient’s body as part of the physical examination. the preceptors interviewed and examined the patients with the interns looking on. intern/preceptor discussion in the teaching room. however. Post-patient-visit commentary of preceptors and interns were solicited in 20 of the 35 cases. ranging from the preceptor’s observing and commenting while the intern interviews and examines the patient to the preceptor’s interviewing and examining the patient while the intern observes. There are different ways of providing learning opportunities. Always does that. For stimulated recall. that cannot be taught outside of the examining room and away from the patient’s presence. There are lessons. These include demonstrating ways of taking history about sensitive matters. this. For the remaining 14 of these 20 cases.Modeling as a teaching strategy in clinical training  325 8/22/95–II Stimulated Recall with Intern Intern: [It’s annoying when] the physician comes in and kind of takes charge. However. They sometimes explicitly instructed with asides that consisted of medical explanations or commentaries. They conducted the interview and/or physical examination in ways that allowed the interns to observe and learn from their conduct. It’s never the sort of thing “Well we should do this. preceptors and interns were asked to speak on their own into an audiotape recorder about their impressions of the sessions. He [the current preceptor] always waits to talk to me outside. Which I think is great.

The method used to identify instances of modeling relied on the explanations and accounts given by the preceptors and interns. and related accounts of those episodes provided by the participants.326  Studies in language and social interaction teach or correct. As would be expected. . an intern may fail to observe the preceptor’s conduct or view any of it as useful. Even though the primary data for this study are the commentaries and stimulated recall comments. and analysis of the specific conduct commented on by the participants. review. Now we need your point of view. We’d like you to comment on what was helpful and what wasn’t helpful about precepting. They gave explanations and accounts in two contexts: (a) in commentaries that they gave individually. Even when a preceptor is aware of being observed and conducts an interview and examination in model form.” Interns who completed the stimulated recall sessions were paid $100 for their participation in the study. Moreover. and (b) in stimulated recall sessions with a researcher while watching the videotape of the medical interaction. All instances were collected in which preceptors indicated that their conduct involved attempts to teach the interns and in which interns reported that they found some conduct of the preceptors useful.standing relationships: Based on the examination of interaction episodes. From the intern’s perspective. the preceptors offered more commentary than the interns. it is argued that incorporating the accounts enriches (and complicates) the understanding of the particular interaction. speaking into the tape recorder at the conclusion of the case. Stop the tape at any point to make comments. the availability of the videotaped interaction permitted the identification. Because instances of teaching via modeling and/or learning via witnessing cannot be identified by simply analyzing the videotaped interaction. this project heavily relied on the participants’ commentaries and stimulated recall comments. The more you say the better. the use of a particular teaching strategy structures the occasion such that some learning strategies over others become available for use. teaching via modeling involves conducting the interviewing and examination of the patient with some awareness of being observed by the intern. it is argued that the contextual information in the accounts provides background that is vital to understanding the generalizability and relational significance of the episodes under investigation. The more you say the better.” The instructions to the interns were “We’ve been studying precepting and focusing on preceptors. or for anything else you want to say. Identifying Instances of Modeling Teaching implicates learning. there is some independence between teaching and learning strategies. learning from a preceptor who teaches via modeling involves observing aspects of the preceptor’s conduct that he or she appreciates as useful Although the preceptor’s use of a particular teaching strategy structures the occasion in which the intern presumably is engaged in learning. Likewise interns can learn from witnessing a preceptor’s conduct even when that conduct is not intentionally pedagogical. The benefits of analyzing both the interaction and the commentaries were discussed by Arliss (1989/1990) in her study of long. From the preceptor’s perspective.

In the next excerpt. The criterion for selecting instances of successful and unsuccessful modeling was the compatibility or incompatibility between the preceptor’s and the intern’s accounts. patient interaction. In the following two excerpts. In the first excerpt. him being an emergency doctor. an intern contrasted observing the supervising physician’s physical exam and his verbal interaction. which actually I find to be just as if not more helpful than the verbal interaction. solicited the information from the patient and the intern commented that he appreciated the way the preceptor solicited the information.Modeling as a teaching strategy in clinical training  327 In this study. . Commentary recorded by Intern. he knows a lot of these points and that was helpful to me.. Identifying Instances of Successful/Unsuccessful Modeling An instance of successful modeling and one of unsuccessful modeling are discussed in this chapter. the clearest case of successful modeling was when the preceptor. see(ing) somebody who has a lot more experience than I interact with the patient. The clearest case of an unsuccessful modeling was when the preceptor commented that he had hoped the intern would learn a lesson from some particular conduct and the intern commented that she found that conduct disruptive. 2/16/93:2:13 Intern: And I think the interactions in terms of the patient. These two activities are seen to comprise different contexts with respect to the types of knowledge to be taught/learned and the teaching strategies that are appropriate. interns display that they are aware of the different types of lessons to learn. Set 2:5/31/90 Intern: …he [the preceptor] did some of the physical exam. he or she may ask the patient questions and/or physically examine the patient. the materials contained in the participants’ comments provided a way to claim the teaching/learning significance for the participants of the episodes of interaction. The participants are aware that there are different types of knowledge to be taught/learned during history taking and during the physical exam. I think that’s informative in the sense of how they narrow questions down or attain a history from a patient. an intern commented on observing the supervising physician’s history taking: Stimulated Recall with Intern. For inclusion in this chapter. I mean. because these are things. FINDINGS Two Different Contexts for Learning and Teaching: History Taking and Physical Examination When a supervising physician sees the intern’s patient. I think that’s just general learning. having noticed the intern’s difficulty in obtaining information about the HIV status of the patient.

And with the physical exam. So. the preceptor can provide learning opportunities without undermining the intern. When a preceptor uses modeling. it seems that the preceptors were aware that the word selection they were consciously using as a model might go unnoticed. The preceptor suggested that modeling was appropriate most of the time during the history-taking phase whereas pointing things out was appropriate during the physical examination. I would just ask them and hope that he was listening. they treat what may be learned during the physical exam as physical manifestations of the patient’s complaints and physical manipulations and tests by the preceptor. The conduct needs to “speak for itself. In the second.” or modeling. In an environment in which being a novice undermines the role of the professional clinician. the intern reported that she appreciated observing the preceptor’s taking history and interacting with the patient. most of the time. and watching the intern watch. The supervising physician distinguished between two kinds of teaching strategies: (a) “teaching just by doing. One way is that an intern may not attend to the conduct in question. or something like that. I try to teach…just by doing. For example. In the following two instances. There is an obvious benefit to modeling: that teaching can be done. the preceptor acts in ways that could serve as lessons for the intern.… I wouldn’t necessarily point things out that I was asking.” A drawback to modeling is that lessons may be lost in a variety of ways. The interns seem to treat what may be learned during the history taking as principally verbal interaction. unless they require that. In contrast. Not only do the participants distinguish between the different kinds of lessons that can be learned during history taking and the physical exam. . and learning can occur. for example. You might say “Look” at this particular finding. This chapter discusses issues related to teaching and learning during the history-taking phase of the medical consultation. As opposed to specifically pointing out things. the intern commented that she found observing the preceptor’s physical exam particularly useful.328  Studies in language and social interaction In the first excerpt. obviously it’s different. There is no explicit talk directing the intern to attend to certain bits of the preceptor’s conduct over other bits. Benefits and Drawbacks of Using Modeling as a Pedagogical Strategy With modeling. without an appearance of pedagogic activity. One supervising physician put it this way: 11/22/94 Supervising Physician Stimulated Recall:7 (Interviewer’s mm mhm’s omitted) P: Whenever I go see patients with interns. he or she has less control over what the intern will pick up on and see as valuable. and (b) “pointing things out” in the course of performing medical activities. sometimes preceptors consciously select particular words for specific purposes. they also see differing pedagogic strategies appropriate for teaching during history taking and during the physical exam.

94 Preceptor. And it was pretty amazing to me that the intern didn’t actually directly ask. And every once in a while. Notice that in each of the two preceding examples. or principle behind. In the first case. I provide two examples: The first is an instance of successful modeling. Stimulated Recall:8 P: …the intern said “the reflux. that’s right to say “yes ma’am” to them…. 10/25/94 Preceptor. I mean given that his friend died and there was no mention of girlfriend. the preceptor wanted to use a term of address that showed respect and hence would relax the patient. When the preceptor went to see the patient. No. in the second case.22. the intern found the conduct instructive. Successful Modeling During the precepting interaction. The preceptor.. And HIV was so much on my mind from the very beginning of this discussion about the patient’s—I assumed that he was gay.” and I said “heartburn.Modeling as a teaching strategy in clinical training  329 11. Another way that a lesson may be lost is that the intern may notice the conduct but fail to appreciate the basis for using it. obviously he felt uncomfortable asking about sexual orientation which would have been.” And that was a deliberate—I thought reflux might be too technical for the patient.. during the stimulated recall session. the intern reported that he neglected to find out about the patient’s sexual history. P: Pt: P: Pt: Was it AIDS. The older Black women from the south. I think he had like a () . the second is not. er No it wasn’t AIDS. an intern or resident will pick up on it and will do it. the preceptor said that he selected “heartburn” because he wanted to speak with vocabulary understandable to the patient. An intern may not attend to the modeled conduct because he or she is focused on other conduct or issues relevant to the situation. so it was probably a male friend that died a week ago. To illustrate this point. In the first instance. Understanding a lesson involves putting together a bit of conduct with a basis for its use. the preceptor and patient spoke about the friend’s death. his word selection. commented: 11/8/94 Preceptor:10 P: . It sort of helps to let the patient relax I think. the preceptor in the stimulated recall session gave a rationale for. she found it annoying. In the second example. Stimulated Recall:15 P: “Yes ma’am” is something I try to teach them too.

With the more patients I see. though. the sense they made of the preceptor’s inquiries were quite disparate. which had been: “Try to find out exactly what’s bothering the patient. Unsuccessful Modeling In this next case. . I think it’s over time. This goal fits with a previous comment that he made in stimulated recall. at least in an initial interview it would be inferred that it was possibly his lover. AP: Do you think in watching it you know how to replicate it? I: In a way. the intern stopped the tape and appreciated the way the preceptor inquired about the topic. So that was a nice way of asking there. and listen to it. namely that when he meets a patient. You always have to honor it. It’s something that I could try to emulate. And then from there it sets the stage for evaluating him later for him being HIV positive. often it’s. 11/8/94 Intern. 10/25/94 Intern. 10/25/94 Preceptor. It’s kind of hard though. I think it’s important to have a rapport with the patient. Stimulated Recall:18 P: Here’s another card you have to play when it comes up. it was a little distracting. It turns out to be fairly important for this woman. which is the religion card. if you want to establish a rapport. I think that what we were trying to get—basically the object—… The other thing was. so it doesn’t get diffused. it’s easier it is to ask those….       If he had a close friend who had died of AIDS. and explore it and (make it out) . but if you’re trying to make a teaching point. Seeing that come up. he attempts to form an image of the patient as a human being. when he starts talking about the church and all. It was kind of distracting though. This instance of modeling was successful because the intern noticed the conduct (how the preceptor asked about AIDS) and recognized a use or purpose for that conduct. both preceptor and the intern commented on the preceptor’s inquiries regarding the patient’s religious affiliation and activities. because we sort of lost track of that teaching point. The intern’s reaction to the preceptor’s pursuing the topic of religion was fairly negative. the way she did. Stimulated Recall:16   That was kind of a nice way of asking about… You know. However. This preceptor’s inquiries apparently were aimed at getting a better sense of what was important to the patient. helps in terms of my future discussions with patients about the same topic.” But then we sort of get sidetracked…. Stimulated Recall:15 I: That’s kind of distracting. it’s kind of helpful to try stay focused on that.330  Studies in language and social interaction In stimulated recall.

Two significant features of modeling are: (a) the teaching is invisible. Given that purpose. it is up to the intern as observer to analyze the ongoing stream to see if there are lessons to be learned and. modeling as a method of teaching was unsuccessful. then. interns. In this instance. without appearing to do so makes modeling a particularly good teaching strategy whenever the participants have good reason to avoid assuming the roles or identities of teacher/learner or expert/novice. and patients. recall that the preceptor. If the intern attended to the preceptor’s use of heartburn. heartburn. he or she would have had to appreciate it as a less technical synonym of reflux. if so. The teaching strategy asks the intern to attend to the word heartburn. One such circumstance involves interactions between preceptors. hear it as a substitute for reflux.Modeling as a teaching strategy in clinical training  331 The intern assumed that the preceptor’s purpose for talking about the church was to build rapport. and (b) the learner plays a greater part in shaping the lesson than is the case with other teaching strategies. because the intern did not appreciate the purpose of the preceptor’s asking about church affiliation. or both of them. DISCUSSION The set of features associated with the teaching strategy of modeling makes it particularly suited for use in some circumstances but weak in others. might be seen to conflict with assuming the role or identity of expert-teacher or novice-learner. she felt that the topic took them away from delving into what was bothering the patient. The status of either of the participants. There are other kinds of circumstances in which the participants would want to teach invisibly. He or she would have had to seen the use of a less technical term to the patient as good practice. . what they are. and apply the principle to other circumstances. modeling is a way of teaching that is designed to avoid compromising their status. For example. If the preceptor’s stream of conduct has no special markings indicating that a lesson is in progress. used the less technical term. The lesson. or attempt to teach. and appreciating it as good way to do it. Rather than learning a lesson. The fact that the teacher plays a relatively a small part in shaping the nature of the lesson learned and the learner plays a relatively large part has the consequence of the teacher’s having less confidence that the learner is learning the intended lessons. infer a basis or reason for its use as a less technical term appropriately selected for the patient. The successful use of modeling as a teaching strategy relies on the learner’s attending to the teacher’s conduct. The lesson that the preceptor may have hoped to teach—that religion can be an important part of understanding a patient and understanding a patient is important in the medical encounter—apparently was lost on this occasion. to the patient. she was annoyed that the preceptor did not stay focused. In that interns need to maintain the status of competent professionals in front of the patients. having heard the intern say “reflux” in front of the patient. analyzing what the conduct seems designed to do. One can easily imagine an individual modeling conduct rather than more overtly teaching when the lesson is aimed at a superordinate or a recognized expert. The fact that persons can teach. is not simply about using the word heartburn but rather about the advisability of using less technical terms when speaking to patients.

Because teaching via modeling involves the learner. 589–615. the success of the teaching technique relies on active and receptive learners. When supervising physicians see patients: Strategies used in difficult situations. B. insteadattending to other aspects of the discourse or activity. They commented that the preceptors were more thorough in their questioning during the videotaped teaching situation than they would otherwise have been. 23.. J. together with me.Fehr who transcribed the stimulated recall sessions and collaborated in the analysis. interns who observed the preceptors’ conduct interpreted what they saw as the preceptors’ attempts to produce “model” conduct rather than perform as they usually do in such circumstances. I would like to thank Jenny Mandelbaum and Kristine Fitch for their helpful comments on an earlier draft. A second way is that an apprentice may attend to the particular modeled conduct but see it as performing different functions or actions than the teacher intended.J. One way is that an apprentice may fail to attend to the particular modeled conduct. Together we collected the data and analyzed it. . An integration of accounts and interaction analyses of communication in long-standing relationships. In two types of situations. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I am indebted to Jack Ende and Frederick Erickson who. Pomerantz. it is unlikely he or she will be receptive to learning the potential lessons to be gleaned from modeled conduct. Fehr. L. and when the intern perceived the preceptor’s spending too much time with the patient and being “too thorough” for no apparent medical reason. Research on Language and Social Interaction. developed the research project out of which this chapter grew.J. (1989/1990). interns expressed or displayed irritation: when the intern perceived the preceptor’s going over the same ground that he or she already covered. they are less receptive to learning from the conduct. A.. 23. REFERENCES Arliss. rather than the teacher. largely determining what the lesson to be learned is. It seems likely that when interns perceive the preceptors as attempting to perform in atypical ways. (1997). On a few occasions. pressured. I also am indebted to B. or annoyed. Human Communication Research. & Ende. 41–64. A third way is that an apprentice may view the teacher’s conduct as something other than a normal performance by a competent professional.332  Studies in language and social interaction There are several ways in which an attempt to teach via modeling can fail. If a learner is angry.

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even in more restrictive circumstances where status and interactive dominance would be expected when. routine physical checkup.” including that which occurs in clinical settings. even expected.Maynard Indiana University Richard M.Frankel Fetzer Institute In his book on telephone conversations. 155). Hopper (1992) wrote. however. the physician calls his patient. it is also at the center of our analysis. The patient’s mammogram. and wants to know what should be done next to resolve the still indeterminate status of the lump. In fact.24 Indeterminacy and Uncertainty in the Delivery of Diagnostic News in Internal Medicine: A Single Case Analysis Douglas W. To paraphrase Maynard (1997). Kramerae. for example. Most of the tests are routine and the results are inconsequential. who can codetermine how the trajectory of a conversation’s topic may go. see (for example) Treichler. This is particularly true about the interpersonal delivery and receipt of “news. Because the presentation of this result occupies the central part of this interview. which is performed later in the day at a breast clinic. “As we examine telephone conversation’s details. and Maynard (1991b). initially advocated. and Beckman (1985). . After the results of the ultrasound become available. he opens the phone call by saying that he has good news. unexpectedly showed a lump in the woman’s breast. However. and the two parties co-establish the presence or absence of some medical condition as tidings of a particular kind. following radiologists’ advice. The doctor and patient decide on a follow-up ultrasound test. This matter may be plain enough. Zoppi. Having news that the ultrasound apparently shows a cyst rather than a malignancy. the notion that people own topics recedes before the workings of interactive emergence” (p. Our spotlight is on an interview in which a physician reports on a number of tests that his female patient had taken during a previous. his patient does not accept her physician’s proposal of good news. patients respond. diagnostic news does not represent something fixed and existing objectively in the world except as doctors announce. the patient’s responses to the physician’s suggestions for treatment codetermine the topical trajectory of the conversation and effect a different course of action than that which the physician. By interactive emergence Hopper meant that participants “manage” and “negotiate” topics collaboratively. Frankel. However. 1 For discussions concerning the shortcomings of the theoretical literature on doctor-patient communications. in conversations between status equals. a physician is talking to a patient.1 the phenomenon of interactive emergence shows its face.

The patient is a nurse who works in the hospital with which an internal medicine clinic and site for our data collection is affiliated. watching the dense area over time and entertaining the possibility of more testing. news is delivered and received again and again. The physician involved in this case was confident that the patient did not have a malignancy and saw the indeterminate mammogram as a relatively routine matter. and represent good news. each episode of delivery and receipt is examined as a singular instance. the breast result was a “crisis” for the patient. This nurse. Third. see. the deliverer of the news to others. 1992. [But]…anything seen on a mammogram for a woman is bad news in that sense because it means more medical care. Maynard. 2001). Longitudinal studies are those in which. although (in the physician’s own view) he and his patient had different perspectives on this. First. the physician was aware that the patient would be more anxious than he about the result.Indeterminacy and uncertainty in the delivery of diagnostic  335 Besides explicating the ways in which doctor and patient interactively handle the mammogram result. when an individual becomes seriously ill. the physician and patient may buffer the troublesome matter by dealing with news about benign and inconsequential conditions at the opening and closing of the interview. Beach (1996. but largely apart from the overall medical interview in which it is originally embedded. “I was not regarding this report as bad news really… I did not expect that this was going to be a breast cancer. For longitudinal studies. the mammogram results. Parties may at one time be the recipient of the news and.3 To some degree. several test results are indeterminate but inconsequential. at a minimum. However.2 It appears that when there are numerous results to report. The interview illustrates a classic dilemma that the sociologist Hughes (1951) identified: Something that is one person’s crisis may be another person’s routine. our purpose is to situate this focal news delivery in the overall context of the medical interview. Ours is a single case analysis and complements these other studies by showing how physician and patient handle a troublesome diagnostic matter in relation to other news deliveries within the same interview. 3) discussed the difference between “episodic” and “longitudinal” studies of bad and good news. Second. Within these collections. showing a dense area in one of the patient’s breasts. for example. ch. Episodic studies are those that examine singular instances apart from larger courses of action in which they are embedded. are both indeterminate and of potentially great consequence. V. Ms. 1992. 1998) involves collections of such deliveries from different interviews. several tests show normal readings. Or. the physician said. the physician has three kinds of news to convey. LEADING UP TO THE MAMMOGRAM RESULTS In this case. later. and because dense areas on mammograms represent. Peräkylä. family members may be monitoring the situation and hearing and telling news according to how the individual’s health status waxes and wanes. 3 In a post-hoc interview with the first author.” 2 . to be compared with others in the collection. Something to worry about in the meantime. K. Previous conversation analytic research on the delivery of diagnostic news (Heath. Prior to the interview that is the focus for Maynard (in press. over time. because his patient had called him for the mammogram result the day before this visit. is therefore not just a regular patient but a professional acquaintance of Dr.

Dr. in signaling the interview’s commencement. this patient had telephoned Dr. V that he has not gotten back a stool blood test. K: Ms.) . K:       Ms. K the day before and left a message that she wanted to know what that particular result was. 4. V: 2-> Dr. Consequently. Dr.] V: Dr.336  Studies in language and social interaction our study. K for a regular medical examination and number of tests. Ms.0) So di. hhh Well you were interested in your mammogram K:   resutlts Ms.4:164 Dr. Yeah an [that xray. K:       Ms.4:235 l→ Dr. V. 7. Dr. K prioritizes the mammogram.) is negative? (0. he was unsuccessful in reaching her. Yer: leg xray is negative? (1. writes in her record. 5. 6.So are you gonna tell me what’s wrong with my leg [then?] [I alrea]dy told you what’s wrong. At this point in the interview. this opening appears to index those calls and his knowledge of what her primary concern is. physician and patient discuss this difficulty and what might be done about it. 2. 4 1. [an proba]bly all the other results too. and goes on to read other results that he does have in hand: (2) 1.4 In any case. 9. Yeah V: Notice how. V:       Dr. Dr. K by the first author (see Footnote 3. K now has various results to report to Ms. K:   Ms. 8. Oh just tendinitis? This information is from the interview of Dr. V: Yer pa::p (. V had visited Dr. 3.4) Oh good. As mentioned. The encounter begins with the patient complaining about how difficult it was to get an appointment in the clinic. rather than discussing the mammogram right away. K then urges her to complete that procedure. K had returned her call. K tells Ms. Dr. and she tells him that she has not done the test yet. K signals the commencement of the interview as follows: (1)           1. Although Dr.

9) . V responds with laughter and a laughing receipt of his tentative diagnosis (Lines 6. is that what I told you? [(I think) 6. V:   Dr. 8). 5. and then a query about “what’s wrong” with the leg. tendiniti[s slash bursitis? [Tendinitis er bursitis. there is no explanation.) [better? [Good. K: Ms. 1.0) Here’s thuh results of your: femur ex ra:y. but this leaves possible persistent discomfort or pain (“what’s wrong…”. K follows this with a display of forgetfulness and tentative diagnostic formulation (Lines 5. 17. V treats the leg X-ray announcement (arrow 2). [(Okay. Lines 6–7) unexplained. Instead of a close positioned assessment. the patient and her doctor. 4. In this interview. Y(h)eah. V: Dr.you like tendinitis. 11. V: Dr. 14. 19. Physicians often use the device of giving patients a diagnostic choice to indicate a condition for which the treatment is the same. K: Ms. thereby declining to retell her. regardless of how it is named. there is a substantial silence (Line 5). 16. The two parties then portray the diagnosis as having been a two-pronged choice for the patient (Lines 10–17). 3.So are you gonna tell me what ‘s wrong with my leg [(then)? [I already toldju what was wrong. [an’ then you. K initially proposes that he has already told the patient (Line 3). 15. to which Ms. 8. Uh: : :m:. 2. K:   So di. in a different manner.hh hah hah [tendinitis [hah i(h)s th(h)at whatchu told me. 18. (1. [okay. 7.) [. .hh We:h I li [ke tendinitis:. (0. [(so.4:240 Ms. K: Ms. [Take yer pick.hh Alri:ght. 21. In some circumstances. K:   Dr. just tendinitis. and Dr. K: [.Indeterminacy and uncertainty in the delivery of diagnostic  337 Whereas a negative pap test (arrow 1) is received as good news (Line 3). V: Dr. 10. K: Ms. K:   Dr. V: Ms. Here is an example of what Maynard and Frankel (in press) called the symptom residue: The X-ray may be negative for disease or injury. Ms. K: Ms. with her choosing and liking tendonitis “better” (Line 17). in a joking way. [(I know is-) [. [Alright.” Line 4). 9. V: Dr. She interprets this declination as diminishing the condition (“just tendonitis. V: Dr. Well:. Ms. That whatever discomfort Ms. settle on the tendonitis diagnosis: (3) 1. 20. 12 13. Dr. 7). Oh.hh Well you gave me uh choice. V has in her leg is a relatively mild condition is exhibited in the downplaying of diagnosis by mutual joking. whose production format (“your x is negative”) parallels that containing the pap report. V:   Dr .

V:   Dr. V:   Here’s the results of yer:: femur xray. 12. K: Well:: circumscribed density. 2. Whereas testing showed the right breast to be normal. K:   Ms. K and Ms. V. V:   Dr. [mhhh] (0. 9.hhh on [a pr]ior mammogram. V initiates a teasing routine about Dr.° °What kind of a pen is this­° As Dr. K gets ready to present the results (Lines 9–10). 3.4) °You have this one. 10. 10.338  Studies in language and social interaction THE DELIVERY AND RECEIPT OF MAMMOGRAM RESULTS Just as Ms. I’m gonna just scan it again. K: Ms. 8.4:311 Dr. the report for the left breast is not so good. and both parties become very serious. 9. This could represent a cys:t but was not clea:rly: identified . 13. K:       Dr. 11. is identified in the central portion o’ the breast. Dr. . 2.4) It says either ultrasou:nd to determine if this mass is cystic or a single view: followup in six months is warranted. (2. and dismiss this topic as Dr. doctor and patient remark on another result. K:       Dr. 11. with the lo:ngest axis about one point three centimeters. Dr. 1. 1. concerning a femur X-ray (Lines 1–2 in Excerpt 4) as good news (Lines 4–6).hhh to assure stability (1. In Lines 1–10 in the following excerpt. 4. V’s leg problem is jokingly put aside. which goes on for several turns with Dr. K moves to a discussion of the mammogram (Lines 9–10): (4) 1. K’s pen (Line 14). K:         Ms. V: Dr.6) they see . V a copy of the report (Lines 12–13). V trading jokes about the pen and doctors’ handwriting (data not shown) while Dr. K is reading from the report: (5) 1. 14. 6. he shows Ms. (8.6) ((Patient is reading)) Ah good. 8.hhhhhh That’s good news ay:? (0.4) . K:     Ms. K delivers the results to Ms. 3. before hh I give it to you. 5. Ms. 7.2) (Uh huh) And this is the results of the mammogram. 7. 4.4:263 Dr. you can read it yersel:f? It’s perfectly ↑normal. 6. K gazes at the mammogram report. 12. (0. 5. Subsequently.2) So what they’re say:ing is::: (0.

2) say::: is perfectly nor:mal. 16. After Dr. by avoiding an obscene term. may be providing for relational distance that is sensitive to the participants’ invocable doctor-patient identities. K raised the possibility of an ultrasound test. see also Heritage and Stivers 1999) called “online commentary. 22. In the mode of what Stivers (1998. By “citing the evidence” from the report. He also proposed that if on a physical exam. Dr. cut-off “Sh:::” sound and hesitation may be deleting an expletive. using an inferential form (“This could represent a cysit”).” Dr. Peräkylä. K proceeded to do the physical. . can operate to indicate that an initially produced object projects an error or inappropriateness and that a subsequent object is its correction. 21. and not “asserting” any condition (Maynard. 1998). which understanding Dr. V. V: Dr. Although Ms. Participants deploy such formats particularly for obscenities. Jefferson (1974) showed that an “error avoidance format. V’s breast was a cyst. In this case. 1991a. which could tell if the density in Ms.       Ms. 23. whereupon Dr. she also moves her gaze from the report to Dr. 20. Here. proffer suggestions and remedial actions to deal with the announced situation. K confirms (Line 21). K display a “joking” and informal relationship. Ms.” consisting of [WORD! +HESITATION+WORD2]. V projects at Line 22) is regular. When Ms. K finishes reading (Line 10). K says. 19.” And he goes on: . worried about it either.hhh >Okay-< but it wasn’t on my las:t mammogram? That’s what they said. After a delay (Line 22) Ms.0) Sh:::.okay. 15. Ms. it may not be one in which a word like shit (if that is what Ms. K looks up and at his patient. V agreed to these decision-making options. V is silent as she continues looking at the report (Line 11). (1. Dr. Dr. offering an interpretation of the testing information (Lines 12–14) as suggesting a possible abnormality. Ms. “I think I’m feeling what they’re talking about…it’s kind of like a jelly bean laying horizontal.4) Mm hm[: :] [But th]ey’re not very. Ms. V and Dr. Physicians. However. who then provides a positive cast to the recommendation for another mammogram (Lines 17–19). V says “Mm hm::” at Line 16. V asks to check her understanding about a possible contrast between the current mammogram and her last one (Line 20). The preceding. V does use the word later in the interview—see excerpt 6. K takes a cautious approach to delivering the news. during which he did find a dense area in the breast. V: something that they cannot (1. he did not feel anything in the breast. V: Dr.Indeterminacy and uncertainty in the delivery of diagnostic  339 13. 18. V produces an “okay” receipt at Line 23. K:     Ms. because they suggest we can do another picture in six months ta tell if it’s stable. K:   Ms. K. whose use in conversation can indicate relational intimacy (Jefferson. after the delivery of uncertain news. Ms. 14. Subsequently. 1974). they wait 6 months and repeat the X-ray at that time. (0. 17.

.Well they probably will. 5 .5) 7. 18. Here. (.5 Dr. Dr. K’s physical exam and tentative conclusion. V: I don’t know.(0. V: Becu. as a version of “forecasting” some diagnostic upshot (Maynard. V: An‘I will not have chemotherapy or anything else. K then slightly hedges his optimistic rendering (Line 7) and Ms. V: Yea: :h. Online commentary. K: Things have changed a lot you know 23. V: That’s true.   the lo:n:gest axis an’ that. marks the inconclusive “epistemic” grounds of Dr. Dr. It projects the need for more reliable and certain information. 9.   (2. 8. invokes the contrasting case of a possible malignancy and depicts her reaction to it with “don’t care” announcements (Lines 8. Oka(h)y.   removed huh. V. I don’t.340  Studies in language and social interaction (6) 1. 10. 6. Ms. K: But if it were lump you’d probably want it tuh be 17. K: But that’s not a hundred percent as you know.   get cancer I wanna know so I can <quit working.   feel as well… I: would be:t that this is not 4. 20.> 16.   (0.   (0. Dr. Ms. In the latter Reference to what he “feels. V: Oh.that is about what I 3.) 22. Ms.) If it is:. ((noise)) It doesn’t feel 5.khh (I know. give a sh:it.” as Peräkylä (1998) noted. 10–11).   (get-) get any diseases I don’t care. 1999).7) 13. V is silent at this point (Line 6).   like a malignant lump. Ms. Ms. K: Why.) a malignant lump.   (. Dr. K: They said it was one point three centimeters in 2. All I wanna know is if I 15. Ms. Dr. regularly works to fashion a recipient’s expectations by minimizing a condition (Heritage & Stivers. Ms. in a step wise shift that moves from a focus on the proposal that the lump is “not” malignant.0) 19.   I don’t care for that. 12. Dr.4:502 1. discussing a possible malignancy according to how it feels upon physical manipulation. 1996). K’s commentary (Lines 1–5) offers an optimistic version of her condition. 21. Maybe if they do it under a local.5) I’ve managed to stay suicidal so if I 11. Dr. 14. K: There are.

in another step wise topical transition that still preserves the theme of a possible malignancy. and they end with a display of agreement regarding this matter (lines 20–23). K receives this announcement with silence (Line 12). V.4:627 1→ Ms. suggests a referral for her to see the physician at the breast clinic. in his interview with the first author. according to the options they had discussed earlier. K: 7. K indicated that this patient had been treated for depression and that she had even attempted suicide in the past. OTHER BENIGN RESULTS As Dr. V: 2. Oh we ca: :n’t? = Sacks (1972) argued that reports of suicidal feelings may be treated as either serious or humorous. V.hhh [But we] can’t even tell: if yer having= [( )] menopause or no: t. and then he quips that he is going to be caught on videotape “extorting” baked bread from his patient. for an immediate ultrasound. Dr. to which the patient hesitatingly (Lines 18–19) and contingently agrees (Line 19). for example. 8. in a few seconds. Dr. K’s silence stays away from the suicide topic and thereby avoids making an overt choice between responding in a serious or humorous fashion. 3. Dr. the two parties return to the teasing and joking way of conversing that preceded the mammogram discussion. Dr. 1. 4. 6 . He and his patient regularly discussed her psychiatric state.Indeterminacy and uncertainty in the delivery of diagnostic  341 announcement (10–11).   →   Ms. 9. Dr. K:   Dr. K: Ms. Shortly after the excerpt.0) Yes: ma’am (0. 6. What else thehall my blood work was okay? (1. Ms. it was his judgment in this interview that the reference to suicidalness was nonserious. EXITING FROM THE MAMMOGRAM DISCUSSION: RETURN TO TEASING. V next initiates further talk regarding her test results: (7) I. V: Oh(hhh) we(hhh)11 hhh.6 after which Ms. K writes out the referral and then jots notes into his patient’s chart. K produces a disagreeing counterproposal that she would “probably want” the growth “removed” (Lines 16–17).4) . V: Dr. Dr. she also mentions feeling suicidal. However. Overall. Ms. K repeats that he “would believe that this is not a malignant lump.” and. somewhat independently of what the reporter may actually intend. doctor and patient migrate topically from a probable benign condition (doctor’s version) to a possible malignancy (patient’s version) to a brief mention of suicidal feelings to the very practical consideration of lump removal. K accepts this offer. moves away from the not-caring announcements and mention of suicidal feelings to project how she would avoid treatment options and “quit working” (Lines 13–15). 5. offers to bake bread for him (as she has for other physicians).     →   2->     Dr.

    →     4→     → Ms.2) . V: Dr. 19. 13. K:   =No.0) So.] Greatine. K:   Dr. (0. K: Ms. 17. 20. See if you look down here at the:se . 18. And it’s definitely not pre. 25. 23. V: Dr. According to the ef ess aich yer a post pubertal woman .] [Right.     3→   →   →   →     Dr.4) Let’s see yer sodium.342  Studies in language and social interaction 10. 41. 15. V:   42. K: 30.hh [hhh oh:::::] [r:esults it’s sort of in] the= =oka[:y: :] [inde]terminate (0.]= [No::. 31. 32. [Puber]tal. K: V:   Dr. 36.hh but it’s not hi:gh enough to clearly be in the menopausal range either.     39. K:   Ms. K:   Dr. K:   Dr. But yer ef ess aich level (0.     Dr. 26.         Ms. 22.           Dr. V Dr. 45. (0. 43. °(What was the [word. 14. 46. 44. (1. 35. (0. (0. K: MS. K:   Ms. V: Dr.] Sodium an::d what’s this. II. →   →   →       MS. Great inine are normal.= =Oh good cuz I can’t tell ei(heh heh) ther(heh heh). 28.4) Yeah [these two. 40.2) area. (1.2) Sodium? Is this sodium? (0. 29.] =pubertal° pre-pubertal. V: Ms. K:   Dr. K: 37.= =is intermediate.(0. 33. 27. 34.8) It’s a little hi:-gher than what we’d expect fer a cycling woman (0. [Here’s sodium. 24.4) Okay goo:d.0) What is it. V: Dr.2) Is that.     38. 16. V: 12. K: 21.2) pubertal either.

The “making of arrangements” (Button. and Ms. 60. 58. Dr. 57. V:   Dr. ironic assessment (Lines 59). in response to the patient’s generalized query about her blood (Arrow 1). 34).” asking the patient if there’s “anything else” (to which she replies that she got “more” than she “expected”). K also explicates the indeterminacy (Lines 36–39). 32. K confirms that it was “okay” (Line 4). Finally. it proposes a close to the encounter.                     Ms. 59. K:   Ms.Indeterminacy and uncertainty in the delivery of diagnostic  343 47. Lotta help huh? hhhhhh ((sigh)) We have arrowed four news delivery segments that become progressively more specific.) Heh hm Who is not yet clearly menopausal.2) Go:od.2) °Mmkay. tied to a laughing report of her own uncertainty (Lines 11–12).0) An‘it means you could be: (.               Ms. to which the patient responds with a sigh (Line 60). K: Ms. argued West. 55–56). Third. 48. Dr. 49) and ambivalence (Lines 53. 51. is an aspect of how doctor and patient collaboratively make visible what is glossed as continuity of care as a feature of their visits. K recommends taking his referral to the breast clinic “now. The patient receives this news with an “oh good” assessment. Fourth. Lines 14–23). The end of the interview fits patterns that West (in press) identified.) just moving into yer menopause. Lines 26.