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Studies in Language
and Social Interaction
In Honor of Robert Hopper

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
In Honor of Robert Hopper
Edited by

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

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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without the prior written permission of the publisher.
Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers
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This edition published in the Taylor & Francis e-Library, 2009.
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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
ISBN 1-4106-0696-1 Master e-book ISBN

ISBN 0-8058-3732-9 (Print Edition)

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

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

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


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





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






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


8. Recognizing Assessable Names
Charles Goodwin


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



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



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


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







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
Jennifer L.Molloy and Howard Giles


20. Preventatives in Social Interaction


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


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







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


Contents  ix



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


27. Action and the Appearance of Action in the Conduct of Very Young Children  
Gene H.Lerner and Don H.Zimmerman
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









34. Robert Hopper: An Intellectual History
Jenny Mandelbaum


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



x  Contents
39. The Last Word
Robert Hopper










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

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

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.
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).


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
• 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
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

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

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

1994). Not all LSI research is inductive. 1999).16  Studies in language and social interaction each in relation to the other” (Kendon. or (b) a detailed explication of some single. Discourse analysts’ choices may be informed by a wide variety of influences. 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. drawing on preceding research to generate hypotheses for testing (chap. Moreover. Coutu.g. 1980. Ethnographic choices may be guided by the researcher’s intuition or reflection. Despite obvious differences in these inductive methods. occurrence that reflects upon the language and social interaction of a speech community or culture (e. and found recurring hand gestures that were identifiable because the computer provided a nonlinear environment within which to work. and as findings accumulate. C. juxtaposing them on the computer screen. The aim is to provide an account of the phenomenon that holds beyond the particular instance.g. LeBaron (1998) digitized and then microanalyzed video recordings. and ethnographic reports may make use of previous research to explicate features within a present set of data. p. ten Have. 1990. each documented and discussed. 1979.. Periodically . such an account thereby being both context sensitive and context free (Sacks et al. 1974). 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). opportunities increase for applying generalized claims in making sense of newly encountered particular instances. the community members’ overall insights and reflections (as gleaned through interviews). explanation.. A combined emphasis on description. Reports tend to take shape as either (a) claims based on a collection of occurrences. induction. Mulac. 1986). 1994). 2000)..” 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.g. 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. the subjects’ disclosures or interpretations of occurrences. Discourse analytic.. Schegloff. politeness theory) against which the ethnographer may work (Fitch. that altogether warrant some subsuming claim about LSI within a speech community or culture (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.g. 1994). 4).. and Gibbons (2001) draw on previous research to generate (and subsequently test) research questions and a hypothesis regarding gender-based differences in language use. Bradac.Goodwin. and abduction gives LSI work a basis for its empirical grounding. Sociolinguistic research on power and speaker style often operates under a deductive framework. C. this volume). from linguistic categorizations and structures to whatever themes or beliefs subjects manifest through their situated discourse or through interviews with the researcher (e. making it possible to analyze multiple videotaped images simultaneously. conversation analytic. 2.g.Goodwin. Using multimedia technology. technology allows for detailed and repeated examination of messages. In his early programmatic statements about the ethnography of speaking.. Philipsen. Tracy & Muller. With roots in a sociological method Znaniecki (1934) called “analytic induction. or some universal theory (e. What occurrence(s) a researcher chooses to report—or is able to report—depends on the LSI method being employed. 2000. perhaps singular.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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. concerned with identifying features of speech that contribute significantly to hearers’ judgments about speaker credibility. rate. 3). treats audio.” Moerman’s proposal for a union between ethnography and conversation analysis spawned much discussion. and so forth. see Saville-Troike. conversation analysis. 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. see Fasold. In the current essay. and microethnography.). etc. exemplified by John Heritage’s article (chap. Conversation analysis. Recordings and transcripts provide resources for constructing detailed accounts of the activities interactants undertake in and through interaction. 1989.and videotaped naturalistic interactions as primary data. including a special issue . competence. in the ethnomethodological tradition. Fitch & Philipsen. 1979). ethnography. 1995). 4) advocates grounding claims about communication and culture in details of particular interactions. Sociolinguists typically take some aspect of the social dimensions of everyday life (class. Researchers in the ethnography of communication tradition move from thick description of communicative phenomena to identifying underlying speech codes or cultural patterns (for overview. Kristine Fitch (chap. These pressures include on the one hand taking a somewhat adversarial stance.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.) and pair it with some aspect of spoken language (accent. In this way. exploring the extent to which variation in social dimensions correlates with variations in language use (for an overview. James Bradac’s piece (chap. 1984). 2) summarizes work on speech evaluation. This echoes Michael Moerman’s (1988) call for a “culturally contexted conversation analysis. 1990. ethnicity. Based on his review. etc. so as not to operate as a “mouthpiece” for the interviewee. dialect. discourse analysis. also Carbaugh. 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. speech evaluation research would pay more attention directly to messages and less to people’s perceptions thereof. while on the other hand maintaining a neutral stance. he examines how interviewers employ questioning to take up particular positions vis a vis interviewees while managing competing pressures of the interview situation. avoiding making their own opinions available in the way their questions are structured. 1990. gender. for a foundational collection see Baugh & Sherzer.

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

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

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

The two Dynamism factors appear to combine Osgood. Gardner. Hodgson. Arab respondents evaluated the Arabic guises more positively.36  Studies in language and social interaction SPEECH EVALUATION RESEARCH IN PRACTICE In practice. 1986). & YeniKomshian. although SEI exhibits a relatively large number of items representing each factor. e. and Miron’s Activity and Potency factors. uncovered through factor analysis (Mulac. Mulac and associates have examined the “gender-linked language effect. & Fillenbaum. for example. 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. Trustworthiness. intelligence and sociability (Lambert. 1975). The English “guises” received more positive ratings on several traits from both groups of respondents. Mulac & Lundell. 1998. Attractiveness and Aesthetic Quality include sweet/sour and nice/awful. dialects. But there is room for expansion. which reflects the three general dimensions just mentioned. May. this volume). More recently. an example of ingroup favoritism. Attractiveness. In this case. Competence. these researchers obtained three general factors. 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. Anisfeld. which has not been entirely disadvantageous because it has allowed a good deal of concerted effort resulting in some highly reliable findings. & Miron. In a later study. Mulac. 1960). and accents (Giles & Coupland. Despite the different communication stimuli and respondents used in constructing the two instruments.” a relationship among gender. which they labeled Superiority. which has continued to investigate evaluative consequences of different languages. see also chap. research on speech evaluation has had a narrow focus. Both Superiority and Socio-Intellectual Status include items such as literate/illiterate and white collar/blue collar.g. and Dynamism) are dimensions .g. The research on this effect has used as an evaluation instrument the Speech Dialect Attitudinal Scale (SDAS). Authoritativeness. 1991. May. 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. and Dynamism (or variants thereof. the factor structures of SDAS and SEI are quite similar. and the two Dynamisms include strong/weak and active/passive. Character. Employing a variety of communication stimuli and a wide range of evaluative items to which persons responded following exposure to the stimuli. 1965). 1975). 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). language. whereas the Hebrew guises were evaluated more positively by the Jewish respondents. These (and other) studies were precursors of contemporary language-attitudes research.. Arab and Jewish respondents rated speakers who read passages in Arabic and Hebrew (Lambert.. 3. For example. 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. for example. 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. and Dynamism.

The status/attractiveness distinction is related to two basic dimensions of interpersonal relationships: power and solidarity (Brown & Oilman. But. The content of the messages processed is bland (sometimes described as “neutral”) and respondents have little involvement with this content or with its evaluation. Zahn and Hopper (1985) also noted similarities between Osgood and associates’ Activity dimension and the Dynamism dimension of speech evaluation. sometimes message recipients focus on messages per se or features of messages. Prototypically. message sources are obscure or unknown. hearers will perceive speakers in terms of social status and group solidarity. Giles and Ryan (1982) noted the importance of the status and attractiveness dimensions and suggested that when collectivistic concerns are salient. 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). 1980). and between source credibility measures and measures of speech evaluation. 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. 1969). And specific scales representing the dimensions of status/competence and solidarity/attractiveness force a speaker attribution. friendly. where message sources are unduly prominent (Bradac. 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. Nisbett & Ross. as in the case of reading newspapers. messages will be examined closely and judged. when individualistic concerns are prominent. 1989. as is perceived dynamism. 1 . but this use also heightens the attributional prominence of the speaker. and sometimes even where sources are known. It may be much more usual for persons to judge message sources than to judge messages or message style.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. An underlying belief seems to be that the use of “neutral” message content will allow respondents to focus on the stylistic variable of interest. active. 1960). hearers will focus on speaker competence and attractiveness. and trustworthy. and so on. respondents were making judgments of or attributions about speakers rather than evaluating speech per se: The speaker was intelligent. intelligent. which may be the case. in some important communication contexts. likable. on the other hand. there may be something like a “fundamental attribution error” in the realm of speech evaluation. 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.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. for example. on the other hand.

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

and tag questions are rated as relatively low in power (Bradac & Mulac. 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. It would be useful to obtain politeness ratings of high. at one point. is clearly evaluative. The first is coherence judgments. dominance. Dillard et al.” There is evidence that messages exhibiting hedges. A dimension of message perception that is closely related to the dominance dimension just discussed is “power. and Kinney (1997) suggested that “social actors naturally evaluate influence messages in terms of three distinct and conceptually orthogonal features: explicitness. to produce meaningful utterances. a high-power style appears to produce judgments of high communicator competence and attractiveness.Extending the domain of speech evaluation  39 least can be. dominance refers to the level of control attempted. whereas Dillard et al’s dominant messages produced judgments of low message politeness. 105). which occur “when activated knowledge structures are consonant with the perceived nature of the discourse” processed by message recipients (Kellermann & Sleight. there was a positive association between judgments of politeness and perceptions of both explicitness and argument. rather than as evaluations that naturally occur. Explicitness refers to the directness of the influence attempt. Perhaps explicitness.’s criterion variable in the research that they reported. evaluated along the dimension of strength. Judgments of argument strength pertain to a specific message feature. it may be that a high-power style will trigger perceptions of high dominance.” Referring to a specific class of messages. 320). occurring . “coherence is an evaluative judgment of meaningfulness of discourse” (p.and low-power styles in future research. politeness. referred to the three qualities as “percepts” (p. hesitations. and argument” (p. 1999). In most contexts most people expect communicators to make sense. a good deal of research on high. Other message judgments are global—general impressions of a message as a whole. 1984. Holtgraves & Lasky. because in the particular case of linguistic power it appears that connotations of good-bad are inevitably attached. Dillard et al. Wilson. dominance. Tusing.and low-power styles indicates that “what is powerless is bad. It is useful to distinguish between perception and evaluation in research on message processing (Street & Hopper. 317). 303). It may be that a perception of high. Dillard et al. and argument are best conceptualized as qualities of influence messages that social actors naturally perceive. by contrast. indeed. found that there was a negative association between perceived dominance in influence messages and judgments of politeness. and argument refers to the extent to which reasons are offered in support of a proposal. p. which is Dillard et al. 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. In special cases. 122). 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.” In any case. which will reduce politeness ratings. global judgments are made of clusters of messages: “I thought the debate was uninteresting. strong arguments are better than weak ones for most purposes. 1989. 1982). so a judgment that takes the form “That message was coherent” is probably rare. On the other hand. Kellermann and associates have proposed two additional types of message judgments that revolve around the meaning of messages.or low-power messages is more accurately described as an evaluation.

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

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

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

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

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

The IR’s questions remain tied to the immediate context of the interview—the election and Mr. 2002b). The modern political interview differs from this one in every major respect. (0. the deferential style embodied in the IR’s questions is reciprocated in Attlee’s brusquely.6) Uhm. No modern politician entering an election campaign today would dream of addressing an IR (or the voting public) in this way. (0. • Second. Clayman & Heritage. Attlee is not merely unafraid to decline the questions. the IR does not materially shift topic. replies to his questions. Attlee’s view of it. 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. 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. even though Attlee gives noncommittal. The context of the interview is the Prime Minister’s arrival in London to strategize for national elections. he clearly feels under no obligation to respond to them.4) Uhm. if not downright evasive. • Fifth. • Fourth.” 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.Designing questions and setting agendas  47 29 30 31 IE:   IR: No:. They tell us about the extent to which present day broadcast interviews differ from those of the past. multi-sentence questions that are common today. 3 . the questions are not the prefaced.3 Interviews like this one are a valuable historical benchmark. 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. where prefatory statements are used to establish context and background for what follows. and the IR does not diverge from that. or disagreements within the Labour Party. This is expressed through conventional indirectness (Brown & Levinson. his questions are all very “open. 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. Rather he simply accepts the response that he is given and moves on. Indeed. ((end of interview segment)) The IR’s questioning in this interview has a number of noticeable features: • First. They indicate that Attlee will not be pressed by this IR if he does not “care” to respond. And they are evidence of quite different relationships between broadcasters and politicians than exist today. • Third. noncommittal responses. 1987. 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. There are no shifts to discuss Britain’s relations with foreign powers. • Finally.

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

7     (0. but they are very much a part of the modern news interview.S. Heritage & Roth. 2002b).hh an 14     o:versight on his part.= 13     =So it obviously was intentional. In his first turn. especially the IE’s reference to what a “fair chairman” would have done (Lines 5–6). ABC Nightline: 22nd July 1985: South Africa] 1 IR: P-> .hhh But I 5     think that any fair chairman would have given me an 6     opportunity of replying to them.=It wasn’t .hhh Well i. which otherwise might seem to come out of the blue. sometimes for the IE and often for the news audience.) 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. 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     . These prefaces were quite absent in Example 2. 1988. These are questions that are preceded by one or more statements (Clayman. Most simple questions draw on resources from the prior answer to provide for their relevance and intelligibility.hh Two.(.Designing questions and setting agendas  49 SIMPLE AND PREFACED QUESTION DESIGNS These three dimensions of question design are made more complex in prefaced questions.=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. Their manifest function is often to contextualize and provide relevance for the questions that follow. The following is a case in point. .4) 8 IR: -> Was it intentional not to call you? 9 IE:   . 1995). and indeed be incomprehensible for many members of the news audience.hhh had been launched on me from the rostrum.=I 4     don’t complain about those attacks. 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. and . 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. 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.two members of your organization (. .hh and couldn’t be called.) I don’t think it was mali::gn. Example 3 is a clear case of this: (3) [U. Heritage & Greatbatch. 1991. This simple follow up question raises something that is implicit in the IE’s previous answer.

ABC Nightline: 22 July 1985: South Africa] . prefaces are an essential resource for resetting the context for the question to come. It does not require prefatory remarks because it transparently draws and always 16 IE:   has been: a balance between freedom () an disor17     der…. the IR deploys additional statements (2->) to set up a question about the necessity of suspending the rule of law in South Africa.) to get 4     to: uh situation .hhh uh immediate one: is to stop 2     violence.hhhh The: urgent an’ pressing: need hh the: () 1 IE:   tch .) We live here in thuh United States. .) political dialogue.(. This needs prefatory statements: (5) [U. () violence perpetrated by blacks upon 3     blacks.S. journalists may often find themselves in circumstances where a simple follow-up question that explores some dimension of a prior answer is quite undesirable.. Journalists may also use prefatory statements. 13   2-> Why duh laws haftuh be suspended in order to 14     stop 15     thuh violence. and then further statements (3->) to return to the “blacks against blacks” issue raised earlier by the IE. In the following case.) seems to me: uh. Where we can start ‘n uh peaceful man6     ner     () to haff (. and projects an extension to.2) is with thuh white 11   2-> 12   2-> goverment. dealing with proposals to arm the British .hh An it seems to me that within thuh rule of law: that could be do:ne.. () This is what we have to end (.hhh thet 10   2-> thuh power in south africa (0. Under these circumstances. 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 (. In the following case. The IE responds by devoting his next turn to asserting the intentional nature of the chair’s action. 7 tch . but to provide a motivational context for the IE’s answer.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 .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.hhh where we can start () 5     talking.) of blacks against blacks. for example. 23     In addition to using prefatory statements (1->) to place the IE’s immediately preceding statements on hold.hhhh Uhm (. not merely to give background for a question (as in Example 3)..” However. 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. beginning with a pre-emptive denial that its intent was “malign. the IE’s immediately previous talk.. . discussed in Roth (1998a)..

the questioner has the right to repeat the question or to solicit an answer in other ways (Heritage.(. ahm Let’s just look at thuh 3   question of arming thuh police first of all.Designing questions and setting agendas  51 police. 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..hhh Ahm we w.. In sum.g. silence) or failures to address the question’s topical agenda noticeable and accountable (Schegloff. and autonomy of IR questioning. 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. 1984:245–51). 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. power. . 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. Moreover. prefaced question give IRs room to maneuver. they achieve this by making non-responses (e. and it embodies a real growth in the scope.hhh But definitely. questions set agendas by identifying a specific topical domain as the appropriate or relevant domain of response. Here the question preface provides that the IE’s experience of being shot is the presumptive foundation of his perspective in answering it. As a classical form of adjacency pair. DIMENSIONS OF QUESTIONING Questions Set Agendas The claim that IR questions set agendas for IEs involves three features of their design that constrain IEs. or has something to hide.) have no 7   rights as a society to expect young men to enter 8   situations. This latter sanction is particularly important when there may be millions of people watching on TV. 4   Is it your view that the police should now be 5   armed? 6 IE: .. failure to respond appropriately attracts special inferences: in particular. as we see later. Whereas simple questions leave the IE’s last response as the context for the next question. Under such circumstances. 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. First. Additionally. .. 1972). 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.

=This er victory by 3     such a’ narrow marg[in of Denis Healey. in some ways I wish I could say 6     that. 14   -> . questions not only identify the topical domain to be dealt with in a response. Twice in this sequence. . .hh can 11     argue about them . they also identify actions that the IE should perform in relation to the topical domain.hhhh But I don’t believe it i:s. and April 17.hhh is it right to interpret this 2     as a move back . In Example 7.h h h h N o] I don’t 5     believe it i:s. In Example 8 for instance. and he goes out of his way to justify this departure by reference to an earlier question asked by the IR (cf. British Prime Minister Edward Heath is asked by David Frost if he likes his main political rival of this period. 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.hhh the 9     Labour Party in which Neil Kinnock and I: who 10     disagree on a number of policy issue:s . the IE is clearly oriented to the topical domain set by the IR’s question. Silence hi the face of news interview questioning is incredibly rare! When asked a question. Winter 1971.5 it is plain that IEs are oriented to the fact that there are real boundaries to the topical agendas set by questions.hhh without suggesting that one or 13     the other of us is playing into the Tories’ ha:nds. February 19. Notwithstanding the fact that the term topic is loose and difficult to define (Jefferson. See also Spring 1970. and most often attempt to look as if they are answering the question (Clayman. . Second. Clayman. Sacks. 1984. 1968. Lecture 5. (7) [UK BBC TV: Panorama: 28 January 1981] 1 IR:   Roy Hattersley . 1964–1972/1992). a British Labour politician is asked about the significance of a right-wing leadership success for the future of his party. Harold Wilson.52  Studies in language and social interaction These constraints are quite compelling for IEs. IEs always try to respond in some way. 5 . and Spring 1971. 1993.hh to the right.hh without accusing each other of 12     treachery:. April 9. 1967. and then adds a comment (Lines 14–18) about the future actions of the losing left-wing politician.] 4 IE:   [. He begins by responding to the question as put.hhh to the broad based 8     tolerant representative Labour Part(h)y.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. Here. 2001). . 2001).hhh And let me say something about the next year 15     because that was your original question. I believe 7     it’s a mo:ve back .

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

. the IE repeatedly avoids the question (Lines 4–11. 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.questions are equally open.6 and IRs can and do avail themselves of this right (Clayman. . why. 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. 1997. As the IR’s series of pursuits (arrowed) illustrates.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. and where questions. 15–19.hh An:d [ah: [I’m not interested in your goals Mister Bokan. Here. In general. and how questions can enable more exposition than who.hhh Because: o::f >you know from the beginning of war. he sharpened the degree of constraint on the IE. 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 know: the answer. making a yes/no response accountably avoided if it is not forthcoming. and are.hhh I: have just uh one goal an:d that’s t’defend you know my people: from thuh (lynch.hhh You know uh. . Rather it is that these questions lay down a marker. 22). you know: uh maybe better than ah m:yself. the significance of yes/no and alternative questions is not that IEs are necessarily forced to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ right away.) Or: a: interview.)= =Is that a yes or a n:o? (0.S. the interviewer in Example 9. .< . In contrast.hhh ah about yourself or: you know your: ah go:als. This kind of IR pressure may be heard as particularly relevant and appropriate when there is the suspicion of wrongdoing. what. why and how questions—can set the parameters of response more broadly. (..5) Uh: Is it a cour:t. 8 Not all wh. 1993). [Of Course. wh. when. 6 In this particular instance.questions—especially what. and further underscored the IE’s previous evasiveness as requiring this are: prepared to make yourself available to U N investigators or no[:t. 7 This interview took place on May 13. MIAs from the Vietnam War. In 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. This in turn establishes the IR’s right to renew the question. Jeremy Paxman.= =Thuh question wars: are you prepared to make yourself avai:lable to U N investigators. more open. In this way. in this sense at least. In a notable case.8 For instance. and/or where there is an issue about the public accountability of the IE’s actions.

hh in thuh las:t uh fi:ve years::… Here. 7 IE: Well: (eh) technically.Designing questions and setting agendas  55 (10) [US PBS: Newshour: 10/23/92] 1 IR: . it can go either 9   wa:y. welcome.5) And I think that’s what it is. whereas wh.(0. Tightening Question Agendas: Using Prefaces As we have already suggested.questions can normally be successfully answered in a wider range of ways and using a wider range of resources.4) reh-resol:ving thuh fates of our missing.= 6   =Where do you: line up on that is:sue. …(continues) . Thank you.3) i:n (0. (0. or managing topic shifts of various kinds.) eh these 8   decisions are y:et to be ta:ken.2) foreign minister and thuh Vietnamese prime minister (0.2) and what 4   Mister Heath and others are saying is (0.h of a socialist superstate 3   being imposed (0.hhh as a turning point. .) . Michael Heseltine. a British conservative politician.. becaus:e (. 4 5 6     IE:   IR: -> 7 8   -> IE:   9 10 11 12 13                     General. or problematic. In the following case.hhhhh Thuh Vietnamese:: uh: (0.hhhh Sir h:ow would you descri:be thuh significance of this: (.5) from Brussels (0. an issue that had become a source of conflict within his party: (11) [UK BBC TV: Newsnight: 1989] 1 IR: . constraining.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. the agenda for General Vessey’s response is very under-specified.) is an illusory fear.hh What Missus Thatcher has been saying: is that 2   there is a danger (. It. yes/no questions are potentially more constraining to an IE.) agreement. question prefaces can also be used to make the agenda of a question more complex. . In general. Almost any ontopic response would have likely counted as a valid and appropriate answer to the question. is asked about his views on closer ties with Europe.3) described it to me: .2) that 5   is (. However. the manifest function of question prefaces normally involves giving background information to the audience.

” would be vague and anodyne.56  Studies in language and social interaction Here. [.. 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.=>On thi.s 2   program< you have said that you don’t think. attributed to unidentified “people” (Clayman 1992). Prefatory statements may also be used to tighten the agenda being set for an IE by blocking certain types of answer.hh that you will joi:n when the ti:me is right 4   but people are saying: . 4   [an’] Senator Packwood says you have to. 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.= 5 IE: [( )] 6 IR: =. 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. 7 IE: Uh no I would not say it means never.hhhh And] number 8 IE: [But I do. like the quoted “when the time is right. 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 that that means never..hhh 3   that you’ll eliminate thirty to fifty programs. by means of the question preface. Still more complex is the following question preface to Senate majority leader. For the 8   policy. 5   Could you defi:ne the ki:nd of conditions when 6   you think we would go in.” Instead. Heseltine is not simply asked about his opinion on the creation of a “socialist superstate. Within this framework. all attributed to Dole. while blocking a response that. NBC Meet the Press: 8 Dec 1985] 1 IR: You can’t have it both ways either. Here the question preface describes the parameters of the dispute and its primary movers.hh Number two you say you hope you will not have 7   uh tax increase. as “never” (Lines 1–4).S.] . . are used to set problems for Dole’s stated objectives as a budget cutter: (13) [U. Here three main prefatory statements. Robert Dole. The preface provides a platform from which the question itself can be launched. the question was made more pointed and newsworthy by its invitation to Heseltine to say where he ‘lines up’ in that conflict. 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.

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

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

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

“summoning” him into recipiency (cf.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. 6 IE:   To:m it was that we wanted to be f:air: to 7     ah all of the employees involved.60  Studies in language and social interaction (19) [US ABC Nightline: 15 October 1992) ((On the 1992 U. we’re a: 8     wonderful: gr:oup of people and family in this 9     company. Because of this. these presuppositions are clearly shared between IR and IE and. reducing its status as a “second” action that should properly fall within the terms of the prior question (see also Example 15). he projects that his subsequent action will be a “volunteered” first action. Schegloff 1968). For the most part. all news interview questions embody presuppositions of some kind. This is something that the IE. a Texaco corporate executive.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 two alternatives (arrowed “a” and “b”) that are presented for the IE to endorse are presented as exhaustive of his motives.) more economic losses. as Roth (1998b) has noted. 10 . they have been established in earlier interview talk.10 In sum. they are rejected by IEs. Here. It is notable in this example that the IE begins his response at Line 6 by addressing the IR by name (“To:m”). In these incidents—and especially in quandary questions—the “difficulty” or “hostility” of the question’s presuppositional content emerges quite clearly. The question concerns Texaco’s agreement to settle out of court on charges that the company systematically discriminated against its African-American employees. By this means.hh 3   a-> Thuh fact that you concluded your company was 4   a-> in fact discrimina: ting¿ 5   b-> or thuh prospects of: (. And in the following case. (20) [US NBC Nightly News: 11/15/96:1] 1 IR:   .. and it is this aspect of question design to which we now turn. The nature of IR presuppositions becomes most visible when.S.what prompted this 2     settlement? . as in most of the previous cases. Presidential campaign)] 1 IR: -> =. quite commonly. the or construction presupposes the correctness of one or other of the candidate answers.h Mister Bijur what’s pro:. en we wanta be equitable with everybody. understandably resists.. simply leaving it the IE to confirm whichever explanation is appropriate. the presuppositional basis of many IR questions can easily be overlooked and taken for granted. and presuppose that there can be no others. 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.

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

it is hardly surprising that the IE treats him as having “taken a position” on the issue (Lines 7–10).] [Not nece]ssarily… Example 23 similarly illustrates the device in reverse form: .62  Studies in language and social interaction Given that negative interrogatives are often understood as opinion statements. (.= 2 IE: =I would say that there: er: the: (. Mr. 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. and then effectively reasserts that opinion a second time with a renewal of his earlier negatively formulated question.) Well that makes you a Marxist doe[sn’t it.) 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. Straightforward cases involve the [statement]+[tag] question design. That’s a technical argument 5 IR -> It’s not a-. that the taxpayers will 2     pay more in interest than if they just paid it out 3     of general revenues? 4 IE:   No. Here. 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.may I. not necessarily. Isn’t it a fact? 7 IE:   No. Under these circumstances.=and would support it. The use of this format is designed to promote the IE’s agreement with the statement.=Yes. 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. it’s definitely not a fact. twenty billion of the fifty billion is being 9     handled in just the way you want--through treasury 10     financing. sir? It’s not a technical 6   -> argument. 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. I’m not expressing 12   -> my personal views.”). Donaldson directly disagrees with the IE (with “It’s not a technical argument. thus agreement with the statement is preferred. The statement describes a state of affairs and the tag invites agreement or disagreement with the statement. 13 IE:   I understand. Because first of 8     all. but also that at Lines 5–6. The remaining 11 IR: -> I’m just asking you a question. Darman.

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

Designing Preference Through Question Prefaces.) s:eriously believe that President Bush. In addition to the interrogative component of question design.2) shared (. and he must do so in competition with the skepticism that the interviewer’s question conveys. his answer to this question must be “yes”. the IE (who works for a human rights organization) is asked whether he would describe prison camps in Bosnia as “concentration camps. R: raising the tax on gasoline ten cents a yea:r for the next five y[ears fifty cents. (1.2) The facts are the American people do=That’s the point we’re trying to make.= =Now you’re endorsing that. [Yes Yes. Exactly. Yes.hhh People have u::sed thuh phrase concentration 2   -> camps: and thuh Bosnians themselves have used that 3   -> phrase.” (26) [UK BBC Radio: Today: Bosnia Camps] 1 IR: -> . A::h a gallon after five y [ears. 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. [A:fter five years. Eh: taxing all but fifteen percent of the social security benefits of recipients that e:arn over twenty five thousand dollars a year. [(I thought) they feel the American people don’t have the stomach for fair (0. If he is to be consistent with his earlier stated position. question prefaces can also be built to prefer particular responses. Do you (. it must be accounted for. In Example 26. 12 . 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. 1992). for instance. or Bill Clinton again is going to endorse either [one of those.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.) sacrifice. Do you believe there’s any justification Earlier in the interview. Here. One straightforward method of doing so is to invoke others who take a particular view of the issue (Clayman. after listing two potentially unpopular tax measures.

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

h the public have been concerned about this.) what all the critics now 4   -> have to face. Here the initial question component of the IR’s turn. and then invite IEs to deny them.=because what they’ve 8     put forward is just the same old stuff.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). It culminates in the observation that “a lot of people are very concerned about this” (Line 12).) stage of the intellectual argument 7     which I think . = 3 IR: -> =That’s surely what (.S.hh what has come ou::t h an’ I think that . A similar effect can be achieved by a statement positioned after the question as in Example 28.hh we’re winning.I think the: the we’re 6     still at the (. is further supported by the flat assertion that all the (internal) government critics “now” have to consider threatening to vote against the government. 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.66  Studies in language and social interaction 17 18 19 20                 evidence on this but .” The following is a case in point. The “distressing cases” she goes on to describe involve the destruction of wellformed fetuses. a negative interrogative that is itself strongly weighted to expect an affirmative answer (see the earlier discussion of Example 21).13 In these cases. The final interrogative component of the IR’s turn invites. 5 IR:   We::ll I don’t know. no I. when this is something that she herself favors. . Here the IE is invited to address the “concern” of people about the reduction in the time limit for abortions. and thus manages to twist the terms of the question in a fashion that is more helpful to her position. the U. preference is established by a statement prior to the IR’s question. the IE to address that concern. In this way. the IE establishes a superficial lexical connection between her comments and the agenda set by the IR’s question. or challenges. Here. 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. 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. This practice is common in cases where IEs are engaged in defensive “stonewalling. =Which nobody 9     believes and it hasn’t worked. Deputy Defense Secretary is interviewed about the “Gulf War Syndrome” and its 13 See Clayman (2001) for further examples of this process. .

British journalists sometimes refer to this style of questioning as “split hunting.Designing questions and setting agendas  67 possible origin in seron gas used during the conflict. 2   . This can take two main forms: IEs can be presented (a) as in disagreement with their political allies. 4   You say they didn’t. of course. The IR contrasts Deutch’s position with the statements of Czechs. Michael Heseltine. Hostile Questioning: Splits. The conflict seemed likely to impact the political succession to Thatcher—if the left prevailed. or (b) as in a situation of inconsistency or self-contradiction in their own positions. who led a faction favoring closer ties to Europe. led by then-Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.) that they did. would have been the likely next leader of the party. Deutch’s defense is. which could be very extensive. We have already seen the first of these maneuvers in several earlier examples (e. 5   .g.Czechs: say: 3   that they □foun:d seron. Forks. and other observations that are presented as “fact. That 7   they became nauseous. 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.hh You have two hundred fifty gallons of chemical 9   agents that were found in:si:de Kuwait. the IR manages to exert very strong pressure on the IE’s position. 11   (1. in the subsequent parts of the interview. the reported symptoms of soldiers.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. In the way that this evidence is compiled.hh headaches. and consistency in voting with the party leadership. that they got . 8   .hh You have soldiers say:ing: that they experienced 6   burning sensations after explosions in the air. was hostile to closer relations.0) 12 IR: If that’s not evidence what is in. the same topic is pursued in more . 11 and 28).hh You had scuds that had seron in the warheads. 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.” The final interrogative simply challenges the IE to deny the evidential status of these various reported statements and assertions.. th:ey say: (. The context of this interview is a developing disagreement within the Conservative Party over Britain’s relations with the European Union. 10   . and Contrasts Perhaps the most hostile questioning that IRs can engage in involves constructing IEs as some form of disagreement or self-contradiction. Her position was opposed by ex-Prime Minister Edward Heath. In this case.” A very overt case is the following. the IE in the following example. oriented to the federal government’s vulnerability to medical and other damages claims. It is very common in Britain where the parliamentary process places a premium on party loyalty. The Conservative right.

) because we shall be telling 20     the British people what the options are. .) what 21     the alternatives are.) and there will be no 22     doubt in my mi:nd they will want conservatives to .hhh Well you know one of the reasons that I: 8     wanted to (.) come on you:r pro:gra:m .= 7 IE:   =.) than to Missus Thatcher.) in this argument closer to 6   -> Mister Heath (. (. 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. 4   -> Was Philip Stevens of the Financial Ti:mes right 5   -> (.) discuss 17     the ideas. In fact. (.) to place you: (.68  Studies in language and social interaction subtle ways.h that (.Hhh but it is impo:rtant . We begin at the beginning of the interview. This is not a matter of 13     personalities and the conservative party is not 14     going to have th.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. the entire 7minute interview is devoted to split hunting.) 16     the conservative party and the country (. I think Mister Heath has done his 11     own cause a disservice . I believe 19     it’ll do us good (.hh in: EU: the way in which 12     he has spoken.hh is 9     precisely to refu:se to invo:lve the personalities: 10     in this issue.

[No [I’m ah you’re gonna try and do and you’re not gonna succeed if we sit here all night. 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. becaus:e (.h we will divert the industrial’n commercial companies away from the real challenges they face.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. 18–21).hh [hm I will ta:lk about the ideas of Europe.2) that is (.) is an illusory fear. and is designed for a “Yes” response.) the European issue is going to dominate the next deca:de.) eh these decisions are ye: t to be ta:ken. Well: (eh) technically. the IR constructs an agenda for Heseltine’s response that presupposes the conflict between Thatcher and Heath as its primary reference point.) through personality.I cannot overstress(f) to you (.2) and what Mister Heath and others are saying is (0.= =Where do you: line up on that is:sue.) . In the first yes/no question (Lines 4–6).hh what Missus Thatcher has been saying: is that there is a danger (. the IR’s subsequent . Well often uh (..…. .) politics reach: the public uh (.my.5) from Brussels (0. When Heseltine attempts to reformulate the issue in terms of “discussing the ideas” and “options” (Lines 16–17. you are not going to get me into a personality [divisive process. .h of a socialist superstate being imposed (0. and if we try to conduct it on a sort of personality divisive basis . My:.

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

the IR offers two anonymous and thirdparty-attributed formulations of the situation.2) 15 IR:   Uh whaddyou thi.) give them away [anyway. A rather different kind of fork is manifested in Example 32. 1985) simply sharpens this into an explicit contradiction. worse.) go badly. and those who would prefer to remove them unilaterally. 5   a-> though he seems to be terribly popular with the 6   a-> American people. Is it .nk thuh problem is rilly. The latter explanation. is explicitly offered as implicating Dole himself. which engenders a little laugh from Dole.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: .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:. though not the President himself.” The second offers an explanation for that trouble in terms of ineffective legislative leadership.8) 4 IR: a-> It is s::aid that his programs are in trouble. and I assume by that you mean some kind of return. that it remains committed to the politically unpopular policy of unilateral nuclear disarmament. (32) [US NBC Meet the Press: December 1985] 1 IR:   Senator (0.” In the question preface.) you’re quite happy to negotiate the weapons away. The IR’s summary formulation (Heritage.… 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. 3     (0. then you’ll (. 14     (0. The first is that Reagan’s programs. 7     (0. Here the IE—then-Senate leader Robert Dole—is invited to explain the fact the President Reagan’s political programs are “in trouble.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 (. but if things (. to some kind of cold war atmosphere. are “in trouble. suggesting that the party will remove nuclear weapons under any conditions. [Well I: I I’m not talking about giving anything away.5) uh President Reagan’s elected 2     thirteen months ago: an enormous landslide. This implies either that the party has no coherent negotiating position or.

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

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

& Levinson. In P. Novermber). In the United States. however. Clayman. 13. S.Nichols (Eds. Talk at work (pp. by common consent. these figures are nonetheless striking.Heritage (Eds. Cambridge. Social Problems. (1986). Taking the patient’s personal history: Questioning during verbal examination. in all probability. there were no competitive pressures that might fuel a reduction in deference and a rise in adversarialness. beginning in the 1960s. and competitive pressures have impacted broadcast journalism from the outset. Clayman. but wide-ranging. Heritage & D.Drew and J. New York. During the same period “hostile” question prefaces multiplied by a factor of 450%. whereas in the United States growth was more steady and gradual and began from a higher baseline. (2). It may be conjectured then that in Britain there was a more dramatic growth in prefaced questions. legislative regulation and oversight of broadcast journalism has historically been more intense than in the United States. 474–492. Evidentiality in English conversation and academic writing. In J. If this is so. Evidentiality: The linguistic coding of epistemology (pp. Clayman. (1998. by contrast. 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. and may index a parallel underlying growth in the deployment of prefaced questions in the U. & Heritage. S. England: Cambridge University Press. 159–188. Clayman. 163–198). Chafe. news interview context as well. J. (1993). 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. Brown. Practising medicine: Structure and process in primary care encounters.Chafe & J. P. E. Cambridge. In Britain. 261–272).).. S. Maynard (Eds. Displaying neutrality in television news interviews. (1992). 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. REFERENCES Boyd. England: Cambridge University Press. 35(4).). Although the relative absence of follow-up opportunities may encourage journalists to produce more complex questions in the press conference context. W. Footing in the achievement of neutrality: The case of news interview discourse. (1987).74  Studies in language and social interaction In a nonrandom. (in press). which. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Heritage and Roth (1995) found that nearly half of the total questions asked were prefaced questions. Cambridge. England: Cambridge University Press. The growth of prefaced questioning may. In W. Reformulating the question: A device for answering/not answering questions in news interviews and press conferences. Some uses of address terms in news interviews. that this is directly associated with a growth in adversarialness. (1988). until 1958 when the BBC’s monopoly position in broadcasting was replaced by a duopoly. S. Text.). have different institutional histories in Britain and America. has also grown significantly during this period. FCC oversight and regulation of news program content has been minimal.S. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Communication Association. sample of 639 questions from British and American interview data. S. Moreover. Norwood NJ: Ablex. . it is clear that journalistic initiative has expanded considerably during the past 40 years and.

G. Journal of Pragmatics. England: Polity Press.Boden & D. Research on Language and Social Interaction. J. ._14. (1992).).W. Nevin.Lee (Eds. Los Angeles. Quandary/abusive questions.M. Heritage (Eds. J.H Zimmerman (Eds. Grammar and institution: Questions and questioning in the broadcast news interview. When the medium becomes the message: The case of the Rather-Bush encounter. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes. J. 191–221). England: Cambridge University Press. S. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. In J.). 54–69). Clayman. Harris. Understanding everyday explanation: A casebook of methods (pp. A. Beverly Hills. A. Pomerantz. Maynard. J. How children start arguments. 293–313. (2002b). Wilson & B. 57–101). Atkinson & J. Who makes the news: Social identity and the explanation of action in the broadcast news interview. S. & Sandra Thompson (Ed. (1998a). G.Antaki (Ed. J.).) (G. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. In T. Ed. (1987).). pp. pp. Analyzing news interviews: Aspects of the production of talk for an overhearing audience. England: Cambridge University Press.). (2002a).). Heritage. The limits of questioning: Negative interrogatives and Hostile question content. Handbook of discourse analysis (Vol. In J. On the preferences for agreement and contiguity in sequences in conversation. In C. A. Lectures on Conversation (2 vols. England: Basil Blackwell. Horn. Research on Language and Social Interaction.Designing questions and setting agendas  75 Clayman. 22. Heritage. (in press). J. E. Oxford.” Language in Society 30:403–442. (1998b). (1989). Interviewers’ questions in broadcast interviews. Heritage. & Heritage. In D. 22. (1985). The Linguist Discussion List. D. 28(1). L. A natural history of negation. A. (2000). J. (1988/9). In G. Heritage. (1984). On the institutional character of institutional talk: The case of news interviews. Cambridge. 196–224) Oxford: Oxford University Press. H.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. “Answers and evasions. J. England: Multilingual Matters..). Oh-prefaced responses to assessments: A method of modifying agreement/disagreement. Roth. B.Dijk (Ed. 1–60. Constructing skepticism: four devices used to engender the audience’s skepticism. (1985). Heritage. (1984). H. 5–754. Clayman. Belfast working papers in language and linguistics (Vol. Talk and social structure (pp. “Questioning presidents: Journalistic deference and adversarialness in the press conferences of Eisenhower and Reagan. Sacks.. S. Jefferson. (1994). Pomerantz. On stepwise transition from talk about a trouble to inappropriately nextpositioned matters. Cambridge. Roth. Cambridge. 241–272. Ireland: University of Ulster. Heritage (Eds. Sacks. (1988/1989). A. S.Button & J.M. In J. & Whalen. 28(1). Who makes news: Descriptions of television news interviewees’ public personae. 93–137). 8. & Roth. Raymond. Media. Los Angeles. 79–107. (2001). Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Explanations as accounts: A conversation analytic perspective. Culture and Society.). (1988). Jefferson. J. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.M. Clevedon.Atkinson & J. In Cecilia Ford. Heritage. (1995). & Greatbatch. Berkeley: University of California Press. 3. The Language of Turn and Sequence. Crow (Eds. 1–29. 127–144). 95–119) New York: Academic Press. (pp. J. University of California. University of California. Heritage.A.R. Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. (1984). (1991).” Journal of Communication 52 (4). Talk and social organization (pp. (2002). Barbara Fox. The news interview: Journalists and public figures on the air. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (pp. & Heritage. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Jordanstown. D. The structure of responding: Conforming and nonconforming responses to yes/no type interrogatives. CA: Sage. 50–85). Language in Society. S. Clayman. (1986).

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

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

5) M::?kay (5.5) If you gotta raise t’three dollars you’d be making twelve dollars a month hhm sou::nds good (2.0) y ocho Between six? and eight He (.0) EIGHT of it (.   S. asking D to finish her dinner first. 51 F.   D.     S. 56   (2.   ?.5) (right) (.     23 S. 52 53 54 55   F. 40 D. M vetoes the idea. WHAT YOU’RE GETTING NOW. 42 43 44 45 46   S.     F.5) (1 line deleted)1 dan los (ahorros) a y yo los Give me the (savings) and I’ll take guardo (. 41 S. YOU’RE RIGHT. 47 48 49 50       S.5) Wo?::hh (.5) Los ahorros gue van a ir para el banco= care of them(. S.) them he could have to spend (1.5) 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. 38 39   S.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: (.0) THREE DOLLARS A WEEK? WELL TWO DOLLARS A WEEK. 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37   M.Taken-for-granteds  79 19 20 21 22   M.   M.5)the savings that will go to the bank= =okay (. THAT’S less than ten dollars (1.5) soun?ds good (3. 1 .5) Well? outta that twelve dol?lars I wancha t’be saving (1.   F.

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

” to counter this objection. 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 (. typical behavior for talk at this dinner table to go on in two languages simultaneously. In Lines 46–54. It seems to be unmarked. F may be offering a suggestion as well. 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. whatever else may be said about the father’s use of Spanish (a matter that is explored more fully later). as in: F.   (Pueden) darme los ahorros… (They can) give me the savings… . 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. pronouns are often optional. whether as an endorsement or as a demonstration of her mental math skills. and the ambiguity is not one that can be resolved from hearing the tape. as opposed to getting $3 a week and having to put $2 of it into the bank’s container). however. one that you don’t touch. Although the children initially agree to their mother’s stated expectation.” His mitigated proposal comes in Spanish. Neither child misses a beat in these responses.   3 M. Of note here is M’s emphasis on the actions and choices of the child himself. Certainly this is a common theme of parental instruction to children.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. “twelve dollars a month. D quickly figures what spending money would be left under this plan. In Line 26 M emphasizes the vast amount of money he would be receiving. one that you can draw on. 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. 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. signaled by her repeated use of the pronoun you: You need two containers.) two: (. particularly at the beginning of a sentence. at the same moment that the son seems to reconsider his agreement to saving all $8. There is a clear stylistic contrast between M’s proposal and F’s: 46   F. with the initial pronoun/verb left implicit. In Spanish. language choice itself does not draw a reaction of any kind. F offers a counterproposal to solve the problem of S spending all of his money.

In Line 71. F interjects with clarification of his role. since he has just offered to do so—hangs onto (part of) the money.5) who’m I? t’stand in the way a’ progess. S is not learning to manage it. to manage money. the substance of the proposal also contrasts with the one offered earlier by M. F suggests (or declares) that he will take on that role.82  Studies in language and social interaction Whatever the illocutionary force of the utterance. not that “they” (both children.   Porque tienen que aprender a manejarlo because they have to learn to manage it Well? I’m (. or perhaps any child. only that which is going to the bank. a commonality despite their contrasting proposals: F.) I think if somebody’s hangin onto it for im he’s not? learning ta…manage it M’s immediate response is to disagree.5) IF IT WOULD HELP YOU OUT TO LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR MONEY FOR Papa to hang onto it then (. and thus hard to object to. Her discontent with the role he has offered to play is mitigated by applying her objection to “somebody”—not to him specifically. There is a note of accusation in the dramatic replaying of his appeal: 58 S.   82 83     (2. In her view.) “Will you keep my allowance? (. The parting shot is an idiom—a prepackaged. M closes the topic with what sounds on one level like an immediate reversal of field: 79 80 81   M. perhaps all children) need to learn to manage money. Rather than assigning a container the job of holding onto the savings until enough money has accumulated to go to the bank. S’s reaction is immediate enthusiasm: This is exactly what he wanted all along. serving as a figurative .) for a coupla weeksh?” When M confirms that she has previously rejected the plan F is supporting. what he tried to get M to do for him once. Drew and Holt (1988) noted that idioms frequently occur at the end of complaint sequences. 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. Although M has not voiced a reason for her refusal to cooperate with S’s earlier attempt to instantiate this system. He will not be in charge of ALL of the child’s money.   M.     …that’s what I asked you to do once and then (. he suggests a point of agreement between him and M. the plan F has proposed does not count as teaching S. When this disagreement is met with silence (Line 79).5) but if it would help? im out (. F anticipates that it is a parent’s involvement with the child’s money that was the basis for her objection. which would create an accusatory tone. formulaic construction. but that if “somebody”—certainly F.

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

are a useful point with which to conclude. Interlocutors. and how often such dimensions of belief actually shape people’s talk and other actions. then. Nonetheless. Based on one conversation with one family. the only distinctive feature of intercultural communication would be language differences.S. 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. this contrast is a readily hearable TFG in this exchange. divergent interpretations of action. The theoretical contribution of the TFG concept is to suggest that such description would necessarily be grounded in examination of implicit messages. 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. even when they are well aware that they are interacting with someone whose cultural premises are different from their own. in intercultural communication as in other kinds. Triandis et al. Its presence suggests that with a collection of talk. when. If the problem were not in these implicit. there are quite understandably different approaches to communicative goals.” and so on. 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. TAKEN-FOR-GRANTEDS IN CULTURAL CODES AND INTERCULTURAL COMMUNICATION It is well known. middle class) from F’s (Colombian middle class). 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. The fact that this contrast suggests that M comes from an individualist culture and F comes from a collectivist one (Triandis 1988. as would “I want you to depend on me so you’ll learn that you are incomplete on your own. illuminate very much that is specific to either culture. The reasons why this is so. which in my cultural belief system is the only…. They hack out the most obvious differences between cultures without giving clues about how. however. In what sense.84  Studies in language and social interaction contrast between cultural systems. they are too broadly conceived to be more than blunt instruments. cultural premises can be discerned in everyday talk. 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. although resonant and often useful. 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. 1988) does not. that dissimilar TFGs are at the heart of many misunderstandings and disagreements between members of different speech communities. that you need other people’s help to do anything in the world. and other serious muddles related to language use and meaning. relatively solvable (if hardly simple) through . between-the-lines aspects of talk. Speakers leave those elements of talk unsaid that they presume to be shared knowledge. When they come from different systems of belief. “I want you to use two containers so you’ll become an autonomous individual. or at least widely suspected.

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

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

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

In our data. 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. and for further studies of interaction in classroom discussions and related institutional I don’t think that. to maintain a sense of process when process seems threatened by a lack of potential for controversy on the topic. How is this accomplished? Our analysis focuses on the use of I think and related expressions as markers of online process. In such cases. thus moving the process along. especially in the opening stretch of a turn at talk. 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.) well two things. can be used to indicate a particular kind of relevance to ongoing talk that characterizes the process of group discussion. One I don’t think we can rely on family structure. ((about 13 lines deleted)) Now if you’re ge.that way you’re not attacking (. I think. but not necessarily as a response to anything said about the topic by other speakers. (I think) in the United States is (.) religious or moral values but (. an excerpt condensed from a transcript of a discussion of sex education. If participants in group discussion routinely use tokens such as I’m just saying to display their contributions as expressions of unchanging viewpoints. we reflect on the implications of this analysis for understanding the semantics and pragmatics of I think. In a concluding section. I think marks the current turn as one in a possible series of different individual reactions to the topic. it marks the turn in progress as a presentation of the speaker’s response to the currently relevant group topic. the relevant group topic is usually the discussion issue or some more immediate question or statement presented by a discussion leader. I.) um: (. to mark transitions between canned and online discussion and invite expressions of online thinking from other participants.) really screwed up.) well. and finally. (1) (Condensed) 1 M: 2 Jack: 3 4 5       6 7 8       Jack? I think that (. our family structure.I guess in a way but at least . the current turn may not be relevant at all to the immediately preceding turn. except by virtue of being the next in a series of expressions of opinion by different members of the discussion group. I THINK AS A MARKER OF PROCESS Example 1.88  Studies in language and social interaction The present study in a sense complements Craig and Sanusi’s (2000) analysis of continuity markers. exemplifies the density of I thinks that can occur in such discourse. 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. As such.

  (.you know like every other heterosexual   relationship and I think that (.) high school that are   totally naïve.if you have to write a   paper or like (to have) a presentation like this. and I think it’s really important   that not necessarily they push one side or the   other.) F?: So (.) you know it’s all abour:t (.) things like that   to be taught are important for people are (. It’s about like relationships and things like   that an.if someon. and. (And   you don’t like it.) um people are so opposed to things   like homosexuality is   have better self-esteem about themselves and feel   better about themselves.“   like out they’re just ignorant about it I mean they   think that (. You know.) just   sex or whatever an.) accept that it’s out there. whether we were those   people or (.) maybe:: if.   Stuff like that in high school I think is really .) you   know. But that they really define them so students   know.   Really. 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 (.(.) it means? (.) Shelley: I think just even more so going on with that I   think that (. F?: ( ?) Brooke: Na. to what those things even mean.(.) like a way ta.) What it is. a-homosexual but they’re too afraid to come   out and this will give them (.were friends with those people   there are people in (.) () 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: (.) y’know but it’s more than   that.) we. You know. What (.) I mean.things like um:   (.I was just wanted to say that to say that uh-I   agree with that I think that like.) about   everything.

90  Studies in language and social interaction 46   47 48 49 50 51           important but you can’t really just teach you know.) the government should be able to:: (.) you know have an opportunity like this ((turn continues)) In this stretch of discussion.) w-where would you even begin to teach about (.” Also (like Jack) opening with “I think” (Line 12). Shelley can be heard as presenting another view in response to the question earlier posed by a discussion leader (Tad).” however. a discussion leader (Tad) posed the question “(Wul/But) do you guys think like (. “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.) heated topics like homosexuality:. present further views on the topic of teaching about homosexuality in schools. Initiating his turn with I think. in what can be heard as an implicit response to Tad’s question. The omission of possibly relevant nonverbal details. Jack is called on by a leader (Line 1) and takes the floor (Line 2). Each speaker prefaces her contribution with “I think.) abortion when there’s so many different sides? But I think it is important to do stuff like (. Jennifer and Brooke. Prior to this segment. 1 . does not respond to his specific points.(. should be kept in mind when reading these transcripts. Jack argues. shifts the topical focus from Jack’s view back to Shelley’s. The following “I think. 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”).” 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. based on an audio recording. and abortion:. especially in turn transitions. that sex education in public schools is necessary because “I don’t think we can rely on family structure. the value of specific learning experiences) while not responding to specific points made by previous speakers. although it continues Jack’s just preceding topic of homosexuality. 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. 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). Two following speakers in succession. Each opens her turn by marking a temporal disjuncture (“I was gonna say” [Line 28]. omits nonverbal behaviors that were available to the participants.” Each continues topical threads of previous turns (a prosex education stance. Rather.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. you can define but. I think is used to mark each turn as one in a series of expressions of opinion on the topic of sex education. Her subsequent contribution.) talk about?” After some elaboration by Tad (seven lines) and some brief transitional business. societal ignorance of homosexuality. should be something that (. The transcript.

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

y’ go specifically into the (.) any uh these.) conclusions an hh reasoning why I asked y’guys   what y’guys think (. The only I think in Sally’s (the spokesperson’s) talk is the initial I think. students deal with the problem of speaking on behalf of a group rather than on one’s own behalf.) examples the   Ramsey case or (. (.hhh but we were more focussing o::n   weren’t we? M1: Mm hm.4) Sally: I think right now I mean there’s like a little   bit of miscommunication cause our group (. hhh what do you   guys think like the Globe pictures that were published. Talk produced while a student is speaking as a spokesperson is noticeable for its very lack of I thinks.) whether you guys are on the   opposite sides or (.) 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 (.= M2: =((murmurs [of agreement))] Sally: [focusing on that?] w(h)e(h)e   we(h)e(e)re focusing on.) n.hhh like taking things . (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 (. . 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.) bring up points and also y’   know.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 .) sure I.I’d   like to know about things going on in the press as   long as they’re true n that (.     (2.) primarily   dealt with (.) pt what do you guys think of that.92  Studies in language and social interaction TRANSITIONS BETWEEN CANNED AND SPONTANEOUS TALK In Example 2.

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

with a false start) to the less evaluative we think and then to I think. loosely related opinions. as to how they “feel” about the moral responsibility to provide health care to people in need.) people need to be aware. there may be nothing immediately at hand to discuss. I mean Example know we all kind of we agree that (.and it’s gonna happen anyway whatever. because once the group has reached a point of agreement. illustrates another environment that can constitute a threat to the discussion process. directed to his small group. and.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. with talk laden with signs of trouble including false starts. Agreement among all participants in a discussion can threaten the continuation of the discussion process. um how do we feel about that ((several people laughing softly)) (. unless the group is following a prepared agenda. 1996). Galasinski. (. including: sequences of diverse. from the same sex education discussion as Example 1. As we .) like a controversial thing among parents. In all of this.) 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. (4) 1 2 3 4 Emily:       5 6     Do you guys?. then shifts (still uneasily.) Why do you guys think that it’s such: (.Wul it seems. 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. hesitation. M displays the awkwardness of expressing an online group reaction as he retreats to (and proceeds with) expressions of his own individual online reaction. transitions from canned talk to open discussion.wul it seems to me tha:t like most of us agree: an. 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. and side interaction (including soft laughter) with members of his group. We now turn to evidence for yet another threat to process in the context of a class discussion: lack of controversy. namely agreement. and shifts from speaking on behalf of a group to speaking as an individual.

presenting a new question or item of information. (.be. as in Example 5.) sex ed in schools is 13   a different thing.I’mean wer. what you 2   guys think about.wer 7   we’re presenting ourselves (. we 11   may: be: showing you guy:s that that we’re for: sex 12   e:d. 2 0 Tad: We were going to break you guys into groups but (. 30 lines deleted)) 15   (.) 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? (. (5) Condensed 1 Emily: So.) what you guys feel? because I mean my.) 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   (. and inviting reactions with some variation of What do you think? When a topic for discussion threatens to be uncontroversial. I think 14   ((turn continues.) we talked about 10   how condoms should be distributed in school.) and maybe just 26   (. b’cause. which we are. 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 27   views: (. I guess we’d like to know.) 28 F?: °I know:° 29   (.) discussion? (.) in sort of a biased 8   standpoint because we did the whole condom exercise 9   and we passed out condoms an’ (. as far as (. a discussion leader may invite further discussion by marking points of agreement. whether [or not sex 3 Tad: [Before. leaders may do considerable work to mark it as open to various opinions and therefore potentially controversial when inviting opinions. But. so.“So.) 19 Emily: (Well?) So! What d’ya guys think.) but (. Urn.) sex 31   education should be taught in schools because I 32   don’t think it is up to the government to (be .) 30 Tad: have changed a little bit.

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

1987. and to express affective meaning or the speaker’s attitude to the addressee in the context of the utterance” (p. 2 .g. Schiffrin (1990) noted that although modality. I think most often appears in discussions of modality and hedging (e. may be marked in a variety of (perhaps redundant) ways both linguistically and metalinguistically. In the linguistic literature. like I believe. so that a speaker using I think would be referring to and characterizing a consciously held opinion or intent..2 However. 1987. the question arises what that work might be. 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).g. 1987. intentionality. rationality. although semantically. or speaker commitment to a proposition. I think seems to draw on the implications (e. Brown & Levinson. there may in fact be no such marking at all. 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. As Holmes (1984) pointed out. I think resists categorization as either a downtoner or a booster (Holmes. In these functions.. whose verbs appear to refer to a particular way of “holding” a kind of cognitive entity.g. Curiously. as we noted earlier. I think also serves to Interestingly. 1998) and okay (Beach. Galasinski. As such. It appears to us that I think.“So. though. This of course raises the question of whether the overt marking of modality through I think might have some other discursive or communicative functions. 1997). Turnbull & Saxton. What do you guys think?. and their social implications) of the semantic content of the lexical verb think. 1984. 348). Perhaps this ambiguity accounts for why I think is absent from Schiffrin’s (1987) discourse marker model of discourse. 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. it would seem to have a place with such discourse markers as you know and I mean. points to the speaker’s making this contribution as a second pair-part made relevant by that question. 1996) or of modality as it functions to do facework (e. particularly in its (sequentially more or less distant) relationship to a discussion leader’s question posed roughly in the form. it may either hedge or intensify/highlight the speaker’s commitment to her utterance.. as a lexical verb. 1984) of speaker commitment because. we argue that I’m (just) saying and I think can serve complementary functions of maintaining personal standpoint continuity and keeping the discussion going. which do important interactional work despite their scant semantic content. 1995). have been put to a metadiscursive task that is not clearly predictable from the semantics of the words. 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. What Do You Guys Think?”  97 the examples we have presented. 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. 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. 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. Coates. in fact argued to be the case for you know and I mean). depending on its intonation pattern.

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. including teacher-led classroom discussions. what do you guys think? . 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. Within the classroom setting itself. 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. for example. The significance of preliminary observation is that it opens up the possibility of research that focuses on communicative problems in particular settings. Whereas participants in our discussions are of essentially equal status. for example. in ways we have noted in these classroom discussions. discussion process as well as continuity of standpoints in the expression of opinions is surely important. 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 pattern of our data is consistent with the predominantly middle-class status of our students. Huspek’s (1989) study of the differential use of I think and you know in working-class speech suggests one interesting point of comparison. we are not claiming that this is the only function that I think prefacing can perform. So. even though some perform a differentiated role of discussion facilitator. In claiming that I think is a participant’s resource for doing this kind of interactional work. 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. nor are we claiming that no other mechanisms exist for accomplishing this same interactional task. what might be the distinction. if any. whereas in other circumstances they might do more to highlight common ground (indexed by you know). In these other settings. Our claim is the limited one. 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. These possibilities can be explored empirically in studies of different groups and settings. no less than in classroom discussions. the interactional problems of teacher-led discussions undoubtedly differ from those apparent in our student-led discussions. between I feel and I think. 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. which alternate in interesting ways in our data (see Example 3. In these student-led classroom discussions. Lines 26–35). I think seems to be a participant’s resource for the performance of discussion. teacher-led discussions involve a more marked differentiation of power and authority. that this is one interactional function that I think appears to be performing in the data we have examined. We wonder. It would be interesting to see whether I think is often used in school board meetings or jury deliberations. Example 5. In doing so.

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

D.D. 145–181. Cambridge. Conflict talk: Sociolinguistic investigations of arguments in conversations (pp. K.Grimshaw (Ed. (1990). Modal expressions as facework in refusals to comply with requests: I think I should say “no” right now. UK: Cambridge University Press.100  Studies in language and social interaction Schiffrin. Turnbull. In A.L. . 27.). Journal of Pragmatics. 241–259). The management of a co-operative self during argument: The role of opinions and stories. & Saxton.. (1996). W.


2000. 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. 1990.. LeBaron & Streeck. 1986. 1998.g. 1992). however.6 Gesture and the Transparency of Understanding Curtis D. LeBaron & Koschmann. 1988.. 1992. 1984. one that does not allow ungrounded speculation with respect to interactants’ hypothesized states of mind. 1998.e. Edwards. 35). Pomerantz. Hutchby & Wooffitt. Psathas. who have proposed discursive or praxiological approaches to the study of “psychological” matters. 2000). Koch. Heritage (1990/1991) observed that “conversation analysts have sought. more concerned with what people do (i. & Conlee. 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. and separable from. and others to place CA work on a rigorous foundation. “Rather than treating cognition as prior to. Robert Hopper (1997). vocal and visible behaviors) and how they do it (e. Heritage. LeBaron. (See also Heritage. interaction. Hopper.. 1999. Some conversation analysts working . 328–329). Hopper. less concerned with subjects’ possible cognitive states (e. A question for us. for example. 1997. have considered cognitive phenomena through detailed study of talk-in-interaction. 1990. 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. 1995. 1998. 1989. Social psychologists with an interest in discourse and conversation analysis (e. constituted in. Levinson. Edwards & Potter. motivations.g. Koschmann. Hopper’s agnostic stance was consistent with CA as it has generally been described and applied. for example. & Mandelbaum. it is treated as something that is managed in. p. structures.LeBaron Brigham Young University Timothy Koschmann Southern Illinois University Most research on language and social interaction (LSI) has been decidedly action focused.” Though not denying the existence and potential importance of cognition. Jacobs. therefore. 6). In our own studies of classroom interaction (cf. and constructed in interaction” (Potter. intentions.. 1983. through mutual orientation and coordination). and competencies. and understandings). 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.g. Glenn. described himself as a “cognitive agnostic. he insisted that researchers “should distinguish between calculated speech and most social interaction…distinguish what actors do from what theorists may infer” (p.) We agree with and indeed celebrate the efforts of Hopper. wherever possible.

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

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

.if you happened to have uh huge murmur (0.) like is: (.g. his moving fingers were performing the behavior or experience of feeling with the hand. at one point during their discussion. he also raised his left hand and began gesturing (see Fig. For instance. With his hand elevated and hence made available for others’ view. 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 (1.0) Thrirll is what you fee:l (. By coordinating this gesture with the lexical affiliate “feel” (Line 3) Bill’s gesture was recognizable as a tactile representation—that is.2).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”).(0.Gesture and the transparency of understanding105 and thereby invited (or at least created opportunity spaces for) others to collaborate in the knowledge display. Bill treated it as a prompt to display his knowledge by providing a definition of thrill. 6. 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. Bill) elected to answer.) ya could.4) If.2: Bill attempted to define the word thrill . he repeatedly wiggled the fingers of his left hand. As Bill began speaking (Line 3).

His first restart was marked by the words “like is“(Line 3). 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. Thus. Susan’s utterance was more hearably complete. Susan performed a hand-felt heartbeat (albeit exaggerated). Schegloff. His collaborative completion evidenced that he heard and understood her description sufficient to complete it in overlap with her. her utterance was coordinated with a recognizably coherent gesture.3). and Jefferson. he repeatedly paused during his turn at talk.3) and then returned her hand to her chest. The syntactic and prosodic structure of her talk indicated a transition relevance place (Sacks. Bill’s own hand movements changed to correspond with the gesture that Susan now . he also used the word feel (Line 3). each of these restarts was coordinated with a shift in the shape of his gesturing hand. she lifted her right hand to her chest. Moreover. Susan (on Bill’s right) picked up where Bill left off.” his fingers stopped wiggling and came together in a rounded shape. Altogether. As the transcription (Line 3) shows. He did not produce an utterance that was hearably complete. Figure 6.With the words “you could” (Line 6) she lifted her flattened hand a few inches from her chest (see Fig. “you could. 6. Moreover. Moreover. and his eye gaze simultaneously shifted away from the monitor and down to the workbook.if). 1974) after the words “feel it” (Line 7). Susan made her talk recognizable as a continuation of the knowledge display Bill initiated—that is. . locating it where a heartbeat might be felt. However.3: Susan performs a heart murmur gesture. By repeating the word feel (Line 7). Bill failed to complete a coherent response alone. and he restarted his utterance to change the trajectory of his explanation. When he said. Bill collaboratively completed Susan’s utterance with his words “feel the upbeat” (Line 8). When Bill said.” Bill moved his left hand down and scratched the side of his neck. Notice Bill’s alignment with Susan’s behavior. 6. withdrawing from the interaction (see Fig. “like is.106  Studies in language and social interaction However. At the beginning of her utterance (with the words “if. a second restart occurred with the words “ya could” (Line 4).

) flui:d that’s getting caught on somethin’ and it’s (. After scratching his neck. Nevertheless. came together in a rather odd narrative about blood within the heart getting “caught” and “twisting around”— action words not usually associated with fluids. Through such vocal and visible displays of alignment. Bill showed that Susan’s performance was an appropriate continuation of the knowledge display that he had initiated. Bill performed a gestural shape in conjunction with Susan’s production.1) It’s like (. but again failed to produce a coherent explanation that was hearably complete. After collaboratively completing (Line 8) Susan’s description.Gesture and the transparency of understanding107 performed. followed by hesitations (pauses) and nondescript words (“somethin” and “whatever”). With his index finger .) twisting arou:nd the vessel or or whatever 14 Jean: 15 Bill: It’s tur bulence yeah After a brief silence (Line 10). Bill elected to continue: (2) 10 11 12 13   Bill:     (1. 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. Bill added to the talk about the term thrill (Lines 11 through 13). 6.4). Fig. at which point Bill lowered his hand toward his own chest and spread his fingers in flattened form (see Fig. 6. Notice the form and content of his talk: An utterance-initial hedge (“it’s like”). Continuing their response to Jack’s question about the term thrills. the nursing students further coordinated their vocal and visible behaviors. Bill’s vocal behaviors were coordinated with a hand gesture that was evidently consequential.

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

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

hence. Viewed from such a perspective.e. 3 . not social matters…in cognitive processing and forms of thought” rather than interactive processes (p. We find gestures to be strongly affiliated—not only with specific lexical items—but with parts and wholes of utterances. Our study of gesture involves some notable (and we think complementary) differences. By focusing on strips of social interaction (i. 40). which criticized Schegloffs (1984) study because it was “interested in mental. It is in this sense that we speak of the transparency of understanding. and. if the term preference was used. participants’ embodied use of space. analyzable achievement.) like is: (.if you happened to have uh huge murmer (0. 20).) twisting arou:nd the 14 Jean: 15 Bill: 16 Jean: vessel or It’s tur it or whatever yeah See Moerman (1990). we see how the life span and the meaning of a gesture may extend across multiple turns at talk among multiple participants.(0.) ya could. other participants’ utterances. it was redefined as a structural rather than a psychological condition. 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. not as a private mental event.0) Thrirll is what you fee:l (. knowledge display segments) rather than individual utterances or even utterance pairs.) fluird that’s getting caught on somethin’ and it’s (. other participants’ gestures. 19). APPENDIX 1 2 3 4 5 Jack:   Bill:   Susan: Can you defirne thrills (1. public. words such as recognized were recast as “displayed recognition of. other gestures. because it focused upon isolated or single utterances “treated more as sentences composed by individuals than as the products of interaction” (p. he carefully wrote with the voice of a cognitive agnostic: Words such as intention were displaced by terms like projection. because it related “movements to words and ideas [and did not] describe those gestures in their social context” (p.110  Studies in language and social interaction singular utterances of individual speakers3.1) It’s like (. but as an embodied.4) you could put your hand on (your) chest 6   7   and 8 Bill: 9 10 11 12 13 (?) :   Bill:     the upbeat Right (1.4) If. when words such as think appeared. and so forth.. they were corralled by quotation marks. and because it based “the meaning of a gesture on its correspondance with its affiliated word” (p. 8). and so forth.

Edwards. June). M. England: Polity Press. England: Polity Press. Gestures at work in sense-making science talk. J. 48–66). D.8) Thrill is just the: (. S. C. Hopper. (Eds. C. (1996).2) 22 23 24   Marie:   a bruit which hea:r Or a murmur (0. and applications. NJ: Prentice-Hall.B. (1986).. The social construction of mind. Koch. H. 309–330.Psathas (Ed. Goldin-Meadows. D. & Goodwin.H. Contemporary issues and discourse processes (pp..R. I. London: Macmillan. (1979). Research on Language and Social Interaction.A. S. (1997. Conversation analysis methods.Ellis & W. Discourse and cognition. 433–443). Heritage. Oxford. Englewood Cliffs. Conversation (pp.. J. Psychological Review.).Gesture and the transparency of understanding111 17 18 Bill:   You can feel a thri:ll or you (0. Cambridge. & Potter. (1992). and strategy: Observations on constraints on interaction analysis. Evidence and inference in conversation analysis. (1986). Gesture and coparticipation in the activity of searching for a word. Intention. (1992). (1984). 25. Conversation analysis: Principles. Journal of the Learning Sciences. (1997). Semiotica. Coulter. J.Donohue (Eds. & Mandelbaum. Hopper.. practices.) you can feel it with your ha:nd REFERENCES Bavelas. Jacobs. Goodwin. In D. J.) you’re feeling the murmur (. & Church. J. Discursive psychology. Garfinkel. Heritage..). (1990). 62(1/2). Heritage. R. M. (1989). 279–297. New York: Erlbaum. (1998). S. R. (1994). (1990/1991). R. A cognitive agnostic in conversation analysis: When do strategies affect spoken interaction? Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the International Communication Association. Telephone conversation. Research on Language and Social Interaction. Bull. In J. R. Research on Language and Social Interaction 27(3). (1988). Garfinkel and ethnomethodology. R. 5. Semiotica. 169–186). (1979). Studies in ethnomethodology. Beverly Hills. J.. Montreal. London: Sage. 123–162). D. J.). 25. London: Sage. CA: Sage. R. Coulter. 201–221. Conversation analysis and social psychology as description of interpersonal communication. Gestures as a resource for the organization of mutual orientation. Cambridge. (Ed.). (1993). (1967). England: Multilingual Matters. Transitions in concept acquisition: Using the hand to read the mind. Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology (pp. R. Roger & P. In D. Edwards. Ethnography and conversation analysis after Talking Culture [Special section]. Hutchby.. Hopper. 51–75. 62(1/2). In G. J. & Wooffitt. Gestures as part of speech: Methodological implications. . Hopper. New York: Irvington. Crowder. Goodwin. E. Communication Yearbook 11 (pp. Hopper. Mind in action. (1986). Alibali. 29–49. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. 173–208.2) auscultate 19 Susan: 20 21   Bill: a murmur (0. Formulations as conversational objects. Anderson. meaning. & Watson. (1990). England: Polity Press. 161–162. 100. Avon.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Button and Casey noted that “topic initial elicitors regularly take the form of inquiries into what is new” and “In so doing. In the following segments. without including any type of repair device within the turn such as a descriptor or modifier to key the listener. Schegloff uncovered one method.I don’t know wher:e he is or what he’s   9   doing   10   (1. one can observe utterance restarts being produced as speakers rather suddenly change topics. B initiates a new topic.” We can similarly observe a restart marking a topic change in Instance 2: (2) UTCL A10. Jessie understands his question and follows his lead as evidenced by her answer of “Nothin. but there may be others. Rick restarts “what are” as he mentions Jessie’s plans for the evening in the form of a topic initial elicitor (Button & Casey. the restart may function to secure the listener’s attention. To successfully initiate a new topic without explicitly marking it as such. In Line 11. exhibited a repair. Even though it’s new topically. Thus. they provide for new topicalizable material as dislocated from prior topical talk…” (p. 1984).1)   4 RIC: Really   5 JES: Yeah   6   (0. Rick and Jessie are talking about a friend’s whereabouts.what are you doing tonight   12   (0. in instances where a restarting telephone speaker is introducing a new topic.15   1 RIC: Lotta gigglin hh hhh hhh       []   2 BIL: Yeah?   3 RIC: He’s gettin in «that Christmas spirit» hh .118  Studies in language and social interaction In this instance. The restarts occur precisely at the points when speakers initiate topic changes. topic-initial turns that contain a self-initiated repair with a descriptor or modifier. Without such identifying information.9) he took off and said he was goin to   7 RIC: Hm: : : :   8 JES: So.4)   13 JES: Nothin In Instance 1. 174).0) => 11 RIC: So wha a. a speaker must somehow signal to the listener this intent.14   1 JES:   2   see some people   3   (1. A didn’t follow the new line of talk and hence. Sibbie’s sister. (1) UTCL A10.

At Line 8. Rick continues to laugh at Line 7.” shows that she understands his question and follows his lead topically. Rick brings up the topic of possible siblings of Pam’s. it instead seems to be related to attention-seeking for the new topic. In Instance 3. which they assess using a potentially topically terminal assessment (“O:h shit”) and laughter in Lines 4 and 5. And in Instance 3: (3) UTCL D8. Rick and Billy are discussing the behavior of a friend. which he then abandons. Rick and Pam are discussing Pam’s parents’ potential reactions to a letter she had written them. It appears that Rick’s laughter leads to Billy’s first restart.Utterance restarts in telephone conversation  119   4 BIL: o:h shit   5 RIC: pt hh hh       [ => 6 BIL: .8)   7 RIC: hu:h   8 PAM: hu h       [ => 9 RIC: Do you hav. his talk is now “in the clear. Billy initiates the topic of going home.” Pam’s response.7)   4 RIC: phhuh   5 PAM: I talked to my da:d.12   1 PAM: I haven’t talked to my mother in a   2   lo::ng ti::me.” Considering that the second restart isn’t serving this overlap function.   6   (1.9) 10 RIC: U: : : :h the t     [ 11   (beep) In this segment of conversation. he restarts “when are you” you have any other blo   10   brothers or sisters   11 PAM: I have a sister.4) >(°Tex 0 U weekend° <   3   (0. . That is.when are you goin home   9   (0. At Line 9. However.hh When u: :h       [   7 RIC: hh uh huh= => 8 BIL: =When a you. At Line 6. He does this while restarting his utterance beginning “do you have. overlapping Billy’s turn. (0. “I have a sister.

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

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

Rick asks Jessie if she spent the night at her dating partner’s place of residence.did you spend the night there last night In this segment. Asking a college athlete to quit his or her sport would seem .” Her utterance can be seen as socially risky in that she is revealing a serious request she made of her intimate partner. In addition to proffering a query about a sensitive topic. He restarts “wu. Thus.7) 9 JES: I tol. Rick’s restart.what do you mean 8   (0.14:6 1 JES: I told him I didn’t want him to swim: Rick 2   Was that mean 3   (0. to not participate on the university swim team.. Jessie then exhibits a restart involving another short pause and “you know:” before the actual restart of “I just. At Line 7.122  Studies in language and social interaction   => 2 3   RIG:   4   (0. it can be argued that Rick is showing reluctance to inquire about this delicate matter. Billy. Rick exhibits a short restart. about his swimming for the collegiate team. Rick and Jessie are discussing their workout times interwoven with Jessie’s anger at her dating partner (i. We have examined several instances of requesting and of responding to requests that involve restarts.(0.5) Ye. 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. Sometimes these displays cluster together. In the following instances.I jus.e.6) 4 RIC: Whasat? 5 JES: I told him that I didn’t want him to swim 6   (1. “what do you. After a short pause. speakers and listeners display an orientation to the talk as potentially problematic. Jessie and Rick are discussing a prior conversation between her and the man she’s dating.did you” as well as pausing before the utterance.4) you know: I just go:: 10   (0. displaying a dispreferred turn shape as well as reluctance to discuss the topic.” in his metacommunicative response to Jessie’s prior announcement or disclosure (including the possibility of having hurt her dating partner). Rick does the delicate work of not snowing alignment with a conversational partner by displaying agreement or an agreeing assessment with Jessie’s announcement.did j. He is also a good friend and swimming teammate of Rick’s.wu. then. we can observe both participants displaying reluctance when talking about a particular issue: (7)             =>   =>     UTCL A10. also Rick’s friend). Asking people to reveal where they spend their nights (especially specifying a dating partner) is a personal and private matter.2) we were talkin about it or something 11   and I just go:: I don’t want you to swim hhhhh In Instance 7. That is. At Line 3. may be serving a dual purpose.1) 7 RIC: Well what do ya.

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

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

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

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


” 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. 1 . Hopper. 1992. Hopper & LeBaron. 1994.” “on his own. Hopper & Chen. 1989. in the data examined herein.   [I Love it. 1996.1 Is he a competent member of the domain of discourse indexed by the name.Goodwin & M. I use the male pronoun to talk about an addressee of this talk. only one of whom passes this test. 1998). there are two hearers. SIGNPOSTED ASSESSMENTS This practice of producing assessable names as recognition tests must. 1987) investigated how turns at talk containing assessments can be organized as a multiparty interactive activity. What is investigated here is the ability of a hearer to “spontaneously. Hopper & Glenn.. some of these are briefly described. focusing on the way in which culturally relevant understanding of the names used to identify valued objects is made visible through specific interactive procedures.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. Thus in the following.H.Goodwin. 1988. 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. Here.g. the hearer simultaneously produces a positive evaluation at the very moment that the assessment adjective is spoken. 1999. male practice. however. As a point of departure for the phenomenon explored in this chapter. and thus poses a recognition test for the hearer. In earlier work.” recognize the assessable character of an object being named (a Cord. The name is dropped in a “deadpan” fashion. It was s::so [: goo:d. without alerting the hearer to its assessable status. She doesn’t wait until after speaker has said “good. such that he can recognize on his own the special status of the item that speaker has just named? Indeed. as the speaker pronounces an assessment adjective “good. Marjorie Goodwin and I (C.” but in that talk about cars in this fashion is explicitly marked by the participants themselves as a distinctively gendered. a particular type of car built before World War II). The present chapter explores one facet of this process.

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

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

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

Recall that the sequence began with Curt asking for help in finding a high arch spring for his Model T. through the reiteration of the assessable and its upgrade) that further response is relevant. intercepting Mike’s appending “And.2) Well I can’t say that they’re ol: clunkers= eez gotta Co:rd? (0. while moving.. 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. To look at how this gesture operates it is helpful to consider the actions of the third party present during this exchange. Curt raises his head). Curt orients to the fact that Gary has just said something by shifting his gaze noticeably away from Mike and toward Gary.e.” Note that Curt’s head movement See C.g. Thus throughout the time that Mike is announcing the presence of the Cords.132  Studies in language and social interaction     6 7   Mike: (0.1) Two Co:rds. Very shortly after this happens. He continues to gaze away from Mike until after Line 7. a hand gesture for the number two) toward Curt and then back to his own face. 1986b). Goodwin. As Mike says “Two Cords” in Line 7. When this movement is completed.” 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.1) Two Co:rds.. Just as Mike reveals that the cars are not old clunkers. see C. in the present case Mike upgrades the assessable from “a Cord’” in Line 5 to “Two Cords’” in Line 7. 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.. (1. Y’know Marlon Liddle? (0.Goodwin (1981. Curt brings his gaze back to Mike with a movement that also shows heightened attentiveness to what has just been said (e. Right after Mike mentions his friend with the “old clunkers.g. He’s gotta bunch a’ old clunkers. he moves his hand forward with two fingers extended in a V (i. 2 . he begins his vocal response to the assessable in Line 10. Indeed. Gary. Mike also performs a nonvocal gesture that helps to solicit a response.0) [And [Not original. 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. Curt is looking away from him.

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

see C.134  Studies in language and social interaction Second. stable entities argued to constitute the “culture” of the group. that is. Fifth. these processes provide a built-in motivation for members of a group to learn the background information. used. Curt proposed that a “thirtytwo Olds’” should be treated as an exalted. and (c) something about the criteria . and indeed one of the ways in which they negotiate and establish their competence and standing vis-à-vis each other.4 The present data shed light on how assessments might be relevant to such issues. A response to an assessable can contain an alignment display of some type (e. By viewing processes of categorization and evaluation within an interactive matrix. it becomes possible to shift analysis from specific cultural categories. Recognition and evaluation of a referent are frequently conceptualized as purely internal. the results of these operations can be publicly scrutinized by other participants. 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. highly valued object in much the way that the Cord here is. The same is true for many other domains of discourse. Curt’s treatment of the Cords as highly valued objects). tested.H. ways of speaking. the recipient must know how to rank and evaluate the object once it has been identified.g.Goodwin & M. and so on. Here. necessary for appropriate participation in a specific domain of discourse. For example. the recipient must be able to evaluate the recognized object and properly place it within the larger cultural domain that it inhabits. These interactive processes thus provide structures for both testing and motivating acquisition of particular bodies of knowledge. shortly after the sequence being examined here.. mere recognition of the name and the entity it refers to is not sufficient to build an appropriate response to an assessable. 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. The public. in order to find the assessable status of what is being talked about. insofar as the identifications and judgments one makes can be scrutinized by others. such considerations raise the question of how participants learn relevant information about a domain of discourse in the first place. psychological processes. and changed as constitutive features of the activities the participants are engaged in. In addition. but Mike refused to go along with this proposal (for detailed analysis of these data. and used to assess one’s competence and membership in a particular culture. That response will display to others whether he or she did or did not recognize the assessable and how he or she evaluated it. (b) that it is a very highly valued object in this culture. For example. interactive practices through which a name is both recognized and evaluated are quite relevant to central issues posed in the analysis of culture. however. Talking about cars for these speakers is very serious business. confirmation. a list of fixed. Clearly a multiplicity of acquisition processes are involved. but differ radically from the interpretations of these same phenomena made by members of another group. 1987). to the underlying social processes through which such categories are formed. Therefore. Third. Others can and do choose to disagree with a speaker’s assessment of a particular entity. The recipient is performing the tasks of recognition and evaluation in order to build an appropriate response to the unmarked assessable. it becomes possible to analyze how performing these actions can be subjected to public scrutiny. Fourth.Goodwin. and challenge within systematic processes of interaction.

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

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


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

pg 294. In example 5. excerpt 12]   SAM: Did you. In example 7. [DP 4] C: Did ↑you go in this morning?   (2. Beth displays that she has problems with Sam’s “did you” question: (7) [Tracy & Naughton. the recipient’s response indicates he appears to have heard an accusation (“What’s wrong with it?”). I mean when they. 1994). our readings. well I. an exchange between two people working in a pizza palor. the response shows a problem by the dispreferred-shaped response (Pomerantz. 1994. FN] (Co-workers) Pizza worker 1: Did you grate this cheese? Pizza worker 2: What’s wrong with it? Pizza worker 1: Well. did you sacrifice uh     uh external validity for control at any point?   BEH: Uh yeah the. 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.0) E: U:h no. In Example 6. my back was hurtin too much Recipient response indicates how she or he has taken the question. Tracy and Naughton (1994) also showed an example demonstrating that askers may indicate that they recognize the problematic nature of “did you” questions. 295) with the question. 1984). 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. in an interaction between faculty and graduate students at a graduate seminar. you were supposed to put   Saran Wrap on it.     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.Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  139 (5)         (6)       [Corbin. 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: . However.

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

2) I think he will. walked in.7) has been he did the same thing. 168). the recipient’s answer will probably reflect this. theory. 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.(0.((noise)) they didn’t say anything to im. 1984).” C’s “did you” question generates at least one possibly problematic presupposition: “Evan had work to go to this morning.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. Levinson (1983) noted that “there is more literature on presupposition than almost any other topic in pragmatics” (p.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. or stupid. she or he may conclude that the speaker is being ironic. Logical Presupposition According to Levinson (1983). The assertive counterpart of Cs “did you” question is “Evan did/did not go in to work this morning. this statement remains true whether or not he actually did go to work. If a recipient hears the presupposition in the “did you” question as problematic. He also observed that there is an ordinary notion of presupposition that “describes any background assumption against which an action. 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. expression or utterance makes sense or is rational” (p. silly. he said that was a. my back was hurtin too much Cathy asks if Evan went in to work that morning. “questions will generally assume the presuppositions of their assertive counterparts” (p. The most common linguistic test for logical presuppositions is the constancy under negation test.5) because Shawn (0. there’s.” According to the linguistic test. 184). which states that the presuppositions of a statement remain true whether the statement is true or false. 168). Keenan (1971) proposes that there is also a pragmatic presupposition which is that there is a clear relation between the statement and its context. Consider the “did you” question from Example 6.0) U:h no. 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. If a statement’s context is not clear to a recipient. (6)   [DP 4] E:     =>       E: C:   E: Actually (0. 167). as in . PRESUPPOSITIONS The notion of presuppositions in language has been discussed by linguists since the 1950s. (0.

If the recipient hears the presupposition as problematic. MAB: Oka:y. For recipients to understand a “did you” question’s pragmatic presupposition.) dad and Timmy n from work and come over. She complains that the counter people at the sandwich shop were unpleasant to her (“they’re so (tacky)”). . as seen in example 9. Example 3 shows a “did you” question during a preclosing in a mother-daughter telephone call: (3)     =>         [UTCL A35a.142  Studies in language and social interaction example 6. E’s “did you” question asks if she decided to purchase a sandwich despite the unpleasantness (“Did you tell them to take their (0.12] KRS: …you just pick up (.4) right? C has no trouble understanding the context of the “did you” question because it does not change the topic of conversation. the recipient’s answer may indicate problems.8) sandwich and sh. Context may be clear in at least two ways and can be shown in these examples of nonproblematic “did you” questions. KRS: . If the recipient does not recall the question’s indexed shared knowledge.hhh Okay well you have a good day. 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. 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. 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. 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 (0.4) KRS: Well that’s good to hear. require that the question be uttered in an understandable context. we did. by giving a justifying reason for not going to work that morning.stick it C: No because I had a (0.8) sandwich and sh. it   was real ni:ce?   (0. The assumptions that people make about other’s actions may be seen in the logical presuppositions of their “did you” questions.8) I had two cards (0. she or he may answer the question in a manner indicating a problem. the recipient must understand and recall the shared knowledge of the question’s topic. according to Keenan (1971). Pragmatic presuppositions. One.stick it”). did you have a good time over at Joyce’s last [night? MAB: [Yeah.

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

0) E: U:h no. it was real ni:ce? MAB answer with a “Yeah” and expands the answer with “it was real ni:ce. he also receives a very marked response: .” Accounts often look like the answer that E gave C in Example 6: C: Did ↑You go in this morning?   (2. Pursuit of Expansion In the next example. did you find it The second problematic aspect of CAR’s “did you” question is the unclearly indexed “it” in the question.4) Nothin Oh. Yet. from a videotape of a couple’s dinnertime conversation.3) wha’a you doin (0. whereas others are answered with accounts. we did. 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. However.” Very often. that is. in a collection of “did you” questions. my back was hurtin too much E answers with “no” and an account. 1977). 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.hh. reasons for having done or not having done the action the question concerns. the majority are answered with more than just “yes” or “no. “my back was hurtin too much.144  Studies in language and social interaction   CAR:     =>   BET: CAR: =No . Tom asks Abbie a “did you” question that she answers with a simple “no. BET indicates this is her problem in the way she asks for clarification (“did I find what”) (see Schegloff.” Tom asks for an expansion of the “no” answer and is successful in getting an expansion.(0. & Sacks. 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. Not only can the “did you” question itself be problematic for interactants due to presuppositions. Jefferson. but also the pursuit of an expansion or account to the answer of a “did you” question can be problematic for a recipient. such as the presupposition that Evan had work to go to that morning. ANSWERS TO “DID YOU” QUESTIONS As mentioned in the introduction. this expansion or account addresses a problematic logical presupposition of the question. “did you” questions are grammatically packaged to elicit a “yes” or “no” answer.

Interactional problems With “did you” questions and responses  145 (11) =>     =>     •     [DP2] T:   A T: T   T:   A: Have y. She pauses 0.6 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. However.6) finance °class° (1. The raised inflection of the word all may indicate surprise that she has not done anything. since ten o’clock this morning”). There is no particular intonation in this question to indicate that he was accusing her or doing more than asking for information. the recipient of the “did you” question also answers the question of her actions without an explanation of those actions. In the next example. Grammatically. Her emphasis on “gone” shows that it has been impossible for her to do anything for finance today. (0.6) Nada. such as a hesitation or “uh” filler. she does appear to have problems with the pursuit of an expansion of her “no” answer. Although Abbie does not appear to find the original “did you” question problematic. Abbie shows none of the problematic features seen in other “did you” question answers. He starts his repeat question (second arrow) with the non-understood section of his question (“For finance class did you get anything done”). This example demonstrates that if interactional problems do not occur with the asking of the question itself. problems may occur if the asker pursues more than the “yes/no” answer offered. 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. However.0) For what? For finance class did you get anything done No (0. Tom asks for more than her negative answer by with his next comment (“Nothing at ↑all”).2) DEN: No .2) DEN: No GOR: Are you going to?   (0.6-second pause and very quiet utterance finish may be what leads Abbie to ask for clarification of his question (“For what?”). she has answered the question. her recipient appears to expect more than her “no” answer: (12) =>     *     [UTCL D9:3] GOR: Did you: give Suzy the advice I suggested?   (1.5) I haven’t done anything I’ve been gone.6) finance °class°”).3) Nothing at ↑all (0. she answers without an expansion (“No”). pragmatically.did ya do anything today fo:r (a) (0. His interutterance 0.

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

H.A. 50. Tracy. Language.Fillmore and D.M.. Pragmatics. & J. 57–101).). In J. Rinehart & Winston. Heritage (Eds. 281–302. In C..B. Communication Monographs. A. Structures of social action: Studies in conversation analysis (p. Cambridge. (1994). J. New York: PrenticeHall.). J.). 44–52). & Naughton. In J. Language in use (p. E.Atkinson. Pomerantz. (1983). & Sacks. Studies in linguistic semantics (p. Studies in ethnomethodolgy. H. New York: Holt. England: Cambridge University Press. Cambridge. S. England: Polity Press. (1977). England: Cambridge University Press. Opening up closings. REFERENCES Garfinkel. Schegloff. Agreeing and disagreeing with assessments: Some features of preferred/dispreferred turn shapes.Baugh & J. Cambridge. 696–735. (1967). (1971). The preference for self-correction in the organization of repair in conversation.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. 69–99). E. 61.L. G.T. (1984). & Sacks... Schegloff. E. The identity work of questioning in intellectual discussion. Levinson.Langendoen (Eds. H. (1984). Sherzer (Eds. K. Jefferson. Keenan. . Two kinds of presuppositions in natural language.

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

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

Son invokes and Mom responds seriously to “magic. 4 .” and Son’s later attempts to edify and simply cheer Mom up (7) in response to a story she initiates. a grounded understanding of how conversations get progressively constructed from prior interactions. 1991. as resources forming the basis for organizing here-and-now problems and their solutions (see Beach.4 INTERACTIONAL FEATURES OF “MANAGING OPTIMISM” Hope and Uncertainty Regarding Medical Diagnosis and Procedures We begin with the initial instance. in press b).7) the particulars of what they’re after. Yet the other instances are also somehow related to hopeful and optimistic orientations: As Dad lightens prior and serious discussion (2). to discover what might be learned about how speakers’ manage various optimistic concerns. 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. Dad continues by reporting to Son a doctor’s description of procedures for treating Mom’s cancer. 1992. and (as noted) an extension and elaboration of the observed tendency for “good” topics to arise out of otherwise “bad” and troubling matters (see. and 6 reveal “hope/hopeful” as being invoked.=He also co:ntacted this cancer specialist so   he will be in Monday.”: 8) 1 2 3 4 5 6 SDCL: MALIGNANCY #1:6–7 Dad: . 1984a. Sacks. 1997). As a whole these moments reveal “managing optimism” to be a practical matter for family members.) . a personal reflection on Mom’s ill-fated circumstance (4).150  Studies in language and social interaction     Mom: Son: [( )] =That we’ve won.7) pt they have <pin:ned do::wn>(0. and her display of perseverance and tenacity (6).= Only Excerpts 1.hhh He said he would have somebody else look in on   her:. where “hope” is explicitly mentioned in the midst of talking through a family member’s cancer. these procedures include contacting a cancer specialist and conducting “this bo:ne scan thing tomorrow.g. talk that is shown to be designed in alternative (at times even humorous) ways while working through troubling illness circumstances. Jefferson. in its natural and emergent order. In Excerpt 8 as follows. (. Mom waits and relies on news from the cancer doctor (3). Peräkylä.. This analytic exercise is part of a more encompassing project. In Line 3. So .hhh n:o: : I would hope → by Monday or Tu:esday (0. Maynard. and then in similar yet contrasting ways: in Dad’s reference to medical procedures (1). 4. e.hhh And they will do this → borne scan thing tomorrow. Analysis proceeds by giving attention to the interactionally achieved and contingent features of each successive moment.

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

1997.hhh I just hurt too b:ad to be   anything else (0. Sacks. Notice also that Dad’s “↑kinda. literally on the cusp of interactional time (see Maynard.” Here.” As an upshot of Son’s “closure implicative” action. 1992) reveals how Dad’s insertion of “good news” is on-topic. from Mom’s “co:nf irmation and resignation” → “I just hurt too b:ad to be anything else” → “something drastic.hhh (. see also Jefferson. depressed or concer:ned I guess with having >to go down< for these needle biopsies and Will? showed up. the tendency to treat the .hh at this point it was mostly (0. this “conversation restart” (see Jefferson.hh one and a half (0. In Line 12. and not inviting Dad’s further elucidation of Mom’s painful condition. Son’s “°Mmm wow. In each of the 10 instances she examined.(0.2) >ya know. Son: Mmhm.2) she did have two nice things ha: ppen today. depressed or concer:ned” (Line 15) was inserted following his pre-announcement. She was on her way do:wn and . 193. 1984b. yet before announcing the good news that “Will? showed up. in press). reveal how everyday life is comprised of tightly interwoven relationships among bad and good circumstances. The shift from bad to good news evident in Excerpt 9 is also similar to Holt’s (1993) findings involving death announcements by tellers.< It ha: :d to be   som. immediately prior to an old friend showing up for a visit. as with how Dad and Son collaborate on reporting bad news as a prelude to announcing good news.. °” displays a shift from acknowledging Dad’s description-in-progress (i. . She had . the close proximity of Mom’s reported mood. Son: [Mmhmm: . Immediately following Son’s “°Mmm wow.2) >percodans<   in her and it wasn’t hardly slowin’ it down.e. p.”: 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 . 1996.5)   co:nfirmation and resignation.) >as I   said< pt . yet designed by him to ease the burden of previously articulated grievous circumstances about which enough had been said (at least for now). It also illustrates how the valence of social occasions are subject to change and alteration.2) she did have two nice things ha:ppen   today.hhh But (0.] Dad: [Cause she] said.   Son:→°Mmm wow.) But she seemed to be doing (.°   Dad:→. Dad: And she was really having some problems with pa:in   today.7) something drastic. following Dad’s progressively distressing update.°.152  Studies in language and social interaction portrayal escalates in its telling. This response is treated by Dad as Son’s unwillingness to comment further.hhh and was ↑kinda. particularly to recipients not especially close to the deceased.” Dad initiates transition to a new but related topic with his pre-announcement “But (0. with “Mmhmmm:” and “Mmhm”) to quietly assessing it as troubling news.

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

(. I mean I might be real lucky in five   12   years. as recipient.) So that’s all I can 32   tell you.2) um.4) just keep goin’ 11 forward. it becomes clear that the .hh hhh (0.hh I’ll 7   I’ll wait to talk to Dr.) my only choice.4) 14 Son: Yeah. which Mom initiates in Line 6.0) I guess [not. As the conversation unfolds.I mean. It appears. In this sense there is indeed “nowhere else to go” (Jefferson. 27 Mom:→ It’s either that or just lay here and it’ll kill me.((coughs)). 191). and (0.° 16 Son: Phew: : . Leedon today. and Lines 1–5 bring closure to further talk about the seriousness of Mom’s prognosis. 1997).(. and next in Lines 4 and 5 as Son affirms that.= He’s the 8   cancer man. 13   (0.] (. 28   (1.154  Studies in language and social interaction 3 Mom: ((coughs)) 4 Son:→ . p. I mean.< 21   (1. It might just be six months. 30 Son: No. 1984b. 15 Mom: °Who knows. 26 Son: Yeah. at least initially. 23 Mom: Yeah. Both speakers utter “I’ don’ t know” (see Beach & Metzger. that Mom and Son collaborate in exiting from the topic of cancer. 17 Mom: Yeah.4) Whadda you do: with this kind of 19   thing.5) 25 Mom:→ My only hope. 18 Son:→ . first in Line 1 as Mom claims she has nothing further to tell. >You just-< .hh hhh Yeah. and = 9 Son: = Um hmm.] 31 Mom:→ [No. (0. I 5   don’t know what to say either. Yet Lines 1–5 also demonstrate a transition to talking with her cancer doctor. 6 Mom:→ No there’s nothin to say. Yeah.2) 22 Son: Oh bo:y.) 20 Mom:→ >Radiation chemotherapy. (1. 10 Mom:→ See what he has to say.0) 29 Mom:→ And that’s not the human condition. 24   (0. he does not know what to say.

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

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

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

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

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.4) <And ah> (1.° See. = $Right. that are seemingly not about cancer per se. quite the contrary is the case. how and when they appear and are terminated.] right$ [$hhh. °So that was kinda funny.) me (. [there] there’s a small battle= [()] =That we’ve won. is it coincidental that Dad and Son move together to talk about 1) something they are both knowledgeable about.Managing optimism  159 A Story and its Consequences: Fighting the Battle Together As Mom exits from talking (not shown in Excerpt 11). [right. For example. She looked. It is revealing to examine just what everyday topics find their way into the midst of “cancer topics”. 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20. (. 21 22 23 24   S:   M: S:   M:   S: M:   S: M:   S: M: S: M: S: M: S:                               → →   → → → and she looked. in this instance of “fixing cars together”. She brought a li:ner of like a. S: $Did it?$ M: Totally confu:sed one girl. 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 . (0. Son then requests to speak with Mom once again and announces his dinner plans to her. Now this is a little oriental gal. and she looked. < Mmm. 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.) [ha] [She] went out and she brought in >ya know< those things have liners? Mmm hm. >But she wasn’t gonna touch it.she couldn’t quite figure that whoile thing out.) take oh ( . Mm hm mm hm [°hm°] [She] didn’t.0) [she went out] [Do not] ah (.$] While it may appear that “fixing cars together” is of little relevance to understanding the interactional management of cancer predicaments.) Good.of clear water in to set it there. = = Mm hm.

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

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

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

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

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

inspects the adequacy of those displayed understandings and exhibits their (inadequacy in the third turn position. The selection of some next action (e. (1) 1 2 3 4 UTCL: Mother-Daughter. Alternatively. 1984. and updating intersubjective understandings (Heritage. Sacks. Schegloff. in a turn’s talk.. This architecture of intersubjectivity is a systematic by-product of turn organization: [I]t obliges its participants to display to each other. 1992b.g. D understands M’s deployment of “Jeff as referring to her husband who is also named Jeff. These studies describe interactants’ methods for accomplishing the routine and tacit tasks of displaying. 1991. a turn’s talk will be heard as directed to a prior turn’s talk.” This pro-term refers to the speaker and her husband. The displayed product of this understanding is the collective pro-term “we. are publicly displayed in the next turn position. exhibits its speaker’s understanding that the prior turn was a corresponding first action (e.4) D: Just fine. 1987b. The products of these inspections may contribute to or briefly impede the continued sequential development and directionality of the talk. we haven’t seen much of h 5 M: 6   7 D: 8   mean your Jeff. for example.2. 1974. 1992).192–202 M: =How are things goin’ with her. 1984) provides for the recurrence and stability of understandings in talk-in-interaction. question). The prior speaker. ratifying. (Sacks et al. performed upon the prior turn in the first position... Sacks. p. unless special techniques are used to locate some other talk to which it is directed. More generally. the speaker of the talk in the first position.uh her and Jeff? D: Fine   (0.Lawrence University of Central Florida Conversation analytic studies have demonstrated decisively that an “architecture of intersubjectivity” (Heritage. upon finding evidence of misunderstanding in the next turn position. an answer). 1974). may initiate third-position repair (Schegloff. According to Heritage (1984). For example. 728) The outcomes of interpretive operations.11 Rejecting Illegitimate Understandings Samuel G.g. & Jefferson. in turn. the third position slot may be used for implementing actions that tacitly “ratify” understanding displays in next turn position. their understanding of other turn’s talk. 1992a. I mean Jeff Over very good ((continues)) .

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

This inquiry utilizes a correction invitation format (Sacks.4) Went to bed too late las’ night. but Dee Ann pursues elaboration in Line 8 through an itemized news inquiry (“Why? r’ya sick?”).= =Tired °Yeah. This topicalizer selects Skeet as the next speaker. His minimal affirmation in Line 7.3) Jis okay wull.3) I. 1984).h= =No. ((spoken in an exaggerated regional dialect)) (0.= =(°Yep°) I donno why: (.2) No I’m jus tired.° (0. however. thus.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. it exhibits downgraded newsworthiness (Button & (0.(0. Skeet is positioned to volunteer an elaboration.(.) huh huh my fault. but does not specifically request an elaboration of his report although an occasion for elaboration is provided. 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. 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.2) anyway (. Skeet in Line 10 opts for the . (0.) thought I’d check Because Skeet’s activity report had been solicited rather than volunteered. momentarily curtails topic development.) didn’t siay that Okay eKh ((laughs/coughs)) You th(h) ought it awful l(h)oud(h) thou (h) gh huh huh .

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

the rejection does not propose a version of the previous night’s events that would treat Dee Ann as an outsider to those events. This method of rejecting understanding displays in the next turn position differs from comparable practices of third-position repair.. he denies having authored talk that could be construed as shifting responsibility to Dee Ann. Skeet deploys “I. “Huh? You weren’t even there”). for Skeet. 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. The pro-terms “I-” and “say” topicalize his authorship of the account. alternative understandings of talk in the first position.(. coupled with the glottal cut-off of “I-” and the beat of silence prior to “didn’t. The latter treat misunderstanding displays as viable. Like third-position repairs. 1978). after M had specified how “Jeff in Line 1 was properly understood (Line 6). If Dee Ann had participated in activities with Skeet that preceded his failure to get to bed on time.1 In the third turn position (Line 21). Dee Ann may have understood Skeet’s account as part of an unfinished telling. may have contributed to that understanding. “I. 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.” Skeet rejects her analysis.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. 1978).” display what. without imputing some type of “exotic” motivation to her 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. 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. albeit incorrect. 1 . coupled with its scanty details. In this instance. but as misconstruing it. 3 Referring back to example 1. Skeet would be expected to deliver a very different sort of rejection (e. However. 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.g. Dee Ann may have anticipated descriptions from Skeet that would have turned his failure into a consequence of her antecedent actions (Pomerantz. with more details to come. 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. if Dee Ann could not be viewed as a party to those events. without formulating. is the strongly unexpected character of Dee Ann’s denial. That is. this rejection treats the relationship between the contributions in the first and next turn positions as problematic. Skeet’s rejection accomplishes this action by reporting a negative event. Second. The delayed onset of this rejection. that is.) didn’t say that” rejects Dee Ann’s denial of culpability as the product of an illegitimate analysis of the account in Line 14. The unsolicited production of this account (Line 14). and “that” ties back to. Though no independent evidence is available. Additionally. not as misunderstanding the account.(. 2 Notice that Skeet’s rejection is done in reference to his talk in Line 14.) didn’t say that” to reject Dee Ann’s denial of culpability. it is difficult to surmise otherwise how she could have come to see herself as a candidate for blame allocation.3 Rather than providing these resources for Dee Ann. Dee Ann’s denial and its concomitant attribution of blame shifting. third-position repairs provide speakers of understanding displays with the resources to redo their understanding of the first-positioned talk.

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

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

It is a distinct honor to contribute to this esteemed collection. Unlike the explosive outrage of Garfinkel’s “victims. that would serve as an alternative source of the speaker’s methodically produced understanding. trace the beginnings of our intellectual commitment to the close examination of talk to his graduate seminars in conversation analysis. 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. So how does the speaker of the rejected understanding display manage to re-legitimate that display? One way is to formulate conduct.” 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. at times.” 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. 4 Rejecting theoretical notions of radical subjectivity does not deny that people. He has unselfishly given of himself during the best and worst of times. He concluded that speakers do not merely expect to be understood but insist on an entitlement to the manifestly intelligible character of their talk. ‘you had a flat tire’”?) in the absence of recognizable understanding problems. other than the talk in the first position. The prior speakers’ subsequent outrage was clearly more moral than technical.. in large measure. I and many others. Over the years.4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS Robert Hopper was my dissertation adviser at the University of Texas in the late 1980s. do act as “practical Solipsists. a next speaker commits to a display of understanding. 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. 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. . unobservable mental storehouse of speakers.172  Studies in language and social interaction to raise problems of understanding by initiating repair (e.” Overall. these findings contribute to our understanding of connections between the interactional architecture of intersubjectivity and the moral order.” 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. 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. such notions of radical subjectivity are not in use among the parties to this interaction. he has continued to embody what it means to be a colleague by appreciating our strengths and challenging us to improve our craft.g. In the present data. “What do you mean.

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


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

184. Tie-signs may include holding hands. the production and noticing of these tie-signs are not focused involvements (Goffman. whether involving objects. That is. they are generally incidental to other ongoing activities. That is. Some actions. locking arms.). Mandelbaum. 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. 1989. it is critical that “relationship” be “procedurally relevant” to participants (Schegloff. For this reason.. He called these “tie-signs” “evidence about relationships. Their study often is speculative. Therefore.). it can be hard to document the relevance of relationship to the way talk is done. and so on. Through the performance of tie-signs. 1997). using instead such terms as alignment. then. that is. using the same bottle of suntan lotion when coming to the side of the pool. and only excluding the literal aspects of explicit documentary statements” (p. Watzlawick. 90. conversation analytic findings reveal important features of how talk may propose and/or construct relationships. conversation analysts often have been reluctant to address issues of relationship. For instance. both relational partners and others are provided with evidence of the character of a relationship being enacted. Goffman (1971) suggested that interaction contains numerous “signs” whereby interactants make available to one another the “current character of the relationship” (p. Heritage & Sefi. when you ask someone to do something.g. 1992. have somewhat stable relational interpretations. it formulates who they are with respect to you—someone over whom you can assume unquestionable control. then. Despite this constraint. 1963) for interactants. Some ways of talking to or acting with regard to others. 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. lend themselves to fairly easy interpretation with respect to the relationship they propose between interlocutors. With respect to how we ask someone else to do . Heritage and Sefi (1992) showed how health visitors’ methods for questioning new mothers can propose particular alignments between participants. Like identity. because claims about the relational activities that interactants may be undertaking can be hard to demonstrate. All talk then may be taken to contain proposals regarding the relationship between interactants. Goodwin. For the most part. 90). and may not be taken up at all in any discernible or overt way. although theorized to be omnirelevant. Pomerantz & Fehr. about ties between persons. these relational proposals do not become the main business of talk. When I say to someone “Come here right now. though. Beavin. For conversation analysts. and Jackson (1967) proposed that all “messages” have both “content” and “relationship” levels. they used diary studies so that individuals could “report on the events in which they engage in various relationships” (p. 1987). Goffman wrote of them as a sort of social obligation. Goodwin (1990) showed how the way that a directive is offered proposes a version of the relationship between the interactants. 184). 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. a performance that we owe others who are in the co-presence of a “related” couple (a pair in a relationship). expressions. and affiliation. acts. for instance. 1990. 1987.176  Studies in language and social interaction individual’s relationships are constructed” (p.” I propose a relationship between us in which I have some legitimate jurisdiction over that person’s actions. For the most part.

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

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

if it were to be taken seriously or literally in the current vernacular. REPAIR In the following fragment. he gives a minimal answer to the question regarding what he is doing. Nonetheless. is recast in retrospect as making her specifically of interest to him. their relational partner’s next turn has a similar format. using repair.” He then asks the reciprocal question. nothing is overtly made of the reciprocal name-calling and the possible connectedness it implies. 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. “what’re you doin. Cara makes a reciprocal busyness inquiry: “(’s) go’n on. “I dunno. Like Princess Diana’s flub. the embedded relational implications of a turn are taken up in a more overt way. Cara’s name-calling makes available certain implications regarding participants’ relative positioning although these relative implications are clearly not “official business” at all. would make her not of interest to him. It thus proposes a possible relationship between them in which she is specifically attractive to him. Talk simply moves on. As Kip’s laughter continues. As Kip laughs. His response is postponed by a post laugh inbreath. This demonstrates interactants’ alertness to problematic relational implications. An action that could be heard as a tie-sign with possible disaligning relational implications. She has called him a “queer” that. “Queer bait” in response to “queer” could be heard to be formulating her as “bait” for the “queer”—that is.” and talk proceeds. this remains an embedded action. This is done playfully.” This name-calling is reciprocal in a special way. an action by one partner that could be heard to have possible implications for their relationship. Here then we see a sort of advance on the tie-sign. 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.” and produces a reciprocal name-calling. but could equally. but that could also simply be ignored. the first speaker’s response to repair initiation downplays the relational implications. through a kind of conversational “tit-for-tat” interactants make available a connection between them. Immediately after talk that could be heard to indicate a reciprocated disjunctive between them (the difficulty recognizing one another). 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. presumably currently or immediately before he took the phone call. and indicates the collaborative character of positioning activities in conversation. Nonetheless.Interactive methods for constructing relationships  179 what he is doing. This can be heard as a conventional beginning to their conversation. yet counteracts those implications in an “off-the-record” fashion that nonetheless makes the relational implications of the first turn apparent. In its aftermath. and nothing is made of it overtly. In both cases. is targeted. Cara answers the inquiry that preceded the name-calling. . In this instance. “you queer bait. bait for Kip. and redressed simultaneously by a response-in-kind. and more plausibly. In Line 8. 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. like Goffrnan’s tie-signs. made visible.

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

(0. Given the way in which she refers to the person she will call.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. In Line 24. [Oh: Shame’s friend. 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. From this recipients can draw the implication that if she does what at the beginning she states she wants to do (call him).] [W’d is this] : : . In previous turns.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. That’s my[friend. 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. She then reports what “you” need to say to produce the result of this guy coming out—tell him about the warm weather. .5) Oh:.Okay it wz: friend a’mi:net[oo.2) Ye:h. (0. [The guy (‘oo) comes out’n treats yuh? (0. 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. she tells what the guy referred to in Line 24 “usually” does. and her formulation of herself as the sole caller. 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°. her report of something she wants to do (“one guy that I wanna cawrll. In Line 27. Vicki begins a report about an unnamed “guy” that she wants to call. it is potentially hearable that she wants to call someone unknown to members of the present gathering.” and in contrast with their joint enactment of calling someone to tell them that it is 80°.” Lines 24–25). [yeah. In formulating the person who wants to call as “I. Awright. [Nyejah) [Oh that’s good (thet). They synchronously report an action that they both claim and show themselves to be going to undertake together.

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

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

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


u-mean who goes tih college inna with a= 11 Tanzi: → = [Who even o:wns] one. They’re a lively bunch! Even agreement turns into open warfare. someone suggested that we just go have a drink. then resolves the problem.2) 10 Lauren: → Y’know. 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. presenting the phenomenon as something intriguing but that my conversation analytic resources gave me no handle on. I gave a talk to some colleagues at the University of Manchester. whereupon a recipient produces an appropriate next utterance. 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.)) 1 Lauren:   We had this one girl she w’z from Flo:rida. chatting about college days and characters they have known. Un 2     I swear t’Go::d. the phenomenon is not exclusive to troubles-talk). At some point. and was told in no certain terms that my muchvaunted conversation analytic methods had utterly failed to handle it. I’ll start out with a few fragments in which it seems to me that one participant has produced a characterizably problematic utterance. 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. Perhaps Robert Hopper’s phrase “roughing up the ground” best describes what I’m up to. 4     (0. then attempts to disambiguate it without speaking explicitly.right? 12 Lauren:   [pegnoir set. and that this or that fragment of data might comprise an instance of it. I found that I had no analytic resources to develop a case for it. I came across a possible phenomenon: Someone inadvertently produces an ambiguous utterance.   (1) [Goodwin:60:C:1–2] ( (Two women at a block party. she wannid t’be on the bes’ 3     dress’ list. Although it was clear to me that something like that was going on.13 A Note on Resolving Ambiguity Gail Jefferson Rinsumageest Just about twenty years ago. working on materials in which people talk about their troubles.] .4) 5 Lauren:   En’er parents apparently weren’even that 6     wealthy. So ended my presentation. 9     (0.

among her “tons of clothes. Tanzi may be holding off taking a position.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”.) pres’nt? City: I: heard d’fir:st Squawk: [xxxxxxx] rxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxrxx xxx) City: [ (2.1 The first of the two fragments comes out of a telephone conversation between two men on duty at different locations during the 1964 Anchorage. where a single item could mean one thing or another. In this course of that chat. Alaska. and have taken the opportunity for a chat. say. that the young woman brought with her. Lines 7–8). 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. the brazenness of wearing it. . While the problem in the preceding fragment does have to do with alternatives. And this is ‘whereupon’ in a strong sense. immediately upon the occurrence of disambiguation. There may be good grounds for Tanzi to figure that Lauren means to be saying something less drastic. it doesn’t involve the sort of ambiguity I’ll be focusing on. we get an appropriate next utterance. Not just somewhere afterwards. earthquake. Line 10). The story structure itself may be angled toward the less drastic alternative. 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 (.0) [The These two fragments and my discussions of them are taken from Jefferson (1986). As in the preceding fragment. They refer to each other by their locations: “City” is the Anchorage fire department and “Elmondorf” is an outlying army base. The following two fragments do involve that sort of ambiguity. So. but “with” one. addressing herself to the ostentation of having such a thing rather than.” a pegnoir set. She didn’t arrive “in” one. Whereupon Tanzi produces a next utterance appropriate to the “with a” alternative. but immediately upon the occurrence of the clarifying phrase. They’ve been connected by a short circuit in the telephone system. Lauren: Tanzi: who goes tih college inna witha   Who even o:wns one. On the other hand. funny things do happen at college. a story about someone showing up on campus wearing a negligee would probably look different from the start.

again with a conversational object. But it turns out that his coparticipant is handling the squawk box. And we can watch City’s work by reference to the squawk box. And City drops out. just as City gets going the squawk box starts up. he may take it that someone else on duty is handling it. he shifts to a non ambiguous item. a squawk box on the Elmondorf side starts up with a report from Muldoon air field (Lines 1–4).” which is both conversational and instrumental. [Ye-u.ah heard d’firs’broadcas’state det deh w’z bout sixty t’three hunner’dea:d ‘n (0. to which he responds immediately (Lines 8–11). After two such invitations go unanswered. Whereupon City responds—and ‘whereupon’ in a very strong sense. But again.4) city of Anch’rage is on dih grou:n’ Just as City starts to answer Elmondorf s question. That City hears Elmondorf s “Pardon?” as directed to him and not to Muldoon Tower may be.7) broadcas’ w’ z sixty tun thr [ [Yer loud’n clear Muldoon Tower. The same reservation. (0.” indicates that City should drop out and give the squawk box priority (Lines 10–14). Elmondorf uses “Go ahead.4) Go’head. at least in part. (1.2) Ci ty. Now comes what I’m proposing to be the ambiguity. (0. on an even finer scale. This may generate a problem for City: which of them is being told to “Go ahead. and Elmondorf. and he starts up again (Lines 3–6). in strong contrast to the instrumental “You’re loud and clear” with which Elmondorf responded to the squawk box.” his response merely incidentally occurring at a “recognition point” for the identificatory word. 2 . remaining silent until he’s invited back by Elmondorf’s “Pardon?”.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. (2. (1986). In his next utterance. 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. naming his selected coparticipant: “City”.” he or Muldoon tower? And it appears that Elmondorf comes to see that there is a problem and what the problem is. “Just a minute. perhaps because he gets no indication from his coparticipant that he should maintain his silence. that is.] [(xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx]x [xxxxx) [Justa minnit. holds for Fragment 3.9) Go’head. after the first syllable of the identificatory word:2 Jefferson. He initially drops out (lines 3–4) and then. because “Pardon?” is a ‘conversational’ object.0) Pard’n? I heard d’ [firs’broadcas’Stateside. (1. and interrupts him to respond to it (Lines 5–8).

” (But whereas Lauren’s shift. (3) [GTS: I:2:19: R:5] ( (Jesse is reporting a success with his parents. The fragment is taken from a group therapy session for teenagers.2) City. Indeed.” and Lauren’s work in Fragment 1 with her shift from “in a” to “with a. (0. that is.2)   Ci Ye-u. the standard ending intonation of “in the:re. they have stopped interrogating him about his comings and goings.3) No. (.A note on resolving ambiguity  189 1 2 3 4 5 6 E’dorf:   E’dqrf:   E’dorf: City: Go ‘head. This may be a very touchy moment.” And David’s shift is even less obviously a matter of repair. the appending of Jesse’s name by David may be directed to clearing such a possible ambiguity. it is possible that David’s remark (Line 11) is addressed to her. Elmondorf s is less obviously a matter of repair. coming off as a through produced sentenceutterance with the disambiguating name in tag position: “You’re very conscious of them being in there Jesse.)) 1 Jesse: Nob’ddy sez inning yih jis keep °whha:lkin’. (1.) th.4) drapes er closed now I c’n see through that liddle crack et th’window over there (2.° 2   hh °yihknow ° 3   (0. Jesse and Joan.(0. “Go ahead (0.0) Yer very ↑°conscious’v° th’m being in the : re .” 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.” We’re left with some intonational details. in order to show just how delicate this business may be. in that after a bit of silence he produces a legitimate next component for a single utterance. (1. Je [sse. (Lines 5–6). similarly to Elmondorf s work in Fragment 2 with his shift from “Go ahead.) . This particular session is being observed from a room behind a one-way mirror. Joan having raised the issue of observers in the first place. [He keeps:: [↑talk [in’↓there.] [°ih° [It doesn’] rilly bother me. And for this fragment I’m preserving the initial consonant and vowel of the actual names of two of the participants. the “whereupon” feature may be really exquisite. is clearly a self-repair.9) Go ‘head.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: : ..ah   heard… In the following fragment. involving as it does a mid utterance substitution.

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. Jane:   [°Mm:.     (1. But the recognition work in this case would have to be a bit finer than that proposed for City in Fragment 2. Reva and Jane.     (1. That failing. 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. Joan could be monitoring for which of the two candidate addressees (in this case. ° [nYah I know. would be response upon occurrence of the crucial differentiating vowel.     (0.4) .) they don’t know what eez     allergic to yet. then tries to achieve disambiguation without the sort of explicitness found in the prior materials. Je He… And that is ‘whereupon’ in a very fine sense.190  Studies in language and social interaction And. In the following four fragments. In the first of the four—a leisurely conversation between two neighbors. which of the two who have shown themselves to be “conscious of them being in there”) is being addressed. because in this case the name of the other candidate addressee starts with the same consonant as does Joan’s. in three of the four we do get—perhaps specifically as a last resort—a disambiguating utterance. selection is achieved. At some point thereafter. similarly to City in Fragment 2. ‘cause you-jih-you-you figure     you nevuh had it befaw ‘n all’v a sahd’n yih     getting all dih [sy:mptom [s. the circumstances become murkier. In each of them it seems to me that someone.= Reva:   =Ih makes (a). then.2) Jane:   En the fa:ct thet (. having produced an ambiguous utterance. in the laundry room of their apartment building—the talk has turned to an allergy that Jane’s husband is suffering from.4) Jane:   °( )°     (0. and no sooner.0) Jane:   I think it has a lo:t t’do wih tha:t. at which point. 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. Involved in this case.

in the first three fragments we have the recipients’ ‘whereupon’ responses and in the fourth.” happens to be an explicit reference to the topic. 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. only to be given the news. their responses are completely opaque for the problem-solution issue. given the laugh particle in “la(h)anding. when what she intends to be referring to is a dramatic but short-lived strike by the city’s air traffic control personnel. 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.” So although matters in Fragment 4 are worked out in a more dilatory fashion than in the prior three fragments. in contrast to. “How is everything out there. e. Jane responding. not thereupon.) In this case. “with you. although it occurs at a distance from the disambiguating component may yet be fitted to it. Reva presents her sister’s question as a multi component utterance. in the remaining three fragments we lose the recipient as a resource. activities that may be attendant to a problem and its solution are embedded in bland colloquy. to visit his mother in Los Angeles. in which one component of the answer. In contrast to the foregoing where. a response that. there is still some evidence of a problem and its solution—for both speaker and recipient. with a mild laugh (Line 20) that. As far as I can tell. but after a next component. (In the first place.’ may yet show its relationship to the solution-bearing component. how is it.” And perhaps at the subsurface.g. his car is vandalized. 1980).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:. (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. Sheila: ↑FI:NE . uh-huh eh-heh eh-heh. contributing nothing substantive may work as a recompleter). Reva quoting an exchange between her and her sister consisting of a multicomponent question and a similarly constructed answer (Lines 14–19). This may be a faithful rendering of her sister’s words. “out there” may be fitted to a trouble of the area in general. At some point in the visit. 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. “the planes are la(h)anding. although not immediately ‘thereupon. poetics level. “I say I don’t kno:w” (which. The situation is this: The adolescent son of divorced parents has driven down from Palo Alto where he lives with his father. “is everything under control” came to be produced via its resonance with air traffic control. is everything under control?” (Lines 14–16)..

4) ‘hhh Oh it’s di↑gusti [ng iz a mattera’f] a:ct.2) En Nadine [Joe’s girlfriend] is going to meet im:. [P o o r J o e y.h Yer nod in on wut ha:penhhnt.1) . (0.=Right out’n front’v my house. [En I left him there et abayou:t noo:n.] I.4) Uh hu: [h. Stolen.[B’t that’s ↑AW ] ↓f’l [‘hh[His friend-] Yeh [ his °friend S t e e-° [ (Boy) that really makes] me ma:d. No(h)o [ (wut he-) [He’s flying. (0.5) Ayund uh.5) Uh ha:h.h (0.) Did JOEY GET HOME YET? I w’z wondering wen’e left. (1.4) hhh So I ↑took him↑ to the airpor’ he couldn’t buy a ticket.3) °. (0. (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:                                                       →     →     →       (. (0.4) Wut’s ‘e gun’do go dow:n pick it up later? er someth’n like [ey.t.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.=Becuz the ↑TOP w’z ripped o:ff’v iz car which is tih say someb’ddy helped th’mselfs.7) Bē. (0. (0.who do this: . down et the Drug Coalition ah want th’ TO: P ↓ba:ckhh. °Oh fer c:rying out loud° En eez not g’nna. I ↑told my ↑ki:ds.5) Stolen. (0.hh° Uh(d) did ↑OH: . <and ez a mattuh fac’ snowing on the Ridge Route. (0.he c’d only get on sta:n’by.I:.

the initial one. En then hill drive dow:n here with the:m.3) Bu:t (. As it happens. “He’s not going to bring it back?” (Lines 21–22). Focusing on the arrowed series of assessments.) probly’s g’nna Save a liddle time ‘n: energy. cf. Monty. simply abandoning a problem as adolescents are wont do do . (. go down and pick it up later? Or something like eyBut that’s awful. In that rapid juxtaposition is an echo of Fragment 1 with Lauren’s shift from “in a” to “with a. It occurs immediately after a statement of concern for the car’s return. the assessment he uses is non selective. Monty exhibits what seems to be more concern for the car then concern for his son. accepting—if most minimally—his assessment of the boy’s (and her own) handling of the situation. which starts up immediately after her “Yeh” (Lines 42–43). and his non and minimal responses to her report of Joe’s troubles at the airport (Lines 27–32). “And he’s not going to bring it back?”. 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). may be discovering the infelicitous direction of his concern. having cut off her overlapped utterance. 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. . “But that’s awful.” (Line 40). his response to Sheila’s initial announcement. And following on the heels of an expression of concern for the car as it does. it might conceivably be heard as assessing his son’s abandonment of the vandalized car. for example. in the interests of keeping the peace.3) school is out. minimally acknowledges Monty’s talk with “Yeh” and starts again.) right after: :< (0.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. hearing himself expressing concern for the car (for the second time. it may be weighted toward the latter. Monty’s assessment occurs in overlap with something Sheila has started to say (Lines 41–42). Lines 21–22). attempting to repair that with a self-interruptive display of concern for the boy. At worst. Oh I see So: in the long run ‘hhh it (. However.” (Lines 39–40). Which is to say. now overlapped by his next assessment. Monty’s treatment of Sheila’s report raises as a possible issue that the boy has been irresponsible.) hhghuh: his frien’Ste:ve en Brian er driving up. prior to completion of the utterance in which that statement is packaged: “What’s he going to do. Okay As Sheila described what happened. (0. 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.3) Yeah. hearable as Sheila.” And as Lauren may there be discovering her error. She. it could apply to either concern. hh°hkhuhh° (0.

But in this case. 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. as in Fragments 2 and 4. as in several of those she showed. Monty’s expressing his own anger allows for (and perhaps even promotes) selection of the irresponsible-kid alternative. “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. 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. in this case. And what occurs next is an utterly explicit utterance that resolves any possible ambiguity. “Poor Joey. and thus can hear his own words and those of his recipient as at best not clearly enough not blaming the boy.194  Studies in language and social interaction And conceivably it is in response to the non. or for him to decide what she is saying.” (Line 46). 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. being enlisted specifically to resolve the as-yet-unresolved ambiguity. But. we need to refer to and rely upon our shared knowledge of the conventional proprieties—for example. 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. For Monty’s assessments and Sheila’s concurrence to be unequivocally understood as addressing the vandalism and not the boy’s behavior. 1984): Sheila: Monty: Oh it’s distgusti ng [ Poor Joey.or wrongly commital “Yeh” that Monty makes a next attempt at disambiguation. And given the persistent bivalence of the talk so far. Sheila’s concurring “Oh it’s disgusting” (Line 45).“(Boy) that really makes me mad” (Line 43) cf. so unlike the sort of talk that Monty has been producing throughout the interaction.” he offers another item of the same sort. Elmondorf s repeated “Go ahead” and Reva’s added “…how is it. occurring in slight overlap (Pomerantz. that is. This utterance is positioned in just the way Pomerantz described for second assessments. with “minimization of gap between its initiation and prior turn’s completion”. In armchair-psychological terms. rather than producing something more selective of one or the other relevant alternatives than was his “But that’s awful. this expression of pity. as a sequential object “Poor Joey” comes off as an understanding/agreeing response to Sheila’s utterance. for example. and not at all as some sort of repair. 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. . whereas. [ That is to say. 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. which does not select for one or the other alternative but refers to whatever “it” is that Monty is referring to. Nevertheless I would argue that “Poor Joey” is indeed some sort of repair.

with the attendant conventional proprieties. [ [’hhhh En.‘t she said thet s. I don’know’f they have those liddle To: nka things? b’t he’s go-ot two a’these (. [ [‘tch I don’t know eether. wants for Christmas. 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. (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. Mmhm.hknow before he mentioned thet he said he wannid uh ( . [Yea [:h? h? [’hhhh An’that’s a’only thing yihknow he kept telling s.Donna one day she went with me tin the store en she stayed in with th’kids en then I ‘hh-’hh did the sa:me fer he:r. (0. are chatting on the telephone and talk has turned to presents for the kids.] =Bu:t. and also some for Linda’s kids. and again the recipient’s responses are inscrutable. [heh] heh hhhh] hh= [Ye: ah . [I [(B’t) he keeps tell in’ yi.] =‘hh Oh that’s ni: ce hhuh heh heh heh h [uh. which sounds pretty impressive.) ‘tch a tra::ctor. Ann and Linda. 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”.= hhhhh(h)y(h)ihkno(h)w] [ [M m : : : : .Steven said he wannid the tra:ctor. I don’t know I rilly(d) (0.) grader uh not graders b’t tra:ctor things out [here.2) ‘hhhhhh Oh:::(m) ‘tch I: don’t kno [w. Again the disambiguation does not come off as a ‘solution’ or ‘repair’. Christmas is approaching.A note on resolving ambiguity  195 The following fragment also involves the relational-pair categories parent-child.u. ‘hhhh a:n’ uh:m sh. one of Ann’s children.2) ‘p’hhh He’s . that is. Linda is asking what Steven. Ann has already bought some for her own kids.u] [heh he] h= =He ain’t gett’n one. As the fragment begins. Two young mothers. Here’s the situation. To Ann’s “I don’t know” she responds “I don’t know either” (Lines 1–5).

) what tih git im [this year] [eYea:h.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. when Ann summarizes the foregoing talk by mentioning some things that she’d like Steven to have..2) ga: :me yihknow books’n:: stu [ff he c’n] do stuff ·hh [Mm::. And it is. 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. (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. That is. Ann may be discovering that the conventional proprieties are working too well. a toy tractor (Lines 16–20).]   ((ca 8 lines omitted. just game you know.” To the mention of the tractor (Lines 21–22). . heh heh” (Line 25).] [Yeah. “So.” a don’t take this seriously marker. Ann’s problem here may be the reverse of Monty’s in Fragment 5. I don’t know. Linda’s responses give no indication that she sees herself off the hook when it comes to the toy tractor. that she’s not being heard as not wanting her child to have the toy he so much wants for Christmas. 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. “Oh that’s nice huh heh heh heh” is received by Linda with a little laugh (Lines 23–24). tuh figure out (. her ironic self-quoted response to the storied announcement that Steven wants a tractor. in the same vein))   I got im a lotta things tih jis:siddo:wn en [: [Ye:a:h. perhaps. I do: n’t I don’know I really don’t wannim tuh hhave a lotta stuff .= =·pk en do things. Linda as candidate gift giver in search of a gift for Steven may be what sets up the ambiguity problem here. she might forsee Donna’s mentioning it to Linda and be trying to head off whatever problems that might entail. therefore that we get the disambiguating “He ain’t getting one. 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. the laughing recompleter “(h)y(h)ou kno(h)w” is overlapped by Linda’s simultaneous appreciative “Mm:::. That is. 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.. So : : (m) ·tlk ‘hhh I don’t know just (0.. When Ann does mention something Steven really wants. without saying so in so many words.) Ann’s next attempt.) Ann’s initial attempt to defuse “Steven said he wanted the tractor. (That the next place Linda produces that sort of utterance is at the fragment’s end.

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

Lily is the caller and is now identifying herself to Cora. in which one participant’s trouble is the other’s obstacle. The final case and its consideration. 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 issue of proper parental concern for a child seems to be involved.6) 3 Cora:   Oh ye [h ((very hoarse.tempi. Dr. 8 Cora:   ·tch ah got the flu. 5 Cora:   Oh: yen. it appears to be enormously susceptible to contamination by other types of activities. the point being made is that although troublestalk seems to have the potential for progressing as an orderly sequence.uh [hnh [hnh ha] ha-ha-ha [h. In this section of the troubles-talk report. last-resort component.)) 1 Lily:   Jo:dy’s mothe:r? 2     (0. 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 Lily: Cora:   Cora: Lily:     Cora:→ Lily: Cora:→ Lily: Lily: Cora:                           aOh::::.’ 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. this one has no explicit.198  Studies in language and social interaction (Especially nice here is that having used “ain’t gonna do the job” to make his point.] [ [·hhhhhhh]hh ‘Cause uh: ah’v really ghhot it. we get a series of ambiguous utterances. And in that regard. 1980). Unlike the preceding three.[hhhhh] hh-hh-hk (. One such contaminant is the negotiating of a plan. 6     (0. (. 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). like Fragment 5.” not as an expression of callousness. 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. (7) [TCI(b):7:1–2] ( (Call opening unrecorded. In the following fragment.) ·hh [Wul that ni:ps it’nna bu:d. And once again. then.) yo [u sure-] [Ah-] .2) 7 Lily:   Are you si::ck. comes out of the early work on troubles-talk (see Jefferson & Lee. Things—if they are adrift—remain adrift. As in the preceding three fragments.’t= nNO::::. 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.

And in the description of the project is at least one detail that might tend to urge for its being taken on by Cora. having announced abandonment of the project.) But ah’d be glad=do it if I wasn’t sihhck.)] [’ t Oh: :] my God ah been ‘hhh running th’highes’tempihtures you ever sa:w. Instead. 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. and the babysitter has been put into a position of confirming or disconfirming that she “can’t” take on the job. she might now initiate the diagnostic inquiry that occurs midway into the discussion. that is. For one. 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. “but you can’t if you’ve got the flu.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:       (. a response to it is due. -yousure sound aw:ful ul. but that if she is sick the child ought not to be exposed to her. that is. the trouble is talked about by reference to its consequences for Lily’s project.” This utterance strikes me as a proposal offered for confirmation or disconfirmation. she is allowing for and perhaps specifically pursuing its being carried out. will the fact that Cora has “the flu” stand in the way of her minding Lily’s little boy. And it appears that although Lily announces absolute withdrawal of the project. She might at this point introduce the “Sorry I disturbed you. that something will take but a little while is a routine component of such negotiations. where.] =Ha’yih doin’ hhon= =Oh jes fi:ne. Across the fragment. there is mention of the briefness of the intended period of babysitting (“a couple of hours”). “You sure sound awful” (Line 24). . and a feature of hoarseness is that it can be residual and not at all debilitating. So. Also. [(hoarse. 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. perhaps because stating it makes it sequentially relevant. 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. So the sheer assertion “I’ve got the flu” (Line 8) and the presence of hoarseness are in a range of ways unreliable indices. in this utterance that announces itself as abandoning the project. there is a minimizing not only of the task (just a couple of hours) but of the obstacle (no concern about contagion). it ought not to be that this sick woman “can’t” take on the job. several alternative courses are available to her. “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).” which eventually closes off discussion of Cora’s flu (Line 31). Less drastically. Then there is the proposed reason for abandoning the project.

” in Fragment 7 “I wouldn’t want him around me”).” she does something else with the unwillingness aspect. We get both aspects specifically referred to. and it does show up in conversation—but interestingly.e. not quoting but asserting “and she don’t feel like it anyway.h Fragment 7. it appears that the understanding of Cora’s “I wouldn’t want him around me. not as a person-to-person assertion. hon” (Line 16). Further.) awf’lly ba:d though b’course Fre:d ditn say ‘e ↓ looked so ba:d but uh: (0.4) what kinyih do:.. but providing a sort of buffer by forming it up as a statement about her and not by her. [nNo::. that is. 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. it appears that Cora is addressing the seriousness of ‘the flu’ by reference to possible contagion with “I wouldn’t want him around me.b) Mattie: Leslie: Mattie:   Leslie: [Holt:88U:2:4:3]   And uh (0.” who has yet to see her newborn granddaughter. In the utterance that confirms that the project ought to be abandoned.2) her mum rang me this morning ‘n (0. but as a third-party report. “I can’t go anywhere near them. the covert character of the latter is interestingly invoked. 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. for example. while Mattie quotes her fellow new grandmother as saying “I can’t go and see her. i. So.a) Emma: [NB:IV:13:R:5–6]   Janet s’d he ↓looked (. hon” as an assertion of self-quarantine in the interests of protecting . no ill person would “feel like it”). that is. (7. sick person as a source of contagion (again with the self-quarantining. returning to Fragment 7. I’ve got bronchitis. or some sort of common knowledge is being invoked. But the utterance is ambiguous. This is a very real issue. 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. She is in effect hanging up a quarantine sign. in the following fragment a woman is talking about her daughter Janet’s very ill father-in-law. So.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. (7.200  Studies in language and social interaction Now we come to the target series.” How ever she may have come to that conclusion (whether the other woman actually said it. and sick person as in any event unwilling. Mattie is not ascribing those very words to her.b is especially instructive. stay away formulation: here.

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

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. while specifically declining to explicate. but that the child should not be exposed to her—and that that ought to have been the mother’s first concern.” He goes on to offer a rhapsodic description of a possible consequence of that assumption. A closing note. 184).’ which involves that the way in which we’re talking to each other is in principle adequate for understanding.202  Studies in language and social interaction (Line 23). when an initial non explicit reference seems to be getting into difficulty. could constitute a rupture of that in-principle condition of understanding each other. 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. Specifically. Where. for example. in Fragment 7. and so on. In one of his lectures. 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. in Fragment 5. that is. And whereas in each of the preceding fragments the problem can be ascribed to the one who is producing the ambiguous talk. do we get “Go ahead” again? Why. why do we not see an immediate move to something explicit? Why. and I suppose that in producing any next thing I say. 1992. that it’s not that Cora “can’t” baby-sit. you know in the way I told it to you. in Fragment 2. 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. explaining. In which case. its speaker may attempt to alert its recipient to the problem while preserving the utterance’s original. One thing we can notice is that whereas in Fragment 7 disambiguation (possibly for good reason) did not occur. then. on any given occasion. as the recipient appears to remain dense to the problem. in Fragment 7 it may be that the trouble lies with the recipient. 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. 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. the speaker may be deciding that tactful ambiguity is preferable to possibly confrontational disambiguation. 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. whereas in each of the preceding fragments the one who produces the ambiguous talk solves the problem with a disambiguating utterance. resolving some particular problem by explicating. In which case. p. . One question that raises is. across a series of attempts. this speaker might be characterized as invoking. that “without thinking about it. in the preceding materials we did see an eventual move to explicitness. something that might be called ‘understanding assumed. how well it understands what I say” (Sacks. the work I do is to find for any item you say—no matter how grossly it misunderstands what I say. On the other hand.

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

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

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

no more composition. t!’ hhhh in the firs’ term there. and it turns out that she has not only not been sacked. a sequence whose second try (at Line 38) asks whether “they” (i.T She’s teaching uh English Lit too.= [I said gee:.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.” a teacher who is held in low regard by both Ava and Bee.] (0.3) Yeh I bet they got rid of all the one::Well one I had. 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.that’s a s[wee:t co:mplimint] [Kuhleznik. 1998).4) Uh-ho that’s [a.hih-ih. (0.” the import of which is registered by Bee (Line 24) as having “moved up in the world. [ -fih something.hh [Said] yih all gonna gitch’ mouth shuddup= [ֹhhhh!] =fih you yih don’t sto:p i [t.] [°M]mmyeh. she die::d hhuh-uhh [‘hhh [Oh:. ‘hhh of you. They “work up” the Kuhleznick case for a bit. [she’s the biggest] pain in the a:ss. She’s moved up in the wor[ld] [She] must know somebuddy because all those other teachers they got rid of. the authorities at the college) got “ridda Kuleznick yet. fer the firs’term of English. 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 . no more composition.3) °Yeh.e.. but is doing very well—“teaching English Lit too. [hhhhhhuh huh= =. meaning me:.” and explained by Ava (Lines 25–27) by reference to her knowing somebody “because all those other teachers they got rid of.tshe reminds me. . tha:n]ks a lo:[t honeh. I think evrybuddy’s had her hm[hhh! [Ohh.hhhh (0.” 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. Ohj: :.

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

) it’s still terrible. Then: (A) SN-4. and confesses that he has done nothing but good times.= 36 Mark °=eyeh° 5 37 38 39 40 41 42   Mark: :-->   ?Kar:   Mark: :--> (1. quite similar. c’est la vie. Mark has been visiting and “schmoozing” with Sherrie.<’t least m. and Ruthie in their dormitory room in the mid-1970s. . 25   (1.) (0. The “correction” from what hewas about to say to “the truth” is even underscored by the “actually” which serves here (as it often does.2) going out [actu] ally. And then the suppressed “studying’” surfaces in the turn to repentance which follows (at line 42).5) 26 Mark (°I ‘on’t care. 12:15–40.i:ne.don’t eat their pineapples.7) I’ af tuh start studying no:w Mark is apparently starting to complain that he has done nothing but s[tudy]. which is (by the testimony of his own prior talk) the opposite of the case.”5 Here is another. 1999.4) 19   [°henh 20 Mark: [A:nd uh: like-(-) ‘t’s r:ea:lly weird. 27 Sher mmh 28 Mark hhhh HUH-HUH ·hhhh hh they really. Sump’m after dinner [(ih) (-)(’s)] °turning 30   in yer stomach .just turn my 29   stomach.(•) s.5) 33 Mark But U: m: 34   (1–2) 35 Kar: C’est la vie. he suppresses it.hh 31 (??) [hhhh ·hh] 32   (0. When he comes to the “payoff component of this turn-constructional unit (at the start of line 39). 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. and the persistence of the boundary that was projected to occur after “had.(Well. talk mostly dominated by Mark’s recounting of his recent social life.= 24 Sher =Their pineapple’s ca:nned.2) That’s about it hell I haven’t been doing anything but. 21   ·hh. 22   They make yer stomach imme:diately after dinner 23   really feel lousy. ( too).208  Studies in language and social interaction inbreath that displays the at least transient “unit-in-itsown-right” status of this chunk. [mmh] (0. instance (at Lines 38 and 41). 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. 2001) as a correctionmarker. Karen. Clift.I find one thing .

but.” “Funky” has not been “suppressed. 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. 4:07–11 Stan: And fer the ha:t. which however are a quite different phenomenon. In this telephone conversation recorded in the mid-1970s. They are instances of same-turn repairs accomplishing the operation of “insertion.” Thus for example: (2) 01 02 03 04 05 Joyce and Stan. 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. I’m lookin fer somethi:ng uh a --> little different. and those two things—position and composition—are major parts of all sorts of practices and phenomena in talk-in-interaction. only to surface anyway”. for now. Stan is soliciting advice from his sister Joyce about where to purchase a hat and a pair of sandals. yihknow? Joyce: Yeah. But these questions are different than the ones mobilized by suppression. Then: . we have this: what was suppressed—that is. 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. Or consider the following extract from earlier in the same conversation. it may look like the “surfacing of the suppressed.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. the word “exactly”—before the word he was in the process of saying.uh:f: not f:: exactly funky   but not (. ones in which the “suppressed” item pops up in immediately following talk. it has been held in momentary abeyance to insert something before it. Na. To be sure. the word or words that were suppressed (if they appear to have been projected). after which he returns to the saying of it. thus “not f:: exactly funky. “not f::. may surface in the immediately following talk. We add to and shape this observation as we examine additional candidate exemplars.) a r-regular type’a ‘hhh >well yihknow   I I< have that other hat I wear. That gives us something to look for and a place to look for it.” And when a moment later the word “funky” comes out.” But Stan has in effect put the utterance-so-far on hold in order to insert something—here. EXCURSUS: SUPPRESSION AND INSERTION There are occurrences that look very much like suppressions.

. once engaged with that subsequent talk.) ta come back there   again. 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. 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. the larger point of which the selfinterrupted utterance is a first part.. Stan: Yeah. Joyce: [An’ they wouldn’t give me a date. and this is ordinarily implemented by employing the same grammatical form and lexicon—by “doing resuming” as part of the practice of “doing inserting.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. 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. Joyce:--> Yihknow I’d hafta go down there ta pay it. and differentiating suppression from it. that is. for the coparticipant. and with its potential sequential implicativeness for what should be said next in response. Stan: Yea[h. Joyce:--> ·hh I figuired (0. is this. and is implicated in a different trajectory of utterance. One upshot of registering the practice of same turn insertion repair. Although this is not the place for a substantial comparative treatment of “suppression” and “insertion. the possibility of returning to the point of abandonment—the point of “suppression”—and lingering on its import is attenuated. in regularized orthography). 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.wo trips down there:. as we see later.” with that something surfacing at Line 07. Stan: Right. And.” But it is clear that here again an insertion is being done. Joyce appears to be suppressing something when she says (at Lines 04–05. “I would just have to g-. Joyce has temporarily put this utterance on hold while inserting “make two trips down there” before the “go:”—inserting. Stan is offering a guess about why his sister Joyce has chosen to pay a parking/traffic ticket rather than contesting it.” In suppression. Joyce: Then make an appoi:ntment (.” at least this much can be said here.make t. Stan: Yeah.4) in order: I would just haf   tig. “I’d hafta go down there ta pay it. fer a month   an a half.

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

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

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

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

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

what she backs into is precisely the adult counterpart to the childish view—it’s not that he means to be hurting her.of my jo:b. Morning Edition. Foster was reported to have performed a number of abortions—these being treated as “immoral” by one segment of the press. and suppresses “moral.2) more a less important. have been fuel on the fire. 2/23/95 JS: …Elizabeth Garrow does one or two abortions a week   as part of her practice in suburban Virginia.” But note how it creeps out nonetheless. .hh I’m   pregnant=I want ta have a baby. as in Extracts (2) and (3) and the discussion of them. and one part of the story reported on Dr. and when he apologizes she rejects the apology as ineffective.(. of course. Elizabeth Garrow (Lines 1–4). (0. . Henry Foster to be Surgeon General of the United States. 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.h I don’t want to be pregnant en I g:et her on the pi.try to give her good prenatal ca:re. ”.hh that’s. but it hurts just the same. At Lines 11–12.) -helping her take care of that is just another aspect. (6) 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 NPR. As she approaches the problematic element of her TCU.:ll. and included her recorded response to an inquiry during an interview (Lines 5–13). In a striking restructuring of her TCU. . en I. it seems apparent that Dr. and as a “medical decision” by another segment. EG: Just as if a woman comes in an’ says.216  Studies in language and social interaction something for her. She   says it’s one of many services she offers her   patients. ‘f=sh=s’s I am pregnant en I don’t want ta be:.” In the context of the public controversy that prompted the story and interview in the first place. this would. the Congress.hhh or . And note. 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. It’s j’s. And in the very course of articulating this newer adult part of’s a part of it. and the public. 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].8) of. taken from an interview on National Public Radio’s news program “Morning Edition. I don’t see it as any: (0.9 A rather more public problematicity and delicateness informs the next instance. she slows and pauses.” President Clinton had nominated obstetrician/gynecologist Dr. she leaks out—in camouflaged form—the bit of childishness she has almost let escape. and the nomination had run into trouble in its pursuit of confirmation when Dr.” she backs away.

Bee: [ֹhh Bee: Uh-fo[oling around. I had. it appears that the “I had-” at Line 33 suppresses “I had [fun. 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. Ava is telling Bee about how she came to be “so tired.]” Note first that the “fun” surfaces a bit later in “the funniest thing” (Line 34). Bee: In the gy:m? [ (hh) Ava: [Yea:h.” But her articulation of this phrase.” it occupies the turn in camouflaged form and in the very next bit of talk.] Bee: [Ba::] sk(h)et=   b(h)a(h)ll? (h) [ (°Whe (h) re.” (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.2) [more+a+1]+ess…” In the very swerving to avoid the publicly problematic “moral. ‘n okhh! Bee:--> Fantastic. where. ‘hh en oh I‘m knocked out.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.) Ava: [Yeah fuh like an hour enna   ha:[If.The surfacing of the suppressed  217 less [important]. and that I finally saw while examining something quite different.I wz. 02:10–38 Ava: I’m so:: ti:yid. the sense of . by reducing the “or” to “a”.] Bee: [·hh] Where didju play ba:sk[etbaw.= Ava: -> =B’t it wz fun-You sound very far away Here.]’hh Ava: =term wz there. 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.] Ava: [(The) gy]:m.<’n we [jus’ playing arou:nd. Like grou(h)p therapy. Bee: Nhhkhhhh! ‘hhhh Ava: Ripped about four nai:ls.Y’know? [·hh Bee: [Mm hm? Ava:--> En. however.   (. incorporates the suppressed “moral” like this: “any: (0.) Ava: Yuh know [half the grou]p thet we had la:s’= Bee: [O h : : : .I j’s played ba:ske’ball   t’day since the firs’ time since I wz a   freshm’n in hi:ghsch[ool. Ava: [·hhh Ava: Eh-yeah so. Let me end with the instance that had escaped me all these years.

but she still manages to deflect it from herself to the situation as a whole: “It was fun.” and the like altogether. But this had been mere supposition.” This is a long way from where we started (though subsequent developments can be brought to bear on the episode with the Vice Chancellor. but it grounds the claim of suppression in a larger canvass of the speaker’s conduct. even as a reduced descriptor. and pursuing. never being content. “But it was fun”.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 the features that have recurred in other instances of suppression that we have examined appear to be present here as well. Perhaps the larger moral is to remove the pejorative sense attached to terms such as “technical. The moral of my story is this. “Why whatsa matter with y. quite). this is the same “fun” that was suppressed earlier (as compared to the “funniest” as the superlative of “funny” that is not. Several ties connect this exit line with the earlier site of the suppression. then pursuing it in its own terms promises to deliver an analytic resource whose scope of relevance cannot be properly imagined in advance. even if only conjecturally for lack of a recording of the exchange).” “merely technical. just before a final quick exit line from this topic at Line 40. and grounds Bee’s treatment of Ava’s sounding happy as “something the matter with her” in an actual display of “happiness avoidance. an observable for the purely technical object it can be.” rather than “I had fun. 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.” Now “sounding happy” would not ordinarily be characterized or made accountable as “something the matter with you” The allusion here. Ava says. 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. so that the later “y’sound sorta cheeerful” that follows Ava’s denial of being “happy” would. 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. Taking seriously. If something is correct as an account of a possible event or practice or phenomenon in talk-in-interaction. interpretation with little in the data to support a stronger claim of analysis.” Then note that.” “purely technical. 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.” 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).y’sound happy. 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. then. In the opening. was to Ava being a “sad sack” type. she says. . This is not quite something that motivates the suppression. and that “wz” returns in the exiting line “it w’z fun” (Line 40). always complaining. (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. I had always taken it. be a noticeable.

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

CA. be presumptuous to claim that they have been “solved. 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.” These are some of the more general issues mobilized by the empirical occurrences with which this chapter engages. This article is co-published in German in Volume 1. 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. November 1997. It would. Chicago. under support provided to the Center by The National Science Foundation through Grant SBR-9022192. and orientation to its projected completion. a matter taken up in Footnote 2. of course. Whatever categories of action the analyst’s theory has generated. 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. the annual meetings of the National Communication Association. or in due course. and warranted by. whatever the force of the statistical or experimental or interpretive data marshaled on their behalf. and may wish to consult it first. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First. and import of what is going on. Their relevance may extend past conversation analytic work itself. but is what was specifically not said earlier. context. 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. and presented at. are displayed by production of the candidate suppressed element.220  Studies in language and social interaction With respect to the second set of issues. Stanford. then that line of analysis is not tenable. In this enterprise. if we cannot show the participants to be oriented to the conduct in its course by reference to such “categories. the participants’ own demonstrable orientations to the setting. Robert Hopper called to my attention possible convergences with discussions in Jefferson 1996. 4 of the new journal Psychotherapie und Sozialwissenschaft. and has thus in effect “escaped. 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.” But I hope to have indicated one way in which we can approach taking them seriously and beginning to deal with them. prepared for. . Consider first the following opening of a telephone conversation. one eschews analytical claims warranted only by the theory one brings to the data. whose close attention to the turn-so-far.” to such an understanding of the import of their actions. No.

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

Then make an appoi: ntment (.5) . Yeah.4) tch! (. Yea:h. (wu) then beat the ten dollar ticket. 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 .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. [An’ they wouldn’t give me a date. Oh:. (0. l:ater. Yeah. Right. fer a month an a half. Bitch.= =U: :m (1. Yeah t [hey give it back to you.9) the case [just wu [(Plus) ya gotta yih gotta put down the money. ahead a ‘time. yihknow.4) in order: I would just haf tig. Yea:h. An‘I figu:red (0. ·hh Yihknow just the principle ‘a thing that bugged me. Yea[h. Fifteen fifty? Mm hm.= [ (Yeah the) = [ (see an’) = [The way I beat mine it was a pa:rking ticket.) ta come back there acjain. Decide (d) ta pay how much was it¿ Fifteen fifty. ‘hh I figu:red (0.) So wudja do pay it through the auto club¿ Yea:h. I just decided ta pay it. Yeah. Yihknow I’d hafta go down there ta pay it.make two trips down there:.2) Bitch. so I was able ta go to ta night court . (0.

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

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

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

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

and audiotape  227 The interactions with callers typically reflect a structure common to other advice-based talk shows: opening. problem formulating.for a woman 16 Chand: my last name my last name’s even wilder.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 (.) •hh huh huh 27 Chand: :”-huh huh •u h h h h [We:ll. 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 (. National Public Radio. The fragment under consideration is shown in its entirety as follows.) I have this problem. laughter. 1986). [ 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. ↑I: have (.) wagon (.) first name? 14 Chand: Well (. It comes from the beginning of a phone call.Sex. advising.) 2   nine two eight seven=Hello you’re on Car 3   Talk.) I know I’m not supposed to tell you [ 15 Ray: for. In Lines 21–22. 36   I have a Ford Escort (. and closing (Crow. . 17   (0.) Of particular interest for this article are Lines 21–27. Tom playfully assesses the caller as “even wilder” in contrast to “the last girl” he went out with. As is shown later.) three three two (. the second one broadcast on this particular day: Car Talk. 30 March 1997 Tom and Ray Magliozzi and Caller 1 Ray: One eight hundred (.

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

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

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 . 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. for each other. 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. on category-bound activities). Ray begins to laugh immediately after the words “last girl. Vol. 594–597. He produces a lengthy and mirthful stream of laughter. albeit jokingly. participant identities as heterosexual woman and man who represent. the assessments “wild” or “even wilder” may carry sexual meanings.” the talk now invokes. 1998). 515–516. it is also sex—the act. He does so by inventing “the last girl” he went out with. More specific than simply the broad categories “female” and “male. pp. It seems fitted as category to the activity “go out with” (see Sacks. loud and hearty (Lines 25–26).” displaying recognition of the joke in progress. it is not just gender that creeps into talk (Hopper & LeBaron. 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”). In this utterance. Now comes the laughter. potentially dateable partners.230  Studies in language and social interaction Now comes Tom’s joke. not the biological category. 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. It’s prefaced by an exclamation of delight or excitement. Tom must provide something or someone against which to compare Chandler. 1992. To retain the contrastive form of the adverb-adjective assessing pair. For such persons. not to her last name as she had done. 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. 1.

following Tom’s jest about her “wildness” plus shared laughter. the caller’s name serves as a resource for play. Chandler displays some willingness to play along (cf. Ray’s laughter ceases.) In this passage. [ 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. laughter.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.) •hh huh huh = [huh huh •u h h h h [We: ll. Drew. More laugh particles following inbreath may show willingness to keep laughing and constitute an invitation to renew and extend shared laughter. The word “well” is spoken with a tone of mock indignation. The brothers’ laughs align with each other and appreciate the jest. ↑I: have (. Perhaps sensitive to this. Chandler produces an audible inbreath (Line 27). and may invoke marital status). Placed here. concerning the range of responses to teases). 26 27 28 29 Tom: Chand: Ray:   huh huh =[We:ll. produces an inbreath. Chandler resumes nonlaughing talk. and Tom pauses briefly. which is done (however innocuously) at her expense. 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. but neither of the other participants does. sexual talk (although gender still may be remotely relevant. however.Sex. the brothers abandon the laughable plus shared laughter to resume speaking. then laughs a bit more (Line 26).) I have this problem. 1987. By laughing at the sexual jest. At that moment. Ray suggests an implicit pun. in that hyphenating surnames is a practice more often characteristic of women than of men. and Tom ceases laughing (ends of lines 26–27). 26 27 Tom: Chand: huh huh [ We:ll. Tom uses Chandler’s name and her own words to construct a sexual jest about her.) wagon (. and audiotape  231 25 26 27 Tom: Tom: Chand: [ HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH]= HAH HAH HAH HAH HAH (. I have a Ford Escort (. it shows some degree of resistance (albeit playful) to what has just gone on. for his reference to “hyphen” invites a hearing that “Even-Wilder” literally is her last name. By laughing less enthusiastically and . Tom laughs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.
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

X2=0.60, DF=1,P=0.439

% of Women 1995







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.
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.

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



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


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.


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)



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.


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.
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.
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.
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
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.


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:
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.

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
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
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.
Drew, P., & Heritage, J. (1992). Talk at work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gunderson, D. & Hopper, R. (1984). Communication and law enforcement. New York: Harper &
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.

Comparative Analysis of Talk-in-Interaction in
Different Institutional Settings: A Sketch1
Paul Drew
University of York
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

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
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).


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

2) sometimes Tetracyklene 9   jus doesn’ he:lp. (1) [HG: 4–5] (Talking about Nancy’s skin problems.4) 11 Nan: Also he sid that (0. into assuming that it was primarily in ordinary conversation in which participants employed this practice.8) 15 Hyl: Yer kiddin[g. 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.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. (0.3 I was wrong. at the time they wrote (1979). mostly news interviews. I was surprised to find almost no instances of formulations which in any way resembled (So) what you ‘re saying is…. What they might have meant by conversational was general: however that misled me.Tetracykuhleen? 3   (. at least. 10   (0. . 14   (0. Re-reading the article. they were from a variety of institutional contexts.4) 18 Nan: He says ‘t’s all inside you it’s ‘n emotional 19   thing’n.hhh e[:n. (0.2) 12   end how you wash yer face has nothing tih do 13   with it.t what you ea:t. .) 4 Nan: . and the medication she has been given) the l 1 Nan: So ‘e gay me these pills tih ta:ke= 2 Hyl: =What. I discovered that none of the instances they show (at least. 16 Nan: [nNo:. 17   (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.2) 8 Nan: He sai:d.yihknow.= 6 Hyl: =Hm: . 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. none resembling the form I outlined above) was taken from ‘ordinary’ conversation: instead.3) . This is one of the only two clear cases I found during a not-quite-exhaustive search.PT NO: cuz I usetuh take that an’ it didn’ 5   he:lp so ‘e gay me something e:lse.

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. though not much found in conversation. but she is doing so in a fashion which makes it evident that she is aligning with or accepting what he said). (. 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. call-in radio programmes. This led me to considering how this practice was employed in other settings.] [(isk-skih-) f: [father]s. Their research into. I will briefly describe instances of formulations in psychotherapeutic consultations. 11. In order to pursue this question. p. were identical. Hyla is making a move that is a preliminary to expressing her scepticism with the doctor’s advice (Lines 30 and 31. 18 and 22 what the doctor said to her. its form or linguistic features.k. we cannot discern a generic device through which the practice is implemented. [. This is in contrast to various institutional settings in which. without being very technical about this. Ian Hutchby and Esther Walker. from which many of the data extracts are taken.Teh. radio call-in programmes and negotiations between management and unions in an industrial setting is cited in the bibliography. . and not therefore the practice on which I am focusing here). However. Moreover in producing this version of what Nancy means.huhh [.hh[hh] ‘t’sa [buncha [h:::::::[horse:]: [I] belie [ve ‘im [too he’s[rilly-] (. 4 . it is reasonably clear that Hyla is being tendentious in her ‘interpretation’ (remembering that Nancy is reporting what the doctor said to her.) . I would like to acknowledge my indebtedness to their work. 1995. However.) [e. as I knew from some previous research.4 such formulations are very frequent indeed. So this practice of offering an interpretation of what the other meant is employed in mundane conversation—but apparently only very infrequently. it’s a bunch of horse feathers). En that makes you [break ou[. its use in talk in any setting in which it occurs (this to paraphrase Hopper. news interviews and industrial I am drawing here particularly on work of two of my previous graduate students. to regard this as a generic practice. as he said such-and-such: these are instances of indirect reported speech. whilst the practice of formulating may be context-free.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.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. Here. 372). and whether its properties. and underpin. This then is a practice/device that might be generic.-he’s rilly a [smart. we need to explore whether it has properties which are ‘context-free’ in so far as they are exhibited in.t.

) in   a long ti. 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). The patient’s formulation (Line 10) is an expression through which she offers her interpretation of the characteristically implicit. for the therapist to confirm.) u-lately. ‘N he: (0. or making an observation about. allusive or indirect ‘message’ which she discerns in Laural’s remark.4) Brenda: . the patient’s and seems to offer an alternative association between Brenda’s improvement and her daughter’s apparently increasing problem (in other instances. putting that implicit message into ‘so many words’. (. to hint at but not make explicit some point to be found in the patient’s telling.5) And   that’s probably what caused it. such ‘commenting’ may be done in an interrogative form. 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 sense of the therapist’s intending to be allusive.p.254  Studies in language and social interaction negotiations.2) . which illustrates what appear to be some of the characteristic features of such expressions in this setting. (0.1) Brenda: You mean she could’ve always felt like this.9) e-Oh: Go:d but   that couldn’t I mean if that ever created a   problem like I’m having no:w.   (l. The patient is constructing a sense of what the therapist might be alluding to in her comment/observation.4) Laurel: Mmhm   (26.6) mYou know Sam’s been very upset   about this. 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. then I had been (.k better:   with her. as in “Think she might be trying to tell you something about you?”). and do so in ways which seems to relate to the interactional task (function) which the formulation serves in each setting. The therapist responds (Lines 7–8) by commenting on.hh . is perhaps to be found also in .4) s-aid that I shouldn’t   have sent her to school when I did.7) Laurel: May not create a problem: it might make it   possible for a problem to come ou:t   (12.hhhhh (0.hh (0. (1. FORMULATIONS IN PSYCHOTHERAPY An instance of a formulation in psychotherapeutic sessions.-ime.   (0.

Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  255 Laurel’s minimal and unelaborated confirmation of Brenda’s formulation/understanding check (see Line 12). or which concerned them). 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:.5 In this way. but is the result of pre-existing circumstances or events which have only now come to the surface).hh e::r it.hhh is a mar:ker. (w’-) wa:lk the next da:y. . it 2   lea:ves-=the scent that is left behind even if 3   you:. which goes beyond what she (the therapist) has said explicitly. Moreover. Hutchby (1996) focused on the ways in which the host ‘constructed’ controversy. and whatever position he or she held. . and showing that she is finding. the direction in which the therapist is pointing her. Brenda’s formulation is an attempt to put into words that implied ‘message. 6   when ‘e gets tuh that ma:rk. see also Davis. However. her formulation embodies an orientation to the reciprocal role of therapist and patient. (3) [BH:2/2/89:12:1–2] (from Hutchby 1996. So that checking her understanding can be a way to show that she is considering this possibility. pp. clean up with boiling wa:ter an’ 4   disinfectant. Whatever topic a caller had called in about.h An’ when ‘e 5   comes on ‘is e::r. 1986). FORMULATIONS IN RADIO CALL-IN PROGRAMMES In his study of radio call-in programmes (specifically. to summarize the gist of what he or she was saying. she may be doing so in the service of another activity. 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. and the behaviors expected of each (on formulations in psychotherapeutic settings. 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. 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. Among the moves which the host made in seeking to defeat the caller’s view was to formulate the caller’s argument. 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. 5 . But at any rate. in this kind of therapy at least. a program broadcast by a London radio station. in which listeners called in to air and discuss with the program host their views about any matters of current interest. 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.’ and thereby constitutes an action that is part of her finding.

the formulation is the initial move in a sequence designed to challenge and defeat the caller’s position. is to make explicit something in the prior answer. 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.=doesn’t it.”. Becuz they’ve been there buhfore. or elaborate. Becuz they’ve been there buhfore. It is readily apparent from this extract that that formulation is the first part in an argument sequence: after the caller confirms this formulation.[This mea:ns that they never go in a diffrent pla:ce. including ‘extreme case’ constructions such as ‘same place every time’).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. officially. But by highlighting some particular aspect of what the IE has just said. Ooh yes.h e:r.= =An[d other [dogs will: also. and is trying to deflect it). And third. First. 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 caller’s attempt to qualify his confirmation of that formulation. an upshot which reveals the absurdity of that position (here. 1985).hh the price went up really very 3   sharply.=quite often ye:s. it is tendentious. In order to avoid being seen to align with the IE. 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. Three features of this formulation are worth drawing attention to at this stage. or in other ways to treat his or herself as the primary recipient of the talk. 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’. pp. for the IE to confirm or disconfirm. Second. 1985.= =Yeah but er(h)n(h) then:. . the IR manages to give the IE the opportunity to comment further. is possibly evidence that he has recognized the host’s strategy and is trying to head off an anticipated line of argument. 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. his or her position. [This. . in ‘quite often’ (Line 13). . the absurdity of holding that a dog always poops in the same place). All that such formulations do. FORMULATIONS IN NEWS INTERVIEWS Heritage reports that in news interviews. the host subsequently constructs an upshot of the caller’s position. 108–109) 1 IE: What in fact happened was that in the course of 2   last year. or defend.hhh and-uh the blenders did take . perhaps as further evidence that he understands the host’s strategy. interviewers do not respond with news marks (particularly. (4) [News interview: TVN:Tea] (from Heritage. 1985). but which topicalize or highlight an implication of what the IE has said in answer to a prior question (Heritage.

. (0. 110). The IR’s formulation in #4 is an instance of the kind of formulation that Heritage describes as an ‘inferentially elaborative probe’ (1985. pp. 108–112): it invites the IE to assent to a rather strong or dramatic version of what he has said in his previous answer.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.e. . in which we’ll agree to x if you agree to y. (0.hhh No they’re in business to make money that’s perfectly sensible. 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.hhh They haven’t been so quick in reducing prices when the world market prices come down.2) blenders which have together eighty-five percent of the market . The following is a particularly transparent instance.ce in the sh.hhh and-uh we’re not saying they (.hh really rather higher than we’d like to see them. p.=We’re also saying that-uh: it’s not a trade which is competitive as we would like it. 1985.3) . either management or union) may formulate the position each is taking. the IR might. expect the IE to deny such a strong version of his position.7) . of course. .=Th’re four (0. In formulating the IE’s position in such dramatic. one or other side (i. in an effort to explore whether they can reach an agreed settlement—a compromise. FORMULATIONS IN INDUSTRIAL NEGOTIATIONS The final setting that I want to consider as part of this comparative exercise is that of industrial negotiations. 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). In her study of negotiations in the workplace between management and trades union representatives.) move in concert or anything like that but we’d like the trade to be a bit more competitive. summarizing where they now stand.the prices in the shops have stayed up . (0. Following periods of extensive discussion on a matter under dispute. controversial or conflictual terms. Walker (1994) reports that formulations are used at particularly critical junctures in negotiations.7) So you-you’re really accusing them of profiteering.hh And so this means that prd.

20).) that’s not wha’I said. 18   (1. represented here by Pete. and talking for six months. 1994) 1 Andy: Er:m (1.) but 9   you would like in addition to that for us to 10   consider the possibility (. in Line 17) objects to this formulation of what his (union) team has been demanding. about reducing the working week.) again 21 Andy: You want to be specific an’ say six months do 22   you 23   (1. which begins with “in essence what you’re asking us to consider is…” (Lines 6–15). 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. The union is seeking a package.4) er so (1.2) during the period of this agreement. during the next twelve months (i.3) 24 Pete: I think you have to () bu’ I mean if you: 25   (. is an attempt to summarize where they have got to in their discussion.) from 3   people (. to include discussions about a shorter working week) (from Walker. starting in six months.) we now seem to have come down 6→   to a position where (.) of: an increase 11   (. would bring it into line with the management’s preferred timetable)—is a ‘preagreement’ move towards his accepting the compromise settlement adumbrated .) you (. with no additional deals/inducements. his objection is only to one aspect of it.) still hundreds of 5   miles apart (.0) 19 Pete: I says in six months time to have a look at it 20   (. and the work staff’s union.) have dialogue 14   on the subject of a thirty seven hour week 15   (1.) talked about it for six months as well… Andy’s extended formulation.) and to include in 12   any agreement we reach (. in return for management agreeing to enter into talks. here Andy. 16   (3. Management are offering a flat rate pay award.4) 17 Pete: N:o (.on the 2   basis of feedback you’re getting from (.) in essence what you’re 7   asking us to consider is the six percent on 8   basic which we’ve already offered you (..0) you’re (. 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 19.258  Studies in language and social interaction (5) [PORT: WGE:2:A:314] (From a wage negotiation between management.) a paragraph 13   indicating the willingness to (. It may be noted that although the union representative (Pete.) on the (. “during the period of this agreement.) com.) bonus rate (.e.) started off giving me the 4   impression that we were (. and to construct a package in which the union will recommend a pay rise of 6% (they had been asking for more).”).

In summary. rather there are clusters of similarities which relate to the kinds of activities which are managed through formulating. what . at least on the basis of these limited data. which is therefore associated with different kinds of activity sequences. the patient formulated a version of the therapist’s prior comment. 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. in a (successful) attempt to reach agreement. and an alternative one proposed (Lines 21–25). the one doing the formulation) is willing to agree to.Comparative analysis of talk-in-interaction  259 in his formulation of what the union is now asking for. So the following points sketch the dimensions or properties in terms of which formulating in different settings can be compared. Recalling that this is a sketch or an exercise.e. 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 they are constructed to articulate what each side may be willing to offer by way of a compromise package. So his formulation of the other side’s position played a key role in achieving an agreement on the matter of the wage rise. 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). although ostensibly formulating only what the other side is saying. so they are not setting-specific. then. 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 the kinds of conclusions that emerge. these formulations are constructed in a turn package which conveys what the proposer (i. by way of checking her understanding of the therapist’s implicit meaning (this being associated with the therapist’s strategy of making a comment. That is. formulations in these negotiations occur after there has been discussion about some issue of contention. So in comparing formulating in the different settings considered above. or asking a question. 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. all I mean to indicate is that these are the kinds of comparisons that can be made. These forms (objects or devices) are not unique to particular settings. which leaves it to the patient to find for herself what the problem is. Although these are likely to be representative of such collections. 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. the forms through which it is realized are not. Through that formulation he was proposing a compromise that struck a balance between the interests of the two sides. one cannot yet draw firm conclusions on the basis of this preliminary review. I am not claiming that these are anything like definitive findings. In psycho therapeutic sessions. Hence formulations are the objects through which a settlement is proposed.

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

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

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

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

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

but with two slight modifications. gaps of less than 0. Hence. And there is a potential for further delay in responding if something occurs just then that is material to operating one’s vessel. in Atkinson and Heritage. The spontaneity of responses is further reduced by being unable to make oneself heard until the other person stops transmitting. Hence. 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. Further. 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). and then scanning resumes unless it is manually stopped. When transmission on a channel is detected. THE DATA Because conversational socializing comprises a minority of the transmissions being made at any time on marine radio. The transcripts of these social conversations use notation conventions developed by Jefferson (e. On the nine channels dedicated to connecting with the land-based telephone system. 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. 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. Conversations thus got “found” in that way and recorded. in recording a conversation. the methods I employed do not make it possible to estimate the relative frequency of the practices of interest here.. and they can occur on any of about 40 talk-receive channels on which boaters contact each other. scanning is suspended for 4 seconds so that the transmission can be listened to.g. too late to record it. On those relatively few occasions when women use the radio.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  265 response and reduces its spontaneity. usually after they had already begun. It remains to be seen whether this is incidental to the corpus or reflects a gender bias in the medium itself. it is often as a stand-in while “the captain” is engaged in operation of their vessel. 4 . 1984). and whether women would adopt different conversational practices. with the exception of one example in my notes. only the land-based side of the conversation is hearable. First. I took notes on some of these.4 locating and recording such conversations is somewhat happenstance (barring the use of 40 receivers each on a separate channel and 40 recorders). 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.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. or to fishing. but they occur more often than I was able to record. the conversations in which the phenomena of interest were exhibited were all between men. other conversations that may have been taking place at the same time on other channels necessarily went undetected. 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. A few of these are now in use by civil authorities ashore and are avoided by boaters.

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

ya put the brake on: (0..7) I got a visual on Penfield reef now:. This was accepted without protest and the conversation ended exactly then: (4)   M7:      M7:   M8:   M7:   I’ll tell ya. Alone Again.2) Alone Again. (0. as noted.5) They’re great. Alone Again. (0. Although it is atypical as in Example 4 to directly prompt the next speaker. as in Examples 1–3. # Long gaps were not always ended by the next speaker eventually taking a turn. but of having lost contact. (0. ya get a really () fish. as one would do in making initial contact.7) Ah:: they’re a son of a gun t’ get ou:t. (0.rcle hooks.) over.2 seconds (Example 4 below: “Di’you copy that”.ya don’t gut hook many fish at all. This implicates that it is not a matter of a response delayed too long. i.e. Having a hand free is not something one can count on from anyone currently operating a vessel or fishing. Happy Days. # (9. The person seeking a response after a gap begins hailing the silent vessel. # (8.2) over. (0. 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. #       (4. an accidental happenstance that warrants an effort to reestablish contact: (5)             M3 :   M4 :   M4:           →   Okay. you gotta use these ci.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.) ninety nine percent of all y’r fish in the (lip).5) -hh uh: ya hook (. I gotta leave now.5) You stick the rod in the rod holder. did you receive my transmission).1) .0)   M3 :   How far’re you from Penfield? # (6)         M9:   Nine miles ‘n hour.5) but. # → (6.5) Works pretty nice. #   Awright. # ((a hail to the vessel “Alone Again” to answer the vessel “Happy Days”))       (7. (0.2)   M4: → Alone Again. ya got Happy Day#       (7. 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.° (. (0.2) Coin’ back to nine ((“nine” is the standby/hail ing channel.5) #   Ah:. same speaker sometimes resumed after a gap to prompt the other indirectly for a response. the technology requires the speaker to have one free hand to hold the microphone and operate the transmit key.2) °over. this declaration is equivalent to hanging up a telephone)). (Dan)? (0. (0.7) Talk t’ya later. then you must be in sight o:f me.2) → Di’you copy that. like we gotta fish on.

2) (Glitterbox). as was noted. 1981). That M11 did this after a notable gap displays an orientation to gaps as possibly terminal. ((7–10 second gap)) Switching back to nine. # (9. and the potential for discontinuations. if talk occurs .7) ‘Bout fifteen hunderd.5) (Any ideas?) # ((possibly a transmission from a third party in another conversation)) (6. As it happens. thus canceling the implicature of termination. than one is likely to find in conversations ashore among these same speakers. whe:re are ya? Finally. sorry Tom. and to Native American communal values on the other—it would be parsimonious to find a common denominator. 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. they are sometimes slow to do so and may still be listening). gaps sometimes were not closed at all. There are several examples of this in my corpus. ((“nine” is the standby/hail ing channel)) No. It seems that in both cases. She continues by giving an account for the gap as interactionally produced. 1979. the conversation just stopped continuing.5) (it) like Jo:hn. Do you think we’ll get any sleep? You know. 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. In arranging for their boats to tie up together at anchor that night. note that similar tolerances and potentials have been observed among Native Americans. we were just working on a comeback. M11 expresses the joking concern to F1 that F1’s husband might snore too loudly: (7)     M11:             M11: F1: → →     Yeah. With two different accounts of the same practice—attributed to the practicalities of boating on one hand. There is thus a relatively greater tolerance for gaps during conversations on marine VHF radio. but I dunno.268  Studies in language and social interaction                         M9:   M10:   M10:     ():   M10:   M10:                       → (What’re) you doin’? # (5. Frank’s snoring and all. # ((possible reference to RPM)) (32. Fl responded anyway (probably aware that while persons often do switch channels right when they make such announcements. and attributed to the communal value they give to privacy and autonomy (Basso. However. there is one. However. Scollon and Scollon. # ((possibly his speed)) (0.1) (uh) I got eight point o:ne.

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

and conversely.# heh-heh-heh-heh # However. so at minimum there is an unavoidable micro-delay before laughter is heard. we’ll do anything. 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.270  Studies in language and social interaction calculating. and this is common. especially if it actually is genuine. in any other medium.2) That’s right. an immediate and spontaneous response to what occasions it (Glenn. let’s. But this is impossible to display on a two-way radio. this did not occur in my corpus.) goin’ out to ↑eat? # Ah. (. and be marked in that way. 1991/1992. then transmit. it’d be so much nicer. Jefferson. One has to wait for clear air. # We’ll take ‘im. about the social functionality of laughter. and is transmitted “immediately” (though not spontaneously)—that is. sometimes several seconds in duration.= we’ll seh-h-nd ‘im to Alaska h. 1979. Ordinarily this would make laughter seem artificial. I wish she would. there was a marked delay before the laugh response was transmitted. The evidence for this is that persons laughing on marine radio sometimes take special measures to register their laughter as artificial. 1989. moreover with the apparent presumption that it is genuine unless there is reason to think otherwise. Further evidence of this is presented below. 5 . at the first opportunity—after it is occasioned. or being made to seem. there is actually a gap of a few l0ths of a second between M6’s occasioning remark and laugh particles.let’s take up a collection. Ordinarily the functionality of laughter as an affiliative response depends on its being. that function to cancel any implicature that the delayed laughter is artificial. In itself. 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. it was not unusual that when the current speaker ended transmission as soon as he or she occasioned laughter. 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 usually a marked display of “getting it” when the delayed laughter begins.) We’ll pay for ‘im. 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. and a marked deliberateness about making it hearable. # (5.nto: (. even verbalizations such as “Oh:: I:::: get it”. this The one exception would be if laughter were delayed because the person did not immediately “get it.” But when this happens. It is not any more difficult to produce laughter with the requisite vocal qualities on two-way radio than any other medium. 1984). In example 8 (from the same excerpt as example 3). It is these phenomena that are of particular interest here. and M5’s laugh response. sometimes take special measures to establish it as genuine when there is a circumstantial reason to doubt it. more so than previous analysis has revealed.5 But laughter is produced on twoway radio anyway.

(0.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  271 would mark the laughter as artificial.) pull against the anchor.1) Probably (checkin’ on our) maneuvers.2) hah-hah-hah-hah #   It doesn’t work that way. 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).” Of course. # (1. there were instances when active steps were taken to mark transmitted laughter as artificial. laughter can be made to seem artificial (not genuine.5) # (2. right pal? # (3.# (5.5) I missed that voice. as we see in examples 12 and 13 below.2) Set the anchor. (. In # (1. # (1. despite a notable gap between the occasioning utterance and the laughter in response. his final laugh particle was artificially elongated.) two guys on top. # (1. 9 and 10.5) That voice.5) *YEAH: : : : . In example 8. delaying or withholding laughter is not distinguishable on two-way radio from being unable to immediately transmit it. no such effort was made in the following examples. and/or by giving it vocal qualities that are not “natural. (. we know how t‘take care o’ that. whaddya suppose he’s doin’ over there? (0. Although extra effort could be made to establish laughter as being genuine anyway. Of course it is possible that in these instances the persons responding did not care whether their laughter seemed genuine or not. M17 produced laughter that was too loud and intense a response to what occasioned it.5) Yeah::. and so persons have to rely on vocal quality alone to register laughter as artificial. 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. # (1.5) Come in Anthony. how are ya? (1. That’s okay:.2) heh-heh-heh # In contrast.5) Chuck. insincere) by positioning it so that it is bearably delayed or withheld. it ↑works. canceling the implicature that delayed laughter is artificial. (9)                       (10)     M12   M12 2   M13   M12   M12   M13   M14:       M15:   (in) Anthony.HEH-HEH-HEH:::::::::::::*# .

but. ya know. ‘hhh Ya know. don’t forget.= There’s always ((noise)) fusing. uh:::. (12)     M18:         M19:      M18:      M19:      M18:→      M18:→   Well. ya know -hhh ‘n always sitting there trying to collect money from thirty different guys. ·hhh ‘n I think that’s where a lot of problems used to stem from. In the instances when this happened.ya know. but I mean that’s just the rule of thumb. # (2.272  Studies in language and social interaction Conversely. too. Ml8 and Ml9. where it expressed M18’s affiliation with M19 on something that Ml8 had been disputing. even though nothing new (interactively) occurred in that interval to occasion the second transmission. I:: -hhh I:: I’m not. apparently commercial fishermen or lobstermen. In example 12 M18’s laughter could potentially be regarded as insincere because it came in the context of a mild disagreement.) now he doesn’t have to worry about as many. the laugher was marked as genuine by means of transmitting it twice. separated by an interval. # (2. In their conversation.gotchah-h.5) W ha-ha yeah:: h-h. -hhh ‘N I’m sure Pete had to do that with some of us too. there was reason to doubt that the laughing person would have been genuinely amused by what occasioned the laughter. ‘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.2) Was always the same ↑guys.7) hu-hu-hu yeah-h-h.(was/noise) at Bayshore we hated him. 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 . Note that he transmits laughter twice in two contiguous transmissions separated by a gap of 4.) we haven’t changed. ‘n I think that’s ((mic noise)) where we had problems. not the business context. We still hate him at (Jethrey’s).ya know. M18 responds with laughter even though he presumably disagrees. # (0. In general.# By transmitting his laughter twice.2) I mean(. (0. (. ya know: ‘hhh ya know ya’ (never) gonna have thirty people all make their payments on the exact same time or be prompt. when he. I mean.pickin’ out any names or anything like that.2 seconds. 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). # (0.# (4. one does occasionally find that speakers take steps to establish their laughter as genuine. After Ml9 finds a pithy way to make his point that it was this person’s intrinsic qualities that made him hateful.5) ().2) eh: heh-heh.

The only evident laughable is M21’s allusion to his vasectomy. # Yah.-hhh I:: gotcha. (0.2) I’ll be after that doctor with a baseball ba:t. If it was M20 who produced the laughter.5) (just) before Christmas. and M20 comments that he should therefore not have more children.5/garbled utterance.2) # Of interest here is the second laughter token in the transcript’s last line. perhaps because they dot the landscape and are slow to move out of the way)) (0. In the course of catching up on personal news. just screw yourself right out of a seat at the table ya keep goin’. Su: re! # (0.5/open mic) ( ). I take M21’s response as an indirect disclosure that he had a vasectomy (“(I) better not [have more children]. transmitted after they closed.2) heh-heh (0. he affirmed the genuineness of his laughter about a matter he might have not found amusing. either a continued transmission by M21 or a transmission from some third party. okay Steve. (0.5) WA. M21 reports that he has a young daughter now. In the instance that follows. (. However. Rod). we’ll be talkin’ to ya. Hence. No matter which of them transmitted it. where M20 did laugh. but have been out of touch for several years. # (Then) don’t have no mo:re.5) (little Emma). a potentially delicate matter is introduced. if it was M21 who transmitted that laughter.5) We’ll talk to ya.) ·hh you have a good trip back in there. that token has a similar functionality. At that juncture.=((smiley voice)) Take ↑ca::re. M20 and M21 are tugboat captains who evidently have known each other for a time.Conversational socializing on marine VHP radio  273 resumed laughing). A second laugh particle is transmitted after they have closed. # (I) better not. (#) ((1.2) I’ll be after that doctor with a baseball ba:t. (Alright there. M20 responds with laughter and then moves to closing. ((Tugboat captains sometimes refer to pleasure boats or boaters as cattle. given that that second laugh particle was transmitted long after it was occasioned.”). (0. it could not mark previous laughter as genuine because he had not previously laughed (aside from a smiley voice in closing). He thereby marks his first laugh response as genuine by transmitting the second one. ending with rising inflection)). and underscore his own residual . I haven’t seen you in awhile. (almost) three year old daughter. though I could not identify who produced it.=she’ll be three in uh: : (0. He then complains that continuing to have children would leave him without a seat at the dinner table. But it would affirm that he had alluded to his vasectomy as a joking and not a delicate matter. it displays sustained amusement. # Yeah.# (2. # Aw:right. I got two and a half.ha-ha. # (0. (keep your sanity with the cattle). as in the prior example. then like M18 8 in example 12. (13)     M20:   M21:     M20: M21:         M20: M21:   M20:   M21:       M20:       Ho::ly smoke.

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

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

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

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

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

Wycoff. If it did not claim such a right. 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. 1994. In other words. p. that does not claim the right to compel other people forcibly to do something. Grinc (1994) noted that: …community policing projects are usually initiated [in] typically poor. Moreover. stating that citizens are “skeptical. and a source of concern to. 2000). 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. However. 1988). 1993). 12). thus symbolizing the potential for police violence even toward law-abiding citizens (Lawrence. In his final analysis. and officers felt improved relations with community members (see McElroy. 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. This useful definition (which we revisit later) reveals how power in policing makes them both a valued and devalued social group. However. Wycoff & Skogan. even police administra- . Sadd & Grinc. citizens. nor is it possible to conceive of a genuine police ever existing. the power woven into the fabric of police identity is simultaneously desired by. it would not be a police (pp.Law enforcement and community policing  279 [No] police anywhere has ever existed. Yeh. 1993. an insignificant band-aid covering a deep and infectious wound. Ironically. Ross. The fact that police have this power opens up the possibility for it to be abused. 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. Reciprocally. 1994. 451). & Wilkinson. any citizens’ resistance to COP can serve to damage police attitudes toward community members. given a prior metaphor. 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. 9–10). disorganized areas of the city where residents have for generations borne the brunt of police abuses. & Sadd. Such fears can foster a reluctance for civilians to partake in seemingly well-intentioned COP programs. 332). Reiss (1967) described this as a double-bind situation. 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. 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. in turn. 329). 1993. Cosgrove. 36). This is not to say that COP cannot have beneficial effects on officers by means of increased job satisfaction (see Rosenbaum & Lurigio. if not distrustful. 316). which claims that “to be successful. COP may seem to citizens like. of police power. 2000.

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

.g. 1996. Such differentiation between self and others is readily apparent in an examination of the stigma sometimes associated with policing (see later). Contact (and hence communication) between groups can then bring both our personal and our social identities into play. intact (see Hewstone. 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. 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. To date. more dominant. 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. 1993). and the generations (Harwood. miscommunication. These groups of ours can range from being a police officer. Cargile & Giles. however.” and changing the meaning with the acronym. 1999). a clear need exists for a better theoretical understanding of how to best improve police/citizen relations and communication through COP. 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. questions the status and power of another. persons with and without physical disabilities (Fox & Giles. PrideIntegrity-Guts). & Ryan. A further set of “social competition” strategies are invoked. 1986) is often neglected in the COP literature. in general. and so on. 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”. ethnic groups (Giles. under certain psychological conditions. 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. “pig. or diverge from. gay. Weatheritt (1988) noted that the . In effect. female. 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.. Giles. 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. 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. we feel good about ourselves when we have achieved a positive group identity. Indeed. 1995) as well as in critically examining training and social policies designed to engender healthy intergroup contact (e. moves to nonaccommodate to. Indeed. Returning to SIT.. outgroup.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. & Routh. such as between: the genders (Boggs & Giles. In all of these. COP efforts are socially creative because they demonstrate an innovative repackaging of the police image.g. Asian American. see Tajfel & Turner. An important feature of SIT is the so-called “social creativity strategies” that members adopt in order to assume a more positive identity (e.e. and sometimes with civil actions. Fox & Giles. 1992). 1979). when a group vocally. developing new. The communicative parameters of the processes involved have been applied to a number of different intergroup settings. 1996). Hopkins. by adopting more positive group labels. Negatively stereotyping other groups (i. valued art forms including dance and music). or even worse.

1967. 2000). Unlike being a member of a stigmatized group. mainstream or alternative— there is at least one cop” (p. Although Crocker and Major (1989) did note similarities between ingroup-outgroup and stigmatized-nonstigmatized group interactions. 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. to make policing palatable to the public by challenging negative media images and stereotypes about the police. but by the broader society or culture” (p. well trained. ironically. As an outgroup. in effect. Major. 3). 1982) are not based on personal experience (e. Gofftnan (1963) used the term stigma to refer to an attribute of an individual that is tarnishing in a highly discrediting way. 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. dedicated. In fact. discounted one” (p. Crocker. Arcuri (1977) argued that even television shows that help the police image by portraying officers as competent. 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. then.. 1). and Steele (1998) made the important point that the devaluation of a particular social identity resides not in the actual stigmatized attribute one possesses. White & Menke. 237). However. Furthermore. and should. Although the typical goals of COP appear to be legitimate and admirable. 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. According to Van den Bulck (1998). 1967. the stigma often associated with policing further reveals the dynamic of differentiation (distinguishing “us” from “them”) inherent in SIT. wherever possible. or even give way to. creative and joint problem solving with the community it serves and of which it is a part. the police can at times be both revered and despised depending . but in the possession of that attribute in a particular social setting. action oriented or romantic. and stigmatizable. and professional—qualities that are valued in our culture—“may. “in almost every movie or television series—be they serious or comic. Combined with the taunts and slurs often lobbied at the police. a characteristic shared by stigmatized. with COP programs. they are quick to mention that “stigmatized groups are devalued not only by specific ingroups. COP is an attempt. including those in a position of power. A “master status” stigma. lead the public to expect too much” (p. much of citizens’ (oftentimes negative) attitudes toward the police (see Ennis. The possession of such an attribute reduces that individual in the eyes of the nonstigmatized “from a whole and usual person to a tainted. Reiss. This reasoning opens the door for the possibility that anyone may be stigmatized depending on the social context. Indeed. traffic stops) but. instead. STIGMA AND POLICING As with taunts and slurs. 609). all of this makes it difficult for officers to be treated fairly in society. groups.S. media are exported throughout the world. stereotypical images of the police characteristic of the U. may be informed substantially by media influences (Perlmutter.g. to combat negative media images of the police is not an easy task. However. be balanced by.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.

All this makes law enforcement similar to. Officers have been thought of as oppressor. yet different from. Indeed. According to Jones et al. or rigid in one’s beliefs. officers enforced seemingly now unethical and immoral laws of racial segregation. This increased degree of felt responsibility for the creation of the mark runs counter to Goffrnan’s (1963) first type of stigma. Although this perception could stem from the legal and weaponry powers accorded them. 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. 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. uniforms—a major form of nonverbal communication (Gundersen & Hopper. because Jones et al. before the Civil Rights Act (1964). the example of the slain officer at the opening of this chapter shows this to be the case. the perceived controllability of stigmatizing marks also play a role in classifying the police as stigmatized. For instance. One example comes from an NBC television miniseries. believed that those who can conceal their stigmatizing mark will do so. Ironically. 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. 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. Furthermore. 4). they contribute to construing law enforcement as a stigmatized group when viewed through the lens of Goffman’s third type. he did argue that this type of stigma “can be transmitted through lineages and equally contaminate all members of a family” (p. such people are often treated more sympathetically than those believed to have some control over it. Having any of these traits suggest that one could control them if only one tried. nation. 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 having a physical deformity usually stems from a genetic anomaly. a commonly held belief is that those with an authoritarian personality are more prone to go into law enforcement. With respect to law enforcement. having power both separates the police from typically stigmatized groups and helps make them one. in which two AfricanAmerican men try to convince a peer to join the Black . which includes supposed character flaws such as being weak-willed. blemishes of individual character. an oppressed group. tribal stigmas. and religion (rather than law enforcement). 56–57). The 60s. Although Goffman (1963) claimed that tribal stigmas are explicitly related to race. (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.Law enforcement and community policing  283 on the situation and the social identities of those interacting with these officers. thereby helping to create and reinforce negative public attitudes toward the police. domineering. However. abominations of the body.

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

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

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

Preventatives in social interaction  289 creating an expectation for performance. try to accomplish all four expectations. 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. CRYSTALLIZING EXPECTATIONS Morris and Hopper (1980. one outcome of their remedial/legislative interaction is a crystallization (Cushman & Whiting. 1989. which would be to accept the invitation. Morris. For instance: UTCL. 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 . & Iltis. in the following excerpt from Jones and Beach’s (1995) analysis of therapy talk. Moreover. Examinations of declined invitations show that when invitations are declined an account is generally provided. and this has the potential to avert problematic interaction in the future. For instance. 1987) considered alignment partly as a matter of achieving greater consensus on rules governing interaction..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. 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. When people experience problematic situations. In this instance. This would appear to be superior to another choice available to her. 1994). earlier crystallization of rules might circumvent later troubles. 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.. White. She declines the invitation with no equivocation and it appears from Pam’s reply that no expectation was created. and possibly fail to conform with one or more of them. and this account explains why the invited party cannot do what has been invited (Heritage. 1972) of rules.

01 TH: how will you know when actually (. in turn. 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.) 09   things are going in a good direction. GIVING AN ADVISORY It sometimes happens that a person can anticipate that another person is likely to commit an error in a particular circumstance. Giving this warning at this point was. whoever wants to start 11 H: You made the call. simplified).) 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 (. either of 10   you. the therapist might establish some ground rules to govern what will be talked about. it is typical for a marriage and family therapist to call for an explanation of what brings a couple to therapy. the therapist queries the couple about this. 02   Now you come back here to pick up 03   your car by seven today. asking explicitly for each member. 01 Attendant: Okay now Doctor Smithers. So . an error might be probable because that person lacks a critical piece of information.) 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. For instance. Giving an advisory (Morris. For instance. In the following instance. 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. 1991). to reply: O’Hanlon Session (Simplified. For instance: Parking lot (Morris. 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. by whom. So. Recognizing that members’ explanations are likely to differ. when initiating talk in first sessions of therapy. from Gale.290  Studies in language and social interaction It is not known whether earlier opportunities to align were used in the preceding case. you could 12 W: hhhhh Alright In subsequent talk. 1988. .hh I wanna ask each of you (. But such opportunities do occur typically in early sessions and/or when particular kinds of interventions are being set up. in fact. the woman’s narrative about what brings the couple for therapy unfolded without unsolicited contributions from the husband. and it is plausible that the therapist’s clarification of his expectations helped to bring this about.

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

parties can and do discuss and attempt to manage consequences of the divergence. To illustrate. Ward.didn’t didn’t care. an actor can account proactively for the situation. the student first bids to address how to handle the situation: (3C)   01 TS1. In addition to giving explanations and possibly providing relief. perhaps the account will appear more acceptable.hhh February thirteenth I’ll never forget 03   the date . 1971). These authors argued that such embedded disclaimers were superior to “early” disclaimers in the medical hotline calls they examined.   S: 02   1978:1 ((greeting exchange)) I’m trying to figure out how I can get my speech in. and this account may or may not be relieved (Gofftnan. and Sias (1995). It averts surprise and elicits consent.He’d been >comin home< late from 11   work and he just was. GIVING AN UNSOLICITED ACCOUNT FOR AN POSSIBLE DIVERGENCE After a possibly inappropriate act has occurred but before being reproached. Uh Uh What I came up with is that I could prepare it . This may include considering the penalties that may be assessed. The important distinction here. 13   Well he came home February thirteenth 14   and announced that he was seein somebody… In terms developed by Hopper. the disclaimer in the preceding example is “embedded” in that it occurs close to the possibly offensive action it is designed to cushion. however.292  Studies in language and social interaction “Laying in Limbo” 01 W: …and that’s what led up to this point 02   Recently . Thomason.hhh he had beem . in each of which some form of medical disclaimer was obligatory.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::. after an exchange of greetings. however. 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. is between an embedded and a late disclaimer. and the superiority of the embedded disclaimer should be evident. A key advantage of providing an unsolicited account is that lesser penalties may result. 12   he wasn’t there I just could see it in his eyes. in the follow-up meeting to the student note case previously examined.hhh um coming home late 04   from work 05   (1.6) 06   pt and. If the consequences of the failure can be handled easily.

and another person opts to initiate a remedial episode rather than passing over the present. 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 I was gettin’ ready to do the note cards when (.) I don’t don’t what it was (. it (. 1985). but uh (. the teacher measures out the penalty she plans to exact. uh. 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. I’ve got everything pretty much finished now and the only thing I have to do is get the outline typed up. FORMULATING A PROBLEM WITH ANOTHER’S CONDUCT WITHOUT MAKING AN ACCUSATION.) 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. Simply by formulating the problem with another’s conduct (Morris. uh.) turn in what I’ve done and everything and get partial credit or something for it. Saturday. a state tax enforcement officer is calling a delinquent taxpayer: . 1988). a person can elicit an account and thereby foreswear blaming (Pomerantz. no previous opportunity was taken by either party to align.) just turn it in (. uh written out lengthwise for the speech.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. There is another option… In later action not shown.) I found out I had some sort of flu ((cough)) but uh.) fever and diarrhea. after the student accepts her counterproposal of Line 22. I could do mine then. there is still a chance to align without engaging in an aggravated reproach (Cody & McLaughlin. Had it. Well. 1978) and aggravated disparagement (Morris.) it was something (.) I didn’t get better until Thursday (. November). 1998. When it comes to the point that one person’s conduct has diverged from expectations. Uh When the teacher did not reply. In the following instance. Only then does she provide relief for his account. and then if I don’t get a chance to do it (.

stating also the evidence he has for this claim. 21 TP: Not quite. Instead. an assessment) to this account. This is Ernest Joseph sir. let’s see it isn’t over.4) 17   Urn and I you know to get everything up to date. At Line that time (. the tax collector might have offered some sort of response (e. 06 TP: Right 07 TC: Right 08 TP: And (. 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 occasions the taxpayer’s report about his attempts to file the returns and the troubles he has had in the process. 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. Mundie will be your [last 24 25 TP: [yeah 26 TC: what I 15   I’m tryin to use as a target time for myself 16   (2.7) 10   I:: uh stopped using the accountant that I had 11   been using up to that point.294  Studies in language and social interaction Tax Collector/Merchant 01 TC: Mr. 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.) in April May and June. Well. the tax collector is obliged to make known why he is calling. (1.4) a::nd so I got 12   behind but I have (. The problem . He focused entirely on the technical problem of acquiring the tax return and never addressed the taxpayer’s account. Warrens Good morning. He does so by announcing that he does not have a tax return for the taxpayer.g. Okay… As the caller.) 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. When the taxpayer has acknowledged that this is correct.. he seems to treat his announcement as now complete. by repeating the taxpayer’s certification of what he had reported (“right”).5) 14   together hopefully this weekend is what I.overdue 22   now is it 23 TC: No sir the third quarter will be not is will not be due?   until Mundie.) everything and I am putting it 13   togethe::r a:::nd uh I am planning to have it all (1.ov. but he did not.

J. (1985). not just one. P. Goffman. London: Edward Arnold. Jr. 28-36. Bevery Hills. Cushman.R. In R. Social accountability in communication.Antaki (Ed. E. Disclaimers. C.). Hewitt. Heritage. & Hopper.M. Through a succession of opportunities prior to. Ward. allows participants to formulate. D. DISCUSSION Both parties in problematic situations have several chances to dispose of shallow troubles before they become deep troubles. If so. Communication Quarterly. Gale. Sequence and pattern in communicative behaviour (pp.. Jefferson. Sage. 1977) in social interaction which would operate to make reproaching another’s conduct an accountable act. Conversation analysis of therapeutic discourse: The pursuit of a therapeutic agenda.A. Weakland & Fisch. Buttny. Models for the sequential construction of accounting episodes: Situational and interactional constraints on messages selection and evaluation. London. & Sias..). Relations in public. (1991). early alignment is in both party’s interest. aggravated reproach would appear to be a measure of last resort. & Stokes. J. & J. 22. (1995).P. (1993). & Sacks. 195–211. 40. W.N. The talk of the . An approach to communication theory: Toward consensus on rules. alignment has been made more difficult because there are at least three accountables. (1981).L.J.Chenail (Eds.. J. Zahn. 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. (1984). by the time an actor is reproached. 50–69). M. finally. R. 7. Hopper. Two types of institutional disclaimers at the Cancer Information Service.J.L. For the perpetrator of actions that others might disapprove. and after the commission of inappropriate actions.H. R. REFERENCES Bell. Cody. & Whiting. 32. 217–238. (1972). R. and arrangements can be made that lessen the consequences of inappropriate acts. CA: Sage. Thomason.. The taken-for-granted. 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. 1974). 127–144).). NJ: Ablex. there are very powerful strategic advantages of providing aligning actions without first having been reproached. (1989). R. In C. Morris & R. Human Communication Research. Disclaiming.. 1–11. explain. Norwood. 1993) that may be repetitive and may compound and intensify the problem (Watzlawick. Journal of Communication. American Sociological Review. Analysing everyday explanation (pp.C. (1975). G. With such a proactive approach.. Accounts as explanations: A conversation analytic perspective.Street. & McLaughlin. In fact. and correct for an unfortunate situation without prompting cycles of blaming and accounting (Buttny. participants can manage to align their actions without ever resorting to any sort of aggravated reproach (Cody & McLaughlin. R. Thus.Cappella (Eds. R. There may be a general preference for self-repair (Schegloff.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. 1985). New York: Harper & Row. finding a use only when parties failed to grasp or execute earlier opportunities to align their actions and expectations. M. (1971). In G.. Hopper. J... expectations can be revised. interpretation of the possibly offensive deed can be transformed. at the point of. Making use of the earliest chances to align.

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


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

8)     . and 418 that result in a “fleshing out” of the discussion by the wife. we learn that the wife (a) recently accepted an outside obligation as a friend’s birthing coach.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 (. (b) that her husband agreed to watch the children while she is gone.) decided that we called them in and told them we was gonna do. and (c) that the class will run for 6 was the negotiation process for the two of you (0. this correction is ratified by both the wife (Line 424) and the counselor (Line 425).0) Yeah So have you been heard? Uh huh (0. Here. 412. 1982) in Lines 408. the counselor provides continuers (see Schegloff.) Tuesday nights [yeah [six Tuesday nights= =Yeah= In this sequence. (1.2) like your. °Um hm° How was that.) 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 (. The husband then offers a correction in Lines 422–423 (6 nights rather than 6 weeks).2) did you feel like you had been heard (0. 414. 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 (.) 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 (.

Lines 442–443) to see if each agrees that their needs were met in this discussion. Line 439) and the husband (the third query.4) Sure was okay it yeah (. She then “checks in” individually with both the wife (the second query. and both husband and wife have provided positive responses each time. 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. 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:: (0.2) I you know that I may (. the counselor has asked three times about various aspects of this couple’s discussion.I don’t kno:w of anything Um hm And I can’t see anything happening but there’s a:lways that possiblity so .) make one of those nights also •h =as much advanced notice I me. To this point. then.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. The counselor then asks both W and H (Lines 434–436) about the relative “success” of their discussion (the first query).) 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 431.2)that (0. and she receives a positive response from W in Line 438. and each responds in the affirmative. The wife then continues to offer details (beginning as follows in Line 448) which the counselor encourages with additional continuers (Lines 450 and 454).

2) like a window open and don’t put it in cement (1. When none is forthcoming. provides less overt encouragement for him to elaborate. that there is no substantively new content added here. however. 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). 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.0) There are three issues of import in this brief exchange. First. the wife described her discussion with her husband as successful (Lines 404–407). Note.4) 478 H: while while while I was committing to it you know (0. Note.8) You know (1. This. thus seemingly signaling the completion of his qualification.2) to doing that just to know that (1. Recall that when asked earlier. he offers the “life goes on“cliché. and then twice again responded to more specific questions (Lines 434–436 and 439) positively (Lines 438 and 440).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). 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 . though allowing the husband to continue.The interactional construction of self-revelation  301 467 468 469 470   H:   H: (0.) (have a) 479   480   481   482   that When the counselor finally does provide the uptake the husband sought in Line 468.0) there’s always something that could happen (0. he immediately (in overlap beginning at Line 478) adds to his earlier qualifier. 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. The counselor continues: 483 484 485 C:     486 H: 487   So how’s that feel to you when there’s (0. the counselor then continues: 471 C: Hm (0.3) *although I don’t (. however. At this point.2) so (0.

In a very real sense. (b) to suggest that something is amiss with the wife’s previous answers to questions of this discussion’s success. These seeds immediately begin to sprout.) can’t? (2. 497. and 500) and the use of only very minimal prompts (Lines 491 and 498). Also. 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. she provides a reformulation (Heritage & Watson. The wife now describes her understanding of the discussion not as a success. 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. the counselor has just actively “sown the seeds” of a specific revelation—hardly a professionally neutral role. 493. and (c) to suggest an alternative reading of this qualification. 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.4) °Hm° If he could (1.0) I’ll just have to get my brother or somebody to watch ‘em for me (0. The counselor nurtures the seeds she has sown by allowing the wife to “twist in the wind” a bit through pauses (TRPs at Lines 490.4) Throughout this exchange.4) ↑well (0. After allowing the wife this period of reconsideration.8) What’s that.8) I mean I guess I always knew there ‘d be a possibility (1.2) then that’s alright with you? to be responsible to find someone if he (.302  Studies in language and social interaction different answer is now preferred. the counselor then asks her once again to consider her understanding of this event.nk about it like that just ‘felt like I probably didn’t have a . the wife begins the slow process of reconsidering the discussion in light of the counselor’s reformulation. but rather as something she has resigned herself to accept.4) <I didn’t really> thi. when the counselor asks this version of her question. (0. as follows: 501 502 503 504 505 506 C:       W: C: 507   But that’s (0. 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.

more positive understanding and the new alternative. less positive understanding.0) 529 C: Hm 530   (2. the counselor first calls the wife’s prior acceptance into question.) 527   pay for a babysitter 528   (1.0) Cause I.2) come up but 521   (1. The “okays” in Lines 509 and 511 function as continuers and prompt the wife to pursue this reevaluation.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 (1.2) 522 H: °Its uh° 523   (0. which she finally does in Line 513. the husband rejoins the conversation and attempts to mitigate his earlier qualification as follows: 519 H: There’s probably nothing (0. This reading of the pause is validated in Line 506 when the wife explicitly indicates that her understanding is’s something that I can’t mirss (1. answered promptly so often before. as at this point.I’d have to take 526   her to the Kid’s Playhouse or something an (. and then “summarizes” W’s acceptance with another reformulation (we have now moved from her flexibility to his irresponsibility). As the wife begins to display a different (and less favorable toward the husband) understanding of the event. The husband interjects as the wife continues: . thus suggesting that her answer is still not the preferred response.0) I mean I can’t just tell her I can’t go one week [you know] [Mm hm ] Mm hm (1. requires more thought. the recycled question has a consistent alternative reformulation nested within it.0) His mitigation seems to have some effect.0) °Okay° (2. the question. The very long pause at Line 504 suggests that this time.4) 524 W: But if there did and if there was I mean if 525   all else failed I probably. In this permutation.0) Here again. the wife seems to be vacillating between her (and his) earlier.6) you know that 520   would (0.

) thing that may (0.0) It wouldn’t be that mu:ch anyway it li. And.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. suggesting a possible moment of disagreement (Pomerantz. She tries this again in Line 538. and then directs the wife and husband to “talk about it.” The wife indicates her understanding of this as reasonable in Line 549.) sounds like an important (. the husband is then prompt to “accept” some responsibility for paying the sitter.6) That would be fair (.2) To take care of them (0. accept this responsibility. but receives no response whatsoever from the counselor. and is again unsuccessful.) half (’d be like four dollars an hour (0. 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: (0.6) 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.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 (1.4) 545 C: 546 547 548 549 550 551 552 553 554 556 557       W:   W:       C:   talk about that issue cause that (.4) something like that °Hm° (2.2) two and a half hours (0.4) total (0. asking the husband if he is saying that he will. though she does not suggest why it is important. though transcripts do provide an .2) fer (0. in fact. The counselor attempts to clarify in his prior turn in Lines 534–536. 1984). but he does not answer (pause at 537).

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 (0.4) and if something happen he couldn’t then he just couldn’t and it would be my responsibility •h (0. Thus. Finally.6) and its important to be able to negotiate (. the wife continues to defend the previous one. The wife finally offers an account for her assessment in Lines 551–554.4) I mean I guess I was just thinking of it as he was doing me a favor? (0. one really must hear this exchange to appreciate the palpable pressure and oppressive weight of this particular pause. and so the counselor begins a summary sequence (Wrobbel.4) and if (0.” Then in Line 572.) these are like your set nights for visitations (0. it seems that there is little more to be said. although the counselor continues to create opportunities for the wife to adopt and display the alternative understanding. the seeds the counselor planted earlier burst into full bloom (quite literally.6) if we really had those s:e:t (.) what is fair around child car (0.4) but really I mean that’s (.) like you know these were your set nights for visitation? (1.4) 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 (0.0) then if (1.(. the counselor pulls together and positively reformulates the details of this couple’s discussion as she understands them.0) if you couldn’t be there you would have to get your own babysitter that (0.2) kids are certain that someone I GUess that would be ri:ght of that Between Lines 558 and 570.The interactional construction of self-revelation  305 excellent visual representation of spoken interaction. at what is for all practical purposes the last possible moment to do so.) for either parent you need to be away from the children (0. 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. as this utterance emerges loudly and in overlap) as the wife suddenly . but again receives minimal uptake from the counselor.0) when there are commitments that either of you need to make which doesn’t involve just the children but (. 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.) there are times when i.8) that there are times: (0.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

0) importance of integrity (1.have that complete so called integrity I guess (0.) Umkay. 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.5) I (0.5) Why (7.3) I’m just °uh-° (1. Harlan says he’s “uncomfortable.” and “bother[ed]” now when he sees that he is not “in integrity.8) °ah-° (.3) a recurring theme K: H:   H:   H:     K:   H:     H:     K:   H:     In our talks: Right (0. (.8) have.” “disturbed.” Harlan acknowledges that integrity has become for him a criterion for living. 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 H:   K:   H: K:   K:   Ahm: (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.0) when I find myself not in integrity ↑it really does bother me.7) I’m anxious to:: (1.) Ahm especially after our talk:s: ya know it really does ↑bo:ther me (0. Harlan locates the discursive source of much of his discomfort with his own inconsistency in our prior talks together (Lines 28–29). Uhum? (.0) anxious to (0.) become disturbed (1.“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.) Ah: :mm and I’m unco:mfortable now being aware «of the::>> (1.5) >>Because (.) .7) In Lines 10–30.2) Hmm (.2) Ah::m (0.

(0. Harlan metaphorically expresses his anxiety over his felt inability to be himself in terms of a “cycle of nothingness.0) always (. 53 H: 54 55 56 57       H: 58   59 60 61 62   K:   H: And I(h) I.8) Humm= In Line 33 I asked Harlan why he is “bothered. Harlan employs the metaphors of disease and exhaustion (Line 40) to characterize his displeasure at not “being himself.” Harlan responds (Line 35) that it is because he’s not being himself. 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.” Harlan is acutely aware of his failure to live in integrity as implying an abortive attempt at being anyone at all.I’m uncomfortable (.7) about (.1) And then when Im not in integrity I.0) concerns= =Umhum? (. (2. who are you really trying to be?”—suggesting a critical awareness of self-as-object. In Lines 48–49.I don’t want.5) hhhh I’m I’m s:ick and tired of not. (2. being.) begin to (0.314  Studies in language and social interaction 40 H: 41 42 43 44 45 46     H:     K: I don’t (0.) A:nd um .2) the society in a box <<societal.(.0) me.3) it’s almost like I lo::se me.8) ↓chuhh I need to be <<comfterble>> (1.5) becomes blurred I an.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). Harlan adopts the second-person pronominal relation vis a vis himself—“’s like everything (1.8) «not having to::>> (1. (0. Using a common idiom.1) <<A: :nd>> (1.) who I am. 47 H: 48 49 50 51 52         K: =Nbw I I.) with that and I’d rather (1.5) nothingness (0.) confo:rm to: (0.>> (1.and it’s like »well who are you really trying to be<< and it goes back into this: cycle of (0.

(. With a marked sigh. narrow container that encloses. as in previous conversations) for his religious community. In Line 63. (0.(. or even isolates. (1. self-definition) as opposed to external forces (i.” a term reserved (here. .<< (1. and signifies his felt “need to be comfortable” about who he is (Lines 53–55).know. I was not implying that it is possible to fabricate a self in a vacuum. 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85   H:         H:     H: K: (. but intimates that he has “conform[ed] to the society in a box.e.) /•Hhh Um: : I have in fact I played aha significant h by bo.7) Therell be activities that w(h) (h)hhh no(h)t condoned   H: K: (. The fact that we human beings routinely and recursively experience and.. It is significant that Harlan thrice says that he doesn’t know (Lines 65. only attempting to query Harlan about the sort of person he authentically wishes to be. which is metaphorically represented as a small.) ayuh I know I would enjo:y. (.) I’m still. 67. as in this fragment. (1. That’s a good question Harlan restates his discomfort. 69).3)ah:m: (1.4) giant birthday party for me. he indicates a preference for internal (i.0) I really don’t know I um:.” In asking this question.the box people.) Yah ther. In Lines 57–58. each vying for the exclusive subscription of the subject—yield the palpable tension manifest in his talk. definition by others). (1.e. its members.) going to be a party >>in which<< (0.0) ↑I don’t know.“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.. nevertheless concluding that it’s “a good question” (Line 69). Harlan displays his uncertainty concerning his identity apart from