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Conversation Analysis

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Amanda Moraes

on 14 July 2014

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Transcript of Conversation Analysis

Conversation and Preference Structure
It was set out to discover what order there might be in this apparent chaos that is the Discourse.

The structure of the talk, the pattern of I speak -> You speak > I speak, will derive from that fundamental kind of interaction we first acquire. This is the structure of the conversation. Conversation structure is what we have been assuming as familiar throughout much of the preceding discussion.

Conversation Analysis
Turn-taking
Having control of this scarce commodity at any time is called turn.
A situation where control is not fixed in advance, anyone can attempt to get control, is called turn-taking.
The local management system is essentially o set of conventions for getting turns, keeping them or giving them away.
A possible change-of-turn point is called Transition Relevance Place (TRP)

Conversation analysis tries to explain how and what circumstance the turn-taking occurs.

All of this is related to culture. It varies how the overlap and turn-taking are accept, they can be notes by simple signs – as body position, eye contact, intonation -, that helps the speakers to understand when to start the conversation or finish.
Conversation Analysis
Turn types
I. Adjacency Pair: the utterance of one speaker makes a particular kind of predictable response.
A: Wow! Nice dress!
B: Thank you.

A: Hello! How are you?
B: I’m fine. And you?

The adjacency pair is often a choice of two likely responses: acceptance or a refusal. Some responses occur more frequently (preferred response) and others are less common (dispreferred response).

Conversation Analysis
Pauses, overlaps and backchannels
Transitions with a long silence between turns.
Transition with overlap (speakers speaking at the same time) are perceived as awkward.

Mr. Strait: What is your major, Dave?
Dave: English - well I have not really decided yet.
(3 seconds silence)
Mr. Strait: So - you want to be a teacher?
Dave: No - not really - well not if I can help it.
(2 seconds silence)
Mr. Strait: Wha-//Where do you-- //go ahead
Dave: I mean it's a--oh sorry //I em-
- = short pauses, hesitations
// = beginning of overlap (both speakers attempt to initiate talk)
Conversation Analysis
Conversation Analysis
Pauses, overlaps and backchannels
Amanda Moraes, Ana Cláudia Sossai e Fernanda Ferrareis
Silences are not attributable to either speaker because each has completed a turn.
If one speaker explicitly turns over the floor to another and the other does not speak, then the silence is attributable to the second speaker and becomes significant.

Jan: Dave, I'm going to the store.
(2 seconds)
Jan: Dave?
(2 seconds)
Jan: Dave - is something wrong?
Dave: What? What's wrong?
Jan: Nevermind.

Conversation Analysis
Pauses, overlaps and backchannels
Conversation Analysis
Backchannel signals provide feedback to the speaker that the message is being received, they indicate that the listener is following and not objecting.
The absence of backchannels is interpreted as significant (in telephone conversations the speaker is prompted to ask whether the speaker is still there).
In face-to-face conversations the absence of backchannels may be interpreted as a way of with holding agreement.

Caller: If you use your long distance service a lot then you'll …
Mary: // uh-huh
Caller: be interested in the discount I'm talking about because …
Mary: // yeah
Caller: it can only save you money to switch to a cheaper service
Mary: // mmm

Turn Types
II. Insertion Sequence
A dispreferred response can be marked by a pause, hesitation, delay or by an alteration of turns.
A: Did you enjoy the meal?
B: (Did you?
A: Yes.)
B: So did I.


Conversation Analysis
Turn Types
III. Side Sequence
The speaker switches from one topic to another, suddenly.
A: I’m dying to know – where’s my watch by the way?
B: What?
A: What Gillian’s aerobics sessions are like.
B: What aerobics sessions? It’s here.
A: Gillian does aerobics sessions every evening. Thanks. Can you imagine.


Side and Insertion Sequence show that a conversation cannot be planned, that it happens as it goes. Which is completely different from written discourse. This is evident in a phenomenon called repair, where participants correct either their own words or the other participants’.


Turn Types
IV. Pre-Sequence:
Speakers normally call attention of another speaker when starting a new topic or conversation.
A: Have you got any jazz?
B: Yes.
A: Can I put one on?

A: Are you free tonight?
B: Yes.
A: Like to go to that film?

Another example is the commonly used “Right!” and “Ok, now…”, “Anyway” or “So…”. Or even in jokes “Have you heard about…?”


Conversational Style
There are individual and cultural differences in conversational style/turn taking
Some individuals expect that participation in a conversation will be very active, that speaking rate will be relatively fast, with almost no pausing between turns, and with some overlap or even competition between turns, that is high involvement style

Other speakers use a slower rate, expect longer pauses between turns, do not overlap and avoid interruption or completion of the other's turn that is high considerateness style.

Discourse Analysis
Relationship between forms and functions of language. Language is more than a sentence-level phenomenon.

A: Got the time?
B: Ten fifteen.

A: More coffee?
B: I'm OK.

20th century: linguistic studies are centered in analyzing the sentence structure, while nowadays, the intersentential relationships on discourse. Without pragmatic contexts, our conversations would be completely ambiguous.
Wagner-Gough (1975): a learner’s acquisition of the –ing morpheme does not mean the learner knows all of its functions.

Conversation Analysis
“Conversations are cooperative ventures”. (Hatch and Long, 1980)

First and essential rule of conversation is attention getting, which we learn at a very young age; even before learning how to speak.

Topic nomination (the way in which the speaker calls the listener’s attention to a certain topic) leads to topic development (which is the interaction itself) by turn takings.

Conversation Analysis
Besides turn-taking, other four elements of conversation are highlighted:

Clarification: repair, reinforce, etc.
Shifting
Avoidance
Interruption (even native speakers show signs of difficulty in the usage of topic interruption, or termination.)

Grice's maxims:
Be clear
Be relevant
Be brief
Be true
"In second language learning the basic assumption has been... that one first learns how to manipulate structures, that one gradually builds a repertoire of structures and then, somehow, learns how to put the structures to use in discourse. We would like to consider the possibility that just the reverse happens. One learns how to do conversation, one learns how to interact verbally, and out of this interaction syntactic structures are developed" (HATCH, 1978).
Conversation Styles
1 - Oratorical: large audiences, intonation and words are planned beforehand.
2 - Deliberative: large audiences, but speaker is not extremely concerned.
3 - Consultative: typical, but formal dialogue.
4 - Casual: friends and family members. There is concern with social barriers.
5 - Intimate: close friends and relatives. There is no concern.
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