6.3 Some Features Of Talk

The study of conversation as interaction gave rise to the discovery of certain systematic features of conversational organisation. Many of these discoveries were the work of such pioneers as Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson, working both individually and collectively, and involved such conversational features as turn-taking, adjacency pairs, pre-sequences, side sequences, insertion sequences, opening and closing routines, as well as routines for repair and preference. Here we will look at three major organisational features – turn-taking, adjacency pairs (which necessarily includes insertion sequences), and preference. Though superficially such features may seem to be merely the mechanisms of conversation, the nuts and bolts of talk, if you will, it is worth underlining that they are the social manifestation of the means whereby we all interactively construct meaning. As Heritage and Atkinson put it, ‘the sequential next-positioned linkage between any two actions is a critical resource by which a first speaker can determine the sense that a second made of his or her utterance’ (1984:8). It is through such organisation that ‘a context of publicly-displayed and continuously updated intersubjective understandings is systematically sustained’ (p.11). For Levinson, the methods which use such tools of analysis are important because they 'offer us a way of avoiding the indefinitely extendable and unverifiable categorisation and speculation about actors’ intents so typical of DA[discourse analysis]-style analysis’ (1983:319). This is an important point which has already arisen – to what degree can analysts impose themselves on the data – and one which we shall have occasion to return to.

A Pragmatic Approach to Humour> 6.3.1 Speech Acts

6.2 Talk In Interaction>

6.3 Some Features Of Talk

6.3.1 Turn Taking>

6.3.2 Adjacency Pairs>

6.3.3 Preference>

Contents>