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					    Lecture:            Spoken English

Universität des Saarlandes
Department 4.3 English Linguistics
Professor Dr. N. R. Norrick
SS 2008
Tuesday, 4-6 pm
Why study talk?

Conversation as natural
Conversation as exemplary
Conversation as special register
Conversation as natural

Commonest register

Most general, unmarked style of talk In all settings

Used by all groups

Least monitored, most fluent

Most consistent for region, group, individual
Conversation as exemplary

Richest data source

High percentage of core vocabulary

Idioms, turns of phrase, clichés, proverbs
Conversation as exemplary 2

Full range of paralanguage:

       creaky voice
       ingressive sounds
Conversation as exemplary 3

Wide range of functions

Conversation as exemplary 4


Real-time processing and production

Locally bound: me, you, this, here, now

Context-specific: participants, interaction, goals, topics
Conversation as exemplary 5

Feedback mechanisms:

Understanding checks

        y'know, right?

Attention signals

        m-hm, uh-huh, oh
Conversation as exemplary 6

Repair mechanisms:


        See you Tuesday- I mean Wednesday.


        A: See you Tuesday.
        B: You mean Wednesday.
        A: Right, Wednesday.


        A: She was wearing one of these old uh-
        B: Bonnets?
        A: Yeah.
Conversation as exemplary 7

Full range of vocal production

Imitations: buzz, splat, wham, kerplop

Non-words: tsk, whoa, whew, uh-uh, m-hm, m-m-m

Expressive intonation:

        angry aspiration,

        ironic lengthening riiiight
Representative of community behavior

Power and solidarity

how we show respect

        deference and distance
        friendship and closeness

names, forms of address, choice of verb forms, etc.

    Good morning, Sir vs. Yo, dude
    Could you please pass the salt? vs. Hey, salt!

politeness strategies

asking directions presupposes membership as local

giving directions presupposes membership in group

       car owners, bus users, locals, etc.

get on bus 19
drive out through gate, turn left
take Meerwiesertalweg toward town

we (both) versus we (not you)

2nd versus 3rd person

you versus Bob here wants to go
World View

use of man for humankind

use of he for everybody

except traditionally ‗female‘ roles,e.g.

    the flight attendant/stewardess . . . she
    “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen”
Common Sense

me-centered, human, local

big, tall = bigger, taller than me

hot, cold = hotter, colder than usual here

old, weird = from my perspective
Folk Logic

I can’t hardly stand it

same difference

no head injury is too small to ignore
Interaction 1


A: Hey, Judy?
B: Yeah?
A: Can you help me here?
B: Sure.
A: Thanks.
B: No problem.
reasons to study conversation 1

for students of English language and literature, and cultures

Conversation reveals patterns of usage:

        for individuals,
        for groups
        for the linguistic community

role of talk in human understanding and interaction

language in social relations, not as abstract structure
reasons to study conversation 2

everyday conversation has a central place in linguistics

includes all of descriptive linguistics


all contained in conversation analysis
all tools for studying discourse
all apply to adjacent areas with organic connections

together they contribute to view of language as dynamic interaction
Talk in Language 1

Talk and speech
language and system

Saussure on parole, langage, langue

Saussure‘s dichotomies
privileging langue over parole
Talk in Language 2

Conversation vs dialogue (reported talk) & spoken prose

reading aloud
reciting from memory
professional reporting
Talk versus Text 1

Biological factors determine features of talk
Cultural conventions govern the form of text
Talk versus Text 2

Talk produced by lungs, vocal chords, tongue, lips (breath group;
intonation group)

        for the ear
        stress-timing (vs. syllable-timing),
        Intonation (contours and stresses)
        prosody (tempo, volume, rhythm, voice quality)

Text produced by hand

        for the eye
        left to right, in lines, with spaces
        paragraphs, sentences, words, letters, caps/lower case,
        diacritics, punctuation
Talk versus Text 3

Talk is for current, local listeners

         bound to context/participants

         markers of relationship
         (terms of Address, pronouns: you, we, let’s)

Text is for any present or future reader even removed spatially

         relatively context free

         generally accessible, impersonal
Talk versus Text 4

Talk is produced in real time
         hesitations, false starts, repetitions, clarifications,
         elisions, omissions, reduced forms, abbreviations

         speech rate is not just limited by natural factors
         speakers adjust their speech rate to listeners and contexts

Text is produced at leisure
         time to edit full sentences, eliminate false starts,
         hesitations, and time to spell everything out in detail
         no time constraints on reading
         individual readers determine their own reading rate
         they can re-read as often as they wish
tempo of talk

slow talk goes about 3 words per second or 180 words per minute
fast talk can go 5 words per second or almost 300 words per minute

Stories go faster than topical talk, and women talk faster than men
some women tell practiced stories at about 260 words per minute

upper limit about 400 words per minute or about 6.5 words per second,
when reciting a practiced text for a short period
Written representation versus interactional speech 1


pre-modified phrases
definite descriptions
marked relationships between clauses
Written representation versus interactional speech 2


face-to-face with eye contact
spatial orientation

voice quality (volume, pitch, timbre)
prosody (tempo, rhythm)

         Only these three heard on phone,
         but we can still identify callers we know
         and even tell how they're feeling
Written representation vs interactional speech 3

writing is organized around sentences

speech is organized around intonation units

Intonation units

        about 5 words long
        one or two intonation peaks
        single chunk of information
        first Given then New
intonation units

so I wént I went ín
and I hád the báll,
and I just like túrned around
and I shót it-
didn’t even lóok
and it like hít off the báckboard
só hárd.
it was só bád

intonation units may also be sentences,

but significant for speech in real time
talk in interaction

Talk in interaction is unplanned

dynamic topic development
generalized vocabulary
formulaic speech
editing talk on-line

little pre-modification
concrete contextual reference
no sentential orientation
paratactic relationships between short intonation units

    there's this guy
    and he's really old
    and he's got this dog
    like a really ugly dog
    and he walks in here

For written text, we prefer

A rather old gentleman with a terribly ugly dog entered.
face-to-face talk

Besides information conveyed visually and through the voice
talk is full of cues to the listener

Jack:   hey, have you seen Al and Judy?
Jill:   well, I saw Judy.
Jack:   Al was with her though, right?
Jill:   they've kind of been like fighting, y'know?

readers must cue on neutral lexical meaning

Jack asked Jill if she'd seen Al and Judy. Jill said she'd seen Judy. Jack
asked if Al had been with her and Jill said they'd been fighting.
listener activities

Listeners do not inertly and silently receive talk by speakers
They actively demonstrate listenership, uptake, understanding,
agreement or disagreement, emotional involvement

―activities in the back-channel‖ (Yngve 1970)
back-channel activities 1

Visual back-channel activities
        furrowed brows

Audible back-channel signals

        nonlinguistic sounds
back-channel activities 2

linguistic signals

discourse markers like yeah and okay

interjections like wow and damn

attention signals such as m-hm and uh-huh
listener activities

listener activities signal

         emotional involvement in foregoing talk
         changes in information states

certain items specialized for signaling recipiency


Related notions: continuer, response token
signaling recipiency 1

Brianne         it's midnight blue
                I mean that's nice.
Addie           uh-huh.
Brianne         okay,
                but it's got like these puffy sleeves.

Brianne         I came on Wednesday night.
Addie           m-hm.
Brianne         oh,
                I tried something different this time
signaling involvement


FRANK:         no bigger than that.
RON:           mhm.
MELISSA:       [wow].
FRANK:         [we- --
               and we got] out to ... Earth,

<2836>         didn't give the people enough time to get off the train.
               Elizabeth and about four or five other people.
<2834>         gosh.
<2836>         couldn't get off . . .
signaling involvement 2

Assessments marking increasing involvement

<1>            yeah, but then that's it.
               it never rains in the summer.
<2>            weird.
<1>            it is weird.

<2429>         but anyway, then what, what did it register?
<2432>         about three.
<2429>         about three.
<2425>         holy shit.
<2432>         and when you shower, it's fifty to sixty times higher than
signaling changes in information states

<3>     she was going down Liberty Street
        and a tree fell that way,
        if it had a gone this way,
        it would have hit her car.
<2>     oh.
<1>     I mean right next to her, right next to her.

<1>     and then you just put them in Mason jars
        and sterilize Mason jars?
<2>     I don't sterilize them.
<1>     oh.
<2>     well, I wash them
Deixis in speech vs writing

face-to-face speech

deictic expressions refer to position, place, time of speaker:
here, over there, right now, yesterday

or hearer:
on your left, just behind you
Deixis in written text

writer specifies some character or object as deictic reference point

to the left of the house
just behind Judy
later the same day
Speech and Writing as Registers

spoken & written language as separate media for different functions
in different settings with different stylistic tendencies (Biber)

1st and 2nd person personal pronouns

characteristic structures and different frequencies
in spoken and written discourse
Personal Pronouns

speech contains more 1st and 2nd person personal pronouns:

I you we

since we generally talk about ourselves and each other
in face-to-face interaction

while writing concerns public and fictional persons unfamiliar to readers

Speech contains more contractions,

forms institutionalized in both speech and writing

can’t, won’t; she’ll, they’ll; I’m, we’ve, you’re, he’s

compound contractions in talk

they’ll’ve left by now,
she can’t’ve gone far,
we’d’ve seen them, if they were here
reduction or ellision in everyday speech

some people from town’ll be there too
I hope to’ve finished by noon,
the one she wanted’s already gone

compare standardized spellings of pronunciation patterns

gotcha for got you
wanna for want to

The passive is typical of writing and rare in everyday speech
Passive includes (according to Biber)

Sue was greeted formally by the mayor.
Sue was greeted formally at town hall.
The woman (who was) greeted formally left early.

Nominalization is characteristic of and more frequent in writing

Biber defines Nominalization to include words ending with the suffixes:

-tion, -ness, -ity, -ment

This does not cover all nominalizations

        the short list makes counting easier
        covers too much, e.g. moment
        covers too little, e.g. comparison, abhorence

but provides a good measure of ―writtenness‖ versus ―spokenness‖
Historical background

For most of history,
even for most of the history of linguistics,
language has been taken to mean the written form of language,

first languages studied (Sanskrit, Latin) were ―dead languages‖
known only through written records

Historical linguists sought to relate extent written forms
of languages like Latin and English
or various stages of a language like Old English and Middle English
Recorded talk

Till very recent advent of audio and video recording,
writing was the only method of preserving spoken language

first recordings of spoken language seemed incoherent and laughable

listeners accustomed to

       written texts
       performances by trained readers
       carefully planned speeches by professional speakers
Firth 1935

conversation as key to understanding language and meaning,
but only offered impressionistic remarks

Birdwhistle, from 1952

micro-analysis of kinesics
complex coding and transcription of body movement
Fries 1952 The structure of English

Fries recorded phone conversations,
first grammar based on recorded data

―a large body of actual English speech
observed and recorded in a community‖

– with advent of audio recording, no excuse for intuition-based grammars
– corpus: over 50 hours of surreptitiously recorded telephone talk
―participants were unaware that their speech was being recorded‖

– Fries simply requested and received permission to tap into phone lines
         – no moral question of intrusion into privacy
         – no question of Fries‘ integrity as a disinterested scholar
         – no tapes: they recorded on discs!
         – defends everyday usage at length
         – upholds school standard, but insists on authentic data
Goffman, from 1955

describing everyday behavior
found regular patterns in everyday behavior
below level of consciousness or barely noticed by participants

Hymes 1962

Ethnography of Speaking

        speech act
        speech event
        speech situation
Abercrombie 1965

characteristics of conversation
impressionistic account

Sacks, Schegloff from 1967

conversation as data for sociology
focus on interaction, rather than grammar, pronunciation, lexis

rigorous analysis of everyday conversation
Labov and associates from 1967

Oral narratives as sociolinguistic data
Personal narrative as most consistent register
especially in highly emotional stories

Sinclair, from 1972: classroom talk

preferred orderly classroom interaction,
because everyday talk was too complicated

Crystal & Davy, 1973: conversation as basic style

―disfluencies‖ like pauses, repetition, uh and y’know

        positive characteristics of conversation
        geared to face-to-face real-time interaction
Svartvik & Quirk, 1980:

London-Lund Corpus

Large-scale corpus of conversation

Henne & Rehbock, from 1980: Gesprächsanalyse

Quasthoff, from 1980: Erzählen im Gespräch
Chomsky, from 1968: negative influence

talk as too messy and ungrammatical for systematic description

abstract mental ―competence‖ as goal

intuitions about ―grammaticality‖ as evidence
Toward a linguistics of talk

Everyday talk as ―messy and ungrammatical‖

If everyday talk is ―messy and ungrammatical‖
it‘s up to linguists to explain why,
to show how apparent ―messiness and ungrammaticality‖ facilitate talk

We should determine where and when so-called ungrammatical
structures occur;
We should describe recurrent sorts of apparent messiness
to discover their distribution and functions

If we want to get at real ―competence‖
we need to show how speakers and listeners interact
to create the sorts of talk we observe
Tony:           hey, man.
Joe:            hey.
Tony:           how goes it?
Joe:            not too shabby. How about you?
Tony:           just got back from town.
Joe:            really?
Tony:           yeah, bummer.
Joe:            want a beer?
Tony:           sure.

School Grammar doesn‘t help us here
conversationalists need a ready repertoire of interactional chunks
to maintain a fluid give-and-take
system of everyday conversation

developed in human interaction;
the sort of language native speaker children are surrounded with,
and they somehow recognize systems within it

kids don‘t just acquire grammar,
they must learn to distribute disfluencies in appropriate places,
so what appears messy must serve our interactional needs,
and contribute to the system of everyday talk in various ways
Disfluencies 1

false starts and self-corrections,
stutters and filled pauses like um and ah and y’know

make conversational appear less linear and fluent
than the edited paragraphs of a short story

less orderly than artificially discrete speeches
of successive characters in a play script.

but these features are not random or without function
Disfluencies 2

play a prominent role in the organization of conversation

facilitate verbalization and remembering,

enhance coherence

contribute to coordinated interaction

In stories

        disfluencies routinely mark openings,
        repetition usually accompanies closings
Disfluencies 3

speakers and listeners must apportion limited cognitive resources
to constructing and understanding talk respectively,
they rely on disfluencies and repetition:

        gain planning time

        focus attention

        mark transitions

        reinforce evaluations
Audience participation


give the listeners a chance to atune themselves to ongoing talk;
encourage audience attention and participation.

Listeners in turn signal attention and understanding

        with back-channels like m-hm and oh

        with evaluative feedback like wow and no way

        even interruptions, leading to simultaneous talk
Acquiring competence for talk-in-interaction

kids don‘t acquire simple grammar,
they don‘t just learn to talk--

They also learn to

        listen actively

They even learn to

        listen inattentively
        interrupt where appropriate

audience participation correlates with switches from serious
turn-by-turn conversation to wordplay or storytelling.
conversational interaction

we‘ll be interested in

        particulars of conversational interaction

        transcription as a means of recording conversation:

        details of talk
Recording conversational data 1

natural conversation ubiquitous but hard to collect

Field notes
Equipment: audio and video

         Craig and Tracy (1983) surreptitious in lab

Media: radio and TV
         Professional public speakers,
         But also talk show guests, radio call-in shows

natural: home, work, recreation
          send students out with recording equipment
Recording conversational data 2

Ethical considerations
         Informing subjects
         Getting permission
         Hiding identities

Observer‘s paradox

How can we observe the way unobserved talk works?

        All speech monitored
        Study recording effects
        Speakers ignore and forget
        Observer as participant
        Supplementing recordings with interview data

Representing talk makes it appear unnatural

Transcription as theory

no single correct transcription,
different transcriptions for different purposes

Transcription as descriptive phonetics
        IPA and other phonetic alphabets
        Broad/phonemic vs narrow/phonetic (emic vs etic)

Transcription in dialectology
        Dialect features
        Distinctive features and isoglosses
Transcription in psycholinguistics

        Acquisition and loss: variance from model
        Parallel processing: Slips, pauses, stutters, blends

Transcription in Language teaching

        Features which differ for L1 and L2
        Interference patterns

Transcription in narrative analysis

        Regularize to standard orthography
        ―Eye dialect‖

        he wuz goin tuh town awright
        bei dem mußtesse ECHT vorsichtich san, nich?
Transcription in Conversation Analysis
Jefferson, Sacks, CA
Gail Jefferson works out typewriter system for Sacks
Popularized among linguistics by articles in Language 1974, 1977
Comic book type eye dialect, laugh tokens
Crystal, London-Lund Corpus

Crystal works out system for London-Lund Corpus (Svartvik & Quirk 1980)
Comments on accent, voice quality, prosody

My original transcriptions
partly based on Jefferson CA system
partly baed on Interactional Sociolinguistics (Tannen, Schiffrin)
later influenced by Chafe ―one intonation unit per line‖

Dropped initial capitals as marks of sentences
       transcribing one intonation unit per line brings out rhythm of talk
       highlights frequency of units beginning with and, uh, well
       shows importance of initial and final discourse markers
German transcription systems

Generally represent some,
but not all features of dialect
Quasthoff (1980): Berlinerisch
Schu (1984): Saarländisch
Conversation in Pragmatics and Anthropology

Speech Acts

Austin's (1962) How to do things with words

language to accomplish actions,
not just to make true or false statements.

various sorts of ―speech acts,‖

"performative analysis" of particular verbs and sentences
Searle (1969, 1975) developed Austin‘s insights

Locutionary acts: referring, predicating, negating, subordinating

Illocutionary acts: naming, promising, apologizing, congratulating

Perlocutionary acts: persuading, intimidating, incriminating
speech act theory and real talk

many of the most familiar utterances don‘t fit into simple classes

        Greetings: hi, hello
        Leave-takings: bye, goodbye
        Pause fillers: well, let’s see
        Transitions: first off, anyway
        Back-channels: uh-huh, m-hm

most utterances in real talk are polyfunctional

George: Would you like to fly to Chicago with me?
Sarah: I‘d love to!

Sarah‘s ―I‘d love to!‖
        expressive of her emotion
        commissive in committing her to fly to Chicago with George
        answer to a question
        response to an invitation,
The real problem for speech act theory is sequence
For many speech acts, function depends on sequential position

A: Is the earth flat?
B: Yes.
--states what the speaker believes

A: Will you marry me?
B: Yes.
--commits speaker to a course of action

A: Must I leave?
B: Yes!
--gets someone else to do something

A: You won the lottery.
B: Yes!
--statement of joy

What‘s missing from speech act theory is listeners
Speakers don‘t mean alone, but only with hearers in contexts
Speech Events 1

Ethnography of Speaking: Hymes 1962

situations, functions, patterns and uses of talk in societies

communicative competence (versus grammatical)

appropriateness in context (versus grammaticality)
Speech Events 2

For any linguistic community,
characteristic speech events:

        sales talk
        weather report

typical written forms:

        personal and business letters
        newspaper column
        short story
Speech events 3

Speech event encompasses multiple speech acts; culturally defined

Speech situation: scene (cultural) and setting (physical)

Speech event: within Speech situation, composed of Speech acts

Speech act: minimal unit of speech event

Speech situation - speech event - speech act

        market place – transaction - offer
        conversation - story - preface
        ceremony - prayer - invocation
Components defining speech events:

Participants:   Addressor, Addressee, Audience
Ends:           purpose of event, goals of participants
Key:            mock vs serious, perfunctory vs painstaking etc
Form:           dialect, variety, register etc
Genre:          poem, proverb, lecture, advertisement etc
Norms:          "no gap, no overlap" in conversation,
                "speak only when you're spoken to" for children

These categories apply to written texts as well as speech events as such,
but there are important differences in the ways they apply

Stalnaker's (1974) definition of pragmatic presupposition:

A proposition B is a pragmatic presupposition of a speaker in a
given context just in case the speaker assumes or believes that B,
assumes that his audience assumes or believes B, and assumes or
believes that his audience recognizes that he is making these

Note particularly the reflexive assumptions in this definition
Existential presupposition:

Any name or definite description refers to an identifiable individual

Judy gave the red ball to the boy with freckles

 There‘s a girl named Judy, a red ball and a boy with freckles

Negation test

Mary's car is fast  Mary has a car
Mary's car is not fast  Mary has a car

Factive (with factive predicates):

Bill regrets/resents that Suzy won the game  Suzy won the game
Suzy is happy/sad that she won the game
Politeness 1

Politeness as a historical phenomenon

Politeness as in-group behavior

Politeness as code of civility

Political Correctness as enforced politeness
Pronouns of power and solidarity 1

Brown & Gilman (1960):
semantics of power and solidarity in use of 2nd person pronouns

In clearly stratified society, "power semantic" developed:

non-reciprocal V to mark deference,
then reciprocal V spread among nobility
Pronouns of power and solidarity 2

In more mobile society, "solidarity semantic" developed

reciprocal "non-solidary" V even among common people
reciprocal "solidary" T even among powerful people

Also: reciprocal T to mark "shared fate"

"power semantic" still determines who initiates T
"shared fate" only works when fate is lack of power

pronoun use interacts with other systems like honorifics in Japanese

English lost 2nd person pronoun distinction
Politeness in Linguistic Pragmatics 1

          Be friendly;
          Don't impose;
          Give options

Brown and Levinson:

          Positive and negative face,
          face wants and face threats


          ―face‖ as image/reputation/personality
          self presented by individual for ratification by group
          we seek to maintain face in interaction
Politeness in Linguistic Pragmatics 2

Negative Politeness

1 Maintain distance (respect)
2 Give options (deference)

Positive Politeness

Be friendly (solidarity)

Face threatening acts
Avoiding face threatening acts


pre-sequences also contribute to coherence in conversation


Ann:   would you do me a favor?
Bob:   sure.
Ann:   are you going to be needing your car this weekend?
Bob:   uh, not really.
Ann:   great. Could I borrow it Saturday night?
Bob:   I guess so.
Ann:   I‘d have it back early Sunday.
Bob:   okay, no problem.

Ed:     so are you busy Saturday night?
Judy:   not really.
Ed:     have you seen the new ―Star Wars‖ movie?
Judy:   no.
Ed:     do you want to go with me Saturday?
Judy:   I‘d love to.

Of course, the recipient may anticipate the invitation

Ed:     so are you busy Saturday night?
Judy:   what do you have in mind?
Ed:     do you like Chinese food?
Judy:   at which restaurant?
Ed:     Kung Foo on Elm Street.
Judy:   I‘d love to.
Conversation in Discourse Analysis

Conversation as Style (Register)

Describe characteristics of conversation
by comparison with other styles or registers,

        classroom talk
        scientific writing
        dramatic dialogue
Style in conversation

Describe characteristics of individual speaker‘s talk
by comparison with other speakers or from one context to another

Or describe teenagers‘ talk by comparison with adults‘

or women‘s talk by comparison with men‘s
Cohesion and coherence

Conversation has its own systems of Cohesion and Coherence

Keys and Cues in conversation

keying (Hymes):

contextualization cues (Gumperz)

Conversationalists cooperate to negotiate interactional parameters;
they adopt a particular key for their interaction

Contextualization Cues 1

conversationalists have a wide range of strategies
for creating coherence and maintaining involvement;
they coordinate their talk and secure understanding

       body language,
       paralinguistic features
       interactional cues
Contextualization Cues 2

Understanding checks

         y'know, right?, huh?

Attention signals

         m'hm, uh-huh, wow, really?

Discourse markers

         well, I‘m not sure
         anyway, she finally quit
         it doesn‘t matter though
         they all left early, y’know


         kind of, sort of, a little (bit), well, let's say
Contextualization Cues 3


as far as I know, I guess, clearly, obviously, probably


canonical tags:

        auxiliary, reversed negative polarity, personal pronoun

        It’s cold, isn’t it? It’s not cold, is it?
        Judy will win, won’t she? Judy didn’t win, did she?

uninflected tags:

        right, okay, huh; see also dialectal innit

        It was Judy, right? I’ll do it, okay?
        So Judy won, huh? They lost again, innit?
Conversational structure

starting points

Schiffrin (1987): discourse markers as left brackets

Hymes (1974): initial position defines mood of speech event

Rühlemann (2007): initial discourse markers as discourse management

Chafe (1994): subjects as ‗starting points‘ for clauses

Schegloff (1987): turn beginnings as resource, for the projection of the

McCarthy‘s (2003) turn-initial position as locus of choice
starting points

in spontaneous conversation frequent initial discourse markers

<2>      and that came through the mail.
<1>      well isn't that nice?
<2>      yeah.
         oh, she's a, but like you said, she's cute as, you know, Kaliber.
<1>      yeah, Keely will love this.
         she's just really, yeah,
<2>      but I'm trying to get things,
         that you can move, you know.
<1>      well, I'm hoping.
         yeah, I would like to move back to Chicago or some place around here.
<2>      uh-huh, well, now, in the area some way.
<1>      yeah, I don't know. Mark doesn't want to leave California.
<2>      yeah, yeah, it is.
         well, you get settled someplace sometimes, you know.
<1>      well, he's doing a lot of acting and that's really the,
         I guess it's the place.
<2>      yeah, uh huh.
<1>      but he can do that in
<2>      but this is all experience, too.
Yeah as a turn initiator 1

yeah is by far the most frequent turn initiator in spoken American English

 ―The most frequent use of yeah is to acknowledge the receipt of
information that is new to the discourse but consistent with current active
information‖ (Jucker and Smith, 1998)

yeah can stand alone as a response token

BRAD:            our blue book usually shows the U:hers.
TAMMY:           yeah.
BRAD:            our older Uhers.
Yeah as a turn initiator 2

yeah may function as a direct positive response to a question

<1375>           you're at U C S B?
<1308>           yeah, I'm a, uh, graduate student in Anthropology?
<1375>           uh-huh.

yeah may signal agreement with a statement in the foregoing turn

<1625>           someone's playing the trumpet over there.
<1626>           yeah he plays that.
                 he plays tuba and uh all the brass.
Yeah as a turn initiator 3

yeah also occurs as an initial transition word

<1388>           do you have any more complaints for the evening.
<1380>           I just feel sick.
<1321>           yeah it's something you ate ((laugh))
<1321>           does anyone want any dessert?

<2>      well, I think that's so wonderful she's interested in that.
         and you know, like I said, I'd like to foster it some way, you know.
<1>      uh-huh.
<2>      that's why I sent that picture of mother.
<1>      yeah, she's just fascinated by that.
<2>      yeah, uh-huh.
Yeah as a turn initiator 4

yeah but to raise an objection

<1388>    how come, how come,
          I thought, I thought you all gave it to her, gave her the piece.
<1380>    yeah but there's still a little piece left.
<1387>    but everyone's was almost the same price.
<1321>    well how much, what price is that?
<1388>    yeah but, you guys I'm really poor.
<1387>    I mean almost the same price, I mean
Yeah as a turn initiator 5

yeah right ironically signals disagreement

<1373>    they're about between seventy and ninety percent fat ...
          calories from fat ... pretty high.
<1308>    yeah
<1375>    people fool themselves into thinking the dry roasted are any
<1308>    yeah, right.
<1375>    ((laugh))
Assessments in initial position 1

Discourse markers are fairly neutral
Initial assessments show increasing degrees of emotion

Brandon: with two bodyguards to protect him.
Lydia:   wow, to think [of it].
Brandon: [to see] a person in that position.

<1491>     couple of months.
           but he was seriously injured in the accident.
<1488>     man, he should stay off the roads.
<1486>     where did you find a fork?
Assessments in initial position 2

Initial assessments expressing high degrees of emotion

<1>     he tried to set fire to the cabinets,
        thank god, it didn't take, you know .
<2>     jesus, you're kidding me?
<1>     no.
        and, uh, finally it turns out what happens was . . .

BH> I was just going oh wow congratulations and=
AG> =SHIT that's great.
Sequence and Structure in Conversation

Conversation has characteristic structures and sequences

       adjacency pair
Sue:    hi.                               greeting
Jill:   hi.                               greeting
Sue:    so, how have you been.            question
Jill:   not so well really.               answer
Sue:    oh I'm sorry to hear that.        response
Jill:   how about you?                    question
Sue:    not too bad, I guess.             answer
Jill:   yes, one muddles through.         response
Sue:    by the way, I‘m looking for Al.   statement? request?
Jill:   I just saw him at Lou‘s.          response
Sue:    really? who else was there?       response/question
Jill:   Fred.                             answer
Sue:    wow. are you busy right now?      response/question
Jill:   not really.                       answer
Sue:    would you do me a favor?          question (pre-request)
Jill:   sure.                             answer (commitment)
Sue:    would you call Al for me?         request
Jill:   sure. no problem                  agree/comment
Sue:    great. thanks.                    comment/thank
Jill:   no problem.                       comment
London School

Firth, Halliday, Sinclair, Crystal/Davy, Quirk/Svartvik,

London-Lund Corpus

exchange analysis

Firth and Halliday as functionalists
context of situation

Halliday develops general concepts for Firth‘s context of situation

Field (activity, subject matter),

Mode (channel, genre),

Tenor (social relations)

Linguistic features associated with situational features
constitute a Register (personal narrative, oral, among friends)

Register coupled with context of culture determine choices in discourse
3 major functional-semantic components:


Experiential: reflecting context of culture

Logical: abstract

Interpersonal: social, expressive, appellative

Textual: coherence in text and context

every clause divides into theme-rheme

every spoken tone group divides into given-new

Hallidayan Systemics naturally applies to texts,
and supplies special category for spoken discourse
Exchange analysis 1

The Birmingham School: Sinclair, Coulthard, Burton; Brazil

Ranks: act, move, exchange, transaction

Exchange as two, three or more moves in length

I(nitiation), R(esponse), F(eedback)


I       What‘s the capital of France, Judy.
R       Uh, Paris?
F       Yes, right.

I       What‘s the capital of France, Judy.
R       Uh, Berlin.
F/I     No. Somebody else? Sally?
R       Paris.
F       Of course.
Exchange analysis 2

General conversation:

I      So, how have you been.
R      Not so well lately.
F      Sorry to hear that.

I      So, how have you been.
R/I    Fine. And you?
R      Not so well lately.
F      Sorry to hear that.

I      So, how have you been.
R      Not so well lately.
F      Sorry to hear that.
R      Well, it can‘t be helped, I guess.
Exchange analysis 3

at some point it‘s all just: R, R, R

I         So, how have you been.
R         Not so well lately.
F         Sorry to hear that.
R         Well, it can‘t be helped, I guess.
R         I suppose not.
R         One just muddles on.
R         That‘s for sure.
I, R, F provide very little analysis,
no distinction of directness, no indication of power, politeness etc.

I         Would you mind closing that window please?
R         Not at all (closing window).
F         Much obliged.
R         My pleasure.

I         Close the window.
R         Close it your bloody self.
F         Imbecile.
R         Same to you.
Conversation Analysis 1

CA: Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson

Sociolinguistcs using conversation as data,
following Goffman, Garfinkle

Turn, move

Adjacency pair

Insertion sequence


Conversation Analysis 2

A:     hi.
B:     hi.
A:     what‘s happening.
B:     not much. what‘s happening with you.
A:     not much. I‘m looking for Judy.
B:     I just saw her at Lou‘s.
A:     really? who else was there?
B:     Fred.
A:     wow. do you have a minute?
B:     yeah.
A:     would you do me a favor?
B:     sure.
A:     would you go to Lou‘s and tell Judy to call me?
B:     sure. no problem.
A:     great. thanks.
B:     no problem.
Insertion sequences

A:      are you coming to the party Thursday?
B:      will Harry be there?
A:      sure.
B:      then yes.
Double insertion sequence:

A:      where can I catch the Saarbahn?
B:      do you know where Landwehrplatz is?
A:      is it just over on the Mainzer Strasse?
B:      yeah.
A:      then I know how to get there.
B:      well, that‘s where you catch the Saarbahn.
Limits on insertion sequences:

A:      where can I catch the Saarbahn?
B:      do you know where Landwehrplatz is?
A:      is it just over on the Mainzer-Strasse?
B:      do you mean Großherzog-Friedrich-Straße?
A:      I guess so.
B:      yeah.
A:      then I know how to get there.
B:      well, that‘s where you catch the Saarbahn.
Pre-sequences 1


Ann:   oh, guess who I saw last night.
Bob:   who?
Ann:   Judy.
Bob:   really?
Ann:   yeah.
       she was at the movies with George.
Bob:   wow.


Ann:   oh, guess who I saw last night.
Bob:   Harry?
Ann:   no, Judy.
Bob:   oh.

Ann:    do you know who I saw at the movies last night?
Bob:    who?
Ann:    Judy.
Bob:    wow.


Ann:    do you know who I saw at the movies last night?
Bob:    no.
Ann:    Judy.
Bob:    oh.

Conclusion: If you can hear a question as a pre-sequence, do so
Theoretical conclusion: any theory of spoken language must include

preference for self-repair


A:       I saw Judy last Tuesday- sorry, Monday.

Other-initiated repair:

A:       I saw Judy last Tuesday.
B:       uh:, Tuesday?
A:       oh, yeah,I saw her Monday at the party.


A:       I saw Judy last Monday.
B:       you mean Tuesday.
A:       yeah, I saw her at Nancy‘s.

People who know what the Saarbahn is,
People who know where Landwehrplatz is,
People who know where the Mainzer-Straße is . . .

Also: People in a restaurant:

We walked into a restaurant and greeted the bartender,
and the wine steward, before the maitre d' reached us.
Conversation openers: Hi, Hi, What's happening? . . .

Summons as opening:

A:       Nancy?
B:       yes?
A:       is that you?
B:       yeah. What do you want?
A:       I just wanted to make sure it was you.
B:       yeah, hi.
A:       hi.

Telephone ring as summons:

A:       ring
B:       hello.
A:       is Bill there?
B:       who is this?
A:       Martha.
B:       oh, hi.
A:       hi Vera.
B:       yeah, I'll get him.
A:       thanks.
Conversation closings

usually with pre-closings:

A:      okay, see you Thursday.
B:      yeah, Thursday.
A:      okay, bye.
B:      yeah, bye.
A:      bye.

A:      so, come and see us if you're ever in Boston.
B:      you bet, thanks.
A:      good to see you.
B:      yeah, take care.
A:      okay, bye.
B:      yeah, bye.
Meaning determined by following turns 1

Brad:    do you want some candy?
Julie:   sure.
Brad:    here (offering dish).

Offer, Acceptance

Brad:    do you want some candy?
Julie:   sure.
Brad:    put it on the shopping list.

Request for Information, Reply
Meaning determined by following turns 2

Ann:    do you want to come along?
Hal:    yes.
Ann:    then we'll need another car.

Request for info, Reply, Justification for question

Ann:    do you want to come along?
Hal:    yes.
Ann:    great.

Offer, Acceptance, Comment

Ann:    do you want to come along?
Hal:    yes.
Ann:    you better be ready in five minutes.
Hal:    okay.

Pre-warning, Reply, Warning
Stories in conversation

Stories as turns:

To initiate adjacency pair, story must signal expected response

and must signal the need for multiple moves via Tellability

Tellability: A new story must be relevant and newsworthy to get and hold
the floor and escape censure at its conclusion

A familiar story may be tellable based not on its content, but on the
dynamics of the narrative event itself

Story content need not be relevant or newsworthy if co-narration holds
the promise of high involvement
Story Preface

Preface argues tellability and signals expected response

do you remember the time . . .

oh God, you won't believe what happened . . .

the first time/last time/only time . . .

it was really weird . . .

Brianne:       so, {laughs} like one week.
               it was one day.
               it was really weird.
               we were in the weirdest mood.
               it was this rainy old day.
Addie:         uh-huh.
Brianne:       and we were just looking through the newspaper at
               and we're like "let's go look at some."
Addie:         {laughs}
Brianne:       and we made these appointments.
               and we went- went all over the place
               and looked at several places we had appointments for.
               it was fun.
Addie:         oh, that‘s cool.
Brianne:       y‘know, just to get some ideas of what the prices are,
               and what we were looking at, and that kind of thing.
Addie:         that‘s pretty neat.

Note: Preface, Evaluation, Response, Result/Resolution
Second Stories 1

Second story functions as the second part of an adjacency pair
tellability based on its response to first part story

second story preface shows understanding, parallel experience etc

I know just what you mean.
The same thing happened to me

Also story topping

oh that‘s nothing. listen to this.
wait‘ll you hear what happened to me.
Second Stories 2

Iris:   Ginger's story reminded me of:
        well I don't know,
        speaking of stupid things you did in your youth.
        {General laughter}
        I went to the orthodontist one time.
        and they . . .
Second Stories 3

Brianne:       yeah.
               see this is one of those things,
               you just got, it comes over you
               and then it {giggles} goes back
               and you forget that it ever
               [happened at all. {laughter}]
Addie:         [oh. {laughing} I know.]
               I know.
               it happened.
Brianne:       {giggles}
Addie:         yeah, it happened to me,
               this year with, em, a different guy.
               em, my friend Tom has a,
               and I have.
               well, Tom's friend Chris,
Brianne:       mhm.
Addie:         is a pretty cool guy
               and I sort of fell for him earlier.
Two linked stories


Mike:           [that‘s right]
                you can‘t wrestle around or bad things will happen.
Jason:          yeah, Roger got [his nose]
Mike:           [you know what] happened
                to my one of my aunt’s friends out in Iowa?
                like when- when she was younger,
                she had a headgear from braces,
                and these two girls were wrestling around
                just playing around, wrestling.
                and one girl pulled her headgear off her mouth
                and let it snap back.
                and it slid up her face
                and stuck in her eyes
                and blinded her.
Jason:          wow.

Mike:           isn‘t that horrid?
                that‘s horrid.
Jason:          [when my-]
Mike:           [blinded her for life.
                isn‘t that horrid.
                that's just- I mean just from goofing around,
Jason:          you know what happened to my aunt Florence
                when she was a little girl?
Mike:           ooh what happened.
Jason:          she was like screwing around
                like around Christmas time?
                and like she,
                I- I guess this was like when they had candles on trees?
                she lit her hair on fire.
Mike:           oh wow.

Repetition, Story Closings, and Response, esp. via second story:
Models of conversational interaction

Conversation as a game
conversational contribution as turn in game
turn as desired commodity in competition

Conversation as a symphony with harmony as goal
conversational contribution as one voice in composition

Conversation as a tapestry
participants weave contributions together into whole

especially Chafe insists: Conversation has no product
conversation is evanescent, and unremarkable,
except for its effect on the relationship between participants
and on their attitudes, primarily about each other

So, what about gender, age, specialist knowledge?
Do all participants have equal rights to turns?
Do all participants have equal power in opening, closing, topic choice?
Interactional Sociolinguistics 1

Gumperz, Goffman; Tannen, Schiffrin


Communication is a social activity
requiring coordinated efforts of two or more participants
in an identifiable speech event (following Hymes)

to participate in speech events,
to create and maintain involvement,
we require knowledge and abilities beyond grammar

Communicative competence as opposed to grammatical competence
Interactional Sociolinguistics 2

Even before we can decide to take part,
we must infer what the interaction is about and what‘s expected of us

once involved, we must signal understanding and goals
either directly in words or indirectly through prosody, gesture etc.

in face-to-face interaction we convey (and must convey) far more than
we can put into words (and grammar) in order to coordinate stategies
and goals

contextualization cues
        signal contextual presuppositions
        allow situated inferences about intentions and speech event
Interactional Sociolinguistics 3

Interactional Sociolinguistics focusses on everything beyond
grammar, lexis and phonology, namely:

        prosody, formulaicity, code-switching, style

intercultural and inter-ethnic communication
effects of sociolinguistic variables on communication

Self and Framing

Interactional Sociolinguistics
follows Goffman‘s notions of Self and Framing

In the ―presentation of self in everyday life‖
the individual defines a self or personality as a social identity

Individuals present a self for ratification by others in social interaction

we adopt a stance putting ourselves on a footing with different groups,
aligning and re-aligning ourselves with other individuals
We frame our interactions in terms of our expectations

we bracket individual acts or stretches of interaction,
signaling our intentions via Gumperz‘ contextualization cues,
and aligning ourselves with certain other participants
Black student to professor about to leave the room
accompanied by other black and white students

Stud:   could I talk to you for a minute?
        I‘m gonna apply for a fellowship
        and I was wondering if I could get a recommendation?
Prof:   okay.
        come along to the office and tell me what you want to do.

As the instructor and the rest of the group left the room,
turning his head to the other students:

Stud:   ahma git me a gig!

framing utterances in different ways
contextualization cues (prosody, formulaicity, lexis)
aligning first with the instructor, then with the students
code-switching from Standard American to African-American Vernacular
Conversational style

Conversational Style (Tannen 1984)

Tannen redefines ―involvement‖ as a scalar property of interaction,
so that styles of interaction are heard as high or low involvement,
where low involvement equals high considerateness

For Gumperz contextualization cues help maintain involvement
but for Tannen contextualization cues distinguish styles

        fast, no pause or overlap, joint production

       considerateness: slow, long pauses, no interruption

High vs low involvement style may characterize

        a type of speaker
        a passage of talk
        a type of discourse,

New Yorkers exhibit higher involvement than Californians,

women exhibit higher involvement than men,

talk between friends exhibits higher involvement than talk among strangers,

storytelling exhibits higher involvement than a lab report
high involvement between conarrators

1 James:       we were in this
2              we were in a peat bog
3 Lois:        uh
4 James:       in Ire- in Ireland.
5              eh no it wasn‘t in Ireland
6              [it was on the Isle of Skye]
7 Lucy:        [no, we were on the Isle of Skye]
8 James:       [sorry, on the Isle of Skye]
9 Lucy:        [right next to the west] coast of Scotland
10 James:      we were right on the north-
11             [right in the north]
12 Lucy:       [new year‘s eve]
13 James:      new year‘s eve
14 Lucy:       freezing cold
15 James:      freezing cold
16 Lucy:       in the middle of nowhere
17             just nothing
18 James:       and we got stuck in this terrible bog.
19              {laughs} and jus-
20              as far as the eye could see
21              it was just bog
22              and we were like walking through it
23              and [it was quite late]
24 Lucy:        [and it was late]
25              and it was becoming dark
26              about five o‘clock
27 Emma:        aw
28 Lucy:        and it was really really cold
29              and we were on our way home
30              after a long walk . . .

overlap, joint production, speaker change, repetition
Involvement 2

Tannen observed differences in women‘s and men‘s styles of

claims men and women engage in cross-cultural communication

Women: higher involvement

- closer together
- more eye contact
- more understanding checks
- more attention signals
- shorter gaps
- more overlap
- shorter turns
- more frequent speaker change
- more egalitarian
- less appeal to expert knowledge
Involvement 3

Men: lower involvement

-farther apart
- less eye contact
- fewer understanding checks
- fewer attention signals
- longer gaps
- less overlap
- longer turns
- less frequent speaker change
- less egalitarian
- more appeal to expert knowledge

Men‘s and women‘s conversational styles clash
causing systematic misunderstandings in everyday interaction

attention to stylistic differences and realization of their effects,
reframing and meta-talk about differences can smooth interaction
Power and Solidarity

Defining Power

Power as a transitive feature of relationships,
though power is ultimately reciprocal (Foucault)

Power as socially constructed through language/discourse,
not given a priori in nature

Power is encoded in the discourses of a community
Power is excercised through and negotiated in Language

Contextualization cues are keys to power in interaction
Power and Solidarity

two related axes

Power: superior, equal, inferior

Solidarity: solidary vs unsolidary

Solidary implies closeness, unsolidary implies distance

Closeness also implies control (power),
while distance renders power differences irrelevant
dominance and subordination

Tannen proposes interrelated axes:

       dominance and subordination

       closeness and distance,

only those approximately equal in power negotiate dominance from one
situation to the next
Ambiguity and paradox in power and solidarity 1

Making a request seems to signal dependence (one-down status),
but it may signal expectation of fulfillment (one-up status)

Sharing possessions seems to signal solidarity (equal status),
but it may signal an attempt to control (one-up status)
Paradox of Power and Solidarity (Tannen)

Simultaneous speech

         co-production (solidarity)
         interruption (power)

A woman overlaps to ―help‖ a man find a word,
but he feels she has interrupted him.

Al:      so we went down to the- the-
Betty:   Safeway
Al:      just give me a minute, okay?
Ambiguity and paradox in power and solidarity 2

formulaic speech

Sue says to Fred: ―Make yourself at home,‖
while she finishes dressing for a party, intending to be friendly (solidarity).
Fred helps himself to a drink from the fridge,
turns on the TV and sits with his feet propped up on the coffee table.
When Sue comes out and sees him, she‘s irate,
because she feels Fred took advantage of her (power).
Fred says, ―You told me to make myself at home.‖

Tannen found systematic differences between men‘s and women‘s

Women‘s higher involvement style is more geared to solidarity
Men‘s lower involvement style is more geared to power
Contextualization Cues

Prosody, repetition, formulaicity, code-switching, simultaneous speech etc


          speech styles
          degrees of involvement/considerateness,


          power, solidarity;
          dominance and subordination,
          closeness and distance
contextualization cues

        mark personal style,
        distinguish different types of discourse,
        foreground the form of speech itself:

Tannen describes contextualization cues as ―Poetics of Speech‖

particularly repetition and formulaicity as expressive devices
Repetition 1

repeats, which perform a specific operation on their original,
repetition, which only contributes to cohesion

repetition to ensure coherence

I gave up my permanent {coughs} my permanent job here.

H       through Bittman in the form of legal fees
        for distribution to these people.
        then you've got it.
P       in the form of legal fees.
        I see.
Repetition 2
repeats spotlight their originals and perform some operation on them

Ste:    one, two, three, four five six, eleven, eight, nine, ten.
Sue:    eleven? eight, nine, ten?
Ste:    eleven, eight, nine, ten.
Sue:    eleven?
Ste:    seven, eight, nine, ten.
Sue:    that's better.

P:      he has turned it over to the Grand Jury.
E:      turned it over to the Justice Department.
A repeat can signal appreciation of its original: often called "savoring."

Rog:    he's a politician.
Al:     yes. I'm a politician. I think I'm greater than all of you.
Rog:    I beg to differ with you.
Al:     hehh heh hhh "I beg to differ with you."
Note so-called laugh tokens
characteristic of Jefferson‘s transcription style.
Repetition 3

A repeat can affirm its original, say after a collaborative reference

A:      she bought a chest of drawers from um what's that gal's name?
        just went back to Michigan. Helen um
B:      oh I know who you mean, Brady, Brady.
A:      yeah, Helen Brady.
B:      m-hm.

Repeat can go on to expand and amplify the original.

E:      and this was in a stone castle, you see. Bloody cold.
F:      a stone castle, and excessively bloody cold.

Repeat with negation serves to deny the original.

G:      they go in the tavern. You can't go in there an-
H:      you can go in there too.

Repeat a phrase or sentence to highlight it

P       he wanted the operation to fail.
        and he admitted it. Admitted it.
Repetition 4

Mark:    you know what happened to my one of my aunt‘s friends out in
         like when- when she was younger,
         she had a headgear from braces,
         and these two girls were wrestling around
         just playing around, wrestling.
         and one girl pulled her headgear off her mouth
         and let it snap back.
         and it slid up her face
         and stuck in her eyes
         and blinded her.
Jacob:    wow.
Mark:    Isn‘t that horrid?
         that’s horrid.
Jacob:   [when my-]
Mark:    [blinded her] for life.
         isn‘t that horrid.
         that's just- I mean just from goofing around,
         just from screwing
         a little bit of screwing around.
Repetition 5

A       yeh I was in the boy scouts at the time
B       and we was doing the 50-yard dash
C       racing
D       but we was at the pier, marked off
E       and so we was doing the 50-yard dash
F       there was about eight or ten of us, you know,
        going down, coming back
G       and, going down the third time, I caught the cramps
H       and I started yelling ―help!‖
I       but the fellows didn‘t believe me, you know
J       they thought I was just trying to catch up
        because I was going on or slowing down
K       so all of them kept going
L       they leave me
M       and so I started going down
N       scoutmaster was up there
O       he was watching me


        recognizable collocations
        preformed--perhaps idiomatic—phrases
        recurrence of patterns created within a text or discourse
        (Tannen's "spontaneous formulaicity").

Formulaic Prefaces and Closings

Prefaces: it was really funny, you’ll never believe what happened

Closings: and I lived to tell about it, and here I am
Spontaneous formulaicity 1

Brianne:       we had a section on figure drawing.
               and we had a model.
Addie:         uh-huh.
Brianne:       it was really weird.
               we had her come,
Addie:         {chuckles}
Brianne:       it was just about two weeks ago.
               and then we did some figure drawing {giggling}.
Addie:         {laughs}
Brianne:       yep.
               and it was really weird,
               because um, then, like, just last week,
               we went downtown one night to see a movie.
Addie:         uh-huh.
Brianne:       and we were sitting in McDonald's,
               waiting for our movie.
               and we saw her in the McDonald's,
Addie:         {laughs}
Spontaneous formulaicity 2

Brianne:       and it was like, "that‘s our model" {laughing}
Addie:         {laughs}
Brianne:       in clothes
               [{laughing} uh we were like]
Addie:         [{laughing} oh my God.]
Brianne:       "oh wow."
               [it was-]
Addie:         [{laughs}]
Brianne:       it was really weird.
Addie:         {laughs}
Brianne:       but it was her. {laughs}
Addie:         oh no.
Brianne:       I mean,
               that’s weird when you run into somebody in Chicago.
Addie:         m-hm, yeah.
Oral Narrative

Oral Narrative is a speech event with its own characteristic structure

Narrative adheres to characteristic frames in various ways

Fairy tale formulas:

Openings: Once upon a time, Long ago and far away

Closings: And they lived happily ever after

Conversational formulas:

Openings: Do you remember the time, Have I told you the story,
The funniest thing that ever happened

Closings: And I lived to tell about it, And so here I am,
I'll never forget it

Literary schemas: exposition, complication, climax, denouement
Labov on narrative 1

Narratives as sociolinguistic data

Personal narrative as most consistent register

Labov's Analysis of Spoken Personal Narrative

narrative defined as a sequence of past tense clauses
sequentially ordered with respect to each other,

minimal narrative at least two such clauses

        he laughed at me.
        then I fought him.

Reversing the order destroys the sequence as a narrative proper
or changes it into a different story:

        I fought him.
        then he laughed at me.
Labov on narrative

fully developed narratives

-Abstract, answers the question ―What was this about?‖

-Orientation, answers the questions ―Who, what, when, where?‖

-Complicating action

-Evaluation, answers the question ―So what?‖

-Result/resolution, answers the question ―What finally happened‖

-Coda, puts off further questions about what happened
ABSTRACT               I remember the most embarrassing moment of
                       my life happened then
                       (during training at Burger King.)
ORIENTATION            It was my first job, and I was nervous
                       and there‘s so much to learn.
                       we were learning the drive-through.
EVALUATION             just the thought of speaking into that microphone.
                       I was so embarrassed.
COMPLICATING           the first time I had to do it,
ACTION                 I said: ―welcome to McDonald‘s.‖
                       and everybody just laughed at me.
RESULT                 I didn‘t try to pull it off as a joke.
CODA                   that was my very first job.


       establishes the point of interest
       emphasizes its unusual character
       demonstrates the teller's involvement with the events
       elicits interest and belief from listeners
       makes a story ―tellable‖
Conversational Narrative


Ellen:   what was your first job?
April:   first job, um oh
         that was at the Halsted Burger King
         in Halsted Minnesota.
Ellen:   that near your house?
April:   about six miles away.
Ellen:   m-hm.
April:   and they- they built it brand new,
         and I was one of the first employees.
         and because of that
         we ah- um we had a head honcho woman
         from International Burger King
         come and train everybody in.
         because there was like thirty of us?
Ellen:   wow. Yeah?
April:   and uh we had about a week of training
         and I remember
         the most embarrassing moment of my life
         happened then. {laughs}
Ellen:   {laughing} what does that mean? {laughing}.
April:   {laughing} um no this is just-
         I can‘t believe I did this
         but- um I was really nerv-
         well it was my first job,
         and I was nervous
         and there‘s so much to learn.
         I mean y‘know there‘s so many things at Burger King
         you have to [make and uh-]
Ellen:   [how old were you?]
April:   I was like a sophomore in high school.
Ellen:   okay.
April:   yeah, [the summer after my sophomore year.]
Ellen:   [you were young,] okay.
April:   and um we were learning the drive-through
         and just the thought of speaking oninto
         that microphone
         and y‘know into outside-
Ellen:   yes.
April:   and you have to pretend to take orders
         and, and I was so embarrassed.
         and the first time I had to do it
         I said ―welcome to McDonald‘s
         [may I take your order?‖]
Ellen:   [oh no {laughing}.]
April:   and everybody just laughed at me {laughing}.
Ellen:   {laughing} did you try and pull it off like a joke
         like you meant to say that?
April:   no. {laughing}
Ellen:   no.
         {laughing} good job.
April:   yeah, that was my very first job.
Conversational Conarration
Familiar stories often entice listeners to participate and become

Patricia:       and I told the story
                about you and the little chipmunk
                out in the garage.
Marsha:         oh. {laughing}
Amy:            I kept- I kept-
                I was just thinking about that the other day.
                that thing scared the heck out of me.
Patricia:       with all with all the:
Amy:            it was twice.
Marsha:         {laughs}
Amy:            it was twice.
                and the first time,
                "there's a rat in there,
                there's a big mouse in there.
                I saw it."
Marsha:         {laughs}
Amy:        "no, there's nothing in there."
            "yes, I saw it."
Marsha:     I wouldn't believe her.
Patricia:   well I went out.
            and set the bag
            it was a bag of cans.
            that was when we were looking for the golf ball,
            cause you hit the ball in the can.
Amy:        yeah and then you found its little cubby holes
            in a box or something.
Patricia:   well, what- what-
Marsha:     you found all the seeds, didn't you?
Patricia:   all the seeds.
Ralph:      all the seeds in a plastic bag.
Patricia:   right by the wood out there.
            and when we moved the wood to clean it
            there was the whole thing.
            it must have sat against the wood
            and then ate all the {laughing} [sunflowers.]
Ralph:      [all the] sunflower seeds.
            all the shells were in [the bag.]
Patricia:   [there were] shells everywhere.
Amy:        yeah and you guys wouldn't believe me.
Marsha:     well I guess there was [something there.]
Patricia:   [well I didn't] the first time
            but the second time I did.
Amy:        scared me both [times.] {laughing}
Marsha:     {laughs}
Amy:        and of course it happened to me.
            you know, nobody else.
Patricia:   little sucker was living in the garage
Ralph:      living it up.
            [and living high on the hog.]
Patricia:   [had it made.]
            he was in out of the cold
            and he had something to eat.
            and, and by the way,
            we have to get a bird feeder.
            I'll have to talk to ma
            and go to that Audubon place.
Frames, Schemas, Scripts

Frame theory

Frames encode our typical expectations for objects and events.

Frame theory has roots in work by Bartlett (1932), Bateson (1953, 1972),
Goffman (1967, 1974)

Tannen (1978, 1979) showed how frame concepts could account for
expectations about interaction and storytelling

frame for conversation
        two people
        talk at a certain volume and tempo
        taking turns speaking
        sticking to a topic
breeches in frame
        frantic screaming
        refusal to let other person talk
        constant interruptiion
        ignoring the current topic
Framing, re-framing and meta-talk

Conversationalists frame and re-frame their interaction
       with contextualization cues
       with meta-talk

meta-talk - explicit statements about talk and interaction

        Let’s have a little chat
        Why do we argue all the time?
        Is that a threat or a promise?
        I don’t mean this as a criticism
story frames 1

frames for stories

        guide tellers in what sorts of stories are appropriate
        what to include in stories
        suggesting to hearers what to expect
        how to respond to stories

Stories that fail to match our frames are hard to understand

        stories without clear causal connections
        stories from other cultural contexts
story frames 2

frame for a traditional romantic love story

        two people meet,
        fall in love,
        experience problems,
        become engaged,
        finally marry,
        go on honeymoon,
        take up housekeeping together
        have children

deletions and reversals yield new stories
Thanks for attending!
 Have a great break!

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