Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Conversational Analysis in Pragmatics

Conversational Analysis

In pragmatics, the term, Conversational analysis' is used to mean the investigation into and analysis of natural conversation so as to reveal what the linguistic features of conversation is and how conversation is used in ordinary life. That is, conversational analysis studies three things. Those are:

1.     Firstly, the techniques that the speaker employs in deciding when to speak during a conversation, such as rules of turn-taking,
2.     Secondly, the ways in which the utterances of more than one speaker are related, for instance, conversational maxims, adjacency pair, inserted sequence, etc, and
3.     Thirdly, the different functions that conversation is used for, for example, establishing roles, communicating politeness, etc.

These things regarding conversational analysis are described below:
For authentic conversations, turn-taking is a basic component. It refers to the phenomenon of changing the roles of the speaker and the listener when they are engaged in conversations. This happens with remarkably little overlapping speech and remarkably few silences.

However, turns to speak typically occur successively without overlaps or gaps between the speakers. But there are obviously instances of short pauses and short overlaps. Overlapping is dealt with by one speaker ending his/her to quickly, gaps between turns by another speaker beginning his/her turn or simply indicating that his/her turn has begs and, incorporating the silence into it.

Within a conversation, the current speaker can exercise three degrees of control over the next turn. Firstly, s/he can select which participant will speak next, either by naming her/him or by alluding to him/her with a descriptive phrase ‘the Right Honorable Member for Bexley South'. Secondly, s/he can constrain the next utterance, but not select the next speaks. Thirdly, s/he can select neither and leave it to one of t] other participants to continue the conversation by selecting herself/himself.

Besides, speaker change usually takes place at the end of utterances or sentences. If the next speaker or next action has been selected, the next speaker will, take over at -the end of the utterance or sentence during which the selecting was done. If the current speaker has not selected a next speaker in a conversation involving more than two speakers, a self-selecting speaker beginning at a possible completion may well overlap with the current speaker who has decided to continue, or with a second self-selecting speaker. The problem is usually remedied quickly by one of the speakers yielding the floor. That is, a speaker is vulnerable at every utterance or sentence completion whether he/she selects the next speaker or action or not. And even if he/she gets past one utterance or sentence completion he/she is equally vulnerable at the end of the next utterance or sentence.

Preference Organization
The term, 'Preference organization' refers to the phenomenon that son first pair parts allow for alternative seconds, for example, Thanks’ is preferred after 'congratulations'. Preference organization has been developed from the notion of ‘adjacency Pair’ by work by Pomerantz (1978, 1984), Atkinson and Drew 1979) and Levinson (1983). When one invites other one, the other person usually accepts the invitation and it is termed preferred organization. But when the invitation is not accepted and the other person expresses regrets, it is ‘dispreferred organization’. This distinction may have a psychological basis and explanation, but also has linguistic realizations: ‘preferred seconds are unmarked- they occur as structurally simpler turns; in contrast dispreferred seconds are marked by various kinds of structural complexity’ (Levinson 1983: 307).
For example:
            A: Why don't you come up and see me some/ /times.
            B: I would like to.
C: Uh if you'd care to come and visit a little while this morning I'll give you a cup of coffee.
D: hehh well that's awfully sweet of you
           I don't think I can make it this morning
hh  uhm I'm      running
An ad in the paper and uh I have to stay near the phone (ACCOUNT)
Levinson (1983) observes that dispreferred seconds are distinguished by incorporating a substantial number of the following features:
(a) Delays:
1.     by pause before delivery;
2.     by the use of a preface;
3.     by displacement over a number of turns via use of repair initiators or insertion sequences.

         (b) Prefaces:
1.     the use of markers or announcers dispreferreds like Uh and well;
2.     the production of token agreements before disagreements;
3.     the use of appreciations if relevant ;
4.     the use of  apologies if relevant;
5.     the use of qualifiers;
6.     Hesitation in various forms, including s editing.
(c)  Accounts:
Carefully formulated explanations for why dispreferred act is being done.
(c)  Declination component:
Of a form suited to the nature of the first part of pair, but characteristically indirect or mitigated.
However, Schegloff et al. (1977) argues that conversationalists prefer the speaker to correct his/her own mistakes rather than have to correct them for him/her and that he/she therefore use a series of 'repair initiator devices ranging from pausing to return question, to actual, frequently mitigated, correction:
A: But y’ know single beds are awfully thin to sleep
B: What?
        A: Single beds. / / they’re -
        C: Y’ mean narrow?
A: They're awfully narrow yeah.

Then, we can also now see a general explanation for 'pre-invitations', 'pre-requests' and 'pre-arrangements'– they are psychologically motivated structures to avoid loss of face for one or both participants resulting from a dispreferred second having to be preformed.
JACK: Say what ya do in?
JUDY: Well, we're going out. Why?
JACK: Oh, I was just gonna say come out and come over here and talk to the people.
1.     Can you fix this needle?
2.     Sure.
1.     Will you?
2.     I’m busy.
3.     I just wanted to know if you can fix it.
Adjacency pair:
In pragmatics, a branch of linguistics, an adjacency pair is an example of conversational turn-taking. An adjacency pair is composed of two utterances by two speakers, one after the other. The speaking of the first utterance (the first-pair part, or the first turn) provokes a responding utterance (the second-pair part, or the second turn). Together the two turns constitute an adjacency pair. For example, a question such as "What's your name?" requires the addressee to provide an answer in the following turn, thus completing the adjacency pair. A satisfactory response could be "I'm James".
Cook (1989:156) holds: “two types of conversation which typically occur together form an adjacency pair”. Sacks (1967) also observe that, a conversation is a string of two turns. Some turns are more closely related than others, and isolates a class of sequences of turns called adjacency pair.   However, Sacks proposes a number of features of ‘Adjacency pair’, which has been given below:   
  1. They are two utterances long,
  2. The utterances are produced successively produced by different speakers;
  3. The utterances are ordered- the first must belong to the class of first ‘pair parts’, the second to the class of ‘second pair parts’;
  4. The utterances are related, not any second pair can follow any first pair part, but only an appropriate one;
  5. The first pair part often selects next action- it thus sets up’ transition relevance’ and expectation which the next speaker fulfils; in other words, the first part of a pair predicts the occurrence of the second: given a question, regularly enough an answer will follow.  
  6. There is a class of first pair parts which include questions, greetings, challenges, acknowledgements, requests, offers, complaints, invitations, announcements etc; for some first pair parts the second pair part is reciprocal (greeting-greeting), for some only there is only one appropriate second (question-answer), for some more than one (complain-apology/justification).
    For example:           
1.      greeting → greeting
2.     "Heya!" → "Oh, hi!"
3.     offer → acceptance/rejection
     "Would you like to visit the museum with me this evening?" → "I'd love to!"
  • request → acceptance/rejection
   "Is it OK if I borrow this book?" → "I'd rather you didn't, it's due back at the        library tomorrow"
  • question → answer
   "What does this big red button do?" → "It causes two-thirds of the universe to implode"
  • complaint → excuse/remedy
    "It's awfully cold in here" → "Oh, sorry, I'll close the window"
  • degreeting → degreeting
    "See you!" → "Yeah, see you later!"

But looking at conversations we often find that a first pair part (eg a question) is sometimes followed by something that is clearly not an 'answer' in the required sense - it might be a refusal to answer, a redirection to somebody else, a challenge to the questioner's right or competence to ask that question, and so on.
If we look at a collection of 'unexpected' responses we'll find that they are done differently from 'expected' ones. They are not so prompt, and will have a hedge, or a request for clarification, or an account, or something that alludes to a difficulty or an excuse.
A: "why don't you come to our party on Saturday?"
B: "Well I'd like to but it's Hannah's birthday" [marked rejection]
This latter is an example of what is called a 'dispreferred' response. The rejection is (it is empirically found) marked by hesitation and hedging and an account of why the preferred response wasn't given. The mark is so powerful that it alone will suffice as a rejection:
A: "why don't you come to our party on Sunday?"
B: "Well ..."
And A knows that B is declining the invitation.
 But what will happen if it gave the dispreferred reply without marking it:
A:"why don't you come to our party on Sunday?" 
B: "No"

That would look strange and rude. We would infer something about what B was saying (e.g. that they were sulking). The in formativeness of such deviation shows us that the substance of the dispreferred SPP (e.g. that it is a rejection) and its markers (e.g. a pause, a hedge) normally go together. 

So there are four possibilities: (commonly) expected and unexpected answer which can be either marked or unmarked. Commonly expected answers tend strongly to be unmarked.

Psychological or statistical:
It is important to appreciate that 'dispreferredness' is not a psychological evaluation of the response. It's purely a frequency judgment. The more frequent response to a greeting inquiry about your health is 'fine, thanks, and you?'. But it's not meant to be an accurate report. It's just a feature of the system that it has 'standard' responses. It's useful because if someone wants to communicate that he is not fine, then all he need to do is hesitate and delay. The listener will work out that he is giving the 'non-standard' response (and, in this case, are therefore not well).
In this example we can see a speaker calculating what her or his listener's silence means:
A: So I was wondering would you be in your office in Monday by any chance
B: Probably not

A is explicitly recognizing that the other speaker has not done the proper thing (replied quickly), but A does not simply pass over it; s/he assumes that B has some reason not to respond quickly, that not-responding-quickly means something. Given (as we noted in the last lecture) that preliminary pauses are generally used as markers of dispreferred responses. A infers that what is coming is a rejection and moves to deal with it. 
Moreover, adjacency pairs are in the basic structural units in conversation. They are employed for closing and opening conversations, and are very important in conversations both for operating and turn taking system by enabling a speaker to select the next action, and next speaker, and for enabling the next speaker to avoid both gap and overlap. In fine, adjacency pairs of the structure of conversation and are studied in conversational analysis.

Insertion sequence:
An insertion sequence is a sequence of turns that intervenes between the first and second parts of an adjacency pair.
The person towards whom the first part of an adjacency pair has been directed may want to undertake some preliminary action before responding with the second part .a request for clarification by the recipient will take place after the first pair part but before the second pair part .this is an insertion sequence. Here turn 1 and 4 make up one adjacency pair inserted between the two parts of the first pair.
1.     P: Martin would you like to dance
2.     M: Is the floor is slippery?
3.     P: No its fine.
4.     M: then I’d be happy to dance

Moreover, it can be defined as, the phenomenon of embedding; of one pair occurring inside another is noticeable in conversations. Schegloff (1972) terms this type of embedded pairs Inserted sequence. Cook (1989:156) holds: insertion sequence: one set of related conversational turns occurring within, and helping the bracketed part of the following conversation;
A: Did you enjoy the meal?
(B: Did you?
A: Yes.)
B: so did I.

Furthermore, during the inserted sequence, the original question retains its transition relevance, and if the second speaker does not then produce an answer it is noticeably absent in exactly the same way as it would be if there were no intervening sequence, and the questioner can complain about the lack of answer in exactly the same way. Adjacency pairs are normative structures, the second part ought to occur, and thus the other sequences are inserted between the first pair part that has occurred and the second pair part that is anticipated.

It is, finally, interesting that an inserted sequence can itself contain inserted sequences:
A: Are you coming tonight?
B: Can I bring a guest?
A: Male or female?
B: What difference does that make?
A: An issue of balance.
B: Female.
A: Sure.
B: I’ll be there.

Side Sequence
In the case of side sequence, Jefferson (1972) observes that the general drift of conversation is sometimes halted at an unpredictable point a request for clarification and then the conversation picks again where it left off. She, from this observation, proposes type of embedded sequence different form Schegloff’s insertion sequence and labels 'side sequence', for example, italic part of the following conversation:
  • One, two, three, (pause), four, five, six, (pa seven, eight, nine, ten.
  • Eleven?- eight, nine, ten.
  •  Eleven, eight, nine, ten.
  •  Eleven?
  • Seven, eight, nine, ten.
  • That's better.
Jefferson initially suggests that the 'misapprehension sequence', a well-known type of 'side sequence' has a three-part structure consisting of:
(a)  a statement of sorts,
(b) a misapprehension of sorts, and
(c)  a clarification of sorts, for example:
Statement: A: If Percy goes with - Nixon I'd sure like that.
Misapprehension: B: Who?
Clarification: A: Percy. That young fella that uh- his daughter was murdered.
Terminator: B: Oh Yea: h. Yeah.

Topic change:
Topic change is a technical way to avoid the topic which one no longer wants to talk on a same topic for a long time. It is a natural phenomenon occurring in conversation. Sacks(1971) observes that in a conversation which is progressing well talk grits from one topic to another, and suggests that the relative frequency of marked topic introduction is some measure of the quality of a conversation. Since people do not talk on the same topic for long, ’topic change’ takes place.

As Sacks (1968) stresses, talking topically and talking about some topic chosen by another speaker is not the same thing at all.  One can perfectly well have a sequence in which successive speakers talk in a way topically coherent with the last utterance, but in which each speaker talks on a different topic. Speakers are aware of this as a problem and have ways of formulating a topic to make it more likely that other speakers will talk to it. Sacks exemplifies with a hypothetical speaker who wants to talk about surfing:

                                A: I was at Malibu yesterday.
                                B: Yeah? I was at County Line.
                                A: How was it?
                                B: Too low tide.

Topic Conflict:
Topic conflict is also a technical term which refers to two speakers who want to develop the topic in different ways. Both fight because they know there will be no further opportunity to say what they want to say. , there goes on a competitive talk within conversations. This competition between two speakers generates ‘topic conflict’. For example:

                                Roger: Isn’t the New Pike depressing?
                                Ken: Hi the Pike?
                                Roger: Yeah! Oh the place is disgusting.
Jim: Any day of the week I think that P.O P. is depressing      it’s just-
                                Roger: But you go- you go- take-
                                Jim: Those guys are losing money.     (Sacks: 1967)

Utterances normally relate back to the previous utterance- here Roger and Jim compete by skip-connecting, relating back to the last-but-one utterance, their own. Each time one of them gets a turn he declines to talk about the previous speaker’s topic and reasserts his own. Skip-connecting is not an uncommon phenomenon, but apparently speakers only skip-connect over one utterance. When this competition has been resolved, the conversation moves forward again.

Work Cited:

1.     Maniruzzaman, Dr. M. 2006. Introduction to English Language Study. Dhaka: Friend Book corner.
2.     Schegloff, E A.1968.Sequencing in Conversational Openings.American Anthropologist 70, 6:1075-95.
3.     Sacks, H, Schegolff, E.A. and Jefferson, G.1974. “A Simpliest Systematics for the Organization of turn-Taking for Conversation”. Language 50, 4:696-735.
4.     Levinson, S C.1983. Pragmatics.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
5.     Cook, G. 1989. Discourse.Oxford:Oxford University Press.
6.     Jefferson, G. 1972.”Side Sequences”. In Sudnow, D (ed). Studies in social Interation: 294-338.New York Free press.

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