Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Adjacency pairs

Adjacency pairs are "Pairs of utterances in talk are often mutually dependent" (McCarthy, p119). They are considered to be an automatic sequences consisting of a first part and a second part. These parts are produced by the different participants in a conversation. After the speaker utters the first part, the first speaker immediately expects his conversation partner to utter the second part of the pair. The most obvious example of adjacency pairs are thanking-response, request-acceptance, and question-answer sequences. In addition to, opening sequences and greetings typically contain adjacency pairs (Pöhacker, 05.Feb.2010). The following example illustrates:
A: Congratulations on the new job, by the way.
B: Oh, thanks.
A: I've just passed my driving test.
B: Oh, congratulations.
A: Thanks.
(McCarthy, p122)

If the second participant fail to provide the second part, there will be a kind of conversational disrupt. Thus, the adjacency pairs are considered to be one of the factor that contribute to the flow of conversation.

Consequently, there are more than one factor that help to accomplish smooth conversation in order to minimize the gap and overlaps between the turns during an interaction. Those elements are turn taking rules, turn taking cues and the organization of sequence.

Sequence organization

The organization of turn taking seems to be one of the fundamental organizations of the practice of talk during an interaction. That is because, turn taking organization achieves responsiveness. One participant is able to show that what he is saying and doing is responsive to what the other participant has said and done. (Schecloff, 2010 P1 ). The minimal unit of interaction is an exchange of at least a pair in which exchange of interaction is occurred. Adjacency Paris is considered to be one form of turn sequence in conversation.

III. Back-channel

It is different from the above mentioned phenomena which are problems in conversation; back-channel is used to make conversation smoother because it has the ability to minimize gaps and overlaps. While the speaker is talking, the listener does not remain silent, but rather provides verbal and non-verbal response without the intention to take the turn (Pöhacker, 15.Feb.2010). Back-channel is used by the listener to give signals that show that the messages are delivered. It is important because it indicates that the listener pays attention to the speaker and still in the conversation. There two kinds of back-channel; it can be verbal like " Right", "cool", "great" and "really. It can be also verbal but not lexical such as "um", "Oh", "ah", and "mm". The other kind is the non-verbal like laughing, crying and shouting.

II. Silence

Silence happens in conversation when no party self-select or the pointed participant refuses to take the turn. Turn-taking rules have three options In order to achieve continuity of talk. But the refusal to apply such options is permitted and results in silence. Silence can be divided into different kinds of non-speech; lapse, pause, and gap which are assessed according to their placement in the turn and the exchange. At TRP if current speaker stops and none of options for next turn is used, there is a lapse of the turn (Herman, 83). "Any transition where none of the options to speak has been employed, the possibility of a lapse and discontinuous talk arises " (Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson, p715). Examples of lapse:
(1) J: Oh I could drive if you want me to.
(2) C: well no I'll drive (I don't m//in')
(3) J: hhh
(4) (1.0)
(5) J: Meant to offah.
(6) (16.0)
(7) J: Those shoes look nice when you keep
on putting stuff on 'em.

(Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson., p715)

Lapse is obvious in line four and line six. It is an extended period of time which results from the refusal to apply the option of turn-taking rules. speaker C does not self- selects himself in line five and speaker J does not select him, so lapse occurs in line four.

Pause is an intra-turn speaker's silence not at TRP. It is due to hesitation or keeping the turn. "It happens when the speaker find it difficult to select the appropriate word or it might be rhetorical, as a kind of upbeat for something important will follow (Levelt, p 33)". Example for Pause:
(1) Jan : Dave (0.1) is something wrong?
(2) Dave : What? What's wrong?
(3) Jan : Never mind.

In this example there is a pause in line one. It is silence within the turn due to hesitation or in order to keep the turn. According to Herman, gap is silence at the end of a turn which is delayed and this silence is filled by some speaker and thus minimized (p83). Gaps occur between turn after TRP. Example for Gaps:
(1) A: (0:013) sure, I will give it to you.
(2) B: Thanks.

Here the gap occurs at the TRP after the current speaker select the next speaker or when the next speaker self-selects himself. So it occurs between turns.

Turn-taking features

There are features that accompany the turn taking process and affect the exchange of turns among participants in conversation. These features either facilitate the conversation to pass smoothly or hinder the flow of speech. The most widely known features in conversation are overlaps, back-channel, interruption and gaps.

I. Overlap

One of the main of objectives of turn-taking is conversation with the minimal gaps and overlaps, a question must be raised here, what is meant by both gap and overlap and how they affect the conversation and turn taking system. Although participants generally abide by the rules of turn taking system, brief overlap may occur when two participants compete for the floor. A self-selecting speaker overlaps with a current speaker at a TRP and one of them has to leave the floor, thereby acknowledging the other right to the turn (Pöhacker, 15.Feb.2010). When overlap happens the current speaker does not yield the floor, but rather he rejects the interruption by speaking more loudly, more quickly and in a higher pitch (Coulthard, p58).Thus, Overlap happens spontaneously by self-selection when a current speaker does not select next speaker and a self-selecting speaker begins at a possible completion point may overlap with current speaker current speaker who decides to continue or with a second self-selecting speaker at a TRP. For example:
(1) A: Mary's invited us to lunch. Do ya wanna go?
(2) B: Sure. I'm not busy right now.
(3) A: Good.
(4) B: Think we oughta bring anything?

(Pöhacker, 15. Feb.2010)

In this example, in line three speakers A expects that Speaker B finishes his turn at the first TRP and Speaker A self-selects himself, but the speaker B does not and continues his turn, so the next speaker overlaps with the current speaker. Speaker A gives the floor the speaker B in line four and stop talking in order to repair the error in conversation.
Overlap occurs unintentionally and at the transition relevance place. It is considered to be supportive and does not violate the turn taking norms. It is different from the concept of interruption. Interruptions "refer to simultaneous talk that does not occur at or near a TRP" (Nofsinger, p102). In interruption a participant interrupts the speaker intentionally and turn is cut off before reaching the TRP. Interruption occurs when a participant during a conversation interrupts the speaker because he wants to say something at the moment. So, he interrupts the speaker and forces him to stop before reaching TRP.

Turn-taking cues

One of the questions that are asked about turn-taking all of the time is how speakers signal that they are ready to stop and let the other person start (Hudson, p136). Since Transfer of turn occurs at a transition relevance place, the end of the turn must be marked by some cues that indicate to listener that speaker is about to finish his turn and to be ready to take the turn and consequently minimizing the gaps and overlaps between turns. These cues can be verbal or non-verbal. Duncan is considered to be the first one who introduces these cues. He identifies six cues as turn signals in conversation five of them are verbal: intonation, drawl, body motion, sociocentric sequences, pitch, and syntax (Gibbon, 07.Nov.09). Moreover, eye-movements are considered to be of such cues. Research has shown that we normally look at the other person's eyes for much longer time when we listen than when we speak. So, when we are about to stop speaking and start listening, we look at the other person's eyes in anticipation for our role as listener. In the contrary, the other looks down when he is about to start his turn in anticipation of change of role (Hudson, p136). Turn-taking cues whether it is verbal or non-verbal differ from one culture to another. There is a very clear example of non-verbal behavior is most culture. It is the use of head movements to indicate ' Yes' or ' No'. There are cultural differences in the use of head movement for each meaning. For 'yes', some cultures like Western Europe and the United States use a top-to bottom movement, while other cultures like The East Mediterranean use a bottom-to-top movement (Hudson, P137).

Turn-taking Rules

In conversation, Participants could not take the control as they want. Thus, there must be a set of rules governs when a speaker takes the turn, gives turn, or keeps it. These rules are proposed to make sure that there is only one participant who speaks at a time in order to minimize gaps and overlaps in each turn change. Thus, Sacks et al. propose a set of rules governing the turn-taking. These rules have ordered options and operate at the initial TRP. The following rules are considered to be the basic rules that govern turn construction:

  1. For any turn, at the initial transition-relevance place of an initial turn-constructional unit:
    a) If the turn-so-far is so constructed as to involve the use of a 'current speaker selects next' technique, then the party so selected has the right and is obliged to take next turn to speak; no others have such rights or obligation, and transfer occurs at that place.
b) If the turn-so-far is so constructed as not to involve the use a ' current speaker . selects next' technique, then self-selection for next speakership may, but need . not, be instituted; first starter acquires rights to a turn, and transfer occurs at . that place.
c) If the turn-so-far is so constructed as not to involve the use of a ' current . speaker selects next' technique, then current speaker may, but need not . continue, unless another self-selection.

2. If, at the initial transition-relevance place of an initial turn-constructional unit, neither 1a nor 1b has operated, and, following the provision of 1c, current speaker has continued, then the rule-set a-c re-applies at the next transition-relevance place, and recursively at each next transition-relevance place, until transfer is effected.
(Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson, p704)

So, the first rule is applied on the first TRP and it has three options. The First option states that if the current speaker chooses the next speaker, then the next speaker is obliged to take the turn and the current speaker stop. The second option states that if the current speaker does not select the next speaker, then any other party willing to speak may self-select. The first speaker gains the right to the next turn. The third option states that if the current speaker does not select the next speaker and no party self-select, so the current speaker may but need not continue. The second rule is applied on the subsequent TRP and states that if neither the first option nor the second can be applied nor the current speaker continues, then all rules should be re-applied on the next TRP until the transfer is achieved. These rules apply in order which means that the later rules only come into play if the earlier ones have not been invoked.