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.


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