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LINGUIST List 24.4748

Mon Nov 25 2013

Diss: English, Discourse Analysis, Pragmatics, Phonetics, Syntax: Benjamin: 'Signaling Trouble: On the linguistic design ...'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 25-Nov-2013
From: Trevor Benjamin <trevormbenjaminyahoo.ca>
Subject: Signaling Trouble: On the linguistic design of other-initiation of repair in English conversation
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Institution: University of Groningen
Program: Center for Language and Cognition
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Trevor M Benjamin

Dissertation Title: Signaling Trouble: On the linguistic design of other-initiation of repair in English conversation

Dissertation URL: http://dissertations.ub.rug.nl/faculties/arts/2013/t.m.benjamin/

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis

Subject Language(s): English (eng)

Dissertation Director:
Gisela Redeker
Harrie J Mazeland

Dissertation Abstract:

This thesis examines how speakers of English signal that they have trouble
hearing, understanding or accepting what another person has just said. The
principal finding is that speakers regularly offer quite specific diagnoses
of the trouble they are having. For instance, by initiating repair with the
word 'who', produced with falling intonation, a speaker claims that the
trouble is understanding who a pronoun ('he', 'she', 'they') or similar
form ('that guy') is referring to. This differs from 'who' produced with
rising intonation, which addresses other types of troubles (e.g., hearing a
name used). Similarly, it is shown that by repeating what another person
has said, and doing so with high-rise fall intonation, a speaker claims
specifically that the repeated item is 'wrong' and in need of correction.
These and other findings contribute to our understanding of conversational
repair in two main, interlocking ways. First, they highlight the linguistic
variety one finds among these repair initiating actions. They are carefully
coordinated with respect to the words and grammatical constructions
employed, the ways in which these lexico-syntactic items are cohesively
tied to the troublesome talk and, finally, in how they are delivered
prosodically. Second, by demonstrating the diagnostic consequences of these
linguistic choices, this thesis underscores the active role played by the
recipient (the repair-initiating speaker) in the process of repairing
communicative troubles. The resolution of communicative problems, and hence
re-establishment of a shared understanding, is truly an interactional
accomplishment. The study draws its data from recordings of 150 hours of
naturally occurring conversation, and combines linguistic analysis with the
methods and framework of Conversation Analysis.

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