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Interruption and Turn-taking

Claus Brockmeyer Caroline Smieja

Turn construction units (TCUs)

TCUs are turns at talk, e.g. in sentences, clauses, single words or phrases

The two components of the turntaking model

1: TCUs have the property of projectability: it is possible for participants to project, in the course of TCU, what sort of unit it is and at what point it is likely to end. 2: TCUs have transition-relevance places (TRPs) at their boundaries: at the end of each TCU there is the possibility for legitimate transition between speakers (example)

Interruptions - definition (West / Zimmermann; 1975,1983)

have the potential to disrupt a speakers turn and disorganize ongoing construction of the conversational topic of the first speaker; regarded as a hostile act

Interruptions - definition (West / Zimmermann; 1975,1983)

A second speaker begins speaking at what could not be a TRP; a violation of the first speakers turn; a device for exercising power and control in a conversation; a deep intrusion & penetration of first speakers utterance;

1. Interruption definition: (Jennifer Coates)

Violation of turn-taking rules of conversation. The next speaker begins to speak while the current speaker is still speaking, at a point in the current speaker`s turn which could not be defined as the last word.

2. Interruption definition: (Jennifer Coates)

Interruptions break the symmetry of the conversational model: the interruption prevents the first speaker from finishing his/her turn, at the same time gaining a turn for oneself (second speaker).

Rules for Turn-taking: (Sacks, Schegloff, Jefferson, 1974)

a) current speaker selects next speaker b) next speaker self-selects c) current speaker continues

Violation of the turn-taking model (Jennifer Coates)

grabbing the floor hogging the floor (taking the floor although other speaker was selected) not responding (silence)

Definitions of overlap
Bennett (1981) : Overlap is when two voices are going on at the same time.

Definitions of overlap
West / Zimmerman (1975/1983) : An overlap is an instance of simultaneous speech where a speaker other than the current speaker begins to speak at, or very close to a possible TRP in a current speakers utterance. It is this proximity to a legitimate point of speaker alternation that leads to distinguish overlaps from interruptions.

Definitions of overlap
Coates (2003) : instances of slight overanticipation by the next speaker. Over-anticipation does not necessarily force the first speaker to finish his / her turn.

Interruption vs. Overlap (Tannen 1990)

High-involvement style High-considerateness style

Interruption vs. Overlap (Tannen 1990)

High-involvement style: - little / no pause - supportive tags (hms, yes, ok.) - overlapping questions - fast-paced latching (elaborating on a topic) - conversation is not disrupted - shows interest and rapport

Interruption vs. Overlap (Tannen 1990)

High-considerateness style : favour longer pauses averse to overlaps await TRP no sudden topic shifts

different conversational styles subculture, culture, individual style and predisposition situation hierarchy / relationship of the speakers

research is still going on.