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Phonetics and social action in agreements and disagreements

Ogden, R. (2006) Phonetics and social action in agreements and disagreements. Journal of Pragmatics, 38 (10). pp. 1752-1775. ISSN 0378-2166

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This paper integrates sequential, interactional and phonetic analyses to provide an account of how ‘paralinguistic’ features create meaning. The analysis is based on assessment sequences from conversation, which were analysed using the methodology of Conversation Analysis in conjunction with phonetic analysis (cf. Couper-Kuhlen and Selting 1996; Couper-Kuhlen and Ford 2004, and papers therein).

The analysis shows that there is a close relationship between the action conveyed in a turn and its phonetic format. Second assessment turns may be formatted lexically and syntactically as conveying agreement (such as isn’t that good news/yes it's very good news), but given the right phonetic shape, they are treated as projecting disagreement. This highlights the significance of phonetics in participants’ construction of meaning.

The phonetic resources used to convey agreement and disagreement are broadly speaking ‘paralinguistic’, because they are gradient rather than categorial, and do not relate straightforwardly to propositional content. While paralinguistic features are usually said to relate to “the speaker's current affective, attitudinal or emotional state” (Laver 1994:21), this analysis shows that linguistic forms are recurrently mapped on to the actions conveyed by turns at talk, and that the details of these forms are syntagmatically related to the design of prior turns.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > Language and Linguistic Science (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 17 Apr 2009 12:06
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2009 12:06
Published Version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pragma.2005.04.011
Status: Published
Publisher: Elsevier
Identification Number: 10.1016/j.pragma.2005.04.011
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6816

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