Sound Patterns in Interaction: Cross-linguistic Studies from Conversation

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Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen , Cecilia E. This collection of original papers by eminent phoneticians, linguists and sociologists offers the most recent findings on phonetic design in interactional discourse available in an edited collection.

The Sound Patterns of Language (Linguistics / Dilbilim 56)

The chapters examine the organization of phonetic detail in relation to social actions in talk-in-interaction based on data drawn from diverse languages: Japanese, English, Finnish, and German, as well as from diverse speakers: children, fluent adults and adults with language loss. Because similar methodology is deployed for the investigation of similar conversational tasks in different languages, the collection paves the way towards a cross-linguistic phonology for conversation.

The studies reported in the volume make it clear that language-specific constraints are at work in determining exactly which phonetic and prosodic resources are deployed for a given purpose and how they articulate with grammar in different cultures and speech communities. Practices and resources for turn transition. Nonmodal voice quality and turntaking in Finnish. Prosody for marking transitionrelevance places in Japanese conversation. Turnfinal intonation in English. Prosodic resources turntaking and overlap in childrens talkininteraction.

1 Introduction

Projecting and expanding turns. Ford and BarbaraA. Fox, identifies phonetic and embodied practices used in American English forinviting recipient laughter, including smiley voice, modulation of pitch andloudness, laryngealization, and audible breathing, among others. These chapterstake a variety of approaches. In addition to highlighting the primarycontributions of the preceding chapter, these comments introduce relevanttheoretical background, conduct further analysis of an example from thepreceding chapter, ask questions of its author, or raise questions for furtherresearch.

Each takes a detailed, qualitative approach to oneinteraction at a time, with several authors stating explicitly that the examplesthey choose to illustrate their points are representative of a larger set ofsimilar cases. In the chapters that use them, acoustic analyses are, overall,rigorous and convincing. The commenting chapters encourage the reader to thinkmore deeply about some aspect s of the preceding chapter; I found these toenhance the reading experience greatly. It cannot be overstated how helpful the accompanying website was for readingthis book.

I believe thisfeature of the book can serve as an example for any publications that take soundvariation into account for an analysis of interaction. While the book emphasizes its grounding in interactional linguistics, it willalso appeal to readers who come from different theoretical backgrounds.

The Phonetics and Phonology of Bilingualism

Several fields ofstudy have hypothesized or identified relationships between prosody andinteraction outside of interactional linguistics, e. Gumperz ; Tannen [] ,and sociophonetics e. Hay and Drager ; Podesva ; Yaeger-Dror et al Though each of these fields has its own distinct theoretical andmethodological underpinnings, I believe researchers from a variety of approacheswill find chapters in this book of interest. Nonetheless, to readers who are less familiar with the methods of CA, argumentsmade in some chapters may not be entirely convincing, particularly when claimssupported by evidence from a single language or speech community are implied tobe universal.


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It is unfortunate that such a useful and thought-provoking volume is hampered bypoor proofreading. Throughout the book the reader finds a distracting number ofmisspellings, missing letters, misuses of punctuation, and formatting problems. Additionally, not all of the authors provided their transcription conventions,which is a problem for readability and interpretation, particularly sincedifferent conventions are used across the chapters.

Some authors e.

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Selting,Local et al, and Wells refer the reader to existing transcription systems;however, it would be much more convenient to have at least some basicconventions explained in the chapter itself or in a footnote or appendix ,rather than leaving the reader to go look outside the book for explanation. This book is recommended toreaders from any field who have an interest in the interactional functions ofprosody. Ford eds. Sound patterns ininteraction: Cross-linguistic studies from conversation.

Amsterdam: Benjamins. Prosody inconversation: Interactional studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goffman, Erving.

In Forms of talk, Philadelphia:University of Pennsylvania Press. Gumperz, John. The conversational analysis of interethnic communication. Lamar Ross ed.

Typological Studies in Language Series

Athens, Ga. Annual Review ofAnthropology Podesva, Robert J. Salience and the social meaning of declarativecontours: Three case studies of gay professionals. Journal of EnglishLinguistics 39 3. Studies ininteractional linguistics.