Position And Identity Of Turn Taking Essay

Position And Identity Of Turn Taking Essay

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Position and Identity in Turn-Taking

Turn-taking is an essential feature for every conversation, and its pattern can be very different for speakers with distinct position and identity. A model for turn-taking organization was first proposed by Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson (1974), which included components such as construction and distribution of talk among participants. The components are by themselves factual and context-free, however, they can also be sensitive to context and serve as useful tools for conversational analysis (Sacks, Schegloff & Jefferson, 1974). In 2001, Li & Yu developed a more specific framework for quantitative turn-taking analysis that focused on five main features including initiation and control of topics, turn length, turn-type, interruption and turn-control strategies. By applying these five features on the drama Death of a Salesman, Li & Yu (2001) demonstrated the explanatory power of their turn-taking framework in addition to its descriptive adequacy. The present paper aims to use Li & Yu (2001)’s framework to analyze turn-taking in a conversation between Nicola, a mother, and her 13-year-old son Jordan, in relation to their position and identity.
Context and Participants
My data was collected from BBC Radio 4 “The Listening Project”. The project aimed to collect intimate conversations between friends or relatives to build a unique picture of British people’s lives today. During the recording sessions, participants were sitting in a comfy, caravan-like vehicle while having a conversation.
For this project, Nicola discussed with her son Jordan about his aspiration of joining the army. Nicola was a nurse who had a realistic outlook of the hardship and grim possibilities of a military career. In contra...


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... the conversational turns quite well to fulfill the purpose of exploring Jordan’s opinions as well as sharing her own thoughts. On the other hand, Jordan followed his mom’s lead on the topic and tried to come up with answers to all the questions she asked, which showed that he was quite respectful son. Although having equal turns to speak, Jordan made shorter claims without elaborating on them. Jordan also exhibited a high-involvement style characterized by more interruption and overlaps, and used less turn-control strategies compared to Nicola did. Jordan’s turn-taking style matched his identity as a teenage boy, who handled conversations in a less sophisticated way and was eager to share his views with others. To conclude, the present analysis provided supporting evidence for the usefulness of the turn-taking framework in exploring speakers’ position and identity.

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