Retrospection and Understanding in Interaction

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This paper shows how understanding in interaction is informed by temporality, and in particular, by the workings of retrospection. Under­standing is a temporally extended, sequentially organized process. Tempo­rality, namely, the sequential relationship of turn positions, equips partici­pants with default mechanisms to display understandings and to expect such displays. These mechanisms require local management of turn-taking to be in order, i.e., the possibility and the expectation to respond locally and reciprocally to prior turns at talk. Sequential positions of turns in in­teraction provide an infrastructure for displaying understanding and accom­plishing intersubjectivity. Linguistic practices specialized in dis­playing particular kinds of (not) understanding are adapted to the individual sequential positions with respect to an action-to-be-understood.


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