Suspending action

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This paper examines the interactional management of multiple on-going activities via the use of ‘suspension’. We discuss one practice used in achieving suspension, an action combination where items such as wait or hang on first identify on-going or emerging multiactivity and are followed by talk that somehow addresses the interactional contingencies involved. We show that suspension turns are indicative of participants’ orientation to incompatibility between multiple courses of action or activities. This may be related to such local contingencies as mobility, temporality and the use of different embodied resources. The database consists of approximately 36 hours of audio- and video-recorded everyday interactions in English and Finnish from a variety of situations. The study employs the methodology of conversation analysis.


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