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At the intersection of turn and sequence organization

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Abstract

In this chapter I introduce the notion of &#8216;<i>slots&#8217;</i> as a unit used in the composition of type-conforming responses to yes/no type interrogatives (or YNIs) in English. Specifically, I show that speakers can compose type-conforming responses by reference to two (internally organized) <i>slots</i> associated with the relevancies set in motion by a YNI initiating action: a [response to the interrogative] and a [response to the action] that it conveys. Examining a collection of type-conforming responses I first show that &#8216;<i>slots&#8217;</i> can be distinguished from <i>turn constructional units</i> (or TCUs, Sacks et al. 1974) by establishing that variations in such responses cannot be reduced to this more familiar unit. For example, in cases where talk past a <i>yes</i> or <i>no</i> is relevant type-conforming responses can be composed of materials drawn from (at least) <i>two</i> distinct TCU <i>types </i>(one for each slot) that are packaged within a <i>single</i> <i>intonation contour</i>; in other cases, speakers can devote <i>two</i> TCUs to manage the relevancies associated with a <i>single</i> slot. Second, I describe the basic features of an &#8216;unmarked&#8217; [response to interrogative] and show that a dense array of alternative actions can be composed via speaker&#8217;s alterations to one or more of the material elements used to compose it. Through these observations I illustrate how speakers adapt the material resources used to compose their <i>turns</i> to the relevancies posed by the <i>sequence</i> of action to which they contribute. That is, by focusing on variations in type-conforming responses I show how the complex obligations entailed in normatively organized social action are fulfilled in talk-in-interaction, and how the primary constituents of turn organization &#8211; grammar, prosody, and word selection &#8211; are manipulated and pressed into service on their behalf.

References

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