Volume 21, Issue 3
  • ISSN 1018-2101
  • E-ISSN: 2406-4238


Using a conversation analytic methodology, this report looks at conversations in English in which lengthy silences are regularly present. These silences are treated as unproblematic in this corpus. They apparently deviate from the proposals that gaps are minimized (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson 1974) and that there is a standard maximum silence of one second (Jefferson, 1988). This is discussed in light of context and culture. Then the robustness of some features of the organisation of sequences (Schegloff 2007) and turn- taking (Sacks, Schegloff, & Jefferson 1974) are considered. Finally, solutions are compared for rendering lengthy silences in such a way that their meaning is preserved in conversation analytic transcripts or others that include timed silences.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Bateson, G
    (1935) Culture contact and schismogenesis. Man 35: 178-183. doi: 10.2307/2789408
    https://doi.org/10.2307/2789408 [Google Scholar]
  2. Dickerson, P. , P. Stribling , and J. Rae
    (2007) Tapping into interaction: How children with autistic spectrum disorders design and place tapping in relation to activities in progress. Gesture 7.3: 271-303. doi: 10.1075/gest.7.3.02dic
    https://doi.org/10.1075/gest.7.3.02dic [Google Scholar]
  3. Gardner, R. , R. Fitzgerald , and I. Mushin
    (2009) The underlying orderliness in turn-taking: Examples from Australian talk. Australian Journal of Communication 36.3: 65-90.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Giles, H. , and J.M. Wiemann
    (1987) Language, social comparison and power. In C.R. Berger and S.H. Chaffee (eds.), The Handbook of Communication Science. Newbury Park, CA: Sage, pp. 350-384.
    [Google Scholar]
  5. Goodwin, C
    (1979) The interactive construction of a sentence in natural conversation. In G. Psathas (ed.), Everyday Language: Studies in Ethnomethodology. New York: Irvington, pp. 97-121.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. (2002) Conversational frameworks for the accomplishment of meaning in aphasia. In C. Goodwin (ed.), Conversation and Brain Damage. Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 90-116.
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Gourley, L.E
    (1973) Capital B for Black. American Psychologist30.2: 181. doi: 10.1037/h0078439
    https://doi.org/10.1037/h0078439 [Google Scholar]
  8. Jefferson, G
    (1988) Notes on a possible metric which provides for a 'standard maximum' silence of approximately one second in conversation. In D. Roger and P. Bull (eds.), Conversation: An interdisciplinary perspective. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters, pp. 167-196.
    [Google Scholar]
  9. McWhorter, J
    (2004, September18) Call me Black. That's with a capital B. Not African-American. Houston Chronicle. Retrieved fromwww.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/editorial/outlook/2802824.html
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Pomerantz, A.M
    (1984) Agreeing and disagreeing with assessment: Some features of preferred/dis- preferred turn shapes. In J.M. Atkinson and J. Heritage (eds.), Structure of Social Action: Studies in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 57-101.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Prince, R
    (1997) Is talk cheap or silence golden: The negotiation of activity in psychotherapy. Psychoanalytic Inquiry17: 549-558. doi: 10.1080/07351699709534148
    https://doi.org/10.1080/07351699709534148 [Google Scholar]
  12. Psathas, G. , and T. Anderson
    (1990) The 'practices' of transcription in conversation analysis. Semiotica 78: 75-99. doi: 10.1515/semi.1990.78.1‑2.75
    https://doi.org/10.1515/semi.1990.78.1-2.75 [Google Scholar]
  13. Sacks, H. , E.A. Schegloff , and G. Jefferson
    (1974) A simplest systematics for the organization of turn- taking for conversation. Language 50: 696-735. doi: 10.2307/412243
    https://doi.org/10.2307/412243 [Google Scholar]
  14. Schegloff, E.A
    (2007) Sequence Organization in Interaction: A Primer in Conversation Analysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. doi: 10.1017/CBO9780511791208
    https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511791208 [Google Scholar]
  15. Streeck, J
    (2002) Grammars, words, and embodied meanings: On the uses and evolution of so and like. Journal of Communication52: 581–596. doi: 10.1111/j.1460‑2466.2002.tb02563.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1460-2466.2002.tb02563.x [Google Scholar]
  16. Street, R. , and H. Giles
    (1982) Speech accommodation theory: A social cognitive approach to language and speech behavior. In M. Roloff & C.R. Berger (eds.), Social Cognition and Communication. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, pp. 193-226.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Stribling, P. , J. Rae , and P. Dickerson
    (2007) Two forms of spoken repetition in a girl with autism. International Journal of Language & Communication Disorders42: 427–444. doi: 10.1080/13682820601183659
    https://doi.org/10.1080/13682820601183659 [Google Scholar]
  18. Tannen, D
    (1984) The pragmatics of cross-cultural communication. Applied Linguistics5: 189-195. doi: 10.1093/applin/5.3.189
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/5.3.189 [Google Scholar]
  19. This Wicked Day
    (2010, June16) Capitalisation is a political act. [Web log comment] Retrieved fromwickedday.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/capitalisation-is-a-political-act/ (2011, February 12)
  20. Wilson, M. , and T.P. Wilson
    (2005) An oscillator model of the timing of turn-taking. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review12: 957-968. doi: 10.3758/BF03206432
    https://doi.org/10.3758/BF03206432 [Google Scholar]
  21. Wilson, T.P. , and D.H. Zimmerman
    (1986) The structure of silence between turns in two-party conversation. Discourse Processes 9: 375-390. doi: 10.1080/01638538609544649
    https://doi.org/10.1080/01638538609544649 [Google Scholar]
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error