Language as Action
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139


Overlap in conversation is a well-established area of conversation analysis research (e.g. Jefferson 1983; Schegloff 2000) which can reveal how participants orient to transition relevance places. This paper presents an analysis of overlap in the mixed (Garrwa, Kriol and English) language conversations of two indigenous Australian women as part of a larger study of turn-taking practices in indigenous conversations. Walsh (Walsh 1995) made some observations about Aboriginal conversational style, for example that they may enter a conversation without attending to the talk of others. His observational claims are empirically examined here in the context of our data.

We find that the overlapping talk in our data follows many patterns similar to English speakers’ talk, including transition space overlap (cf. Jefferson 1983) and simultaneous starts. The most important difference we found was overlap onset occurring shortly after the closure of the transition space, reflecting disattendance by speakers to the content, but not the timing, of each other’s talk. Overall, however, we find that the turn-taking of these two women is overwhelmingly orderly, and deviations from orderliness can mostly be accounted for by their orientation to points of possible completion and rules of turn-taking as described by Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974).


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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