24 Analysing conversation
1. This is a task designed to help you familiarise yourself with the transcription conventions used in conversation analysis. As a consequence, you should start to understand the logic of transcribing this way and be able to ask questions about how the speakers are organising their talk.
Tape-record no more than five minutes of talk in the public domain. One possibility is a radio call-in programme. Avoid using scripted drama productions as these may not contain recurrent features of natural interaction (such as overlap or repair). Do not try to record a television extract as the visual material will complicate both transcription and analysis.
Now go through the following steps:
(a) Attempt to transcribe your tape using the conventions in Box 24.1. Try to allocate turns to identified speakers where possible but don't worry if you cannot identify a particular speaker (put '?' at the start of a line in such cases).
(b) Encourage a friend to attempt the same task independently of you. Now compare transcripts and listen again to the tape recording to improve your transcript.
(c) Using the chapter as a guide, attempt to identify in the talk and your transcript any features in the organisation of the talk (for example, preference organisation; perspective-display sequences; features of institutional talk; strategies used to appear neutral and so on).
2. Examine Examples 14 and 15 below (drawn from Atkinson and Drew, 1979: 52 and discussed in Heritage, 1984: 248–9):
(a) Why does Heritage argue that these extracts demonstrate that 'questioners attend to the fact that their questions are framed within normative expectations which have sequential implications' (1984: 249)?
(b) In Example 2, what are the consequences of Child naming the person to whom his utterance is addressed? Why might children often engage in such naming?
1 A: Is there something bothering you or not?
3 A: Yes or no.
5 A: Eh?
6 B: No.
1 Child: Have to cut them Mummy.
3 Child: Won’t we Mummy?
5 Child: Won’t we?
6 M: Yes.