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The Handbook of Conversation Analysis by Tanya Stivers, Jack Sidnell

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9

 Turn Allocation and Turn Sharing

MAKOTO HAYASHI

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Introduction

One of the most basic features of conversation is that it involves participants taking turns at speaking. Turns-at-talk embody opportunities to participate in social life, and as such, are valued and sought after. According to Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974: 696), “the presence of ‘turns’ suggests an economy, with turns … being valued—and with means for allocating them, which affect their relative distribution, as in economies.” In this chapter, I discuss a number of practices employed by the participants that provide for the orderly distribution/allocation of opportunities to produce a turn in conversation. The discussion will be organized in terms of the following guiding questions:

  • How does a speaker come to have a turn-at-talk? How does one get selected as next speaker, and how does one select oneself as next speaker?
  • When and how do speakers come to talk in overlap? What are common environments where more than one speaker speaks simultaneously, and how do they deal with that situation?
  • How do participants come to share a turn? When does ‘access’ to another speaker’s turn become available, and what do participants do with that access?

It is important to stress at the outset that the practices of turn allocation and turn sharing described in this chapter are normatively organized. That is, they are methodical procedures that exhibit participants’ normative orientations ...

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