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The Handbook of Conversation Analysis by Tanya Stivers, Jack Sidnell

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23

 Grammar in Conversation

HARRIE MAZELAND

University of Groningen

The roughest message you might pick out of what I shall say is that in dealing analytically with conversations, you must be at least cautious in the use of what you’ve been taught about grammar.

(Sacks, 1992b: I: 334)

Introduction

Fox, Thompson, Ford and Couper-Kuhlen (this volume) discuss the contribution of Conversation Analysis to Linguistics, and vice-versa. This chapter focuses on the place of grammatical description in conversation analytic research. In section 2, I show that in CA, the description of a linguistic form is always combined with an analysis of its use at a position that is understood in terms of a specific domain of interactional organization. Section 3 discusses Schegloff’s proposal of positionally sensitive grammars and illustrates this by looking at the ‘grammars’ of self-repair and of the beginnings of turn-constructional units (TCUs) in multiunit turns. Section 4 gives an impression of research on the relationship between sentence types such as interrogatives and declaratives, and the formation of sequence-initiating actions. Finally, in section 5, I discuss the role of phrasal and single-word TCUs in sequentially responsive actions.

The general idea behind this chapter is that for each interactional activity in all relevant domains of interactional organization (turn-taking, action sequencing, repair, word selection, interactional epistemics, stance-taking, overall structural organization), ...

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