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Delaying dispreferred responses in English: From a Japanese perspective

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2008

HIROKO TANAKA
Affiliation:
Department of Sociology, University of Essex, Wivenhoe Park, Colchester, Essex CO4 3SQ, United Kingdom, htanaka@essex.ac.uk

Abstract

This article employs conversation analysis to explore the interpenetration of grammar and preference organization in English conversation in comparison with a previous study for Japanese. Whereas varying the word order of major syntactic elements is a vital grammatical resource in Japanese for accomplishing the potentially universal task of delaying dispreferred responses to a range of first actions, it is found to have limited utility in English. A search for alternative operations and devices that conversationalists deploy for this objective in English points to several grammatical constructions that can be tailored to maximize the delay of dispreferred responses. These include the fronting of relatively mobile, syntactically “non-obligatory” elements of clause structure and the employment of various copular constructions. A close interdependence is observed between the rudimentary grammatical resources available in the two languages and the types of operations that are respectively enlisted for the implementation of the organization of preference.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2008

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