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Error correction as an interactional resource1

  • Gail Jefferson (a1)

Abstract

This paper considers some small errors which occur in natural talk, treating them as matters of competence, both in the production of coherent speech and the conduct of meaningful interaction.

Focusing on a rule-governed occurrence of the interjection ‘uh’, a format is described by which one can display that one is correcting an error one almost, but did not, produce. It is argued that there are systematic ways in which someone who hears such talk can find that an error was almost made and what that error would have been.

Two broad classes of error are considered, both of which can be announced by and extracted from the occurrence of an error correction format. These are ‘production’ errors; i.e. a range of troubles one encounters in the attempt to produce coherent, grammatically correct speech, and ‘interactional’ errors; i.e. mistakes one might make in the attempt to speak appropriately to some co-participant(s) and/or within some situation.

Focusing on interactional errors, it is proposed that the error correction format (and other formats for events other than error) can be used to invoke alternatives to some current formulation of self and other(s), situation and relationship, and thereby serve as a resource for negotiating and perhaps reformulating a current set of identities. (Conversational analysis, discourse devices (metalinguistic, attitudinal markers), U.S. English.)

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References

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Jefferson, G. (1972). Sequential analysis of two types of conversational disruption. Unpublished doctoral dissertation. Revised version, A case of precision timing in ordinary conversation in Semiotica Vol. IX, No. I (1973). 4796.
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Error correction as an interactional resource1

  • Gail Jefferson (a1)

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