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The chapter sketches the panorama of research that has characterized shop encounters in order to situate the contributions of the book. It first adopts a broader multidisciplinary perspective on studies of language and talk in shop encounters, reviewing research conducted from a diversity of perspectives in linguistics, sociolinguistics, micro-sociology, linguistic anthropology, ethnography of communication, and discourse analysis. It then turns to introduce a more focused approach centered in ethnomethodological and conversation analytic (EMCA) studies of shop interactions, discussing studies on recurrent actions and sequences of actions in shop encounters, the centrality of the material ecology of shop encounters and embodied conduct, as well as orientation to the commercial core and economic consequences in the organization of shop encounters.
The chapter examines the transfer of the item(s) from the customer’s hands into the hands of the seller. This transfer is a crucial part of many commercial transactions, as the seller must enter the item number into the shop’s inventory system, both to learn the price and to subtract the item from inventory. Exploring data from ‘kiosks’ or convenience stores across Europe, the precise details of this manual transfer of items are examined There are two general methods by which the transfer is enacted: in the first, the customer gives the item directly into the hand(s) of the seller; in the second, the customer places the item on the counter and the seller picks it up. Which method unfolds depends on a variety of factors, including the seller’s physical availability at the moment the customer approaches the counter, the kinds of items purchased, and whether the seller has anticipated the transfer by reaching out their hand, in a shape recognizable as ready to ‘take’. These two methods are seen to reveal the moral and commercial nature of the manipulation of objects, and ultimately of the transaction.
Bringing together a diverse collection of studies from a team of international scholars, this pioneering volume focuses on interactions in shops, exploring the dynamics of conversation between sellers and customers. Beginning with the emergence of a 'need' for a product before the request to a seller is actually made, all the way through to the payment phase, it explores the rich and deeply methodical practices employed by customers and sellers as they go about the apparently mundane work of buying and selling small items. It looks at how seller and customer interact both verbally, and by means of manipulating the material objects involved, across a range of different kinds of purchase. Providing new insights into multimodal human interaction and the organisation of the commercial activity, it aims to bring about a new understanding of the fundamental ways in which economic value, possession and ownership is achieved.
This article systematically explores the sequential contexts for making multiple requests during shop encounters. Based on video recordings in convenience stores in France and Finland, it describes the multimodal practices that buyers and sellers use to treat multiple requests as progressively building a global buying project. The purpose of this study is to demonstrate how multiple requests can be packed together, as relatively simple actions achieved simultaneously or successively in embodied and verbal ways either as subsequent contiguous sequences of actions, or as sequences of actions separated by inserted actions. This article also examines how requests are tied together, and how ‘late’ requests are fitted to the last sequential opportunities in the unfolding encounter. This analysis contributes to the study of commercial encounters and the buying process, as well as to the understanding of sequence organization. It likewise contributes to comparative analyses by discussing the similarities and specificities of this activity across cultural contexts and in different time periods. (Requests, shop encounters, social interaction, multimodality, French, Finnish)
Same-turn self-repair is the process by which speakers stop an utterance in progress and then abort, recast or redo that utterance. While same-turn self-repair has become a topic of great interest in the past decade, very little has been written on the question of where within a word speakers tend to initiate repair (the main exceptions being Schegloff 1979 and Jasperson 1998). And, to our knowledge, no work has been done on this question from a cross-linguistic perspective.
The goal of this paper is twofold: First, we explore existing proposals regarding where in words speakers initiate repair (what we will call the “site” of initiation) using data from our seven languages; and, second, we present and explain site of initiation data from those seven languages. Our findings suggest that there is a great deal of cross-linguistic variation with respect to favored sites of initiation but that most of the variation can be accounted for by a few simple interactional factors. This paper is the first study we are aware of which considers word length in explanations of self-repair data.
The current study is part of a larger project that has as its goal an understanding of the universal principles of self-repair and their language-specific manifestations. Prior studies have shown that the linguistic resources available to speakers of different languages shape the specific methods by which repair is accomplished (Fox et al. 1996; Wouk 2005; Fincke 1999; Egbert 2002; Sidnell 2007c; Karkainnen et al., 2007).
In this chapter we examine part of the paradigm of utterance types used to agree with a prior assessment in Finnish. We use the term “assessment” in the same sense as Pomerantz (1984) and Goodwin and Goodwin (1992), for example, to refer to an evaluative act, typically performed by an utterance that contains a negative or positive predication of a referent or a state of affairs expressed by the subject or the object of the sentence. Alternatively, the assessable is something that can be inferred from the context. We focus on cases in which agreement is accomplished by presenting “the same evaluation” as that of a previous assessment (cf. Pomerantz 1984: 66–68). In each of them, the recipient repeats part of the preceding assessment by her co-participant, leaving out the assessment term. Figure 9.1 shows the range of alternatives; those we will discuss are marked in boldface.
The schema is a simplification in which we have, for the purposes of illustration, used as the first assessment a prototypical clause-type for assessing something: a predicate nominal clause with an evaluating adjective complement. In practice, there is variation in the clause type, and the evaluating element, “X” in our schema, is often a more complex phrase. Equally there are other verbs besides the copula “on” used in this context, but “on” is by far the most frequent one.
In this chapter we discuss the following questions: how may discourse structure and the interaction between discourse participants shape the kind of syntax that a language has, but also how may the syntactic structure of a language constrain the interactional practices engaged in by its speakers?
We will examine here a selection of pertinent discourse phenomena with a view toward cross-linguistic comparison and will thereby draw from two main areas of inquiry, namely discourse–functional (or functional) linguistics and conversation analysis. In discourse–functional linguistics, what is common to the rather diverse areas of study is that they try to uncover functional motivations for the organization of forms and structures in grammar and language use (see Cumming and Ono (1997)). More recently, many of the scholars in functional linguistics have begun to adopt the research methodology and findings of ethnomethodological conversation analysis, which is originally a sociological line of inquiry concerned with the interactional organization of social activities and the role of talk in social processes (see, e.g., Sacks (1992 [1967–8]); Heritage (1984:232–92); Schegloff, Ochs, and Thompson (1996)). Linguists of this orientation aim toward expanding our understanding of grammar as an interactionally shaped phenomenon. A growing number of contributions now examine the ways in which the dialogic nature of language use is associated with particular grammatical structures. The position adopted in all the studies to be discussed here, then, is that linguistic structure is viewed above all as a tool for interaction between conversational co-participants.
Marja-Leena Sorjonen, Dr., Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, Helsinki, Finland,
Liisa Raevaara, Dr., Research Institute for the Languages of Finland, Helsinki, Finland,
Markku Haakana, Dr., Department of Finnish, University of Helsinki, Finland,
Tuukka Tammi, Dr., Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Finland,
Anssi Peräkylä, Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Helsinki, Finland
Every language has conventionalized means for providing responses in talk-in-interaction. One set of these devices are particles, such as niin and joo in Finnish or yes in English. They are one-word linguistic expressions that have a potential for forming an utterance by themselves. These expressions are inherently indexical in their nature (on indexicality see, e.g. Silverstein, 1976; Heritage, 1984a; Ochs, 1988 and 1990). They point to their prior utterance which is prototypically produced by another speaker. By reference to that prior utterance, they offer an analysis of it. This analysis is being embedded in the action that they constitute. Furthermore, they are fitted to the trajectory of the larger activity and they participate in the progression of it. The response tokens, like other actions, are '“reflexive” in maintaining or altering the sense of the activities and unfolding circumstances in which they occur“ (Heritage, 1984a: 140). Their meaning is particularized by reference to the specific contexts of their use in which they are deployed in highly systematic ways for achieving particular interactional ends.
The purpose of this paper is to shed light on the meaning of response tokens by presenting initial observations on the particles niin and joo as constituting social actions in Finnish conversations. Niin and joo are among the most common response tokens in Finnish conversations. They have entered the field of Finnish discourse practices from different directions. Joo is a loan word from Swedish (Suomen sanojen alkuperä, s.v. joo) which has acquired its distinctive conventions of use in Finnish.
The role of the connective and is here considered as a preface to questions in spoken interaction. Using data from informal medical encounters, it is argued that and-prefacing is used to link a question to a preceding question/answer pair or pairs. In such contexts, and-prefacing indicates that the questions it prefaces have a routine or agenda-based character. This in turn can be a resource which invokes and sustains an orientation to an activity or course of action that is implemented through a series of question/answer pairs, but transcends any individual pair. The general characteristics of and-prefaced questions are contrasted with “contingent” or “follow-up” questions, which are not normally and-prefaced. Some strategic uses of and-prefaced questions are described, and the role of the device within the more general sociolinguistic context of the data is discussed. (Connectives, conversation analysis, discourse, institutional interaction, medical encounters, turn design)
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