A Conversation Analysis

Topics: Pragmatics, Politeness theory, Discourse analysis Pages: 7 (2488 words) Published: November 2, 2009


People spend a significant part of their lives listening and talking, that is the main reason why conversation is regarded to be the most generalised form of talk that concerns both speakers and listeners and it is contemplated to be the essential ingredient in co-operative undertaking (Wardhaugh, 1985). Conversation is informal talk involving two or more people and interviews are a particular type of conversation. Interviews are regarded as meetings at which a journalist asks questions in order to find out the interviewee’s opinion. This is an assignment that analyses a telephone interview, so there is an absence of eye contact, body language or facial expressions that are attributes of a ‘live’ studio interview. The radio journalist interviews an authority from the mercantile branding on pertinent issues incorporating the commercial branding on local and global scale. In my opinion this interview is an interesting sample of conversation that is why it was chosen for this analysis of speech. In this essay, the analysis of structural features promotes a closer understanding of how speech develops through themes that contribute to its structure. Subjects analysed are: topic and context; speech acts and conditional relevance; politeness; adjacency pairs and insertion sequence; turn construction and transition relevance places; turn taking and overlap; pause and repairs.

The essential comprehension of a conversation is connected with its contribution towards a topic. As Wardhaugh (1985:139) states: ‘A topic is something talked about, but it is very unusual in conversation ever to talk on a well-defined topic in a highly systematic way’. The type of a conversation that is titled as interview can drift at all different tensions and it is either directed by the journalist who reflects back to the main topic or let it go down various routes. The shifting from one topic to the other but still maintaining the maxim of relevance is not an easy matter if the speakers desire to be relevant to the main conversational topic (Wardhaugh, 1985). The main topic of this interview that is directed and guided by the journalist, is the re-naming of Tetley’s Brewery as Carlsberg-Tetley. In order to make the connection that Tetley is going to be from now on the UK branch of the Danish Carlsberg, this interview covers a series of topics that are related to each other and there is a relevant shifting from one topic to the next. The topics covered are: Carlsberg re-names Tetley and local feelings; a similar case of Royal Mail re-named to Consignia; effects of re-branding globally and finally, reference to re-naming of Tetley’s Brewery. According to Maybin and Mercer (1996) the context of a topic can involve the physical surroundings or the relationship between the speakers. In this interview, because it is a formal type of speech, the context is illustrated as being a shared experience for both the listeners and the speakers as the centre of their broader cultural values and expectations. The social event of re-branding Tetley’s Brewery is the shared public event from both the speakers and the audience, and it is connected with expectations on broader cultural values that had a social effect such as the re-naming of other Companies, for instance Royal Mail, or Roundtrees.

Conversations require involvement of at least two parties who are conscious of each other’s needs and particularly make a great effort not to offend each other in any possible way (Wardhaugh, 1985). Speech events create speech acts that carry out action through language, such as the talking between the journalist and the speaker. In this interview, there is evidence of verdictive type of speech act that expresses assessing. It is displayed on the following assessments: ‘I think they are trying to express that they are Carlsberg and that Carlsberg- Tetley is in fact the UK branch of Carlsberg’; and ‘I don’t think that the main name...

Bibliography: Goffman, E. (1976) & Coulthard (1977) Interaction ritual: essays on face to face behaviour. New York: Garden City.
Mey, J.L. (1993) Pragmatics: An Introduction. Blackwell Publishers.
Maybin, J. & Mercer, N. (1996) Using English: From Conversation to Canon. Routledge.
Nosfinger, R. (1991) Telephone Conversation. Indiana: University Press.
Pugh, A.K. – Lee, V.J. & Swann, J. (1980) Language and Language Use. London: Heinemann Educational Books Ltd in association with The Open University Press.
Wardhaugh, R. (1985) How Conversation Works. (1st ed). Oxford: Basil Blackwell Publisher Ltd.
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