Activity 6

Study the following data excerpt from the point of view of ‘preference organization’, paying particular attention to the agreement and disagreement turns. Would you consider this episode to be a counter-example to the concept of ‘preference’, or can it still be properly understood in terms of ‘preference organization’?

1 Ken: Hey- Hey check this: I went down to uh- H-Holluwood All-
2 down to the Holla- Hollywood. (1.5) uh Automotives?
3 Al: Mm hm?
4 Ken: And they told me how I could stick a th- uh: Thunderbird
5 motor? (1.0) – in my jeep? And I bought a fifty-five
6 [Thunderbird motor.
7 Roger: [Not motor, engine.
8 You speak of [electric motor and a gasoline engine.
9 Ken: [Okay
10 Al: Yer no[t
11 Ken: [Engine
12 Al: Internal combustion
13 Ken: Alright, so [lookit
14 ( ): [mhhh
15 Ken: I moved this thing in the Jeep, yesterday, an’ it took me all day
16 to do it.
17 Roger: Why the [hell you gonna put a Ford in a Jeep.
18 Ken: [an’ nen
19 Ken: This thing is the hottest thing in town!
20 Roger: Fords aren’t hot,
21 Ken: That Ford- In comparison to that old four cylinder I had in there it’s hot,

Activity 5

(1) Consider B’s turn from the point of view of its ‘goodness-of-fit’ to the previous turn. Can you think of any reason why it should take this particular shape?

1 A: Is it near Edinburgh?
2 B: Edinburgh? It’s not too far,

(2) Comment on the form and function of B’s turn, i.e., its make-up and positioning on the one hand, and the work that it’s doing on the other.

1 A: He’s a good looking fellow and he’s got a beautiful wife.=
2 B: =Ye:s. Go:rgeous girl.

(3) Would you say that B’s talk in lines 2, 3 and 6 has a ‘preferred’, ‘dispreferred’, or some other status? Why?
1 A: Why what’s the matter with y- You sound [happy? hh
2 B: [Nothing,
3 I sound happ[y?
4 A: [Ye:ah.
5 (0.3)
6 B: No:?

(4) What features of design can you detect in A’s turn? How many TCUs does it have, and what does each one do?
1 B: And uh the- Uh if you’d care to come over and visit a little
2 while this morning, I’ll give you a cup of coffee.
3 A: hehh! Well that’s awfully sweet of you, I don’t think I can
4 make it this morning, hh uhm I’m running an ad in the paper
5 and- and uh I have to stay near the phone.

(5) Consider Nan’s talk in line 5. How would you describe its form and function? Next, look at Emm’s talk in line 7. What do you think she is doing here? Finally, comment on Nan’s talk in lines 8-10 in terms of its contribution to the ongoing ‘project’.

1 Emm: [Wanna c’m] do:wn ‘av [a bah:ta] lu:nch w]ith me?=
2 Nan: [°It’s js] ( ) °]
3 Emm: =Ah gut s’m beer’n stu:ff,
4 (0.3)
5 Nan: Wul yer ril sweet hon: uh:m
6 (.)
7 Emm: [Or d’y]ou’av]sup’n [else ° ( ) °
8 Nan: [Let – ] I : ]hu. [n:No: I haf to: uh call
9 Roul’s mother, I told’er I:’d call’er this morning
10 I [gotta letter] from’er en.hhhhhh A:nd uhm
11 Emm: [° (Uh huh.)°]
12 (1.0)

Sample analysis

Hi everyone:
I am posting a sample analysis of the Stew Dinner extract for your reference. Note that this is only a partial analysis focusing on turn-taking. I’m answering only the first two questions (a and b). The other two questions concern turn allocation, which we will talk about next week.

(a) They do seem to be taking turns to speak, don’t they? But the way this is done is a little bit complicated – not simple or robotic!
First, Dad asks Cin to “tell [him] about [her] day” (line 1). Cin does not answer immediately (half-second pause in line 2). Dad pursues the response by making his question a little sharper in focus: “Wha’dju (d) learn” (line 4). Another pause (this time one second – line 5). Just as Cin is about to say something (“Uh:m” in line 7), Dad does a ‘sudden realisation’, marked by a loud and long ‘Oh’ (line 6), and then “we went to the-, we went to uh-”. His ‘word search’ ended by Cin’s “Claim Jumper” (line 8). This is received by Dad (line 9). Now, Mom comes in at this point to start a different ‘conversation’ (a brief ‘insertion sequence’ anyway) in line 11. Meanwhile, Cin expands her answer (line 12). But Dad now attends to Mom and responds to her request for the rolls, followed by his own request for butter, which was granted and carried out by Mom (line 15). The slight diversion having been done, Dad now turns back to Cin who repeats and finishes what she was going to say a moment ago – “went to Claim Jumper for a field trip” (line 17), to which Dad responds with enthusiasm: “Yiea:h, etc.”


Turns with clear beginnings and ends:
Dad (line1)
Dad (line 4)
Mom (line 11)
Dad (line 13)
Dad (line 14)
Mom (line 15)
Cin (line 17)
Dad (line 18)

Complex sequence:
Dad (line 6): Turn with clear beginning but no end (unfinished)
Cin (line 8): Bit of talk which offers a candidate to complete the unfinished turn
Dad (line 9): Bit of talk that ‘re-completes’ the speaker’s unfinished turn

Bits of talk that didn’t materialize into full turns:
Cin (line 2)
Cin (line 7)
Cin (line 12) – a good enough increment to her talk in line 8, but gets masked by Mom’s 11 and ‘sequentially deleted’ by Dad’s response to Mom’s request in line 13.


1. Who discovered the “simplest systematic” for the organization of conversational turn-taking? When was the discovery first published? And where was it published?

2. This model consists of two components. What are they?

3. What is meant by ‘possible completion’? Name the three main ways in which a turn may be said to be possibly complete.

4. Expand the following acronyms: TCU, TRP

Activity 4: Overlapping and Overlap Resolution

Listen to the ‘Book on Death’ sound clip, study the transcript and then discuss the following questions with members of your group.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Much of what Ann says in line 7 is said in overlap with Ben’s talk. Observe closely where the overlapping begins and ends. Give a careful description of each instance of overlapping.
  2. Now observe closely how the overlapping is resolved by paying attention to the progression of the two participants’ talk on a moment-by-moment basis.
  3. How is the overlapping and its resolution related to the management of turn-taking at this point in the conversation?

Activity 3: Turn Allocation and Speech Exchange Systems

  1. Can you think of some “speech exchange systems” other than everyday conversation, e.g., debates and job interviews. What are some differences between them and everyday conversation in terms of turn allocation?  
  2. Consider how traffic is regulated in built-up areas as opposed to the countryside. What differences can you find between them? Do you see any parallels between traffic systems and speech exchange systems in terms of turn allocation?

Activity 2: Turn construction and turn-allocation

Watch the ‘Virginia’ video clip, study the transcript, and then discuss the following questions with members of your group.

Discussion questions:

a.  Do a line-by-line analysis of the turn-taking that seems to be taking place in this data extract, in a similar fashion to the previous example.

b.  Now examine each turn more closely to see how it is constructed. In particular, comment on the following turns:

       i. Virginia’s lines 1-2: How many components (TCUs) does it have?

       ii. Mom’s turn in lines 5, 6, 9 & 10: How many TCUs?

       iii. Virginia’s lines 19-20?

c.  Now go through the data extract again, looking more closely this time at each TRP to see how turn allocation is done. In particular, comment on the following TRPs:

      i. The turn transition that takes place between lines 4 and 5. Who speaks next? Is the turn allocated to the new speaker; and if so, how?

      ii. The turn transition between lines 18 and 19. Who speaks next? Is the turn allocated to the new speaker?

Activity 1: Turns and Turn-taking

Watch the ‘Stew Dinner’ video clip, study the transcript, and then discuss the following questions with members of your group.

Discussion questions:

a.  In this data extract, do the family members seem to be taking turns to speak? Can you go through the transcript line by line and describe the turn-taking that seems to be taking place?

 b.  Is each turn more or less identifiable? Can you make a list of all the turns that seem clearly identifiable to you, and then make another list of bits of talk that may or may not be identifiable as turns? Can you comment on each item on the second list, in terms of whether or in what sense they should or should not be described as turns?

 c.  Go through the data extract again and make a list of all the turn transition relevance places (TRPs) that you can find. Comment on each TRP in terms of how it is handled by the conversational participants, e.g., Does the current speaker stop talking and another speaker begin talking, or does the current speaker carry on to produce more talk?

 d.  How are turn transitions managed by the participants? At each TRP, describe how the turn transition (or the lack of it) is managed.


In most games that we play (tic-tac-toe or chess, for example), players take turns to make their moves. Consider one or two of these games, and compare them with everyday conversation in terms of how turn-taking is achieved. What similarities and differences can you find between them?