Language and Interactional Discourse: Deconstrusting the Talk- Generating Machinery in Natural Convresation

Amaechi Uneke Enyi


The study entitled. “Language and Interactional Discourse: Deconstructing the Talk - Generating Machinery in Natural Conversation,” is an analysis of spontaneous and informal conversation. The study, carried out in the theoretical and methodological tradition of Ethnomethodology, was aimed at explicating how ordinary talk is organized and produced, how people coordinate their talk –in- interaction, how meanings are determined, and the role of talk in the wider social processes. The study followed the basic assumption of conversation analysis which is, that talk is not just a product of two ‘speakers - hearers’ who attempt to exchange information or convey messages to each other. Rather, participants in conversation are seen to be mutually orienting to, and collaborating in order to achieve orderly and meaningful communication. The analytic objective is therefore to make clear these procedures on which speakers rely to produce utterances and by which they make sense of other speakers’ talk. The datum used for this study was a recorded informal conversation between two (and later three) middle- class civil servants who are friends. The recording was done in such a way that the participants were not aware that they were being recorded. The recording was later transcribed in a way that we believe is faithful to the spontaneity and informality of the talk. Our finding showed that conversation has its own features and is an ordered and structured social day by- day event. Specifically, utterances are designed and informed by organized procedures, methods and resources which are tied to the contexts in which they are produced, and which participants are privy to by virtue of their membership of a culture or a natural language community. 

Keywords: Language, Discourse and Conversation

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