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Talking Voices


  • Page extent: 244 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg


 (ISBN-13: 9780521868907)

Written in readable, vivid, non-technical prose, this book, first published in 2007, presents the highly respected scholarly research that forms the foundation for Deborah Tannen's best-selling books about the role of language in human relationships. It provides a clear framework for understanding how ordinary conversation works to create meaning and establish relationships. A significant theoretical and methodological contribution to both linguistic and literary analysis, it uses transcripts of tape-recorded conversation to demonstrate that everyday conversation is made of features that are associated with literary discourse: repetition, dialogue, and details that create imagery. This second edition features a new introduction in which the author shows the relationship between this groundbreaking work and the research that has appeared since its original publication in 1989. In particular, she shows its relevance to the contemporary topic 'intertextuality', and provides a useful summary of research on that topic.

• Written in highly readable, mostly non-technical language • Of interest to anyone engaged in the study of everyday language • By showing the relationship between everyday conversation and literary discourse, it will be welcomed by students of literature as well as language


Acknowledgements; 1. Introduction; Overview of chapters; Discourse analysis; 2. Involvement in discourse; Involvement; Sound and sense in discourse; Involvement strategies; Scenes and music in creating involvement; 3. Repetition in conversation: toward a poetics of talk; Theoretical implications of repetition; Repetition in discourse; Functions of repetition in conversation; Repetition and variation in conversation; Examples of functions of repetition; The range of repetition in a segment of conversation; Individual and cultural differences; Other genres; The automaticity of repetition; The drive to imitate; Conclusion; 4. 'Oh talking voice that is so sweet': constructing dialogue in conversation; Reported speech and dialogue; Dialogue in storytelling; Reported criticism in conversation; Reported speech is constructed dialogue; Constructed dialogue in a conversational narrative; Modern Greek stories; Brazilian narrative; Dialogue in writers' conversation; Conclusion; 5. Imagining worlds: imagery and detail in conversation and other genres; The role of details and images in creating involvement; Details in conversation; Images and details in narrative; Nonnarrative or quasinarrative conversational discourse; Rapport through telling details; The intimacy of details; Spoken literary discourse; Written discourse; High-involvement writing; When details don't work or work for ill; Conclusion; 6. Involvement strategies in consort: literary non-fiction and political oratory; Thinking with feeling; Literary non-fiction; Speaking and writing with involvement; Involvement in political oratory; Conclusion; 7. Afterword: toward a humanistic linguistics; Appendix I. Sources of examples; Appendix II. Transcription conventions; Notes; List of references; Author index; Subject index.


'Pleasant to read and constantly stimulating … an excellent introduction to the kind of analysis T[annen] does so well.' Ronald K. S. Macaulay, Language

' … a very stimulating book, it makes one look with fresh eyes on conversation and what it can tell us about linguistic structures in general.' N. F. Blake, Lore and Language

'Tannen should be applauded for pulling together work on … a host of discourse features. She does so, moreover, in a highly readable form that is surprisingly devoid of jargon.' Charles L. Briggs, American Anthropologist

'Work like Tannen's reminds us how complex conversational interactions are.' Studies in Second Language Acquisition

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