Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-77ffc5d9c7-q8dck Total loading time: 0.842 Render date: 2021-04-23T18:36:01.539Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": false, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true }

How phonetic features project more talk

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  23 November 2012

John Local
Department of Language and Linguistic ScienceUniversity of
Gareth Walker
School of English Literature, Language and LinguisticsUniversity of


Investigations into the management of turn-taking have typically focussed on pitch and other prosodic phenomena, particularly pitch-accents. Here, non-pitch phonetic features and their role in turn-taking are described. Through sustained phonetic and interactional analysis of a naturally occurring, 12-minute long telephone call between two adult speakers of British English, sets of talk-projecting and turn-projecting features are identified. Talk-projecting features include the avoidance of durational lengthening, articulatory anticipation, continuation of voicing, the production of talk in maximally close proximity to a preceding point of possible turn-completion, and the reduction of consonants and vowels. Turn-projecting features include the converse of each of the talk-projecting features, and two other distinct features: release of plosives at the point of possible turn-completion, and the production of audible outbreaths. We show that features of articulatory and phonatory quality and duration are relevant factors in the design and treatment of talk as talk- or turn-projective.

Research Article
Copyright © International Phonetic Association 2012

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below.


Beckman, Mary E. & Elam, Gayle Ayers. 1997. Guidelines for ToBI labelling. The Ohio State University, 3rd edn. (accessed 13 August 2012).Google Scholar
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David. 2012. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [computer program]. (accessed 13 August 2012).Google Scholar
Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth & Ford, Cecilia E. (eds.). 2004. Sound patterns in interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crystal, Thomas H. & House, Arthur S.. 1988. Segmental durations in connected-speech signals: Current results. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 83 (4), 15531573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Crystal, Thomas H. & House, Arthur S.. 1990. Articulation rate and the duration of syllables and stress groups in connected speech. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 88 (1), 101112.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
de Ruiter, Jan Peter, Mitterer, Holger & Enfield, Nick J.. 2006. Projecting the end of a speaker's turn: A cognitive cornerstone of conversation. Language 82 (3), 515535.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Drew, Paul & Holt, Elizabeth. 1998. Figures of speech: Figurative expressions and the management of topic transition in conversation. Language in Society 27 (4), 495522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Duncan, Starkey. 1972. Some signals and rules for taking speaking turns in conversations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 23 (2), 283292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ford, Cecilia E. & Thompson, Sandra A.. 1996. Interactional units in conversation: Syntactic, intonational, and pragmatic resources for the management of turns. In Ochs, et al. (eds.), 134–184.Google Scholar
Fox, Barbara A. 2001. An exploration of prosody and turn projection in English conversation. In Selting, Margret & Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth (eds.), Studies in interactional linguistics, 287315. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
French, Peter & Local, John. 1983. Turn competitive incomings. Journal of Pragmatics 7 (1), 1738.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gimson, A. C. 2001. Gimson's pronunciation of English, 6th edn., revised by Alan Cruttenden. London: Arnold.Google Scholar
Goodwin, Charles. 1979. The interactive construction of a sentence in natural conversation. In Psathas, George (ed.), Everyday language: Studies in ethnomethodology, 97121. New York: Irvington.Google Scholar
Goodwin, Charles. 1981. Conversational organization: Interaction between speakers and hearers. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
Jefferson, Gail. 1984. Notes on some orderlinesses of overlap onset. In D'Urso, Valentina & Leonardi, Paolo (eds.), Discourse analysis and natural rhetoric, 1138. Padova: CLEUP.Google Scholar
Jefferson, Gail. 1986. Notes on ‘latency’ in overlap onset. Human Studies 9 (2–3), 153183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Jefferson, Gail. 2002. Is ‘‘No’’ an acknowledgement token? Comparing American and British uses of (+)/(–) tokens. Journal of Pragmatics 34 (10), 13451383.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Laver, John. 1994. Principles of phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lerner, Gene H. 1991. On the syntax of sentences-in-progress. Language in Society 20, 441458.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Local, John. 2004. Getting back to prior talk: And-uh(m) as a back-connecting device. In Couper-Kuhlen, & Ford, (eds.), 377–400.Google Scholar
Local, John. 2005. On the interactional and phonetic design of collaborative completions. In Hardcastle, William & Beck, Janet Mackenzie (eds.), A figure of speech: A Festschrift for John Laver, 263282. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
Local, John & Kelly, John. 1986. Projection and ‘silences’: Notes on phonetic and conversational structure. Human Studies 9, 185204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Local, John, Kelly, John & Wells, Bill. 1986. Towards a phonology of conversation: Turn-taking in Tyneside English. Journal of Linguistics 22, 411437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Local, John & Walker, Gareth. 2004. Abrupt-joins as a resource for the production of multi-unit, multi-action turns. Journal of Pragmatics 36 (8), 13751403.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Local, John & Walker, Gareth. 2005. Methodological imperatives for investigating the phonetic organisation and phonological structures of spontaneous speech. Phonetica 62 (2–4), 120130.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Ochs, Elinor, Schegloff, Emanuel A. & Thompson, Sandra A. (eds.). 1996. Interaction and grammar. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogden, Richard. 2001. Turn transition, creak and glottal stop in Finnish talk-in-interaction. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 31 (1), 139152.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ogden, Richard. 2004. Non-modal voice quality and turn-taking in Finnish. In Couper-Kuhlen & Ford (eds.), 29–62.Google Scholar
Ono, Tsuyoshi & Thompson, Sandra A.. 1996. Interaction and syntax in the structure of conversational discourse. In Hovy, Eduard & Scott, Donia (eds.), Discourse processing: An interdisciplinary perspective, 6796. Heidelberg: Springer-Verlag.Google Scholar
Sacks, Harvey, Schegloff, Emanuel A. & Jefferson, Gail. 1974. A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50 (4), 696735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Salverda, Anne Pier, Dahan, Delphine & McQueen, James M.. 2003. The role of prosodic boundaries in the resolution of lexical embedding in speech comprehension. Cognition 90, 5189.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schaffer, Deborah. 1983. The role of intonation as a cue to turn taking in conversation. Journal of Phonetics 11 (3), 243257.Google Scholar
Schegloff, Emanuel A. 1996. Turn organization: One intersection of grammar and interaction. In Ochs et al. (eds.), 52–133.Google Scholar
Schegloff, Emanuel A. 1998. Reflections on studying prosody in talk-in-interaction. Language and Speech 41 (3–4), 235263.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Schegloff, Emanuel A. 2000. Overlapping talk and the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language in Society 29, 163.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Selting, Margret. 1996. On the interplay of syntax and prosody in the constitution of turn-constructional units and turns in conversation. Pragmatics 6 (3), 357388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Smith, Caroline L. 1997. The devoicing of /z/ in American English: Effect of local and prosodic context. Journal of Phonetics 25 (4), 471500.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Szczepek Reed, Beatrice. 2004. Prosodic orientation in English conversation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.Google Scholar
Turk, Alice E. & Shattuck-Hufnagel, Stefanie. 2007. Multiple targets of phrase-final lengthening in American English words. Journal of Phonetics 35 (4), 445472.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Walker, Gareth. 2004. The phonetic design of turn endings, beginnings, and continuations in conversation. Ph.D. thesis, University of York.Google Scholar
Walker, Gareth. In press. Phonetics and prosody in conversation. In Sidnell, Jack & Stivers, Tanya (eds.), Handbook of Conversation Analysis. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
Wells, Bill & Macfarlane, Sarah. 1998. Prosody as an interactional resource: Turn-projection and overlap. Language and Speech 41 (3–4), 265294.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed
Wennerstrom, Ann & Siegel, Andrew F.. 2003. Keeping the floor in multiparty conversations: Intonation, syntax, and pause. Discourse Processes 36 (2), 77107.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Wightman, Colin, Shattuck-Hufnagel, Stefanie, Ostendorf, Mari & Price, Patti. 1992. Segmental durations in the vicinity of prosodic phrase boundaries. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91 (3), 17071717.CrossRefGoogle ScholarPubMed

Full text views

Full text views reflects PDF downloads, PDFs sent to Google Drive, Dropbox and Kindle and HTML full text views.

Total number of HTML views: 18
Total number of PDF views: 164 *
View data table for this chart

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 23rd April 2021. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Send article to Kindle

To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

Note you can select to send to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

How phonetic features project more talk
Available formats

Send article to Dropbox

To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

How phonetic features project more talk
Available formats

Send article to Google Drive

To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

How phonetic features project more talk
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Your details

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *