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On clicks in English talk-in-interaction

  • Melissa Wright (a1)

This paper analyses clicks in naturally-occurring English conversation. It demonstrates that regardless of any paralinguistic functions clicks may undertake, their occurrence is orderly and systematic, and intimately tied to the interactional structure of talk. Specifically, clicks are shown to function alongside the phonetic parameters of pitch, articulatory segmental features and voice quality (and the sequential and lexical organisation of talk) to demarcate the onset of new and disjunctive sequences. The methodology employed combines (i) the sequential analysis techniques of Conversation Analysis with (ii) parametric impressionistic and instrumental phonetic investigations. A key feature of this methodology is the study of naturally-occurring conversation rather than intuited or laboratory speech data. The findings in this paper challenge the traditional view that clicks function only paralinguistically in English. They also highlight the fruitfulness of implementing phonetic investigations alongside interactional analyses since such an approach enables previously unobserved patterns in the phonetics-interaction interface to be identified.

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Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen . 1993. English speech rhythm: Form and function in everyday verbal interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen & Cecilia E. Ford (eds.). 2004. Sound patterns in interaction. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen & Margret Selting (eds.). 1996. Prosody in conversation: Interactional studies. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Julia Hirschberg & Janet Pierrehumbert . 1986. Intonational structuring of discourse. 24th Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, New York, 136144.

John Laver . 1994. Principles of phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Ilse Lehiste . 1975. The phonetic structure of paragraphs. In Antonie Cohen & Sieb Nooteboom (eds.), Structure and process in speech perception, 195206. Berlin: Springer.

Emanuel A. Schegloff 2007. Sequence organization in interaction: A primer in conversation analysis, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Deborah Schiffrin . 1987. Discourse markers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Margret Selting & Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen (eds.). 2001. Studies in interactional linguistics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

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Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
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