Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Ottsen, Christina Lundsgaard and Berntsen, Dorthe 2015. Prescribed journeys through life: Cultural differences in mental time travel between Middle Easterners and Scandinavians. Consciousness and Cognition, Vol. 37, p. 180.

    Parks, Russell M. and Tracy, Karen 2015. The International Encyclopedia of Language and Social Interaction.


Inshallah: Religious invocations in Arabic topic transition

  • Rebecca Clift (a1) and Fadi Helani (a2)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 May 2010

The phrase inshallah ‘God willing’ is well known, even to non-Arabic speakers, as a mitigator of any statement regarding the future, or hopes for the future. Here we use the methods of conversation analysis (CA) to examine a less salient but nonetheless pervasive and compelling interactional usage: in topic-transition sequences. We use a corpus of Levantine (predominantly Syrian) Arabic talk-in-interaction to pay detailed attention to the sequential contexts of inshallah and its cognates across a number of exemplars. It emerges that these invocations are used to secure possible sequence and topic closure, and that they may engender reciprocal invocations. Topical talk following invocations or their responses is subsequently shown to be suspended by both parties; this provides for a move to a new topic by either party. (Arabic, religious expressions, conversation, conversation analysis, topic)*

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Mahmoud Al-Khatib (1997). Congratulation and thank you announcements in Jordanian newspapers: Cultural and communicative functions. Language, Culture and Curriculum 10(2):156–70.

Mahmoud Al-Khatib (2001). The pragmatics of letter-writing. World Englishes 20(2):179200.

Martine Cuvalay-Haak (1997). The verb in literal and colloquial Arabic. Berlin. Mouton de Gruyter.

Paul Drew Elizabeth Holt (1998). Figures of speech: figurative expressions and the management of topic transition in conversation. Language in Society 27:495523.

Ellen Feghali (1997). Arab cultural communication patterns. International Journal of Intercultural Relations 21(3):345–78.

Charles Goodwin and Marjorie Harness Goodwin (1987). Concurrent operations on talk: Notes on the interactive organization of assessments. IPrA Papers in Pragmatics 1:155.

Elizabeth Holt and Paul Drew (2005). Figurative pivots: The use of figurative expressions in pivotal topic transitions. Research on Language and Social Interaction 38(1):3561.

Gail Jefferson (1993). Caveat speaker: Preliminary notes on recipient topic-shift implicature. Research on Language and Social Interaction 26(1):130.

Douglas W. Maynard (1980). Placement of topic changes in conversation. Semiotica 30:263–90.

Emanuel A. Schegloff (1996). Some practices for referring to persons in talk-in-interaction: A partial sketch of a systematics. In Barbara Fox (ed.), Studies in Anaphora, 437–85. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Tanya Stivers (2004). ‘No no no’ and other types of multiple sayings in social interaction. Human Communication Research 30(2):260–93.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language in Society
  • ISSN: 0047-4045
  • EISSN: 1469-8013
  • URL: /core/journals/language-in-society
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *