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Title: Projectability, contextuality, and complexity of trailoff : a conversation analysis of 'but' at turn-final placement
Authors: Hata, Kazuki
Issue Date: 2018
Publisher: Newcastle University
Abstract: This study investigates the sequential placements of an English token but at the final placement of a turn construction unit or turn (i.e. final but). Utilising the framework of conversation analysis (CA), my thesis aims to identify the mechanism of the systematic orderliness of talk in association with the production of final buts. The central question is how participants shape and adapt final buts in a turn-by-turn exchange in light of trajectories of the subsequent talk: what final buts provide in a particular sequential context and how the tokens become provisions for different pathways of the sequence development or closure. Based on my collection of final buts from two corpora, British National Corpus Audio Sampler(BNC Audio) and the Newcastle University Corpus of Academic Spoken English (NUCASE), I observe that the sequential placements of final buts are seen in line with the specific orderliness of retroactive connection between the but-unit and a prior unit in the course of action. The contrast is non-literal and thus does not encode any content-level incompatibility. Rather, the but-speaker’s action is pragmatically complete by recasting the initial action for certain progressivity of the ongoing course of action. Furthermore, this thesis also unpacks the contextual properties of final buts regarding provisions for what follows next. My findings particularly emphasise how transition relevance is associated with the production of final buts, and what options are provided for the sequence progression in a particular sequential context. I suggest that final buts are contextually situated and systematically provide different options for the subsequent structure of the talk. This work provides a clue to understanding how conversational participants utilise and orient themselves to a final but to accomplish particular social actions. Although some of the findings presented in this thesis do not necessarily contrast the existing literature, these traits of final buts are a good addition to the body of knowledge regarding how final buts are shaped as a means of organising talk-in-interaction. As the findings are restricted to audible materials with no access to visible resources, further explorations take a multimodal perspective to provide a better understanding of the larger sequences of final buts in particular. I should also stress that my study was primarily concerned with final buts in English. Therefore, my findings leave any detailed implications regarding equivalents in other languages (e.g. German, Finnish and Japanese) for future studies in terms of whether my argumentation regarding the orderliness of interactional contrast can be applied
Description: PhD Thesis
Appears in Collections:School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences

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