Conversation Analysis in India

We are delighted to welcome Dipti Kulkarni, Assistant Professor at MICA, Ahmedabad (India) who contributes a fascinating blog on CA in India.

I am neither a linguist nor a sociologist by training. I have a Masters in communication studies, which got me interested in interpersonal communication and meaning making. I first stumbled upon CA during my doctoral research. I was trying to figure out if we could develop Gricean kind of maxims for casual conversations (or what Malinowski called “phatic” communion). I had collected internet chats for the purpose, but soon realized that natural conversations are too unwieldy to be dealt with by Gricean theory or speech act theory – which is when conversation analysis really proved useful. So far, I have used CA only to look at textual interactions and have not really confronted the beast of oral conversations! The transcriptions are scary as they are for monolingual English interactions, I cannot imagine the nightmare of dealing with Indian data where speakers constantly switch between multiple languages. Not only that, as my disgruntled colleagues have often complained, neither do we wait for others to finish! So I will be transcribing overlapping speech for about 4-5 speakers at a time!