This issue of the journal features a debate about the automatic transcription of speech, and a series of articles on a wide variety of topics, ranging from the particle “or” at turn endings to the deployment of facial gesture to influence the course of a conversation. I’ve set out the Abstracts below, and the journal’s page can be accessed here.
Robert J. Moore Automated Transcription and Conversation Analysis
Abstract This article explores the potential of automated transcription technology for use in Conversation Analysis (CA). First, it applies auto-transcription to a classic CA recording and compares the output with Gail Jefferson’s original transcript. Second, it applies auto-transcription to more recent recordings to demonstrate transcript quality under ideal conditions. And third, it examines the use of auto-transcripts for navigating big conversational data sets. The article concludes that although standard automated transcription technology lacks certain critical capabilities and exhibits varying levels of accuracy, it may still be useful for (a) providing first-pass transcripts, with silences, for further manual editing; and (b) scaling up data exploration and collection building by providing time-based indices requiring no manual effort to generate. Data are in American English.
Richard Ogden Data Always Invite Us to Listen Again: Arguments for Mixing Our Methods
Abstract Moore (2015/this issue) claims, provocatively to some, that speech technology can be used as a labor-saving device. He points out that the production of transcriptions is time consuming, that some aspects of collection building can be handled with a degree of automation, and that some aspects of measurement can be made objective and reliable by using machines. I respond as a phonetician and interactional linguist. I want to argue that while automation is not always the right approach, working with large corpora can be healthy for our relation to data when used in the right ways.
Galina B. Bolden Transcribing as Research: “Manual” Transcription and Conversation Analysis
Abstract Moore (2015/this issue) discusses possibilities afforded by state-of-the-art automated transcription technologies for conversation analytic (CA) research. Since these technologies may become attractive to conversation analysts, their impact should be carefully considered. In this commentary, I offer some words of caution about adopting automated transcription techniques. Three issues are raised: first, the role of transcribing in research and training; second, potential influences of automated transcription on research agendas; and, third, some analytic problems involved in relying on a large bank of transcribed yet unfamiliar data. Data are in American English.
Wyke Stommel & Hedwig te Molder Counseling Online and Over the Phone: When Preclosing Questions Fail as a Closing Device
Abstract In this article, we present an analysis of closings in two counseling media: online, text-based exchanges (usually referred to as “chat” sessions) and telephone calls. Previous research has found that the participant who initiated a conversation preferably also initiates its termination with a possible preclosing. Advice acknowledgments, lying in the epistemic domain of the client, are devices that may work as preclosings. However, in text-based chat clients regularly refrain from advice acknowledgment. While counselors use various practices to elicit advice acknowledgment in the context of potential advice resistance, hoaxing, and/or seemingly long pauses, these questions do not always succeed as “closing devices.” This offers an explanation for counselors’ perception of online chatting as more difficult than calling. The data are in Dutch with English translation.
Veronika Drake Indexing Uncertainty: The Case of Turn-Final Or
Abstract Using conversation analysis and interactional linguistics as the methodology and drawing from naturally occurring American English interaction, this article investigates the practice of ending polar questions with or as in Does that bring up jealousy for you or. This practice is generally considered to be ungrammatical, yet occurs regularly in spoken interaction. This article argues that turn-final or functions as an epistemic downgrade by (a) making possible an unproblematic disconfirmation next, (b) gesturing toward an unverbalized alternative, and (c) being oriented to as a question format that requires an elaboration. By investigating the sequential environment and the interactional work or accomplishes, this study advances our understanding not only of how speakers encode linguistically and use socially turn-final or but also of how linguistic units are adapted for interaction. My work contributes to several major areas of conversation analytic research, mainly grammar in interaction and epistemics. Data are in American English.
Timo Kaukomaa, Anssi Peräkylä & Johanna Ruusuvuori How Listeners Use Facial Expression to Shift the Emotional Stance of the Speaker’s Utterance
Abstract This article examines how speakers and hearers collaborate to modify their shared emotional stances in mundane dyadic conversations. Our purpose is to determine how the recipient’s facial expression of emotion during or immediately following the speaker’s utterance contributes to the talk. Such facial expressions do not simply mirror the speaker’s stance or display understanding of the speaker’s talk; rather, they perform systematic operations on the projected course of the talk. Moreover, these facial displays of stance are well-timed and coordinated reactions that (in our sample) lead the way to a more light-hearted mode of discussion. Facial expressions that modify the shared emotional stance can: (a) reenact a past, previously shared emotional stance; (b) evoke a new, emotionally appropriate response to the talk; (c) establish a stance that is withheld and/or ambiguous in the talk; or (d) offer an alternative emotion to frame the talk. The data are in Finnish with English translation.
Barbara A. Fox & Trine Heinemann The Alignment of Manual and Verbal Displays in Requests for the Repair of an Object
Abstract In this study we explore request sequences at an American shoe repair shop. We investigate the methods through which customers at the shop present objects for repair or alteration, focusing on the fine interplay between their verbal requests and their manual manipulation of these objects. Our analysis shows that customers coming to the shoe repair shop enact an epistemic stance toward the object they have brought in for repair. We argue that the verbal utterances and manual manipulations are fitted to one another with regard to the epistemic stance individual customers display: Customers whose requests are formulated, for instance, as problem descriptions or as inquiries into the repairability of an object manipulate the object only very minimally, if at all; whereas customers whose requests are formulated as solution specifications manipulate the object in ways that also evidence the problem and/or its solution. The data are in American English.