Turn management and backchannels

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

Abstract

What are backchannels? Backchannels can be generally defined as the intermittent vocal noises e.g. mm, oh, right, yeah, made by the listener while in conversation with another person. They are known by a variety of other names, reflecting the different linguistic and other theoretical paradigms in which they have been investigated. One such alternative name is response token, used in conversation analysis (Gardner 2001, McCarthy 2002), where they are treated as potential or actual turns in the construction of dialogue, but this tends to the overshadow the other kinds of feedback that backchannels may provide. In the following paper we adopt the more inclusive term backchannels for vocal noises uttered from the back channel in counterpoint to the speech of the turn-holder in the main channel. The term backchannel makes no assumptions about their role in discourse, and serves as a neutral basis for the investigation of backchannel functions reported below. The term itself will be abbreviated to BC(s) in the body of the text following. The prototypical BCs discussed in previous research are simple monosyllabic or monomorphemic forms, like those already illustrated. They may be more or less lexical in their content: compare mm with right. BCs may be conjoined in pairs or clusters, e.g. oh yes, as noted by Tottie (1991) and Clancy et al. (1996); they may also be reduplicated, e.g. yeah, yeah. Apart from those structural possibilities yielding simple or complex/compound BCs, any BC may be uttered as a single piece of feedback to the turn-holder’s talk, or as one of a set in a string, in counterpoint to a longer turn. Compare the BCs produced by the listeners ($B) in examples (1) and (2) below, where they are marked up according to the ICE corpus annotation system (see further Section 15.3 below). The BCs are numbered to indicate the locations where they coincide with the speaker’s talk, i.e. not as follow-up responses to it. They are thus “turn-internal” in their use, in Kjellmer’s (2009: 88) terms.

LanguageEnglish
Title of host publicationCorpus pragmatics
Subtitle of host publicationA handbook
EditorsKarin Aijmer, Christoph Rühlemann
Place of PublicationCambridge
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages408-429
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9781139057493
ISBN (Print)9781107015043
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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listener
conversation analysis
management
conversation
dialogue
paradigm
linguistics
human being
discourse
Backchannel
Yeah

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Peters, P., & Wong, D. (2015). Turn management and backchannels. In K. Aijmer, & C. Rühlemann (Eds.), Corpus pragmatics: A handbook (pp. 408-429). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139057493.022
Peters, Pam ; Wong, Deanna. / Turn management and backchannels. Corpus pragmatics: A handbook. editor / Karin Aijmer ; Christoph Rühlemann. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2015. pp. 408-429
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Peters, P & Wong, D 2015, Turn management and backchannels. in K Aijmer & C Rühlemann (eds), Corpus pragmatics: A handbook. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp. 408-429. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139057493.022

Turn management and backchannels. / Peters, Pam; Wong, Deanna.

Corpus pragmatics: A handbook. ed. / Karin Aijmer; Christoph Rühlemann. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 2015. p. 408-429.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterResearchpeer-review

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Peters P, Wong D. Turn management and backchannels. In Aijmer K, Rühlemann C, editors, Corpus pragmatics: A handbook. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 2015. p. 408-429 https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781139057493.022