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ERIC Number: ED198700
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1980-Mar
Pages: 18
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Toward a Theory of Conversational Style: The Machine-Gun Question.
Tannen, Deborah
This paper, part of a larger study, focuses on a single linguistic device, the "machine-gun question," which was used by three of six participants in a Thanksgiving dinner conversation. This conversational device is characteristic of a style that seems to grow out of the need to have others approve of one's wants. It is a style characterized here as "high-involvement." The other three participants exhibited a style which seems to grow out of the need to not be imposed upon, or the need for independence; it is characterized as "high-considerateness." The "machine-gun question" is spoken at a rapid rate and is timed to come either as an overlap or a latch on the interlocutor's utterance. It also has reduced syntactic form and marked high or low pitch. It requests information, and it may come in a series. This type of question has its corollary in an answer characterized by reduced form, rapid timing, and marked low or high pitch. Examples of such questions and answers demonstrates the process of perceiving intentions among interlocutors in conversation. A conclusion is that intentions are perceived correctly in proportion to the degree to which conversational style is shared. (AMH)
Southwest Educational Development Laboratory, 211 East 7th Street, Austin, Texas 78701.
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: National Inst. of Education (DHEW), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: Southwest Educational Development Lab., Austin, TX.