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32 . Another glimpse of this sort of complexity can be found in Jefferson's illustration of the "horizontal," as opposed to the "vertical," interplay of moves in a multiperson conversation. See Jefferson ( 1972:306).


that the teacher's purpose is to uncover what each and every pupil has learned about a given matter and to correct and amplify from this base. The consequence of this educational, not conversational, imperative is that classroom interaction can come to be parcelled out into three-move interchanges:

Teacher: Query

Pupil: Answer

Teacher: Evaluative comment on answer

the word "turn" here taken to mean sequencing of pupil obligations to participate in this testing process; furthermore, it is understood that the teacher's concern is to check up on and extend what pupils know, not add to her knowledge from their knowledge, and that it would not be proper for a pupil to try to reverse these roles. 33


Given an interactional perspective that recommends "move" as a minimal unit, that is concerned with ritual constraints as well as system ones, and that shifts attention from answers to replies and then from replies to responses in general, we can return to perfunctory interchanges and make a closer pass at analyzing them.

Take, for example, a standard rerun signal. A simple embedding can apparently result, this involving a "side sequence" whereby one two-part exchange is held open so that another can occur within it:

A1: "It costs five"

B1: "I'll tale it"


33 Sinclair et al. ( 1972: 88, 104 ). Shuy ( 1974: 12 ), also provides examples of three-move play. Riddles might be thought to have a three-move structure: (1) question, (2) thought and give-up, (3) answer. Again, the purpose of the asked person's move is not to inform the asker about the answer but to show whether he is smart enough to uncover what the asker already knows. But here the interaction falls flat if indeed the correct answer is uncovered (unlike the asking done by teachers) or if, upon being told the answer, the asked person does not do an appreciable "take," this latter constituting a fourth move.


his is (apparently) an "unhearing." In the case of a misunderstanding, something less tidy can result, something less neatly parceled into two-part exchanges:

(i) D: "Have you ever had a history of cardiac arrest in your family?"

(ii) P: "We never had no trouble with the police."

(iii) D: "No. Did you have any heart trouble in your family?"

(iv) P: "Oh, that. Not that I know of." 34

The structural difference between an unhearing and a misunderstanding is to be found in terms of how the difficulty gets corrected. With unhearings, the recipient signals there is trouble; with misunderstandings, the speaker. Consequently, unhearings can be nicely managed with turns containing only one move, but misunderstandings lead to a two-move third turn, its first part signalling that trouble has occurred, and its second providing a rerun. Therefore (iii) could be seen as an elision and contraction of something like this:

iii(a) D: "No, that's not what I said."

P: "What did you say?"

D: "Did you have any heart trouble in your family?"

and its collapse into one turn perhaps based on the maxim that in serious matters, anyone who misunderstands another will rather be corrected than protected. Note that (iv) is more complicated than (iii). For although elision does not seem involved in what the speaking accomplishes, it still seems that three different kinds of work are ventured, indeed, three different moves, two involving system constraints and one involving ritual ones. A gloss might go like this:

"Oh." [Now I see what you really said and I tell you that I do.]
"That." [Although I didn't get you the first time around, what you said comes from a corpus of questions not unfamiliar to me that I can readily deal with.]
"Not that I know of." (An answer to the now correctly heard question.]


34 The first two lines are drawn from Shuy ( 1974: 22 ), and are real; the second two I have added myself, and aren't.


Here, resolving the interchange into two-move couplets doesn't help very much. For although (i) and (ii) can be seen as a two-part exchange of sorts, (iii) is a rejection of (ii) and a restatement of (i), and (iv) is a redoing of (ii) along with a defense against (iii). Observe that an admitted failure to hear (an unhearing) need expose the unhearing recipient to nothing more deprecatory than the imputation of inattentiveness. A misunderstanding, however, causes the misunderstanding recipient to expose what he thinks the speaker might have said and thereby a view both of what he thought might be expected from the speaker and what the recipient himself might expect to receive by way of a question--all this to the possible embarrassment of the definition of self and other that actually comes to prevail.

In examining (iv) we found that different moves within the same turn at talk were sustained by different words, a convenient fact also true of the chaining examples given at the beginning of the paper. But there is no reason why this must be so. The same words can embody different moves in different games. This dismal fact allows us to return to the five dollar unhearing example and examine some of its complications.

There is a way of saying "How much did you say?" so as to imply a "literal" reading, that is, a reading (whether actually literal or not) that stresses what is taken to be the standard meaning of the sentence--its propositional content--and suppresses all other possibilities. But work and care will be required to secure this locutionary effect, as much, perhaps, as would be required to speak the line with any of its other freightings.

About these other freightings. Obviously, in context, "How much did you say?" can mean "That's an awfully high price"--at least in a manner of speaking. 35 And when it does,


35 Two kinds of qualifications are always necessary. First, the translation from what is said to what is meant is necessarily an approximation. One should really say, ". . . can mean something like 'That's an awfully high price.'" But I take this to be an instance of "normatively residual" ambiguity. More important, an utterance designed to be made a convenience of, that is, intended to be accepted solely for what it indirectly conveys, never has only this significance --apart from the inherent ambiguity of this significance. For, as suggested, a directly made statement inevitably leaves its maker in a different strategic position from the one in which an indirectly equivalent statement would leave him. For example, if a recipient takes violent exception to what a speaker meant


the fact that a move of this kind has been made, a move which questions the honesty and integrity of the informant, will show up in the rerun that comes at the next turn, for then that line ("Five dollars") is likely to be spoken in an apologetic way, its speaker commiserating with the unhearer for the way prices are now; or in a slightly taunting tone, meeting the implied accusation head on and not giving way before it; or, most complicated of all, in what amounts to a serious mimicking of a straightforward standard rerun, providing thereby the functional equivalent of a silence produced and heard as something to take note of. Observe, the practicality of the customer using a sarcastic or ironic phrasing of a rerun signal not only depends on there being a rerun signal to overlay in this way, but also upon there being a conventionalized interchange into which the server's response to this sally can be neatly fitted--whether "directly," by openly addressing the implied meaning of the customer's query, or "indirectly," by inducing through intonation and stress a special reading of what is otherwise a standard response to a standard request for a rerun. Note that the same general interchange format will allow the customer to begin the display of disgruntlement in another way, namely, by means of an utterance such as "You gotta be kidding," which in its turn can lead on to "I know what you mean," or (straight-faced), "No, that's what it really costs," and we are back once again to the same position: a customer who reserves the right to complete a transaction even as he injects note of the fact that he feels the pricing is out of line. May I add that an important possibility in the analysis of talk is to uncover the consequence of a particular move for the anticipated sequence; for that is a way to study the move's functioning ( Goffman 1971: 171 -83). One should examine, then, the way in which a move can precipitously bring an interchange to an end before its initial design would have prefigured or extend the interchange after its termination had been expected or induce an interchange without using up the first slot to do so or cause a "break in step," as when he who gives up the floor in a manner to ensure getting it back after the


_ to convey indirectly, the speaker can always take the line that he meant the literal meaning all along.


next turn finds that the person who obtained the floor has managed matters so as to undercut the built-in return, or when someone being presented at court asks the royal personage questions instead of merely answering them, thereby committing lèse-majesté linguistically, for although monarchs may deign to penetrate a commoner's preserve conversationally, the understanding is that the exposure is not to be reciprocated.

Consider now that just as interchanges can incorporate nonlinguistic actions along with verbal utterances concerning these actions, so interchanges can incorporate references to past doings as occasions for now doing praise or blame, thereby placing responses to wider circumstances before or after verbal reference to these circumstances and thus bringing them into the interchange:

B comes home from work, apparently not having brought what he promised to bring, and shows no sign that he is mindful of his failure.

A1: "You forgot!" [An utterance whose propositional form is that of an assertion of fact, but here can be understood as blamegiving]

B1: "Yes. I am sorry."

A2: "You're always doing it."

B2: "I know."

However, because the accuser cannot be sure of the accused's situation, a tactful hedge may be employed, and sometimes with good reason:

A1: "Did you forget?"

B1: No

A2: "Where is it?"

B1?.: "It's in the car."

A3: "Well?"

B3: "I'm on my way out to get it."

an interchange that can be nicely managed in a more elliptical form:

A1:"Did you forget?"

B1/B2/B3: "No, it's in the car; I'm just on my way to get it."

Observe that the accuser can extend this sort of strategic hedging by asking question, the affirmative answer to which constitutes


an acceptable excuse for the action at fault, thereby giving the apparent offender an easy opportunity either to demonstrate that indeed this (or a similarly effective accounting) can be given or to initiate an admission of guilt (along with an apology) without actually having been asked for either. Thus:

A: "The store was closed by the time you got out?"

B: "Darn it. I'm afraid it was." etc: . . .

A: "The store was closed by the time you got out?"

B: "It was open but they won't have any 'til next week." etc:

are possibilities (as initial rounds) the asker leaves open while actually priming the following self-rebuke, thereby allowing the blameworthy person first slot in an apology interchange:

A: "The store was closed by the time you got out?"

B: [Striking head] "God. I'm sorry. I'm hopeless." etc: . . .

Finally, observe how passing interchanges can bear on nonlinguistic actions and balance the claims of different games off against each other, presenting us with utterances that are routine yet functionally complex:

At an airport a man approaches a stranger, a woman, who is seated at one end of a three-seat row. He places his small bag on the far seat of the three and prepares to walk away to a distant ticket counter.

The basic alternatives open to the man seem to be:

Leave his bag, civilly disattend the sitter (thus neither obliging her to do anything nor presuming on her in any other manner), and go on his way, leaving his bag at risk.
Openly approach the sitter in the manner of someone politely initiating talk with an unacquainted cross-sexed other, saying, for example, "Excuse me, Ma'am, I'll only be gone a minute. If you're going to be here, would you mind keeping an eye on my bag?" (to which the response would likely be a granting of the request or the provision of an explained decline).

With these possibilities as part of the actual situation confronting the two, the following interchange can easily transpire:


He: [Laconically, almost sotto voce, as if already lodged in conversation with the recipient): "Don't let them steal it."

She: [Immediately utters an appreciative conspiratorial chuckle as speaker continues on his way.]

Here a man is taking license to treat a woman with whom he is unacquainted as though they were in a state of "open talk," i.e., the right but not the obligation to initiate brief states of talk at will. But the price for taking this liberty--and what neutralizes it as a liberty and therefore permits it--is that the speaker not only thereby forgoes the outright possibility of obtaining a formal commitment concerning the guarding of his bag, but also physically removes himself from the possibility of further threatening the sitter with an extension of the contact. The recipient responds with a laugh patently directed to the sally--the little joke that is to bring the two momentarily together in acknowledgment of the theft level at the airport--and not to the man's underlying need to have his bag guarded. But the sitter's response does not deny outright that she will indeed be responsive to the man's unstated hope, that prospect being scrupulously left open. The little laugh that follows the unserious command is, then, not merely a sign of appreciation for a joke made, but also evidence of a strategic position which neither denies nor accepts the buried request. (Thus, she is free to leave before the man returns and is free to help out without formally having to accept talk from a stranger.) And this hedged response to the man's deeply hedged request is what he was all along ready to settle for, namely, a hope, not a promise. Thus, an interchange that is entirely verbal and apparently unsezious can yet draw upon and implicate wider nonlinguistic matters, such as guardianship, the rules for initiating spoken contact between strangers, and the like. Different orders of interaction, different interaction games, are simultaneously in progress, each involving a different amalgam of linguistic and nonlinguistic doings, and yet the same stretch of words must serve. Note that here the words that realize a move in one game can do so because they can be presented as realizing a move in another. 36


36 . Puns and other "double meanings" are not mere double meanings, for without the occurrence of the straight meaning in the context in which it occurs



1. Ordinary language philosophers have recently brought help in the study of the structure of interchanges, for these units of interaction appear to contain and to meld what students of Aus- tin would refer to as quite different speech acts. Drawing on John Searle's analysis ( 1976: 1 - 23 ), consider that the following argument is possible.
In theory at least, a speaker should be able to present a statement that solely reports pure fact (an "assertion") and receive a reply that simply attests to system constraints having been satisfied:
(i) A: "I think I'll do the wrapping."
B: "Oh."
Very often, in contrast, a speaker presents a "directive," that is, words whose point (or Wocutionary force) is to urge the hearer to do something, the urging varying in degree from gentle requests to harsh commands.
One basic kind of directive is aimed at inducing the hearer to impart verbal information on a particular matter, giving us again the question-answer pair. 37
ii(a) A: "Is that the parcel I'm supposed to start with?"
B: "Yes."
Observe that instead of speaking simply of system and ritual constraints, we might want to see B's "Yes" as a move in three different games; the requested information is provided but also (by implication) assurance is given that the question was correctly heard, and that it was not intrusive, stupid, overeager, out of order, and the like. Consequently the following recovery of two preliminary exchanges is thinkable:


36 (and thus in the context which allows it to occur) the sophisticated meaning could not be introduced. There is thus a hierarchical ordering of the two meanings, that is, of the unmarked and marked forms; one must be introducible before the other can be introduced.
37 . A directive in the sense that "I request that you tell me" is implied. See Gordon and Lakoff ( 1971:66); Searle. ( 1976: 11 ).


A3:"Is that the parcel I'm supposed to start with?"
B3: "Yes."
The possibility that the asker needs assurance either that he has gotten across or that his question is proper seems quite remote here, and consequently the argument for elision seems extremely labored. But, of course, there are lots of circumstances in which these two considerations (especially the ritual one) are acutely problematic, being expressed either explicitly in preliminary exchanges or tacitly through intonation and stress.
Move on now to a second basic kind of directive, to the request or command for a nonlinguistic doing:
iii(a) A: "Would you put your finger on the knot?"
B: [Puts finger on knot]
Here again the response (a doing) performs triple work: it does what was requested and simultaneously affirms that the request was correctly heard and deemed to be in order. But now we can see more readily that directives involve (among other things) a timing condition, and this can imply a tacit back pair, or at least the expansion is thinkable in which this underlying possibility is exhibited:
iii(b) A: "Would you put your finger on the knot when I say now?"
B: [Puts finger on knot]
which almost surfaces in the following:
iii(c) A: "Would you put your finger on the knot nnnnnnnnow!"
B: [Puts finger on knot]
The examples given here of requests for information and requests for nonlinguistic doings are simpler than ordinarily found in nature, for there quite commonly what is meant as a request for information or action is said as a request for yes/no information either about having information or being able to


perform an action. ("Do you know the time?"; "Can you reach the salt?") So in many examples of both kinds of directives a further expansion is thinkable in order to recover another elided back pair. A1: "Do you know the time?" A1: "Can you reach the salt?" B2: "Five o'clock." B2B2: "Yes." [Gets it, gives it] A3: "Thanks." Furthermore, although what is "literally" said in these cases can be so thoroughly a dead issue as to provide the basis for joking "literal" replies, there will, as suggested, be other occasions when both understandings are relevant, allowing for the possibilities of one utterance figuring as a move in four games: a request for evidence that one is being correctly heard; a request for information about possessing information or ability; a request for divulgence of the information or performance of the capacity; a stand taken concerning the social propriety of making these requests. Now just as directives aim at inducing words or actions from the addressed recipient, so we can anticipate a class of speech acts through which speaker commits himself to a course of action-"commissives," in Searle's phrasing--comprising promises, pledges, threats, offerings, and the like ( 1976: 17 - 18 ). Commissives are similar to directives in that interchanges involving either can intimately interweave words and actions. Further, both commissives and directives raise the issue of the character of the ritual tags typically associated with them, namely, some variant of please and thank you. Thus: Directive A1: "Would you put your finger on the knot?" B1: [Does so] Commissive A1: "Would you like me to put my finger on the knot?" B1: "Yes." A2: [Puts finger on knot]


Although these politeness forms consist of lexicalized verbal utterances, the feeling with which they are spoken is always an important element; as already suggested, the point of employing these forms is not so much to state something as to exhibit feeling. In turn, we might want to distinguish this sort of verbal doing from a second sort, the sort identifiable as involving classic performatives, whereby uttering a formulaic statement in the proper circumstances accomplishes the doing of something, the formula circumstances being required, not the feelings of the's speaker. 38
2. A classification of speech acts--such as the one recommended by Searle--provides us with an opportunity to see that how an interchange unfolds will depend somewhat on the type of speech act involved, especially upon the type that initiates the interchange. Thus, a simple declarative statement of fact (if indeed there is such a thing in natural talk) creates a quite different second pair part from a request for information, and such a request has different sequencing implications from a request for a nonlinguistic doing. A "commissive" has still other sequential consequences. And an interpersonal ritual such as a greeting proves to be linked with a matching expression, but now much more loosely than is true of other adjacency pairs.
3. But if a typology of speech acts is to guide us, we must see that something equally fundamental is presumed.
In English, speech acts tend to be identified with particular syntactic structures (such as imperative and interrogative forms) and particular lexical items (such as "please" and "pardon"), the position being that here the locutionary form "directly" conveys a speech act. It is said that the speech form- can "literally" express or realize the corresponding speech act. 39 It is then rea-


38 .Note that all classical performatives are moves in at least two games, one that of informing hearers about, say, the name to be given, the bid to be made, the judgment to be rendered, and the other that of achieving this naming, bidding, judging (see Searle [ 1975]). Words are not alone in having this capacity. Every move in a board game similarly figures, both informing what move the player is to take and committing him to having taken this move. See Goffman ( 1961:35).
39 ."Literal" here is a wonderfully confusing notion, something that should constitute a topic of linguistic study, not a conceptual tool to use in making studies. Sometimes the dictionary meaning of one or more of the


soned that a particular speech form may be routinely employed in accomplishing a speech act different from the one that would be performed were the speech form to be understood literally, that is, taken directly. So a given speech form can come to have a standard significance as a speech act different from its literal significance as a speech act. 40 Only one more step is needed to appreciate that in a particular context, a speech form having a standard significance as a speech act can be employed in a still further way to convey something not ordinarily conveyed by it --whatever, of course, it happens to say. (Indeed, on occasion the special meaning conveyed by a speech form may consist of its "literal" meaning, as when James Bond leaves his recently shot dancing partner at a stranger's table, saying that she is dead on her feet.)
Given all of this, an attempt must be made to uncover the principles which account for whatever contrast is found on a particular occasion between what is said (locutionary effect), what is usually meant by this (standard illocutionary force), and what in fact is meant on that particular occasion of use. Further, consideration must be given to the fact that in some cases, standard meaning is closely dependent on literal meaning, in other cases not; in some cases, particular force is closely dependent on the standard one (either as a contrast or as something that can retroactively be claimed as what was intended), in other cases there seems hardly any relation at all between them. 41
One problem with this perspective is that a set of prear-


39 words of the utterance is meant, although how that meaning is arrived at is left an open question. And the underlying, commonsense notion is preserved that a word in isolation will have a general, basic, or most down-to-earth meaning, that this basic meaning is sustained in how the word is commonly used in phrases and clauses, but that in many cases words are used "metaphorically" to convey something that they don't really mean.
40 .In fact, as recently suggested ( Shatz 1974), indirect significance may be learned before literal meaning is appreciated.
41 . A good example of this latter, one that did not show respect for linguistic doctrines of the time, can be found in the once-popular John-Marsha record, wherein a male voice repeating only the female name and a female voice repeating only the male name managed to convey through timing, stress and other paralinguistic cues a complete seduction. Dostoyevsky's version is reviewed in Vološinov ( 1973:103-5); and Vygotsky ( 1902:142-44).


ranged harmonies tends to be assumed. Speech forms are taken to be of the same number and kind as are standard speech acts; and the latter are taken to provide a matching for the variety of meanings that occur in particular contexts. The same list of possibilities is assumed to be found in each of the three classes of cases, the only issue being which instances of this list are to appear together, as when, for example, a question is said but an order is meant or an order is said but an offer is meant or an offer is what is usually meant but in this case a request is intendk, 42 (A similar argument can be made about the issue of "strength"; the "strength" of an utterance is ordinarily attached to, and indicated by, a set speech form, but in context a particular usage can convey much less or much more force.) 43 The point, of course, is that although standard speech acts may form a relatively small, well-demarcated set, this applies largely to what is said; what is meant seems to draw on additional sets of meanings, too. For example, the interruptive utterance, "What?", presents the proposition that something has not been heard and the illocutionary intent of inducing a rerun. But in very many cases of actual use, these possibilities are the cover for some sort of boggling at what is occurring, and these various bogglings don't aptly fit into the standard speech act boxes.
Further, there is a degenerative relation between what is said and what is conveyed, for the special use to which a standard speech act is put on occasion can after a time become itself a standard overlayed meaning, which can then, in turn, allow for a second-order use to be employed for still other purposes. For example, "I shall hate you if you do not come to my party" has


42 .Here, as Ervin-Tripp ( 1976) suggests, misunderstandings are to be located; so also seriously pretended misunderstandings, openly unserious misunderstandings, concern by speaker about misunderstanding, etc.
43 . Linguists seem to have a special commitment to the analysis of directives. They start with a series that is marked syntactically and phonetically, beginning with imperative forms and then on to the various "mitigations" until something like a vague wish is being said. And there does seem to be a general social understanding that such a series exists; witness the fact that the series is drawn upon as a resource when formulating joking moves. But what sort of series, if any (and if only one), any particular social circle of users actually employs and what relation this may have, if any, to the grammarian's stereotypes is an open question, no doubt to be differently answered by every group one might study. Here see the useful analysis in Ervin-Tripp ( 1976).


to do with issuing strong invitations, not with warning of strong dislike consequent on failure to perform a particular act. But what is here conveyed as opposed to what is said may well itself be employed in a mock voice as mimicry of refinement. And some of these mockeries have themselves become rather standardized, opening up the prospect of a still further twist between what is said and what is meant. Moreover, two different standardized meanings may be established. For example, rerun signals very commonly constitute a sanctioning move against a speaker, pointedly giving him a chance to recast the way he has said something or to proceed now to account for why he did what he has just reported having done; however, the same signals are also used in their more "literal" sense to accomplish improved communication.
Commonly, critiques of orthodox linguistic analysis argue that although meaning depends on context, context itself is left as a residual category, something undifferentiated and global that is to be called in whenever, and only whenever, an account is needed for any noticeable deviation between what is said and what is meant. This tack fails to allow that when no such discrepancy is found, the context is still crucial--but in this case the context is one that is usually found when the utterance occurs. (Indeed, to find an utterance with only one possible reading is to find an utterance that can occur in only one possible context.) More important, traditionally no analysis was provided of what it is in contexts that makes them determinative of the significance of utterances, or any statement concerning the classes of contexts that would thus emerge--all of which if explicated, would allow us to say something other than merely that the context matters.
Here Austin has helped. He raises the question of how a speech act can fail to come off and suggests an analysis: there are infelicities (including misfirings and abuses), restrictions on responsibility, misunderstandings, and etiolations, namely, the reframings illustrated when an act turns out to be embedded in a report, a poem, a movie, and so on ( Austin 1965: 12 - 24 ). In asking how a speech act can fail, Austin points to conditions that must be fulfilled if the act is to succeed, this in turn suggesting how contexts might be classified according to the way they affect the illocutionary force of statements made in them. And indeed, the


prospect is implied that a whole framework might be uncovered which establishes the variety of ways in which an act can be reread and a determinative account of the relations among these several bases for reinterpretation.
Say that there is in any given culture a limited set of basic reinterpretation schemas (each, of course, realized in an infinite number of ways), such that the whole set is potentially applicable to the "same" event. Assume, too, that these fundamental frameworks themselves form a framework--a framework of frameworks. Starting, then, from a single event in our own culture, in this case, an utterance, we ought to be able to show that a multitude of meanings are possible, that these fall into distinct classes limited in number, and that the classes are different from each other in ways that might appear as fundamental, somehow providing not merely an endless catalogue but an entree to the structure of experience. It will then seem obvious that the schema of schemas applicable to (and even derived from) the possible meanings of our chosen event will similarly apply to any other event. Of course, the shape of such a metaschema need only be limned in to provide the reader with a focus for easy complaint; but complaints can lead to what we are looking for.
Start, then, with a conventionalized, perfunctory social litany, one that begins with A's "Do you have the time?" and restricting ourselves to B's verbal response, consider the following unfoldings:

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