John Local

Department of Language and Linguistic Science
The University of York

Structures and evidence in naturally occurring talk
phonetics of talk-in-interaction


One of the 'grand challenges' we face as phoneticians is how to make sense of the phonetic detail and phonetic variation we observe in everyday talk. Almost everything we do that concerns other people involves talk-in-interaction, yet the interactional organisation and functioning of phonetic events in everyday talk has received remarkably little systematic attention in, and has had little analytic impact on, mainstream approaches to linguistics, phonetics, psychology and cognitive science. In these lectures I argue that the phonetic organisation of talk is most appropriately analysed as a resource which conversationalists use both to achieve things in the world and to manage the flow of talk. We will explore ways of extending our formal understanding of 'context' to include the precise sequential organization of talk, and show how we can develop new understandings of the organization of phonetic detail and phonetic variatibility.

Lecture 1

Theoretical perspectives 1: Structures and evidence in naturally occurring talk: introduction to the methodology of Conversation Analysis

The first lecture will introduce the methodology of Conversation Analysis as a basis for thinking about relationships between phonetic detail and phonetic variation in interactional. We'll look at: social action, turns at talk and turn taking, turn-design and sequence organization. We'll pay particular attention to the ways in which we use interactional 'evidence' from the organization of sequences of talk to provide rigorous participant-based accounts of the interactional work being done.

Lecture 2

Theoretical perspectives 2: Rethinking phonetics in the context of talk-in-interaction

Building on the first lecture we'll look more carefully at the ways participants in talk-in-interaction deploy and interpret phonetic parameters in everyday conversation. We'll argue that phonetic aspects of language should in the first instance be understood as shaped by interactional considerations. We'll explore what is meant by 'parametric phonetic detail' and show how we can use sequential organization to motivate claims about the functioning of clusters of phonetic parameters.

Lecture 3

Putting it all together: parametric phonetics and the organisation of talk-in-interaction

This lecture combines the methodological and analytic approaches outlined in the first two lectures and works through some case studies to show how we can conduct integrated analyses of interactional sequential structure and parametric phonetic detail. We'll highlight some empirical and theoretical implications of the outcomes of these analyses and the challenges they pose for conventional views about cognitive models of speech and speech understanding.

Lecture notes

About the Lecturer


Last changed December 16, 2008 12:53 EET by local organizers, vispp2008(at)