Turn Taking in E-Mail Discussions

Turn Taking in E-Mail Discussions

Sandra Harrison (Coventry University, UK)
Copyright: © 2008 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-863-5.ch054
OnDemand PDF Download:
$30.00
List Price: $37.50

Abstract

This chapter investigates turn taking in naturally occurring e-mail discussions. In e-mail discussions, participants can self select to contribute at any time, turns cannot be interrupted, and adjacency cannot be guaranteed. However, participants engage in recognisable discussions and “speaker” change occurs. Patterns of turn taking can be observed in the data, and there are many parallels with spoken conversation. In e-mail discussions, the current participant may select a new participant, and those selected usually respond; participants may self select (the most common method of turn taking); and the current participant may choose to continue, either by writing an extended turn or by sending separate consecutive messages. Response is not obligatory unless a respondent has been specified. There is no priority system through which a change of participant takes priority. Because there is less pressure toward current speaker selects last, the system encourages multiple participants to engage in the discussion.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Transition Relevance Place (TRP): In spoken language, the completion of a turn construction unit (a place where another speaker can take a turn).

Superordinate Term: A more general term, one which includes another, for example, “child” is a superordinate term for “girl,” and “bird” is a superordinate of “robin.”

Lexical Cohesion: Semantic links in a text that arise from choice of vocabulary.

Metadiscussion: Discussion about a discussion. In the e-mail discussions this would typically be a discussion about the tone or the appropriateness of messages, and would take place alongside responses to the content of the topic.

E-Mail Discussions: E-mail discussion lists provide a forum for asynchronous discussion about a specified field or theme. Those who wish to participate add their names to a list; they can then send messages to and receive messages from the list. Everyone on the list automatically receives copies of all messages sent to the list. Frequently, several topics are under discussion, and members can choose which, if any, to reply to.

Conversation Analysis (CA): The study of talk. CA uses naturally occurring data and its concerns include turn taking (which can demonstrate, for example, power relationships in the interaction), and how the participants themselves orient to the interaction.

Backchannel: A short utterance, for example, “mm,” “uhuh,” or “OK,” that signals attention without taking over the conversational floor.

Computer Mediated Conversation (CMC): Communication which takes place through the medium of computers. (It does not mean forms of communication which are generated by computer for subsequent printing, and therefore does not include documents which are word-processed and output onto paper.)

Backchannel: A short utterance, for example, “mm,” “uhuh,” or “OK,” that signals attention without taking over the conversational floor.

Lexical Cohesion: Semantic links in a text that arise from choice of vocabulary.

Conversation Analysis (CA): The study of talk. CA uses naturally occurring data and its concerns include turn taking (which can demonstrate, for example, power relationships in the interaction), and how the participants themselves orient to the interaction.

Turn Construction Unit (TCU): A component from which a turn may be constructed, for example, a sentence, clause, phrase or word.

Turn: For the purposes of this chapter, a turn is defined as everything a participant writes before she or he sends the message.

Turn: For the purposes of this chapter, a turn is defined as everything a participant writes before she or he sends the message.

Turn Construction Unit (TCU): A component from which a turn may be constructed, for example, a sentence, clause, phrase or word.

Transition Relevance Place (TRP): In spoken language, the completion of a turn construction unit (a place where another speaker can take a turn).

E-Mail Discussions: E-mail discussion lists provide a forum for asynchronous discussion about a specified field or theme. Those who wish to participate add their names to a list; they can then send messages to and receive messages from the list. Everyone on the list automatically receives copies of all messages sent to the list. Frequently, several topics are under discussion, and members can choose which, if any, to reply to.

Metadiscussion: Discussion about a discussion. In the e-mail discussions this would typically be a discussion about the tone or the appropriateness of messages, and would take place alongside responses to the content of the topic.

Computer Mediated Conversation (CMC): Communication which takes place through the medium of computers. (It does not mean forms of communication which are generated by computer for subsequent printing, and therefore does not include documents which are word-processed and output onto paper.)

Superordinate Term: A more general term, one which includes another, for example, “child” is a superordinate term for “girl,” and “bird” is a superordinate of “robin.”

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Reset