Multi-unit turns at the grammar-body interface: embodied cues at TCU-boundaries
In social interaction, speakers deploy various practices for extending their turns at talk by making syntactically simpler units structurally and semantically more complex in an incremental, step-by-step manner. One such practice consists of, e.g., adding a coordinate or subordinate clause post hoc to what was first produced as a main clause ending on a possible turn transition relevance place. Such boundary places can be followed by at least two kinds of trajectories: 1) the speaker’s turn continues the same action and grammatical trajectory of the turn-constructional unit, or 2) the speaker continues with a stretch of talk that carries out a new action whereby the syntactic continuation is not dependent on the previous TCU. Whether we are dealing with boundaries of type 1 or type 2 has in earlier studies been related to the strength of the syntactic, prosodic and pragmatic boundaries between the turn units (e.g. Schegloff 1996; Ford & Thompson 1996; Fox, Ford & Thompson 2002; Couper-Kuhlen & Ono 2007; some papers in Barth-Weingarten & Ogden 2021), but much less has been said about the role of speakers’ embodied resources in such contexts (however, see Pekarek Doehler 2021; Stoenica 2020).
In our talk we seek to contribute to a better understanding of incrementing and turn continuing practices by attending to speakers’ gaze, posture and gesture at the juncture of possible TCUs in multi-unit turns. More specifically, we will discuss cases of type 1, where embodied cues signal TCU and action continuation (including cases where prosodic cues are fuzzy/inconclusive), and type 2, where embodied cues signal TCU ending and possibly action boundary. We will also consider complex multi-unit turns to demonstrate the scalarity of the phenomenon, which can reveal a progression from type 1 turn continuation to type 2 continuation within one long speaker turn. Through such an account, we hope to contribute to current interests in continua of clausal integration (Maschler 2018; Beijering et al. 2019) and in the complexity of how grammar and body interface in social interaction (papers in Maschler et al. 2020; Pekarek Doehler et al. 2022), also with regard to participants’ resources for signaling and recognizing turn-transitional relevance places (Kendrick et al. 2023). Our analyses are based on excerpts of video-recorded conversations in three languages, French, Hebrew, and Swedish.
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