THEMATICS IN CRITICAL DISCOURSE ANALYSIS - A CASE STUDY OF A DIALOGUE

Justine Bakuuro

Abstract


Conversation Analysis (CA), a research tradition that grew out of ethnomethodolgy has some unique methodological features. It studies the social organization of “conversation” or “talk-in-interaction” by a detailed inspection of tape recordings and transcriptions made from such recordings. In doing conversation analysis, the analyst identifies a prevailing theme or object around which a conversation is centered. He then goes on to extrapolate how this chosen theme is constructed in the conversation. This paper explores the theme of identity and power construction in the dialogue between two personalities - Vic and the Unknown Lady. It uses two theories-the speech act theory and the relevance theory. There are hardly any prescriptions to be followed if one is to do a “good CA”. A chosen theme, which a conversation analyst bases his exploration on, is termed in the terminology of Schenkein (1978), as “a sketch of an analytic mentality”. In the words of Heritage and Atkinson (1984), “The central goal of conversation analytic research is the description and explication of the competences that ordinary speakers use and rely on in participating in intelligible, socially organized interaction”. This paper has thus attempted to do a sketch of an analytic mentality and explicate the competences of the two conversationalists-Vic and the Unknown Lady- in their admonishing of the dominant theme of identity and power construction in the dialogue between them. Among other findings, the study notes significantly that identity construction involves inclusionary and exclusionary processes in conversational interactions and that words are weapons. The study establishes the fact that power indeed creates identity and that language draws boundaries, making it implicative that identity presupposes similarities and differences.

 

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Keywords


conversation analysis (CA), transcriptions, identity, dialogue, power construction, conversationalist

References


Sacks, H. (1992) Lectures on Conversation, Oxford: Blackwell

Hutchby, I. and Wooffit, R. (1997) conversation Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell.

Nofsiger, E (1990) Everyday Conversation. Oxford: Blackwell

Anscombre, Jean-Claude and Oswald Ducrot, 1983, L’argumentation dans la langue. Bruxelles: Mardaga.

Bilange, Eric, 1992 Modélisation du dialogue oral finalisé personne-machine par une approche structurelle. Théorie et réalisation. Paris: Hermès.

Geis, Michael L. and Arnold Zwicky, 1971 “On invited inferences”. Linguistic Inquiry 2. 561-6.

Grice, H. Paul, 1975 “Logic and conversation”. In Peter Cole and Jerry L. Morgan (eds.), Syntax and Semantics 3: Speech Acts. New York: Academic Press. 41-58.

Groefsema, Marjolein, 1993 “‘Can you pass the salt?’: A short-circuited implicature?”, Lingua87 (1/2). 137-167.

Levinson, Stephen C. 1983, Pragmatics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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