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Pointing in two directions? be’-prefaced turns in Italian:
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Romance Studies and Classics.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9290-4167
2014 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

The inspiration for the work reported here came from a simple observation: a particle like be’, so frequent in spoken Italian, has been so far overlooked by researchers in the field of Conversation Analysis. This study aims at giving a description of be’ in its sequential environment and will address the following research questions:

-          Where and when does be’ appear?

-          What action/s does the speaker perform through a be’-prefaced turn?

The studies dealing with be' are very scarce: Poggi (1981) analyzed be’ in terms of violations of expectations, while Bazzanella (1994) brought together be’ and many other particles under the umbrella term of “discourse marker”, without specifically focusing on it, though. Grammars usually list be’ among interjections.

The current research draws on a small corpus (200 minutes) of dyadic conversations between Italian native speakers and very proficient Swedish speakers of Italian L2. The data belong to the InterIta project (Bardel, 2004) and were recorded between the fall term 2008 and the spring term 2010, with sixteen participants involved. From a quantitative point of view, 49 tokens in total were found.

In our data, be’ turned out to be a relevant tool in interaction, occupying a strategic turn-initial position and performing a variety of functions. As Schegloff (1987: 71) observed, the beginning of the turn is of great importance due to the fact that it projects the kind of turn that is being implemented, a vital aspect of the turn-taking system in conversation. This position is often filled by various markers that relate what is going to be said by the current speaker to what has just been said in the previous turn by the other participant. be’ seems prototypical in this respect in that it works as both backward- and forward-looking stance marker. 

Preliminary analysis of our dataset suggests that be’ performs at least three different kinds of action: more precisely, be’ can

1) preface a repair (both self- and other-initiated)

2) project lack of alignment and/or independent access in second assessment

3) project nonstraightforwardness responding in bipolar sequence types/yes/no interrogatives

Thus, be’ serves as a receipt token pointing back to some sort of insufficiency and/or problem in the just-preceding turn. By prefacing their turn with be’, current speakers calls into question the assumptions on which the previous turn is built on, pointing to the fact that what follows is to be taken as something falling to some degree outside the category of preferred action. What follows is thus to be considered an asymmetrical form of conduct (Lerner, 1996) that can hinder progressivity in interaction, alignment, straightforwardness and, ultimately, social solidarity. This research enhances our understanding of intersubjectivity and epistemics management in turn-in-interaction in Italian, and can constitute a basis for comparison with previous researches in the field.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014.
Keywords [en]
Italian, discourse markers, talk in interaction, talk as social action, conversation analysis
National Category
Languages and Literature Specific Languages Social Anthropology
Research subject
Italian
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-138341OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-138341DiVA, id: diva2:1066872
Conference
4th International Conference on Conversation Analysis (ICCA-14), Los Angeles, United States, June 25-29, 2014
Available from: 2017-01-19 Created: 2017-01-19 Last updated: 2018-01-13Bibliographically approved

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