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Linguistic Diversity and Social Justice

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach addresses the question: "How can we unravel the evolution of language, given that there is no direct evidence about it?"


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Academic Paper


Title: Organizing a Remote State of Incipient Talk: Push-to-talk mobile
Author: Margaret H. Szymanski
Institution: Palo Alto Research Center
Author: Paul M. Aoki and Allison Woodruff
Institution: Intel Research Berkeley
Linguistic Field: Discourse Analysis
Subject Language: None
Abstract: This study investigates the organization of conversational interaction via push-to-talk mobile radios. Operating like long-range walkie-talkies, the mobile radios mediate a remote state of incipient talk; at the push of a button, speakers can initiate, engage, disengage, and reengage turn-by-turn talk. Eight friends used the mobile radios for one week; 50 of their conversational exchanges were analyzed using conversation analytic methods. The findings describe the contour of their conversational exchanges: how turn-by-turn talk is engaged, sustained, and disengaged. Similar to a continuing state of incipient talk in copresence, opening and closing sequences are rare. Instead, speakers engage turn-by-turn talk by immediately launching the purpose of the call. Speakers disengage turn-by-turn talk by orienting to the relevance of a lapse at sequence completion. Once engaged, the mobile radio system imposes silence between speakers' turns at talk, giving them a resource for managing a remote conversation amid ongoing copresent activities.

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This article appears IN Language in Society Vol. 35, Issue 3, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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