Skip to content Skip to navigation

Abstracts for CA Day 2023

Programme Abstracts


‘The accountability of doubting: Sanctioning speakers for conveying doubt or skepticism about “unquestionable claims”’

Lotte van Burgsteden, Hedwig te Molder (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam) & Geoffrey Raymond  (University of California, Santa Barbara)

Within CA, it has long been recognized that there is no direct correspondence between practices and actions. Participants must manage an apparently irremediable gap between how a turn is constructed and the action it performs. During low-stakes cooperative interactions, this gap is effortlessly managed through the next-turn-proof procedure and repair. However, in contexts where mutual trust is typically lacking, such as disputes and disagreements, the contingent relation between action and practice becomes a basis in practice for speakers to pose challenges or raise other troubles with a prior action. This study focuses on a dataset of ~10 hours of video-recordings from American and Dutch broadcasters, talk shows, and news interviews, and analyzes situations where speakers claim to “just ask questions” or “just request information,” but where recipients do not treat these turns as such. Instead, recipients sanction speakers for conveying doubt or skepticism about what recipients treat as unquestionable claims. Our aim is to enhance our comprehension of the underlying dynamics that link trust and action formation/action ascription. As we show, a dispute emerges over the epistemic status of speakers posing queries, and thus just what actions their turns accomplish. Specifically, speakers claim to ask their questions from a non-knowing position. Nevertheless, recipients treat speakers as exploiting epistemics to do something else than requesting for information. By analyzing the intricate ways in which participants negotiate on whether some turn is (not) a question, our study is a basic contribution to understanding sequence organization, action formation and action ascription in interaction.

‘Reported speech as a resource for doing more than agreeing in parent-teacher conferences’

Giorgia Pellegrino (Università di Bologna)

This presentation focuses on parents’ use of reported speech in parent-teacher conferences. The data come from video-recorded naturally occurring conferences in Italian primary schools, where children’s age ranges from six to ten years old.

The official aim of these conferences is to update parents on the child’s overall academic performance and wellbeing, and discussing any concerns regarding academic achievement, participation, and conduct. An important task is to construct a shared evaluation of the child’s progress and to build and maintain the so-called family-school partnership. Teachers therefore have to deal with a practical problem: their institutional role is to assess the child’s performance and behaviour, which may include giving negative assessments of their performance or conduct, but at the same time they need to maintain affiliation and solidarity with the parents. Parents are also faced with a difficult choice: they can either agree and affiliate with the teacher’s negative assessment or side with the child and try to defend them.

As a solution to the practical problem of situating themselves in this polarised relational field, parents may ally themselves with teachers, but they may do so in ways that also embody agency, independent knowledge, and sometimes introduce alternative perspectives on the child’s performance. This presentation will look at how reported speech can be used as a resource to do so, conveying the parents’ epistemic stance. Investigating it is significant as these practical strategies allow interactants to do something more complex than just plainly agree or overtly disagree.

‘The phonetics of laughing in conversation’

Richard Ogden & Marina Cantarutti (University of York) 

Joining in with laughter, or not, and coming in with a next appropriate thing at the right time is a sensitive interactional decision: not laughing when laughter was due, shifting to ‘serious’ too early or too late, or laughing when laughter was not due all have social consequences. The aim of this paper is to provide examples of how the phonetic design of laughter is related to the positioning, orientation to and subsequent treatment of laughter in spoken conversation. A central question is how the phonetic design of laughter relates to the action it promotes.

Laughter has certain affordances, such as the presence/absence of voicing and pitch, pulsing and rhythm, and variations in loudness and audibility, which make particular forms of laughter suitable for particular interactional tasks and positions in the sequence. Participants in interaction use these affordances to mark laughter as something to be joined in with, or not; and they are able to entrain to, mirror and recycle elements of another’s laughter.

Data is in English and German, in collaboration with Jürgen Trouvain (Sarrbrücken) and Pavel Sturm (Prague).

 ‘ACCESS DENIED! How assistance dog handlers and taxi drivers negotiate taxi access’

Jamie Aranthoon (York St John University)

In a 2022 report, Guide Dogs outlined that of 242 guide dog handlers surveyed, 81% said they had experienced an access refusal at some point whilst 73% reported that they had an access refusal in the last 12 months. This trend is not new, or spatially constraint, with a range of public access refusals from services such as shops, cafes, restaurants, hotels, taxis, and buses. The reasons for access refusal are wide-ranging, such as a lack of awareness and education –‘Guide Dogs Only’ – refusal to believe that the assistance dog is legitimate, and more personal reasons for refusal such as cleanliness, allergy, and religious and/or cultural beliefs about dogs. This research draws on a geographical ethnomethodological approach to examining videos shared online of taxi access refusal. In doing so, the research aims to address how assistance dog handlers negotiate access to public space during an access refusal and how this access is subsequently refused. The research details how these disputes are negotiated through the assistance dog handler challenging and resisting access denial through a series of embodied actions, local and institutional knowledge deployment, and categorisations, that situate assistance dog handlers as knowing speakers. The taxi drivers use different approaches in an attempt to legitimise their reasonings for refusal of taxi access, such as ownership, categorisation, and claims to knowledge. This research has implications for how charities may support assistance dog handlers in understanding their rights and how to deal with the emotional labour of everyday access.

 ‘Mediated evidentiality’ – how talk about social media use offers a novel way to show ‘what’s real’

Julie Wilkes

CA work on evidentiality has moved beyond traditional linguistic encodings of grammar to identify ‘interactional evidentials’, or how matters of evidence arise in interaction, for example, how reported speech (Clift, 2006) and personal access (Heritage & Raymond, 2005) provide backing for assertions, particularly where matters are in dispute.

Social media use offers a new kind of evidentiality (consisting of authorship, persistence, searchability and replicability (Boyd, 2010). I call this ‘mediated evidentiality ‘that is, when interactants make reference to the qualities of mediated evidence. Exchanges do not qualify as ‘mediated’ purely by being conducted online: only by speakers’ clear orientation to the special qualities offered by that medium. This new type of evidential goes beyond the traditional linguistic ways of building facticity about ‘what really happened’. The practices of using such mediated evidence in talk provides a distinctive form of evidentiality, giving speakers a contemporary form of support for their epistemic status.

I give examples of speakers producing references to Facebook (their own and others’ use), using the special affordances that the unique properties of social media provide in support of their truth claims.

These sequences are part of a larger study of how kinship carers construct their own and others’ parental identities in talk.

 ‘From a religious label to a taboo: the negotiation of shushables in interaction’

Virginia Calabria (Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, University of Oxford) & Maria Eleonora Sciubba (Tilburg University) 

This talk focuses on: the emergence in every-day interaction of a religious appellative as a taboo; the co-construction of unmentionable topics; how participants’ verbal and embodied resources are mobilised to make relevant that something should be treated as a “shushable”.

Looking at the turn-by-turn unfolding of an episode during an Italian dinner (3 hours of video-recording, 5 participants) where a participant is called ebrea/‘Jew’, we ask: at which point does the shushable emerge? When do participants achieve shared understanding that an appellative should be treated as unmentionable? Which resources do participants mobilise to achieve this understanding? Using Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics, we show how the meaning-making and action ascription processes behind the treatment of a topic as taboo are not solely based on words’ lexico-semantic meaning, but on the possibility of drawing inferences based on sequentially, common-ground knowledge and co-participants’ multimodal conduct. The participants themselves reach a shared, locally- negotiated understanding about the shushable item.

Piera, the participant named ‘Jew’, reacts to the appellative by pointing at the camera and shushing her co-participants. This moment in the interaction (figure ex.1, l.11) shows the social relevance of taboos, as it breaches through the local micro-episode into the socio- cultural macro-environment in which the interaction occurs. This episode illustrates a sense of taboo related to a sense of being observed.

Taking CA and IL approaches enables us to unveil the mechanisms behind the moments in interaction when appellatives become taboos; and how unmentionable topics emerge in conversation.

‘Navigational trouble: humans and autonomous delivery robots in the street’

Stuart Reeves (University of Nottingham), Hannah Pelikan (Linköping University) &  Marina Cantarutti (University of York)

Negotiating trajectories on the street is a normal routine part of ‘street work’ by members. For instance, Watson (2005) describes “flow-files” where unrelated pedestrians nevertheless jointly work on accountably producing moving ‘queues’ of people across space This is what Ryave and Shenkein (1974, p. 266) point to as the “navigation problem” for members of the street, and how smooth flows of pedestrians that do not bump into one another is routinely the streets’ achievement . However, technologies deployed in public streets can present potential disruptions to the street’s order (Pelikan, 2021), such as novel kinds of micro- mobilities (Tuncer et al., 2020). Autonomous delivery robots—the subject of our study—pose just such challenges for street-level reasoning practices by members going about their everyday business.

We investigate trouble in motion when walking near urban delivery robots as they transport goods between vendor and customer. Such troubles are seen as hitches in the progressivity of ongoing and projected trajectories of walking by pedestrians. These range between subtle, fluid ‘course corrections’ through to disruptions to members’ courses of action. We examine how members’ remedial (mostly bodily) actions simultaneously display and work towards resolving these troubles, enabling progressivity within the public street’s “unitary texture of relevances” (Watson, 2005). We also examine robots’ own (algorithmic) ‘corrective’ trajectories that are sometimes occasioned in these encounters.

Concluding, we discuss incommensurabilities between machine (algorithmic) instructions and normative ‘rules’ of walking on streets. We also consider challenges in applying notions of ‘trouble’ and ‘repair’ to bodily trajectories around robots.

Poster presentations

Language alternation to scaffold learning in EMI classrooms

Sameya Priom, University of Edinburgh

Analysis This research investigates the use of L1 (Bangla) in the HE (EMI) context of Bangladesh. Most of the students attending these institutions are emergent bilinguals. Focusing on the lecture mode of learning delivery, this study investigates if Bangla is used as a strategy for scaffolding lecture comprehension at one Bangladeshi HE institution. In first phase, 25 classrooms were observed online and both audio- and video-recorded over a three-month period in 2021. To analyze classroom recordings, a conversation-analytic approach was taken to codeswitching. To reveal instances of scaffolding in bilingual classroom interactions, sequential analysis was conducted. Namely, a teaching focused episode was identified to reveal the structure of scaffolding. In the second phase, 23 semi-structured retrospective interviews were conducted with the participants drawn from the observed classes and with the community members. Moreover, interviews were analysed thematically. Analysis of the interview data confirmed that both groups perceived the use of Bangla as a strategy for scaffolding lecture. Analysis of the interactional data further revealed lecture comprehension problems related to new concepts and problems related to the designation in English. This research has two important implications. First, it shows that using Bangla helps students to understand English medium lectures. Secondly, the current research specifies and adds detail to the often-stated claim that, in EMI contexts, L1 can be used as a scaffolding strategy. This study reveals that L1 works either as an additional resource to usual scaffolding strategies found even in monolingual teaching situations or as a scaffold in its own right

Non-serious talk as a practice in repair sequences in conversations involving Mandarin speakers with aphasia

Xinxin Yang / Ray Wilkinson, The University of Sheffield

Conversations involving speakers with aphasia can easily turn into repair sequences due to their linguistic inabilities (Wilkinson, 2015). Within the repair sequence, if speakers with aphasia fail to self-repair, the repair activity may transit into a non-serious one, a practice where laughter becomes relevant (Holt, 2016). Following the non-serious activity, repair sequence carries on with the majority of repair outcomes being provided by a non-aphasic speaker, often by a third party. Our focus is on understanding how that non-serious episode of utterance fits into the broader context of an ongoing repair activity, and what they have achieved in doing so.

Through the examination of everyday talk involving 30 Mandarin speakers of aphasia, we observed instances of non-serious talk occurring in a repair sequence where: 1) a second pair part incorrect answer is recursively occurring, despite multiple initiations of repair; 2) a second pair part answer is being due; 3) a relevant second pair part remains absent. In these sequential contexts, non-serious talk fits into the ongoing activity of pursuing as a distinctive way to temporally get the participants out of the correcting or searching activity while allowing them to treat the errors or search non-seriously (as laughables or teasables) (Glenn, 2003; Wilkinson, 2007). Such non-serious talk does not remove the need of repair, nor does it give aphasic speakers pressure to self-repair.

This study added to the group of studies on how to respond to problematic talk caused by aphasia, enriching ways of managing problems in aphasic talk by introducing non-serious speech.

Examining Parent-Child Interactions in British Junior Tennis: A Conversation Analysis of the Post-Competition Car Journey

Sam Thrower (Oxford Brookes), Magnus Hamann (Loughborough University), Elizabeth Stokoe (London School of Economics and Political Science), Chris Harwood (Nottingham Trent University)

Research exploring the processes and effects of parent-child social interaction in youth sport has been limited by an overreliance on retrospective questionnaire and interview- based designs. The purpose of the current study was to examine the naturally occurring parent-child interactions which unfold during the post-competition car journey within British tennis. Specifically, the research questions focused on identifying the parental communicative practices that constrain or afford affiliative conversations about children’s tennis performance. Audio and video recordings were made of 13 parent-child dyads resulting in 4h 26mins of parent-child interactions. These recordings were transcribed using the Jefferson (2004) system for capturing the production, pace, and organisation of social interaction. Conversation analysis revealed that children resisted or disengaged from the interaction when parents attempted to critically review their child’s performance by highlighting problems, issues, and/or areas for improvement. However, when children initiated the conversation about their own performance, it led to extended sequences of affiliative talk irrespective of the result or outcome. From an applied perspective, these findings highlight the importance of post-tournament discussions being a child-initiated and child-driven interactional practice which promotes ownership of their tennis development and performances.

From ‘don’t be rude’ to ‘an ugly experience of xenophobia’: How a radio presenter responds to a caller’s abuse

Yarong Xie, University of Edinburgh and Kevin Durrheim, University of Johannesburg

It is widely acknowledged that broadcast programmes are produced to serve the public’s interest. Presenting the programmes neutrally and objectively (Heritage & Claymen, 2010), and engaging the audience in forming opinions (Hester & Fitzgerald, 1999), are common ways of achieving this. However, studies have suggested that there appears to be a departure from these practices in covering societal problems such as racism. This case study examines how a presenter responds to a caller’s abuse in two live radio phone-in shows. Using conversation analysis (Sacks, 1992) and discursive psychology (Edwards & Potter, 1992), we dissected the situated use of language and the actions being accomplished. We observed that on the spot (i.e., in the first programme), the presenter describes the caller’s action as rude, and formulates the call as disruptive to an ongoing conversation. On the following day, in the opening of a new programme, the presenter returns to, and topicalises, this call as xenophobia and racism. Our analysis revealed that the presenter’s shift in evaluating this call is grounded in, and legitimised by, her cultivating a sympathetic listenership, constructing the call as race-driven, and mobilising and transforming a personal experience into an issue that could concern a wider audience. The findings highlight a preference, and operationalisation, of picking a side in covering a race- related affair in a radio phone-in programme. On top of delivering the programme for the public, the presenter orients to and revives her leading role in the moral judgement of racism/xenophobia.

Recruitment in the Crafting Classroom: Addressing and Assistance 

Rosario Neyra, University of York

This paper explores the mechanisms by which student troubles are resolved within crafting classrooms. Through multimodal and conversation analytic analysis of 45 cases across 28.5 hours of in-person workshops, I have noted that there are two dimensions along which the practices under investigation can vary, and it is the concurrent use of practices along these dimensions which both enable students to obtain a resolution to their trouble and also enact the classroom into being. Table 1 offers a detailed breakdown of these interactions.

Students employ a variety of practices when they encounter troubles in the classroom, from embodied displays of trouble to verbal turns which may be addressing the instructor, other students, or have no addressee. The data reveal that instructors overwhelmingly are recruited to assist in student troubles, even when they have not been addressed. This consistent instructor response highlights that assisting students is observable as a category- bound activity for instructors, and it contrasts with other students’ non-response. Furthermore, this has consequences for the students: although most turns are addressed to instructors, a significant portion are not, and yet these get responded to. Finally, the paper will explore the ways that students may upgrade displays of trouble or trouble turns that have not been addressed to the instructor, to more explicitly achieve recruitment.

How to end a telling: the case of Catalan final particle i au

Natàlia Server Benetó, Ohio State University

Harvey Sacks proposed that stories are sequentially organized, recognizable because they have a “proper beginning and a proper end” (Sacks, 1992 [1966], 1, 265). Interactional research into storytelling focuses on the organization of the telling, the construction of the narration of a story in the turn-at-talk. The present study contributes to the scarce work on telling-endings by focusing on the Catalan final particle i au, which has never been studied before. I draw from a vast corpus of oral narrations in Catalan (3480 minutes) to show theaction carried out by this final particle (n=58). I argue that i au is a conjunctional particle (Jefferson 1983) formed by Catalan conjunction i (‘and’) and Catalan interjection au (‘bye’). I show that speakers use i au in narrations to end a listing of activities in their telling. This is achieved due to a pragmatic resignification of the core meanings of the components of i au: the linking conjunction i facilitates a sequential connection to the last element of the telling, and the use of au as a farewell contributes to conveying the ending of the telling. I also show variation in the prosodic realization of i au, the role of surrounding silence, and the continuation of the topic by the interviewer.


Sacks, Harvey (1992). “Lectures on Conversation, Volumes I and II”. Edited by G. Jefferson with Introduction by E.A. Schegloff, Blackwell, Oxford.

Jefferson, Gail (1983) On a Failed Hypothesis: ‘Conjunctionals’ as Overlap-Vulnerable. Tilburg Papers in Language and Literature, 28, 1-33. Tilburg University.

Banal Democracy: A Discursive Psychological Approach to the Invocation of Democracy in Political Rhetoric 

Alexander Hunt, Stephen Gibson, Marc Alexander, Heriot-Watt University

Discursive and rhetorical approaches to social psychology have demonstrated the banality of nationalistic ideologies. Notably, nation-states are assumed to constitute a natural framework for the organisation of human affairs. However, while plenty of research demonstrates this taken-for-granted nature of nationalism, there are other ideologies to consider that share this element of banality. In particular, the value of upholding democracy typically goes unquestioned in the interactional context of parliamentary debates.


Our data was drawn from the official Hansard records of UK parliamentary debates, where we selected material from the House of Commons relating to the European Union (Withdrawal) Act. We found 21 unique political debates which we then coded into 97 pages of data. To demonstrate how democracy is invoked as a rhetorical strategy, we employed a discursive-rhetorical psychological framework to inform our analysis.


Our analysis shows how being heard as democratic strengthens and defends political arguments. Democracy is taken for granted by politicians, which means they do not question the need to uphold it. They instead use democracy as a rhetorical resource to bolster their positions. Thus, politicians argue back and forth to align their position with democratic values, while criticising their opponents as undemocratic.


Politicians’ invocation of democracy indicates its taken-for-granted status as speakers strengthen their positions by aligning them with democracy; doing so also criticises opposing positions as undemocratic. The present study demonstrates a new way of understanding democratic ideologies by showing that, like nationalism, democracy can be considered a banal feature of political interaction and rhetoric.

“It’s not an emergency but…”: Activity categorisation during incipient and borderline emergency calls

Alexandra Kent, Keele University, Heidi Kevoe-Feldman, Northeastern University

We examine occasions when callers phone emergency services yet frame their reason for calling as ‘Not an emergency …’. Data are phone calls to US (911) and UK (999) emergency lines and UK (101) non-emergency police lines in which the caller orients to the emergency categorisation of their call during their first formulation. Data has been transcribed using Jefferson conventions and analysed using conversation analysis. We consider what callers achieve through the ‘Not an emergency…’ formulation and how call takers manage it. Key considerations for callers when using the ‘Not an emergency’ formulation appear to be to pre-empt an impending potential emergency, and to disclaim responsibility for the decision to use an emergency service. Call takers routinely offer callers latitude to present a complicated description of their circumstances when they are prefaced by ‘Not an emergency…’ before sanctioning them for not meeting the threshold for an emergency category. Our paper contributes to work on activity categorization with a specific focus on interactional problems that emerge at activity category boundaries.

Involuntary psychiatric detention in public spaces: Crisis and mental health disclosure in professional sport

Christopher Elsey, De Montfort University

The visibility of mental health-related issues is arguably most noticeable in the very public scenes of people being involuntarily admitted to psychiatric hospital for psychological evaluations due to safety concerns. This paper draws on high profile instances of involuntary detentions relating to professional sports players in the UK and US. The analysis will examine the live incidents themselves and the subsequent mental health narratives that were worked up by those involved to account for what happened. These situations produce a distinct environment for mental health disclosure in which the player’s actions in public mean that when, how and what they disclose is somewhat taken out of their hands. The cases presented provide perspicuous examples of public disclosures that are pre-empted by the very public circumstances and show how teams, organisations and the police speak on behalf of players in specific kinds of situations.

Using the methods of ethnomethodology (EM) and conversation analysis (CA) this paper will use a wide range of publicly available data sources to display the players’ mental health narratives, including police traffic camera footage, police documents and legal paperwork, media interviews, social media content and announcements. The paper will pick up on debates in EMCA (and by extension discursive psychology) around mental health as an interactional and embodied phenomenon (as opposed to an internal or private mental state). This speaks to how mental health crises and concerns are treated as visible or unknown by other parties (e.g. members of the public, police, paramedics, sports coaches etc).

Negotiating and resisting membership : “I am not a populist”

Barbara De Cock, Philippe Hambye, Nadezda Shchinova, UCLouvain, Laura Filardo-Llamas, Universidad de Valladolid

This contribution seeks to advance on the analysis of inferences and cultural dimensions of membership categorisation (see overview in Stokoe 2012). To do so, we focus on how Twitter users negotiate (McKinley & Dunnett 1998, Berry 2022) and resist (Widdicombe 1998) categorisation as “populist” in a corpus of 2019 tweets containing I am not a populist and its French, Spanish and Dutch equivalents. The mere rejection of the label populist reflects that this is a relevant identity in the analysed interactions (cf. Fitzgerald 1999).

These uses are highly indexical, viz. to be understood in the occasion of their production (Antaki & Widdicombe 1998:4). Our analysis thus firstly relies on the linguistic context: the message(s) in which I am not a populist is embedded creates or rejects membership categorisations and, in doing so, may expand on characteristics associated with being a populist. This association may be explicit but more often draws on implicit knowledge, since categories are “inference-rich” (Sacks 1992:40). The resistance of the category affiliation is “a way of addressing the inferential consequences that might follow accepting the categorical identity” (Widdicombe 1998:59). The interaction then develops resistance strategies while also giving insight into the features that interlocutors associate with being a populist.

The latter also relies on the cultural competence required to interpret such inferences. Therefore, our analysis will also take into account the broader sociopolitical and cultural context, with the comparison of tweets in different languages contributing to exploring this dimension.

The order-in-traffic as an interactional accomplishment

Mehmet Ali Icbay, Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland

This presentation is about demonstrating how the order in the traffic is accomplished by a group of drivers, riders and pedestrians (e.g., road-users). The data is taken from a two- minute video-recorded traffic in Meskel Square in Addis Ababa. It is recorded as part of traffic surveillance and security from a bird’s eye view of an uncontrolled intersection at Meskel Square. The sequential analyses aim to make observable how the vehicles and pedestrians in this four-way uncontrolled intersection achieve the order while they make available it to each other. The analyses suggest that the interactional machinery that the road-users develop to navigate through the traffic is a simple ordinary accomplishment: They consistently calculate the speed, distance and direction of others in the traffic.

Join the discussion

Programme Abstracts