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Title: The timing and coordination of turn-taking
Author: Bull, Matthew Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1998
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The general coordination of spoken dialogue among participants in a conversation has received considerable attention, and several theories propose a mechanism by which participants in a conversation coordinate and time entries to the conversational floor. This mechanism is not trivial, because the timing of these entries can be too closely aligned to the offset of the previous turn to be a simple response to its offset. One hypothesis which is tested here in the Rhythmic Coordination Hypothesis (see English Speech Rhythm, by E. Couper-Kuhlen, 1993). This assumes that a listener is able to perceive regular prosodic prominences in the speech of others, and can extrapolate a rhythmic beat from the sequences of prominences. Importantly, the hypothesis maintains that the listener is able to coordinate the first prominent syllable in his or her contribution with the extrapolated rhythmic beat. In effect a listener will, by default, start a contribution 'on the beat'. A series of experiments showed little evidence in favour of this hypothesis, and indicated instead that the context in which utterances occur may play a more significant role in the timing and coordination of turn-taking. A further set of analyses investigated this, and showed that factors such as the presence or absence of game boundaries, the move category of an utterance or part of an utterance, and the presence or absence of eye contact, significantly affect the timing of turn-taking. The pattern of results suggests that turn-taking is not a simple response mechanism. Instead it reflects factors of different kinds and reveals both feedback and planning functions. This supports the notion that conversation is an interactive process in which the participants are involved in the problem of coordinating their respective signals well enough to be mutually intelligible, yet within certain time constraints. These constraints are set up both by the restrictions of planning and processing time, and also by social factors.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available