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Title: The maintenance of mutual understanding in online second language talk
Author: Brandt, Adam
ISNI:       0000 0004 2719 2540
Awarding Body: Newcastle University
Current Institution: University of Newcastle upon Tyne
Date of Award: 2011
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Encounters in which at least one person is communicating in a second language (L2) are increasingly prevalent, and span many contexts and settings. However many of these settings remain under-researched, particularly those outside of formal language education (Firth & Wagner 1997, 2007; Wagner 2004). One such under-explored setting is the internet. In one particular internet context, L2 users of English have taken the opportunity to create voice-based chat rooms in which participants can practice their use of English. In such chat rooms, despite the huge variety in backgrounds and proficiencies, participants prove themselves to be highly skilled, resourceful and competent interactants, able to ensure mutual understanding as consistently and regularly as would be expected from first language users. However, as with any context involving any kind of interactants, there are occasions on which this mutual understanding appears to come under threat. This study applies conversation analysis (CA) to the examination of audio recordings of these online, voice-based chat rooms. More specifically, it provides a fine detailed examination of the work which is put in by the participants in order to pre-empt, and/or overcome, possible threats to mutual understanding (or ‘intersubjectivity’). Analysis show how participants are at times sensitive to such threats when dealing with (1) unspecified trouble in talk and (2) an absence of response to talk. Additionally, it is demonstrated how they draw upon available resources, in the absence of shared physical co-presence, in order to deal with potential trouble. In presenting this data and its analysis, the study adds to understanding of L2 interaction, as well as to technologically-mediated interactions in which participants are not physically co-present. The study also addresses interaction research in general, by discussing the multi-faceted nature of many conversational contexts, and issues this raises in their analyses.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available