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Title: Overlapping talk and turn competition in multi-party conversations
Author: Kurtic , Emina
ISNI:       0000 0004 2742 3900
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2011
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Although it is not a default mode of communication, overlapping speech is very com- mon in naturally occurring conversations. Previous work has acknowledged that over- lapping speech can be an environment in which conversation parties compete for the speaking turn. Alternatively, overlaps can be noncompetitive and signal interactional collaboration between participants, or simply be a byproduct of regular turn-taking mechanisms. The main goal of this work is to investigate the differences in the prosodic design that are associated with competitive and noncompetitive overlaps, and thus of- fer an account of practices employed by conversation participants for overlap manage- ment. The methodological approach adopted in this work combines conversation analysis (CA) with statistical modelling of overlaps using decision trees. We use CA methods to make a collection of competitive and noncompetitive overlaps from the ICSI Meet- ing Corpus. We then compile a set of prosodic features potentially used as resources for turn competition in overlap based on previous reports from CA studies and our own data analysis. Unlike the CA work, we draw conclusions about the relevance of prosodic cues as resources for overlap competitiveness based on the results of deci- sion tree models of overlap, rather than on impressionistic analysis of a small data set. This methodology enables us to ground the conclusions in the analysis of a larger data collection, while at the same time being able to explain patterns of use of prosodic fea- tures and their combinations as resources used by participants for turn competition in conversation. In this respect our work also departs from other data driven studies on overlap, which are not able to relate the findings on prosodic features to the conversa- tional function of overlap. This methodological approach allows us to reassess previous findings from CA studies on the use of prosodic features as resources for turn competition. We find that each of the evaluated feature sets (fundamental frequency (FO), intensity, speech rate, pausing and overlap duration) can be employed as a turn-competitive resource. When combin- ing these features, participants systematically modify a combination of FO mean and range and intensity range to mark turn competition in overlap. However, the precise combination of prosodic features for turn competition depends on how long speakers persist in overlap. Moreover, these prosodic features are only employed in overlaps placed within the ongoing turn, not when overlapping the final items of the ongoing turn. In turn-final overlaps, it is repetition of overlap onset items (recycling), rather than the prosodic design, which is the main resource for turn competition. Further- more, we evaluate different units of talk over which modifications of prosodic features are made by the participants in competitive and noncompetitive overlaps. As a result of this evaluation, the syllable is identified as the minimal unit of overlap management. The findings of this study are discussed in the context of relevant previous work, and their implications, along with directions for future work, are outlined.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available