List-Construction as a Task and Resource

By Gail Jefferson

This report is a preliminary examination of lists occurring in natural conversation. It focuses upon the work which list-construction, as a task, allots to speakers, and some uses to which list-construction, as a resource, can be put by speakers.

The presence of three-part lists are first noted. Speakers and hearers orient to their three-part nature. The completed list can then constitute a turn at talk and the hearer can monitor the third component as a sign of turn completion. Lists can thereby’ be a conversational sequential resource.

By virtue of the three-part structure of some lists, members can orient to such matters as a “weak,” “absent,” or “missing” third part. Third items can be used to accomplish particular interactional work, such as topic-shifting and offense avoidance.

Further, a list can be constructed by more than one speaker. This feature may be used for a range of activities, including the achievement of interactional accord in situations of impending discord.

Read report here – List construction

 

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