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Managing Trouble Responsibility and Relationships During Conversational Repair

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Using conversation analysis, this article focuses on other-initiation of repair (e.g., What?, I'm sorry?) of trouble speaking, hearing, and understanding. This article shows that the act of managing relationships is an essential feature of other-initiation of repair, and that different practices of repair-initiation can constitute different relational events that have different behavioral outcomes. Specifically, this article: (1) argues that context-free structures of interaction bias practices of repair such that other-initiated repair is vulnerable to communicating a stance that responsibility for trouble belongs to the speaker of the talk that inspired the repair-initiation; (2) discusses the implications of trouble responsibility for interpersonal disalignment and the organization of subsequent interaction; and (3) focuses on open-class (Drew, 1997) practices of repair initiation and argues that the apology-based format (I'm sorry? or Sorry?) communicates a stance that trouble responsibility belongs to repair-initiators, rather than to their addressees.
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Keywords: Conversation Analysis; Intersubjectivity; Practice; Relationship; Repair; Responsibility

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2006-06-01

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