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Beyond Answering: Repeat-Prefaced Responses in Conversation

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The article presents a conversation analytic investigation of one technique for responding to questions in naturally occurring social interactions: repeating the question verbatim in part or as a whole before providing a required response. A close examination of production features of repeat prefacing in Russian demonstrates that it is used by conversationalists to resist agendas and presuppositions generated by questions and other sequence initiating actions. The study shows that some repeat prefaces characterize questions as problematic by contesting or outright rejecting its presuppositions or implications. Depending on how precisely repeat prefaces are articulated, they may also display the speaker's difficulty in retrieving requested information. The study extends our understanding of devices conversationalists can deploy to resist, sidestep, or curtail the constraints imposed by questioners' interactional agendas, thereby providing an insight into how communicative goals are discerned, responded to, and negotiated in social interaction.
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Keywords: Conversation Analysis; Intonation; Questions and Answers; Russian Language

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2009-06-01

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