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Timelines, talk and transcription: A chronometric approach to simultaneous speech


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Linguists and other social scientists have employed many transcription conventions to exhibit the temporal interleaving of multi-speaker talk. The existence of many different systems, which are mutually incompatible, is evidence that representing spoken discourse remains problematic. This study proposes a novel orthographic transcription layout based on word timings. To test this method, the Maptask corpus (Anderson et al. 1991) is used because it contains unusually precise information on the timings of vocal events. This makes it possible to evaluate a non-standard talk-division format (TST1) in which the alternation of speakers is not imposed by a transcriber's intuition but emerges from the empirical data. It highlights the prevalence of 'echoing' in the joint production of dialogue. Moreover, lengths of speech segments and inter-speaker intervals as defined by this procedure show significant associations with a number of contextual and interactional variables, indicating that this approach has analytic as well as representational benefits.


Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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