Understanding Interactive Competence in L1/L2 Contrastive Context: A Case of Back-Channel Behavior in Japanese and English

  • Senko K. Maynard

Abstract

Recent studies in conversational interaction across speech commuities have revealed that not only grammar proper, but also interactive strategies at a time of face-to-face encounter differ from language to language. Although in the past, conversation analysts have pointed out differences in some aspects of interactive competence, often such studies have been plagued by their ad-hoc nature of data, anecdotal accounts and casually defined contrastive context in which the analysis is made. In this study we attempt to understand one aspect of interactive competence, i.e., conversation management through back-channel strategies in a specific contrastive context of casual conversation in Japan and the United States. The methodology adopted here is what we may call “contrastive conversation analysis” as opposed to Hartman’s (1980) “contrastive textology” in which primarily written text — what he calls “parallel text”— is analyzed. Note that although so-called contrastive analysis has been under attack over the last two decades — primarily because of its failure to meet unrealizable expectation i.e., prediction of learners’ errors in its own right, widely held among applied linguists especially in the United States—the term contrastive analysis used herein is broader in its application and does not necessarily predict actual learners’ errors. Based on this framework, this study investigates “back-channel” expressions, such as uh-huh’s and brief comments received by the person who has the turn without relinquishing the turn as characterized first by Yngve (1971).

Keywords

Head Movement Clausal Unit Discourse Context Conversational Interaction Final Syllable 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Atkinson, J. Maxwell and Heritage, J. (eds.) (1984). Structure of social action. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  2. Bernstein, B. (1962). Social class, linguistic codes and grammatical elements. Language and Speech, 5, 221–240.Google Scholar
  3. Brunner, L.J. (1979). Smiles can be back-channels. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 37,5, 728–734.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Clancy, P. (1982). Written and spoken style in Japanese narratives. In D. Tannen (ed.) Spoken and written Language, 55–76. Norwood, N.J.: Ablex.Google Scholar
  5. Duncan, Starkey and Donald Fiske. (1977). Face-to-face interaction: research, methods, and theory. Hillsdale, N.J.: Lawrence Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  6. Duncan, Starkey and Donald Fiske. (1985). Interaction structure and strategy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Erickson, F. (1979). Talking down: some cultural sources of miscommunication in interracial interviews. In A. Wolfgang (ed.) Nonverbal behavior: applications and cultural implications, 99–126. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  8. Goodwin, Charles. (1981). Conversational organization: interaction between speakers and hearers. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  9. Hartmann, R.R.K. (1980). Contrastive textology. Heidelberg: Julius Groos Verlag.Google Scholar
  10. Hinds, J. (1978). Conversational structure: An investigation based on Japanese interview discourse. In J. Hinds and I. Howard (eds.), Problems in Japanese syntax and semantics, 79–121. Tokyo: Kaitakusha.Google Scholar
  11. Hinds, J. (1982). Japanese conversational structures. Lingua, 57, 301–326.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Labov, William. (1972). Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
  13. Martin, Samual, (1975). A reference grammar of Japanese. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  14. Mizutani, N. (1983). Aizuchi to ootoo., In O. Mizutani (ed.) Hanashi kotoba no hyoogen, 37–44. Tokyo: Chikuma Shoboo.Google Scholar
  15. Ooishi, H. (1970) Hanashi kotoba to wa nani ka. Hanashi kotoba shiriizu 12 by Bunka-cho, 36-51. Tokyo Ookurashoo Insatsukyoku.Google Scholar
  16. Sacks, H. E. Schegloff and G. Jefferson. (1974). A simplest systematics for the organization of turn-taking for conversation. Language 50, 696–735.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Schegloff, E. (1968). Sequencing in conversational openings. American Anthropologist 70, 1075–1095.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Schegloff, E. (1982). Discourse as an interactional achievement: some use of “UH-HUH” and other things that come between sentences. In D. Tannen (ed.) Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics, Analyzing discourse: Text and Talk, 71–93. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press.Google Scholar
  19. Schenkein, J.N. (1972). Towards the analysis of natural conversation and the sense of heheh. Semiotica 6, 344–377.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Whitman, R. (1970). Contrastive analysis: Problems and procedures. Language Learning 20, 191–197.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Uyeno, T. (1971). A study of Japanese modality—A performative analysis of sentence particles. University of Michigan dissertation.Google Scholar
  22. Yngve, V.H. (1970). On getting a word in edgewise. Chicago Linguistics Society, 6th, 567-578.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Senko K. Maynard
    • 1
  1. 1.Rutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA

Personalised recommendations