Before you begin this assignment be sure to read the article Conversation Analysis (CA) and watch the brief video Basic Example of Conversation Analysis. Also, review the chart Conversation Analysis Notations. All these of these items are in the module folder.
In previous Conversational Challenges, you’ve dealt with the most obvious content of the dialogue–the effects of certain phrases and words. If these dialogues were songs, then you have dealt with the lyrics. But with Conversation Challenge 3: A “Walking Pharmacy”, you’re going to go beyond the lyrics(words) and begin to learn to analyze the impact of the “music,” or the cadence, intonation and other non-word parts of a conversation. This kind of analysis is called Conversation Analysis, or CA for short. The purpose of CA is to look at conversation on the microscopic level, so to speak, whereby many things become apparent that are invisible to the “naked ear.”
Please listen to the following audio file very carefully. You will need to replay many times. As you listen, please note the following three elements of the conversation:
1. “Turn-taking”–or where one person takes up speaking. There are many kinds of “turn-taking.” Sometimes taking a turn is in response to a simple question. Sometimes a turn is prompted by an attempt to correct a mistake or “repair” a conversation. Sometimes it’s just to interrupt to make the other person stop talking. Without worrying about any formal terminology, please describe what prompted each conversational turn? It’s remarkable that conversations go so smoothly. Clearly there are signals that announce a turn taking. If there were not, the sentences of both speakers would be constantly trampled. Your job is to figure out how the speakers knew to hand over the conversation.
2. Pauses. Punctuation, especially the period, comma and semicolon, is a crude way to establish pauses in writing. But there are no neat or standardized ways to establishes pauses in speaking. That leads to pauses of many different durations. Your job is to try to capture the nature of these durations (that is, their approximate length) in the conversation A Walking Pharmacy.
3. Raised or lowered pitch of the speakers.
The easiest way to do this assignment is to download the transcript of the conversation, which is included in the module. Using the Jeffersonian format provided below the audio file (also included separately in the module folder), try to identify the duration of the pauses and raised or lower pitches of the speakers’ voices. These are highlighted in yellow on the C.A. Notations sheet.
Conversation Analysis Notations