Questioning Questions: Observations on Naturalness in Casual Conversation

Speaker: Don Carroll, Shikoku Gakuin University
Date and time:  Sunday, Feb. 4th (2:00 – 4:00)
Location: English Cafe, Olive Square, Kagawa University. 

Abstract: Questions are rarely just questions…and responses do more than answer. Both questions and their responses serve as vehicles for social actions and both are finely tuned to manage the exigencies of a particular moment in talk-in-interaction. Turns-at-talk which appear in the syntactic shape of questions are regularly understood by next speakers as doing something other than questioning thus making relevant other sequential trajectories and other non-answer types of responses. In addition, the design of questions can embedded a structural preference for either an affiliating or disaffiliating response. In response to the so-called Wh-questions, phrasal rather than sentential responses are the unmarked form, where the form of the response can affiliate or disaffiliate with the underlying presuppositions of the question. Several decades of conversation analytic research has examined recorded naturally occurring conversational data and much has been revealed about the way questioning and responding is actually done. EFL textbooks do a notoriously poor job of presenting questions and responses in a natural way. This workshop hopes to raise awareness of questions as social actions and responses as carefully crafted instruments of communication. We will also try out several activities that can be used with students.

Biodata: Donald Carroll has been teaching EFL/EAP/ESP as well as Applied Linguistics and Intercultural Communication for over 30 years. He is currently a professor at Shikoku Gakuin University. Prior to coming to Japan (20 years ago) he taught in Mexico, Oman, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. Don’s Ph.D., from the University of York (2006), examined novice-novice L2 interaction. His BA and MA are in Applied Linguistics from California State University, Fullerton (1980, 1984). Don has taught an Introduction to Conversation Analysis course for Temple Japan’s MATESOL program at both the Tokyo and Osaka Campuses.


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