ELTE BTK Magyar Nyelvtudományi és Finnugor Intézet

Lerch, Ágnes (Szeged)

nyomtatható változat

Syntactic, intonational, and pragmatic resources for the management of turn-taking in Hungarian conversations

The paper aims to investigate how syntactic, intonational, and pragmatic resources are mobilised for localising transition-relevance places (TRPs) in Hungarian conversations through a comparison with similar studies conducted for English (Ford & Thompson 1996) and Japanese (Tanaka 1999). Looking at turn-taking in spoken English, Ford & Thompson (1996) demonstrated that although syntactic completion points are the least reliable indicators of turn completion, the convergences of syntactic, intonational, and pragmatic completion points – coined „complex transition-relevance places” or CTRPs – are oriented to by participants as expectable places for speaker change. The statistical results of Tanaka (1999) indicate that, of the various types of completions, pragmatic completions in general – and not just CTRPs – have a high correlation with instances of speaker change in Japanese.
I used as data base a transcribed excerpt from a video-recording of a face-to-face conversation among three university students (native speakers of Hungarian), lasting 15 minutes. The approximately equivalent duration of the respective data sets provided a comparable starting point for engaging in a statistical analysis.
My findings are nearly congruent with F&T’s  results.  Just like in their data base, the number of CTRPs is almost the same as the total number of intonational and pragmatic completion points: intonational and pragmatic completions are nearly always syntactic completions as well, but the reverse is not the case.  Intonation and pragmatic completion points select from among the syntactic completion points to form CTRPs. A majority (61 per cent) of the total speaker changes occur at CTRPs, but only about half of the CTRPs are accompanied by speaker changes.  Furthermore, 39 per cent of all speaker changes are initiated at non-CTRPs. These behaviors involve the strategic use of projectable CTRP as well as the exploitation of the option of same speaker continuation. I discuss the latter cases too showing that participants in Hungarian conversations treat CTRPs as the basic points relative to which they take and yield turns.  The differences in patterns of speaker change between English and Hungarian on the one hand and Japanese on the other are attributable to certain grammatical features of the languages in question.

In Hungarian.