Title: How transcription may influence analysis: the case of silences
Authors: Sciubba, Maria Eleonora # ×
Issue Date: 2011
Series Title: Studi Italiani di Linguistica Teorica e Applicata vol:1 pages:63-79
Abstract: Silence as a human interactional phenomenon has rarely been studied in the scientificcommunity. Notable exceptions are the works included in Tannen and Saville-Troike (1985),which study silence from a sociolinguistic and ethnographic perspective; and the seminalwork by Sacks, Schegloff and Jefferson (1974), where silence is a phenomenon occurringbetween turns at talk, and may thus signal a problematic interaction if the silence is deemedtoo long. Thus, on the one side, silence is a universal feature of human conversation, on theother, it has different meanings in different cultures.The present paper aims to show that the way analysts transcribe silence influences theensuing analysis of the data. Generally silences are transcribed either with dots betweenparentheses, distinguishing only between a short or a long pause; or by milliseconds inparentheses. Neither of the two notations says much about what
that silence is doing in that particular moment and in that particular interactional environment
. In particular, whendealing with long silences – 8 to 9 seconds – the general assumption is that silence may signala trouble-source in the preceding turn in the conversation.Drawing from a corpus of real videorecorded data of institutional interactions (lawyer-client counseling) it will be shown that, at least in these sorts of interactions, participants areengaged in other courses of action which are simultaneous to the ‘main’ one, that is the verbalinteraction. Long silences are ‘occupied’ by the manipulation of objects and documents thatare at the center of the attention focus (Goodwin, 2007), even though not accessible toeverybody (as, for example, in Mondada, 2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2007): one document isaccessible to the lawyer only, who can turn pages, write on them and read aloud or to himself,or scan through it; the client on the other hand, is engaged in retrieving a text message, whichwill be taken as one of the evidences for applying for divorce. The transcription process is,thus, an account of the theory subsumed (Ochs, 1979): transcripts will take into account allthe action, taking place during the interaction, which is significant to the participants.Drawing from seminal works by Goodwin (1980, 1981) and following developments byMondada (2006a, 2006b, 2006c, 2007), a transcription notation has been devised whichaccounts for the notation of concomitant courses of action which are either simultaneous totalk or to silence.
ISSN: 0390-6809
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IT
Appears in Collections:Non-KU Leuven Association publications
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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