Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice, JAL Vol 5, No 1 (2008)

The interpretation of conflict and negotiation in post-paper presentation discussions

Pauline Webber, Kyriacos Andreas Kyriacou
Issued Date: 14 Sep 2015


In analysing dialogue, a major difficulty is the interpretation of the underlying motivations of participants, particularly in public discourse, where people are often wary of taking a stance on potentially controversial issues. Since clues to understanding are provided by the context, this study included a whole speech event in the analysis – a complete two-hour session of conference presentations recorded and transcribed by the authors, as a first step towards solving this problem. The transcription was based on a model developed by Eggins and Slade (1997) for analysing conversation, a systematic model for the analysis and interpretation of social relations in talk. We aimed to investigate if this model could be applied to an analysis of the discourse structure of the more institutional discourse of the conference discussion, in particular to characterize negative and positive comments following the presentations in our data. We extended the analytical framework to adapt it to this different genre. However, the method proved useful in coding moves in the discourse structure of the interaction, revealing the importance of features such as power status and the tension between conflict and negotiation. Analysis of the whole event facilitates the interpretation of otherwise obscure utterances by providing evidence of cohesive links often spanning several turns, thus laying bare unresolved conflicts and undercurrents of the interaction. This genre needs investigating because the discussion presents particular difficulties especially for non-native speakers of English.

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DOI: 10.1558/japl.v5i1.81


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