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Drinking for speaking: The multimodal organization of drinking in conversation


Hoey,  Elliott
Language and Cognition Department, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;
International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences, MPI for Psycholinguistics, Max Planck Society;

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Hoey, E. (2016). Drinking for speaking: The multimodal organization of drinking in conversation. Talk presented at the 7th Conference of the International Society for Gesture Studies (ISGS7). Paris, France. 2016-07-18 - 2016-07-22.

Cite as: http://hdl.handle.net/11858/00-001M-0000-002B-A0F1-A
Many conversations are accompanied by drinking. Physiological constraints, however, largely preclude drinking and speaking concurrently. Conversationalists must therefore coordinate drinking with speaking. In this paper, I build on prior research investigating the coordination of talk and bodily action (Goodwin, 1979; Laurier, 2008; Mondada, 2009; Haddington et al., 2014) by analyzing the placement of drinking in talk-in-interaction. Specifically I examine when participants lift their drinks. This action reveals participants’ analyses of the current participation framework (Goodwin and Goodwin, 2004) by rendering the present moment as ‘a moment where I don’t speak’. The data are 152 such instances collected from video-recorded natural interactions in English, analyzed using multimodal conversation analysis (Sidnell and Stivers, 2013). Taking a drink does not occur randomly, but at particular places in the course of interaction. Participants regularly drink during multi-unit turns, in sequence closure environments, during lapses, after jokes, and at possible turn-completion, as in the exchange below. Here, Lex is speculating that the free cable television in her apartment has something to do with the previous tenants. LEX: I think maybe cuz the people befo:re us¿ Id*unno obut.o *lifts drink-> > RAC: [Oh that’s good. MAR: [That’d be awesome. Lex’s turn approaches possible completion at ”us”, and she increments it with turn-exiting ”Idunno but” while lifting her drink. This visible conduct is part of a multimodal package; drinking signals non-continuation by marking possible turn-completion as actual turn-completion. And indeed, her two co-participants treat it as turn-exiting by responding in overlap. This drinking-for-turn-exiting device can also be used strategically. Below, three friends are reentering conversation after the researcher set up the video camera and prompted them to continue conversing. (1.8) ROW: .mtsk *£So Matt.£ *lifts drink, gazing at Matt-> MAT: £Let’s not re- Better not s*ay anything ba:d£ row -> *drinks-> > Rowan restarts their conversation with ”So Matt” while gazing to Matt and lifting his drink. The turn-initial ”So” (Bolden, 2006) and the turn-final address term (Lerner, 2003) position Matt as ‘someone relevant for upcoming talk’. By drinking here, Rowan shows that he will not continue, thereby visibly avoiding having to explain why Matt might be ‘relevant for upcoming talk’. Matt shares in this understanding, as he treats Rowan’s prompt as a provocation: he warns Rowan not to bring up any untoward topics while being video-recorded. Drinking can thus do more than turn-exiting-here it serves to embed a joke in a prompt. This paper demonstrates how participants skillfully weave into the fabric of interaction the simple act of drinking. It shows that drinks are not just material artifacts accompanying social occasions, but constitutive components of interactional settings that participants can use in the achievement of practical actions