Securing recipiency in workplace meetings: Multimodal practices

Discourse Studies 14 (1):11-30 (2012)
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Abstract

As multiparty interactions with single courses of coordinated action, workplace meetings place particular interactional demands on participants who are not primary speakers as they work to initiate turns and to interactively coordinate with displays of recipiency from co-participants. Drawing from a corpus of 26 hours of videotaped workplace meetings in a midsized US city, this article reports on multimodal practices – phonetic, prosodic, and bodily-visual – used for coordinating turn transition and for consolidating recipiency in these specialized speech exchange systems. Practices used by self-selecting non-primary speakers as they secure turns in meetings include displays of close monitoring of current speakers’ emerging turn structure, displays of heightened interest as current turns approach possible completion, and turn initiation practices designed to pursue and, in a fine-tuned manner, coordinate with displays of recipiency on the parts of other participants as well as from reflexively constructed ‘target’ recipients. By attending to bodily-visual action, as well as phonetics and prosody, this study contributes to expanding accounts for turn taking beyond traditional word-based grammar.

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