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Journal Article

Response Cries

Erving Goffman
Language
Vol. 54, No. 4 (Dec., 1978), pp. 787-815
DOI: 10.2307/413235
https://www.jstor.org/stable/413235
Page Count: 29

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Topics: Conversation, Warnings, Words, Interjections, Broadcasting, Taboos, Rituals, Ethology
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Response Cries
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Abstract

Utterances are housed not in paragraphs, but in turns at talk-occasions implying a temporary taking of the floor, as well as an alternation of takers. Turns themselves are naturally coupled into two-party interchanges. Interchanges are linked in runs marked off by some sort of topicality. One or more of these topical runs make up the body of a conversation. This interactionist view assumes that every utterance is a statement establishing the next speaker's words as a reply, or a reply to what the prior speaker has just established, or a mixture of both. Utterances, then, do not stand by themselves-indeed, they often make no sense when so heard-but are constructed and timed to support the close social collaboration of speech turn-taking. In nature the spoken word is only found in verbal interplay, being integrally designed for such collective habitats. However, this paper considers some roguish utterances that appear to violate this interdependence, entering the stream of behavior at peculiar and unnatural places, producing communicative effects but no dialog. The paper begins with a special class of spoken sentences and ends with a special class of vocalizations-the first failing to qualify as communication, the second failing not to.