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Elizabeth Couper-Kuhlen
On High Onsets and their Absence in Conversational Interaction

There are two questions to be asked when examining prosody in conversational interaction (see also Couper-Kuhlen and Selting, eds. 1996). First, what are the tasks which participants must accomplish in the type of speech event at hand? And second, what contribution, if any, does prosody make to the accomplishment of these tasks?

In this paper I will tackle these two questions with respect to data gathered from approximately four hours of talk on a local radio phone-in program broadcast in Berkeley, California, during the Gulf War crisis in 1991. The speech event which recurs again and again in this data is something which might be labeled - for lack of a better term - 'calling in on a radio phone-in program': there are approximately 45 instances of this event in the material I have examined.

The phone-in program was recorded shortly after the first bombings in Irak, at a time when numerous peace protests and rallies were taking place, some of which had erupted into violence. In fact, it was in part due to this escalation that studio lines were open for callers to phone in - as the anchorman Leo Laporte puts it - "(to) talk about what's going on overseas and ... in the Bay area ... and give people a chance to express their feelings and their fears and 'move on'".

 Published as:
Couper-Kuhlen, Elizabeth (2001). Interactional prosody: High onsets in reason-for-the-call turns. Language in Society 30, 29-53.



InLiSt No.7
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