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The grammar of topic transition in American English conversation. Topic transition design and management in typical and atypical conversations (schizophrenia)

Abstract : The research presented in this dissertation analyzes topic transition in American English interaction, focusing on audio recordings of spontaneous conversations between friends and relatives. The main object of inquiry is the interactional action of transitioning to a new discourse topic, as well as the different linguistic strategies that participants have at their disposal. Three main types of cues are investigated: questions, discourse markers, and pitch register. Each type of cue is analyzed for its individual contribution to topic transition design, as well as for the way it can combine with, supplement, or contradict other cues. Analyzing different types of cues – verbal and prosodic – creates a composite picture of the various ways in which the topic trajectory of a conversation shapes its grammar – including its prosody. This study uses a mixed-methods approach which draws on the qualitative-oriented theoretical frameworks of Conversation Analysis and Interactional Linguistics, combining them with quantitative methods used in Corpus Linguistics, such as systematic coding and statistics. This multi-domain account is completed by elaborating a comparison between typical and atypical interactions. Persons suffering from schizophrenia can experience difficulties in managing the topics of a conversation, and they can produce non-canonical transitions. Comparing their data with that of typical participants thus sheds light on some of the expectations, preferences and standard formats which can otherwise remain hidden when topic transition goes smoothly.
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  • HAL Id : tel-01488927, version 1

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Marine Riou. The grammar of topic transition in American English conversation. Topic transition design and management in typical and atypical conversations (schizophrenia). Linguistics. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2015. English. ⟨NNT : 2015USPCA115⟩. ⟨tel-01488927⟩

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