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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

and um...


I’m hoping to be able to write a quick post before midnight strikes…. Here goes!
I’ve just got back home from a one-day conference at Loughborough University (2 hours and 15 minutes drive from York). We had to leave York at six o’clock this morning, so it’s been a very long day. The conference was about Conversation Analysis (CA). CA is a way of trying to understand how talk between two people or in a group is organised. Including, for example, how we start a contribution to a conversation, how we know when to start, how we end conversations and so on.

CA tends to look at very small features of talk, features that you perhaps wouldn’t normally notice. Today, for example, there was a really good presentation about ‘and um…’ as a way of getting back to an earlier topic on which you still have something to say. The talk was called, ‘Trying again: resuscitating ‘lost’ talk in everyday conversation’*. Is there an equivalent of ‘and um…’ in other languages that you speak? Is it a direct translation of ‘and um…’ or do you use different words? Try listening for this seemingly unimportant feature of talk and notice the important work it does in getting topics talked about until everything that both (or all) speakers want to say has been said.

OK, here comes a topic change (so I need to write something like ‘on a different topic’), thanks for your comments on my last post. Hyoshil – my kids are fine thanks and looking forward to the Christmas holidays! I will ask Clara to do a little video of Christmas things next week. She is still my faithful assistant! Filippo – you’re right, in many parts of the world, French, Italian and Spanish are lingua franca languages. I’m sure that many of the BBC LE blog readers are using both one of these languages AND English as lingua francas (as well a using a local language or variety for local purposes) – multilingualism is, after all, the norm! Stephen – pop into to York St John University next time you’re in York and see how it has (and hasn’t!) changed since you were there!

See you again next week.

Rachel W.

resuscitate (v) = to bring back to life, revive. Usually used to talk about bringing a person back from apparent death or from unconsciousness. In this case, used to talk about re-introducing an 'old' topic (one that has previously been talked about and then dropped) into a conversation because the speaker still has something to say about it that she wants the person she is talking to to hear.


I will, thank you. And so sorry I posted so soon after you had posted yours, tonight. I should have looked more closely at yours before posting. Apologies.

Hi Rachel!As usual,thanks for your answer. Hope you will be able to get some sleep during the weekend. I reckon it is a bit annoying to wake up early especially when it is dark and frosty outside. Good weekend!!

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