‘But what is the reason why you know such things?’: Question and response patterns in the LADO interview

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This study uses the tools of Conversation Analysis (CA) to investigate problems that occur in LADO (Language Analysis for the Determination of Origin) interviews. We analysed five recorded interviews with female asylum seekers, focussing on question and response pairs. Several problems were identified, associated with directives, echo questions, and challenges. The study also looked at how repair is initiated and carried out. Directives were frequently issued as part of multiple questions from the interviewer, alongside additional questions or modifiers. Interviewees typically provided an answer to the most specific and/or most recent question rather than fulfilling the directive itself. Directives were also used to elicit language samples, and it was found that including a clear topic for talk was the most effective way of accomplishing this goal. Echo questions were predominantly used for requesting confirmation, and were occasionally interpreted as performing this function even where there was evidence that interviewers were using echo questions to prompt for more information or to initiate repair. Challenges contributed to a hostile atmosphere in interviews. Similarly, repair prefaced by initial but was found to be potentially hostile in some instances. Various modes of accomplishing repair were also investigated, but their effectiveness was variable. In assessing the set of question and response pairs in the recordings, we make a number of practical recommendations for improving interview practice in LADO.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)154-172
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Pragmatics
Early online date30 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - May 2018

Bibliographical note

© 2018 Published by Elsevier B.V. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.


  • Asylum
  • Conversation Analysis
  • LADO
  • Question – response pairs

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