Prosody and alignment: a sequential perspective

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Publication details

JournalCultural Studies of Science Education
DatePublished - Dec 2010
Issue number4
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)1-9
Original languageEnglish


In their analysis of a corpus of classroom interactions in an inner city high school, Roth and Tobin describe how teachers and students accomplish interactional alignment by prosodically matching each other’s turns. Prosodic matching, and specific prosodic patterns are interpreted as signs of, and contributions to successful interactional outcomes and positive emotions. Lack of prosodic matching, and other specific prosodic patterns are interpreted as features of unsuccessful interactions, and negative emotions. This forum focuses on the article’s analysis of the relation between interpersonal alignment, emotion and prosody. It argues that prosodic matching, and other prosodic linking practices, play a primarily sequential role, i.e. one that displays the way in which participants place and design their turns in relation to other participants’ turns. Prosodic matching, rather than being a conversational action in itself, is argued to be an interactional practice (Schegloff 1997), which is not always employed for the accomplishment of ‘positive’, or aligning actions.

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