Stance and affect in conversation: On the interplay of sequential and phonetic resources

John Local, Gareth Walker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Linguists, and other analysts of discourse, regularly make appeal to affectual states in determining the meaning of utterances. We examine two kinds of sequence that occur in everyday conversation. The first involves one participant making an explicit lexical formulation of a co-participant's affectual state (e.g., ‘you sound happy’, ‘don't sound so depressed’). The second involves responses to ‘positive informings’ and ‘negative informings’. Through consideration of sequential organization, participant orientation, and phonetic detail, we suggest that the attribution of analytic categories of affect is problematic. We argue that phonetic characteristics which might be thought to be associated with affect may better be accounted for with reference to the management of particular sequential-interactional tasks. The finding that stance does not inhere in any single turn at talk or any single linguistic aspect leads us to suggest that future investigations into stance and affect will need to pay attention simultaneously to matters of both linguistic-phonetic and sequential organization.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)723-747
Number of pages25
JournalText & Talk
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2008

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