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Pivot turns and the relaxation of continuity


Conversation is massively organized by "nextness" or sequentiality. Speakers orient to a conversation's unfolding by analyzing what is being said with reference to what had just been said. Conversational continuity refers to speakers' expectation that aspects of talk-in-interaction produced sequentially will adhere to an organization such that what-comes-next is of the same type as what-came-before. This conversation analytic study describes how pivot turns, turns that relax continuity, function in two distinct data sets. First, language continuity, the expectation that if an English word is being spoken, the next word will also be in English, is explored with bilingual, Spanish/English-speaking children. It is shown that pivot turns containing words or phrases of the other language relax language continuity and create a place for a change in language or a codeswitch to occur. Second, the continuity of participation frameworks, speakers continued participation in a particular conversation, is examined with multi-party (8-10 people) conversational data. Here we see how a pivot turn produced in the transition-relevance space of another co-occurring conversation creates opportunities for the participation framework to change. The next action by the other participant(s) in one's own conversation or in the co-occurring conversation determine the degree to which the pivot turn changes the trajectory of the existing or emerging conversations.


Szymanski, M. H. ; Plurkowski, L. Pivot turns and the relaxation of continuity. Midwest Sociological Society Conference; 2005 March 31-April 3; Minneapolis; MN; USA.