Analysing Talk In Interaction
Lectures 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13
Charles Antaki
Loughborough University

Home page: What these lectures are about

This course is designed for a group of advanced students at Odense studying for an English degree. The basic idea of the lectures is to give you a reasonable grounding in Conversation Analysis, or CA. CA is an influential way of thinking about how people do things in the world, and takes as its starting point that these things are done in talk. 

So all the lectures are about talk - language as it is actually used in interaction. We'll look at interactions between ordinary friends, emergency call-takers and callers, insurance salesmen and clients, and many others. I'll try to persuade you that they achieve their ends through talk, and try to explain exactly how.

The lectures and seminars will be in English, though I hope that at some point we shall analyse some Danish data (see Are we going to work with Danish data? below).

Please also see the 'lecture outlines' link in the top banner, which give you a list of the lectures. Below is some general information, in 'frequently - asked - questions' style. You can get back to this page at any time by clicking the 'home page' link in the banner (above).

Some questions you may have at this point

What's on the on-line lecture notes?

I've written a set of notes for each lecture, and put them on-line. There is an outline of the whole series in the link called 'lecture outlines'  in the banner (above). You can access each one via the link to Lecture 1, 2 3 in the strip below the title. The notes are there to give you a sense of what each lecture is about, and to save you some of the tedium of making extensive notes during the class itself.

Do I need to know any linguistics?

I've tried to design these lectures for what I'm assuming would be a confident and knowledgeable student in her or his advanced undergraduate career. In your case here in Odense you are doing a degree in an English department, so I'm assuming at least some very general familiarity with the idea that language is a site worth excavating. But I'm not assuming you have any specialised knowledge of language in interaction, so I'll introduce the course with two lectures on pragmatics, which should hopefully be a familiar place to start.

Do I need to know any sociology?

No - I'm not assuming any knowledge of sociology (or social psychology, ethnography or anthropology). Since the basic idea of the course is that language does things - that it produces social actions - then of necessity we shall be talking about the sort of sociological (social psychological etc) things it does. But I'll make no reference to sociological theory.

I've heard of Discourse Analysis - is this the same kind of thing?

Not really. Although 'Discourse Analysis' covers a great deal of very different sorts of work, not much of is concerned with the very detailed organisation of spoken talk, which will be our main focus. Some of the ideas are common though, especially the idea that language achieves certain effects.

Is it going to very technical?

No - or, at worst, only at some points! Most of the material will be in ordinary language, but I'll also be trying to persuade you why some specialised vocabulary helps analysis to become sharper. But I certainly won't expect you to learn a whole dictionary's-worth of new terms.

Will there be any 'hands-on' work?

Yes - we'll probably do a fair amount of looking at data-extracts in the seminars, and in the middle of the course there is a very close look at one piece of video. Later I'll be giving out a copy of that on CD so that people can work on it at their own pace.

How much reading will there be?

There's no one course textbook, but I'm going to rely on a number of sources, which I've put on 'Semester Loan' in the Library (see 'Readings' link above). I very much hope that you will read the appropriate bits of each.

Are we going to work with Danish data?

All of the data I shall bring will be in English, but I hope that at some point we'll look at some Danish data too. For some seminars I'll be asking people to bring in short stretches of transcribed talk, and of course that can be in Danish. I'm afraid, though, that I can't speak the language, so for my sake I hope a translation will be possible. Translation issues themselves will be an interesting point for discussion.

Can you be contacted?

Sure - happy to hear from you at any time. Probably the surest way is via my Loughborough email, which I will be using in Odense too. It is always available as a link in the top right of the banner on each Lecture page. If you would like to make a note of it separately, it is

 What do we call you (and who are you, anyway)?

'Charles' is fine with me, unless you prefer something more formal. I'm a visiting lecturer from Loughborough University in England, and if you click on my name in the link at the top of the left-hand column of this page, you'll get to my home page.

back to top

A course for the University of Southern Denmark, Odense 2003