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Deployment of the formulaic utterance “how about” in task-based second language classroom discussions

David Aline

David Aline is Professor in the Graduate School of Foreign Languages at Kanagawa University, Yokohama. His research employs a conversation analytic perspective to explicate interaction conducted in additional languages in educational and mundane settings. He has published in Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Pragmatics & Society, Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, Classroom Discourse, Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, the International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, and Text & Talk.

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and Yuri Hosoda

Yuri Hosoda is Professor in the Graduate School of Foreign Languages at Kanagawa University, Yokohama. Her research examines second language uses through a conversation analytic perspective in both English and Japanese. Her papers have appeared in Pragmatics & Society, Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, Classroom Discourse, Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, Applied Linguistics, Linguistics and Education, the International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, and Text & Talk.

From the journal Intercultural Pragmatics

Abstract

Formulaic speech has long been of interest in studies of second language learning and pragmatic use as production and comprehension of formulaic utterances requires less processing and production effort and, therefore, allows for greater fluency. This study scrutinizes the sequential positions and actions of one formulaic utterance “how about” from the participants’ perspective. This conversation analytic study offers a fine-grained microanalysis of student interaction during classroom peer discussion activities. The data consist of over 54 h of video-recorded classroom interaction. Analysis revealed several positions and actions of “how about” as it occurs during peer discussions by Japanese learners of English. Emerging from analysis was a focus on how learners deploy this formulaic utterance to achieve various actions within sequences of interaction. Analysis revealed that participants used “how about” for (a) explicitly selecting next speaker, (b) shifting topics, (c) proposing a solution, and (d) suggesting alternative procedures. Although the formula was deployed to perform these four different actions, consistent throughout all instances was the disclosure of learner orientation to the progressivity of the task interaction. The findings show how language learners deploy this formulaic utterance in discussion tasks designed for language learning and highlights the pragmatic functions of this phrase.


Corresponding author: David Aline, Kanagawa University, Yokohama, Japan, E-mail:

Funding source: Japan Society for the Promotion of Science

Award Identifier / Grant number: 18K00851

About the authors

David Aline

David Aline is Professor in the Graduate School of Foreign Languages at Kanagawa University, Yokohama. His research employs a conversation analytic perspective to explicate interaction conducted in additional languages in educational and mundane settings. He has published in Canadian Journal of Applied Linguistics, Pragmatics & Society, Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, Classroom Discourse, Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, the International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, and Text & Talk.

Yuri Hosoda

Yuri Hosoda is Professor in the Graduate School of Foreign Languages at Kanagawa University, Yokohama. Her research examines second language uses through a conversation analytic perspective in both English and Japanese. Her papers have appeared in Pragmatics & Society, Pragmatics, Journal of Pragmatics, Classroom Discourse, Journal of Language Aggression and Conflict, Applied Linguistics, Linguistics and Education, the International Review of Applied Linguistics in Language Teaching, and Text & Talk.

Acknowledgments

We are most grateful to the anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback, to the editor, István Kecskés, and to John Hellermann for his overall support of our research.

  1. Research funding: This study was supported by JSPS Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research (C), Grant Number: 18K00851.

Appendix: Transcription conventions

[ ] overlapping talk

- cut-off, self-interruption

= latched utterances

(0.0) timed pause (in seconds)

(.) a short pause

co:lon extension of the sound or syllable

. fall in intonation (final)

, continuing intonation (non-final)

; intonation between a period and a comma

¿ a rise stronger than a comma but weaker than a question mark

? rising intonation (final)

underline emphasis

° ° quiet talk

< > slow talk

> < fast talk

hh audible aspirations

(hh) laughter within a word

(( )) comment by the transcriber, including nonverbal conduct

( ) problematic hearing that the transcriber is not certain about

“ ” Idiomatic translation of Japanese utterances

| overlapping bodily movement

® ® reading from the task worksheet

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Published Online: 2021-08-30
Published in Print: 2021-09-27

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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