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Text & Talk

An Interdisciplinary Journal of Language, Discourse & Communication Studies

Ed. by Sarangi, Srikant

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Volume 36, Issue 6


The use of demo-prefaced response displacement for being a listener to distressful experiences in Japanese interaction

Aug Nishizaka
Published Online: 2016-09-20 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0033


This study draws on video recordings of interactions between volunteers and evacuees from the areas affected by the March 2011 nuclear power plant explosions in Japan’s Fukushima prefecture. This article has two purposes. The first is to provide a conversation analytic description of a set of interactional practices: displacing responses from their unmarked status as responses to immediately preceding turn-at-talk. The second is to explicate the ways in which the volunteers use the practices in post-disaster communication to address difficulties in affiliating with evacuees who are assumed to have had distressful experiences. The practices, with the Japanese word demo (‘but’) deployed at the turn-beginning position, propose that participants selectively focus on one aspect of the ongoing talk. The volunteers use them to accomplish “being a listener” appropriately in their interactions with the evacuees.

Keywords: demo-prefaced response displacement; conversation analysis; distressful experiences; affiliation; Great East Japan Earthquake


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About the article

Aug Nishizaka

Aug Nishizaka is Professor of Sociology at Chiba University. His current research is concerned with interactions between evacuees/residents and volunteers/professionals in several settings in the areas directly affected by the nuclear power plant explosion subsequent to the earthquake on 11 March 2011. His recent publications include “Conversing while massaging,” Research on Language and Social Interaction (with M. Sunaga, 2015).

Published Online: 2016-09-20

Published in Print: 2016-11-01

This research was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (grant number 23530627).

Citation Information: Text & Talk, Volume 36, Issue 6, Pages 757–787, ISSN (Online) 1860-7349, ISSN (Print) 1860-7330, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/text-2016-0033.

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