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

Aug Nishizaka 1
  • 1 Chiba University, Inage-ku, Chiba 263–8522, Japan
Aug Nishizaka
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  • Japan
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  • 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).
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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.

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Text & Talk (founded as TEXT in 1981) is an internationally recognized forum for interdisciplinary research in language, discourse, and communication studies, focusing, among other things, on the situational and historical nature of text/talk production; the cognitive and sociocultural processes of language practice/action; and participant-based structures of meaning negotiation and multimodal alignment.