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Question 3: Respondent Role?

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A respondent role?

In the extract we are examining, there are no instances of Jim initiating talk – all his utterances are simple acknowledgement tokens. He demonstrates his orientation to Tom’s extended talk, signaling his ongoing recipiency through the production of the continuers mm and yeah. As we have seen, these tokens are specifically interpretable as declining the opportunity to take a full turn at talk and, subsequent to each production, Tom does indeed continue with his extended turn at talk.

One may, therefore, wish to conclude that Jim exhibits a relatively more passive, respondent role in this interaction. However, this would be premature. We must not lose sight of the fact that this is a short extract drawn from a much longer conversation. The extract is far too short for us to extrapolate our findings to the whole conversation. We would need to analyze the whole conversation before we could begin to make any firm claims regarding this issue. For all we know at present, this may be the only example of Jim displaying recipiency. Perhaps there are instances of Tom similarly using brief acknowledgement tokens which encourage Jim to continue with extended turns at talk. The point is that this one extract alone is too short (i.e. there is insufficient data) to make such sweeping claims. Therefore, the question as to whether or not one interlocutor adopts a predominantly respondent role cannot currently be answered: more data is required.

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