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Step 4: Identify Patterns

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Identify recurrent patterns

Having now gained a feel for the overarching structure and some sense of the interactional business (see Step 3), the next step is to determine whether or not there are any recurrent patterns in the data. Take another look at the transcript and see if you can identify any patterns. Remember that conversation analysis is concerned with the contributions of all participants. So, examine both Tom’s and Jim’s contributions.


Did you notice that Jim’s utterances are limited to single word utterances? Without exception, Jim either says mm (in L03 and L08) or yeah (all other instances). This is more obvious if we re present the transcript using the convention of inserting an arrow () to draw attention to the location of the phenomenon of direct interest to our discussion, as follows.

01   Tom:  it’s nice though ’cause I mean I’ve I’ve

02         been various places in Spain (.) for two weeks

03 → Jim:  mm

04   Tom:  and er: erm you know it’s okay

05 → Jim:  yeah

06   Tom:  the food’s reasonable (..) the

07         things are: (.) //a li*ttle

08 → Jim:                    mm

09   Tom:  bit (.) a tiny bit more expensive (..) like they cost

10         a few pesetas //and th*at

11 → Jim:                  yeah

12   Tom:  it’s like a hundred and seventy five pesetas to the

13         pound

14 → Jim:  yeah

15   Tom:  but I mean (.) I’m sure Yvette can handle that

16 → Jim:  yeah

17   Tom:  the things that are luxuries //like*

18 → Jim:                                 yeah

19   Tom:  Kit Kats an:d //thing*s

20 → Jim:                  yeah

21   Tom:  like that (.) and cakes like that (.) //are jus*t

22 → Jim:                                          yeah

23   Tom:  a tiny //bit dear*er

24 → Jim:           yeah

Setting out the transcription this way now makes the presence of a possible recurrent pattern more obvious. We see that Jim appears to be making only minimal responses to Tom’s ongoing talk. This is, therefore, a possible candidate for a recurring pattern, i.e. Jim persistently taking minimal turns over an extended stretch of talk. There may be other candidates but we will focus solely on this one for the purposes of this example analysis.

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