Aspects of turn-taking in deaf-hearing conversation

Wright, Lorraine Anita (1999) Aspects of turn-taking in deaf-hearing conversation. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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It has been found that prosody plays a vital role in the exchange of turns in conversation, and it is often thought that interruptions constitute a breakdown in the turn-taking system. Previous research also reveals irregularities in the prosody of Deaf speech. However, the majority of investigations fail to consider such irregularities in terms of the implications that they may have on spoken interaction with Hearing people, and in particular fail to consider the effect that they may have on
the turn-taking procedure. This investigation examines the possibility that prosodic irregularities in the speech of the hearing-impaired may result in the miscommunication of turn-completion and thus cause unintended interruptions by a Hearing interlocutor. It also examines the conversational behaviour of interlocutors, focusing principally on interruptive behaviour, in an attempt to determine whether conversations between speakers of opposite hearing-status contain a greater frequency of conversational difficulties than spoken interaction between two hearing interlocutors.
Five dyadic conversations were recorded, three of which involved interlocutors of opposite hearing status (Deaf-Hearing), and two of which were between two hearing speakers (Hearing-Hearing). The conversational behaviour of each interlocutor was analysed auditorily, and a number of sections of conversation from the Deaf-Hearing conversations were analysed instrumentally for evidence of prosodic effects.
Results revealed that the Deaf-Hearing conversations contained a greater frequency of conversational difficulties than the Hearing-Hearing conversations. Furthermore, it was found that a number of these difficulties may be attributable to the miscommunication of turncompletion by Deaf speakers due to prosodic irregularities in their speech.

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