Question and answer sequences in Garrwa talk
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For questionanswer sequences in Australian Aboriginal talk, it has been claimed that answers are not necessarily a required response. This would contrast with findings reported in recent cross-linguistic work on such sequences. In a corpus of 62 question sequences from conversations in two Garrwa communities on the west side of the Gulf of Carpentaria in northern Australia, 34 questions were answered, and a further 12 dealt with the question in some other way. Sixteen received no response in the proximally subsequent talk. Whilst most of these questions were answered, the offset time between question and response was long compared to previous studies. There was also a higher rate of non-answers and non-responses. For some cases of non-responses, contingent factors easily explained the lack, but in a few the reasons were not so apparent. It is argued that a significant factor in the relatively long silence between question and answer, and the relatively high rate of non-answers or non-responses, is that the parties in the talk spend much of the time in ‘continuing states of incipient talk’, rather than in tightly focused and temporally bound conversation, which may help to account for the apparent relaxation of gap minimization and response mobilization.
Australian Journal of Linguistics
© 2010 Routledge. This is the author-manuscript version of the paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal link for access to the definitive, published version.
Discourse and Pragmatics