John Local
University of York

ID 1785
[full paper]

This paper examines some methodological and empirical issues concerning phonetic detail and phonetic variability and the work they accomplish in everyday talk-in-interaction. By considering the phonetic and sequential design of a variety of conversational practices I show that phonetic aspects of language should in the first instance be understood as shaped by nteractional considerations. I argue that in order to provide a robust account for the organisation and functioning of phonetic detail in everyday conversation we need to: i) enrich our understanding of `context' and `communicative function'; ii) develop a theory of phonetic exponency which derives from a sequential, action-based analysis of talk-in-interaction, and iii) treat all phonetic resources equally and not give analytic privilege to one kind of phonetic parameter over another. If we adopt this approach, it becomes possible to document systematically the ways in which speakers and listeners use fine phonetic detail and phonetic variability in producing and interpreting the moment-to-moment flow of everyday talk.