1 COMMUNICATION THEORY:SYSTEM CONSTRAINTS AND CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS Written by: Kuntum Trilestari, S.Pd. 20112506002 DISCOURSE ANALYSIS Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Indawan Syahri, M.Pd. Drs. Akhyar Burhan, M.Pd. Pascasarjana Program Sriwijaya University English Language and Study Program Palembang 2012
2COMMUNICATION THEORY:SYSTEM CONSTRAINTS AND CONVERSATIONAL ANALYSIS 1. Introduction Language is used in human being for communication. In human communication there is a system of how people should communicate. Goffman stated in Hatch‟s book (Hatch, 1992) that there is a set of universal constraints on all communication. All human language has constraints and these become universal in all type of communication. Based on Goffman, from communication constraints, there are two types: system constraints, and ritual constraints. Universal Constraints Communication Constraints System Constraints Ritual Constraints This paper focuses on system constraints, where the components required for all communication systems, and conversational analysis, the way to analyze spoken language into written language by using some signals or symbols (transcription). In analyzing conversational data, it is better for analysts or communication specialists to take a natural conversational data, where language are produced in normal and ordinary, everyday ways.
3 The way to transcribe the conversation (spoken language) into conversational data (written language) commonly uses videotaped data. This videotaped data will help specialists to analyze language not only from verbal language but also from body language. Many communication specialists work from videotaped data because non-verbal information such as eye gaze, body orientation, hand movements, and head tilt may serve as communication signals (Hatch, 1992). There is no pattern rule for trancribing the conversational data. The transcription conventions for conversational analysis in here are developed by Jefferson stated in Hatch‟s book (1992, 6):1. Overlap symbols a. Slash : // or / b. Bracket : [ c. An asterisk : * d. Equal : =2. Elapsed time a. Numbers in parentheses : (.2) (elapsed time in tenths of a second) b. Dot in parentheses : (.) (micro pause) c. Plus : +, ++, or +++ (short, longer or long pause)3. Punctuation for Intonation a. Question mark : ? (rising intonation) b. Comma : , (a slight rise)
4 c. Colon : :, ::::: (lengthened or more prolonged syllable)4. Stress (pitch and volume) a. Uppercase type : e.q A: to my BOYfriend ann NOTHING else.5. Talk softly a. Degree : (○)6. Aspiration a. h in parentheses : (h) (explosive aspiration) b. h without parentheses : h (audible breathing) c. Dot : . (in-breath)7. Unsure of accuracy a. Single parentheses : ()8. Nonverbal sounds a. Double parentheses : (( ))9. Part of the transcript relevant to the analyst’s description a. A right arrow : b. Underline : _ Furthermore, the spelling of words are altered to try to capture some of the detail of natural speech. For example: “see you in ten minutes” “see yuh „n ten minutes” “give me the key” “gimme the key”
52. System Constraints There are eight system constraints that Goffman claimed to be universal in all human communication (Hatch, 1992:8): Channel open/close signals Backchannel signals Turnover signals Acoustically adequate and interpretable message Bracket signals Nonparticipant constraints Preempt signals Gricean norms for communication 2.1 Channel open/close signals In all communication, there must be ways to show that communication is about to begin and then begins, and ways to show that it is about to end and then ends (Hatch, 1992:8). The term of open and close signal will be according to the situation where the communication run. For example, in meeting, classroom, letter, phone call, or interpersonal communication, there are differences way how to open and close the conversation. The main focus part in this conversational data is taken from phone conversation. According to Schegloff, there are four basic parts in opening phone conversation (Hatch, 1992:9): (1) summons-answer sequence,
6(2) identification sequence, (3) greeting sequence, and (4) how-are-yousequence. It means that for opening a phone conversation, it is not onlyusing a word “hello”.2.1.1 Summons-answer sequence The phone conversation will be different in summons- answer sequence based on formal and informal phone conversation. For example: ((phone ringing)) ((phone ringing)) A : Hello:, C : Good morning:, B : Hi. D : Good morning.2.1.2 Identification sequence We are very often able to identify the caller or the answerer from minimal voice samples (Hatch, 1992:9). When the caller surely recognizes by the voice of the answerer, he would probably say the name of the answerer. For example: ((phone ringing)) ((phone ringing)) Answerer : Hello:, Answerer : Hello:, Caller : Hi Ana. Caller : Hi mom, it‟s me.
7 When the answerer has known the caller by using hand phone or maybe in term of office/formal phone conversation, the answerer will probably say the name of the caller or the institution name. For example: ((phone ringing)) ((phone ringing)) Caller : Hello:, Caller : Hello:. Answerer : Hi Jane. Answerer : Smith Company,2.1.3 Greeting sequence Greeting sequence is just the continuing opening and identification sequences. For example: ((phone ringing)) A : Hello:, B : Hi, A : Hi Sue. B : Hi, mom,2.1.4 How-are-you sequence Finally, the opening may include a „how-are-you‟ sequence. The default response is usually “okay” or “fine” (Hatch, 1992:11). Actually, how-are-you sequence is just a way
8 of opening a conversation and it is not a main aim of having a phone call. For example: ((phone ringing)) E : Huh-lo? S : He-LO! E : Hi Sue, How are yuh. S : Fine, how‟re you. E : hhhh Oh, not so good. I hadda a run-in with B. For closing the conversation, it is not as simple as saying“good-bye”. It has its system where pre closing appears and closingparts come up at the end of the conversation. Preclosing signals willgive a sign that you might end the conversation, such as “well”,“okay” and “so” used with falling intonation. For example: E: okay. So:: S: Yeh. E: Yeh. so I‟ll call yuh tomorrow then. S: Okay mom, talk to you later. E: Bye. S: Bye.
92.2 Backchannel Signals There have to be signals that a message is getting through in system constraints. Eye contact, head nods, smiles, and body alignment all help to tell us whether or not the recipient has answered our summons and is attending to our message. Backchannel signals encourages the speaker to continue. Backchannel or feedback signals differ across settings and according to the roles of speakers. Example of back channel could be in term od noises like “uuhmm”, “yeh”, “yerright”. L : Here‟s a little girl. E : Uhhuh L : She was walking with flowers in the grass. E : mmhmm L : And then she saw the ice cream and she told a lady can she have some. E : yeah L : And then the lady, the lady gave her some.2.3 Turnover Signals Turnover signals or turn taking signals allow for a smooth exchange of turns. Signals for turn over such as: Slowing tempo Vowel elongation
10 Falling intonation A change in gaze direction Sometimes, in turn over signal, overlaps do happen.Overlapsmeans talk in the same time. It does not mean not listening each otheror they want to „grab the floor‟ or interupt each other. Overlaps showencouragement much as backchannel signals do. It is just to assure thespeaker is not in the conversation alone. Example 1:Teacher : Who did that land already belong to?Students: Spain ((a few students respond at the same time))Teacher : And now + explores coming + and claiming it for?Students: England ((several students respond at the same time)) Syntactic completion can also signal a transition-relevantplace. A change in gaze direction (at or away from the listener) canindicate the end of a turn, Or, if speaker begins to raise his or her armsat a possible transition place, listeners can project when the turn willend. Again, the next speaker won‟t normally try to take aturn until thespeaker‟s arms are lowed. Example 2:M : Mmhmm sometimes it dangerous because if you go out of chairchair is name of it?S : Yeah the saddle
11 M : Maybe you die because if you (pause) S : Yeah you hit your head. ((completes turn for Miguel))2.4 Acoustically Adequate and Interpretable Messages Communication requires ungarbled and interpretable message that have to be „hearable‟. Two ways in dealing with difficulty adequate and interpreting message because of their language level competence : 1. Fake it Pretending to understand and continuing to interact in the hope that we will catch the theme or focus of the conversation. Communication can continue fairly smoothly, but it may also break down completely since information that allows the participants to build a common theme or focus is missing. 2. Use backchannel cues Use backchannel cues to let the speaker know we do not understand. The speakers then repairs the message. The message becomes comprehensible during the repair process, but both the native speaker and language learner may find the need for constant negotiation of repairs too burdensome to make the conversation worth-wile.
12 To overcome communication breakdowns when one partner is not yet proficient in the language or in the content of the material being talked about, we may use : a fill in the blank cooperative completion. rephrase questions so that less language is demanded of the learner. supply answers. model the learner‟s response. model better forms of answer.2.5 Bracket Signals Bracket signals are used to show that parts of the message, “side sequences”, are not right on-line with the message of the moment. To show that the conversation is cut by other action, speakers sometimes use “by the way”, “anyway” or “incidentally”. By using these signals, it means the next sentences does not include in the main message before. For example: LF: (reading a lecture paper) ... to the total – ((looks up and directly at audience)) I’m reading this as fast as I can because I bet you’re as hungry as I am. I didn’t eat any breakfast this morning – ((audience laughter; looks back down and continues reading the text))...
13 The example above shows that from reading a lecture paper “to the total”, then it is cut by additional words “I’m reading this as fast as I can because I bet you’re as hungry as I am. I didn’t eat any breakfast this morning” where it doesn;t include in the lecture paper. Bracket signals also show non-verbal action appears during the communication. For example to show caughing, laughing, taking something, body movement, or picking up and talking on the phone where those actions are not include on-line with the message of the moment. Signlas used for bracket signals such as dashes „-...-„, or parentheses „((...)).2.6 Nonparticipant Constraints Nonparticipant contraints is where we are not in group of conversation and trying ti get into the conversation. There is one strategy used to move from non participant to participant status that is to repeat parts of what one overhears in the ongoing communication. For example: (Setting: A coffee shop; two men are speaking together and a woman is seated at the next table “listening in”.) A to B: ... like someone from California. B : yeh C : Someone from CaloFORnia? I mean, I‟M from California and...
14 Laughter, eye contact and hand waving (non-verbal signals) can also be used as a cue to move from non participant to participant status.2.7 Preempt Signals Preempt signals is the condition where we are in a part of conversation but want to stop or interupt the conversation. The aim of interupting the conversation is not only to stop the conversation but also to request reapirs or message clarification. But when we want to stop a conversation because of we have to do something else, perhaps preempt signals that we use could be supported by non verbal action. In a conversation, nonverbal signals are used such as: leaning forward, shifting forward in our seats, opening our eyes wide raising eyebrows, waving a pencil in the air2.8 Gricean Norms for Communication Communication cannot truly work unless participants generally observe four major norms of cooperation: relevance, truthfulness, quantity, and clarity. These norms, called maxims, were proposed by Grice (1975) as criteria for cooperative communication.
152.8.1 Relevance Communication messages cannot be random, but must relate to what has gone before. Topics in a conversation are dynamic and are negotiated as a conversation progress. In writing, only one person is building the text, trying to put information into appropriate sequence so that the pieces most highly related to each other come together.2.8.2 Truthfulness When we violate truthfulness, we often do so using special intonation for sarcasm, for testing, or for playfulness. Learning how to move in and out of “truthfulness” with appropriate marking may be acquired early in in life, but the successful execution and recognition of irony, teasing, and joking is not an easy matter.2.8.3 Quantity In conversation, everyone should have his or her “fair” share of talk time. No one should “hog” the floor without permission.
16 In writing, some of us are very long winded, while others too brief. 2.8.4 Clarity We should avoid obscurity and ambiguity. Our message should be constructed in an orderly way. 3. Conclusion According to Goffman stated in Hatch‟s book, there are eight system constraints to be universal in all human communication. They are channel open/close signals, backchannel signals, Turnover signals, Acoustically adequate and interpretable message, Bracket signals, Nonparticipant constraints, Preempt signals, Gricean norms for communication. All happens depend on the context of where the communication is run and influenced by the culture of the area. In analyzing the conversational data, specialists could use the method of transcription conventions developed by Jefferson. Again, a natural conversation is held by daily communication where the normal language is used and run without any consideration of being analzed.Reference:Hatch, E. (1992). Discourse and language education. Los Angeles: Cambridge University Press.