SYMSYS 100   -     Spring 2005
Homework 4: Language: Conversation and Meaning
Due: Thursday May 19 at 10:00 at the start of class, in class. Late homework will not be accepted.



Ask two friends (or more if you want) if you can tape record them sometime when they are chatting. Record 10 minutes of this conversation on a tape deck or ipod or your laptop (or borrow a friend's laptop). You don't need a fancy microphone; any built-in laptop microphone will be fine. But make sure you test the microphone and recording situation. If you record the conversation and only find out afterwords that the microphone doesn't work, or the laptop wasn't close enough to the talkers, and you have to do it over again, you will be very frustrated!

  1. Selection: Choose at least one interesting minute from your conversation to transcribe. It doesn't have to be a single contiguous segment of the conversation, but if you pick multiple segments make sure they add up to at least one minute in total. Your talkers might be a little nervous at first, so you might want to not pick the very first minute, although you can if you want. But in any case read the rest of this homework before you pick the minute, since you will want to pick a segment (or segments) that can give you answers to the questions below.

  2. Transcription: Transcribe all the words in this 1 minute of conversation, broken up into turns. You should transcribe your conversation in the following kind of format, where you use A and B as names of the talkers, and the numbers starting from one to label each turn; here's a sample from the middle of a conversation starting at turn 14. Notice that the transcription includes 'disfluencies' like "uh" and "um" and repetitions ("that's, that's") and fragments ("ca- car"). Also notice the use of asterisks ('*') to mark overlapped speech.

    B.14: And I found that while you can find some cars
    that are comfortable to ride in, uh, finding a ca-, car anymore that's, that's
    fairly easy for me to work on, it's just not very eas-, it's not very, almost
    unlikely at this point.
    A.15:  Yeah.
    B.16:  And, uh, yo-,
    A.17:  Yeah.  I've got a sixty-five Mustang *and* --
    B.18:  *Ooh.*
    A.19:  I, and I do the work on, most of the work on that myself.
    B.20:  Uh-huh.

  3. Metaphors. Find at least 1 example of metaphor (of the kind that Lakoff talks about) and 1 example of metonymy in your 1 minute of data. If you can't find an example of metonymy within your minute of speech, then cite an example you overheard this week in spontaneous speech.

  4. Conversational Implicature. Find at least one example each of two of Grice's Maxims. Give the example, and explain why it is an example of the use of Gricean Maxims.

  5. Discourse Phenomena Discuss how your conversation exhibits one of the conversational phenomena discussed by Clark, such as conversational openings/closings, presequences, collaborative completions, and so on.