Referential problems and turn construction: An exploration of an intersection between grammar and interaction

Hayashi Makoto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In conversation, speakers often face problems in formulating and establishing referential expressions that are appropriate for the particular recipients to whom their utterances are addressed. This study investigates how participants in Japanese conversation deal with such referential problems in the course of constructing a turn at talk and how various grammatical practices used in this process shape the organization of turns and sequences in an orderly and recurrent manner. When referential problems occur, they regularly create tension between two orientations: On the one hand, in order to solve referential problems, speakers need to put on hold the construction of the turn with which they intend to execute the larger action. On the other hand, speakers' orientation to executing the larger action motivates the progress of turn construction, which in turn motivates the minimization of a disruption to the 'progressivity' of the unfolding turn. By examining ways in which participants handle referential problems during turn construction, we show how participants organize their engagement with two potentially competing activities within an ongoing turn and how they mobilize grammar to organize their concurrent involvement in these competing activities.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-468
Number of pages32
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2005


  • Conversation analysis
  • Grammar
  • Interactional linguistics
  • Japanese
  • Referential problem
  • Turn construction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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