William Turnbull is Associate Chair for Psychology and is based at the Simon Fraser University in Canada. He is an expert in the field of social interaction and conversation.
Language in Action: Psychological Models of Conversationby William Turnbull
Face-to-face conversation between two or more people is a universal form, and perhaps the basic form, of social interaction. It is the primary site of social interaction in all cultures and the place where social and cultural meaning takes shape. Face-to-face conversation between children and parents can also be an important context for social and cognitive development. Given the universality, frequency and importance of conversation in social life, a psychological model of conversation is required for an understanding of the central issues in social and developmental psychology. This book provides such a model.
Language in Action presents a critical examination of four models of conversation: the Code model based on Chomsky's linguistic views; the Speech Act model of Austin and Searle; the Inferential model of Grice, and the Conversation Analytic model of Sacks and Schegloff. It also considers the Brown and Levinson model of politeness in conversation. Using many examples from natural talk and drawing on the positive aspects of the reviewed models, Turnbull proposes a new Social Pragmatic model of conversation as social interaction. He also describes the research paradigm of Social Pragmatics that experimental psychologists can use to study conversation. This book will be invaluable for advanced students in psychology, sociology, language and linguistics and communication. It will also make fascinating and lively reading for anyone wanting a greater understanding of this fundamental form of social interaction.
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This book was instrumental in helping me to understand all of the varying motives of communication. The author did painstaking research into conversational analysis and does an excellent job of summarizing the different theories that are out there with regard to this topic. Anyone interested in the millenium-long "Language-Thought" debate will appreciate this discussion on the different theories of communication; of which "talk" theory has largely and sadly been left out (in the US). On a personal level, I found it not only extremely interesting to read, it also helped me to see how communication develops and is used. It is one thing to experience conversation, it is another to read it and see logged how paralanguage is used in conversation and how both paralanguage and language direct the flow of meaning and interpretation of meaning. Politeness theories and discussions of turn-taking patterns and how we change what we say to accommodate others to maintain our relationships is very interesting. I would recommend this to anyone interested in the study of language theory and it should not be left out of the topic of linguistics if meaning is not only derived by what you say but also by how you say it and in what context you say it. I would not recommend the book to anyone looking for easy answers, though it is insightful and gives practical information which can help us communicate better. It is scientific research but not unreadable to the serious student. It is for the serious language and psychology of language evaluator. In short, to me as a language teacher who saw the influence of culture and context on language learning and conversational patterns from living overseas a good amount of my life, it is a jewel of a book. (c) Laura Beth Hattersley