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Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk among Friends

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195221817
ISBN-10: 0195221818
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for earlier edition:

"By far the most interesting and accessible--and fun!--introduction to conversational style that I know of. Students love it, and I use it as a required textbook whenever I teach sociolinguistics."--Doug Biber, Northern Arizona University

"Interesting and valuable for both laypersons and students."--Language

"A contribution not only for the general reader but for any researcher or student interested in conversation."--Language and Society

About the Author

Deborah Tannen is University Professor and Professor of Linguistics at Georgetown University. Her academic books include the first edition of this book, published in 1984, as well as Gender and Discourse and the edited volumes Framing in Discourse, and Gender and Conversational Interaction (both O.U.P., 1993). In all, she has published nineteen books, including most notably The New York Times Best Seller You Just Don't Understand.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (July 21, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195221818
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195221817
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.7 x 5.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,090,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Deborah Tannen's book hit me with what should have been obvious years ago. During a recent conversation, a fellow student at the American University voiced some hesitation about applying for a master's degree in Sociology, because her undergraduate degree was in Music. Lacking a background in Sociology, she felt inadequate for the task. I replied that she might be surprised how much she her previous degree might open unusual research fields for her in Sociology. I commented that she could draw on her background in music to do some kind of research on the impact of music in people's lives or the similarity diversity of music across cultural lines. She then commented that finding funding was difficult and again, I said, "You can." Just search the Internet. There are so many scholarships and grants. You can do it.
Oddly, her body language when she shook my hand and said good-bye gave me the impression that she felt more assaulted than assured by our brief conversation.
Deborah Tannen's book explains in large measure what may have been happening. Tannen's book takes a simple dinner conversation between six people and shows what works and why as well as what fails and why. Among her examples is a matter of differing opinions about turn-taking. The "New Yorkers" in Tannen's book feel uncomfortable with silence. The British girl in the book feels a need for silence in order to contribute.
Tannen examines differing views of conversation pace, overlap, rate of speech, personal and non-personal topics and more. Tannen shows that some people feel discussion of personal topics is a method for building rapport, while others feel it is an invasion of privacy. Some feel more comfortable when discussing impersonal topics and this allows them to relax more and allows rapport to be established.
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Format: Paperback
"Conversational Style: Analyzing Talk among Friends" is by now a classic in linguistics, especially sociolinguistics and conversation analysis. Tannen recorded a conversation that took place between herself and five of her friends during a Thanksgiving dinner, transcribed it and analysed it. The book is not really an investigative enterprise in the sense that she comes to any new conclusions herself; rather it is an exercise aimed at explaining what she means by the term 'conversational style'; to provide a framework for scholars interested in this method of analysis; and to show lay people how these insight can help them in everyday interactions.

'Conversational style' is basically a type of language variation, 'dialect' being another. But whereas 'dialect' refers to a language variety with a particular pronunciation and grammar, spoken by a group of people in a certain region, 'conversational style' refers to something both more individual and subtle. Her initial intention was to analyse the participants' talk individually, but as she progressed she realised that many traits were shared between herself and two other friends - all three of them being from New York. She calls this a 'high-involvement style' which is characterised by fast speech, short pauses, highly varied intonation, high tolerance against interruptions, unsubtle humour and specific narrative strategies. The other participants vary more in their styles, but as a whole tend more to 'high-consideration style', basically the opposite.

Tannen makes an observation that anyone can identify with: sometimes when you talk to someone and try to do your best to be pleasant, you still come away with the impression that the other person found you very annoying. Well, the reason might just be that you have different conversational styles, and people with the same conversational styles tend to get along, while those who have different ones, don't.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is one that everyone that studies language in the social context has to read. The chapter 2 is an important history about the studies of style.
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