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INTERCULTURAL PRAGMATICS- SESSION 1

ADJACENCY PAIRS

I. Which SA usually couple with the following SA in order to produce commonly occurring adjacency
pairs:
a) invitation
b) apology
c) compliment
d) order
e) insult
II. Discuss the following exchanges in terms of adjacency pairs and inserted sequences (if any). Identify
the SA expressed by each U and highlight which U make up expected/able adjacency pairs. Wherever
inserted sequences occur, explain the possible reasons why such insertions need to have been introduced
in the exchange.
EXAMPLES AND ANALYSIS SAMPLES:

Bones: Burnt flesh. Are there a lot of injuries?


Booth: Four known dead. Fifteen injured.

The closed question-answer type of adjacency pair in the example above is characterized by the precise
response which does not flout any conversational maxims of the CP. The interlocutor strictly provides the
other speaker useful information without prolonging his participation in the dialogue due to the urgent
need of establishing the casualties.

Gibson: Youre going to be able to ID him from that?


Zach: Asking stuff like that is in the way.

This kind of adjacency pair closed question/answer requires a yes/no response, but instead it
generates an implicature because of the interlocutors reluctance to communicate something he considers
irrelevant and time-consuming in solving the case; Therefore, Zach wants to state that he will not be able
to identify the victim if he is interrupted with silly questions all the time ]

Cam: You've been here all night?


Brennan: Is it morning?
Cam: Yes.
Brennan: I've been here all night.

The obvious insertion is the question to which the interlocutor, Dr. Saroyan, chooses to respond in order
to ensure her interlocutors response. What apparently is a violation of the Quality, Manner and Relation
Maxims, it is actually a completely natural instinct of getting oneself in touch with reality again after
losing track of time.
[1]

Alan: How much did you tip him [the pizza delivery man]?
Charlie: I don't know. I gave him a fifty.
Charlie: OK, well, good luck with the tour!
Steven Tyler: Thanks a lot, man.
Alan: There you go. One hot chocolate for mommy!
Naomi: Thank you.
(Two and a half Men)
2]
Ross: What are you doing?
Chandler: Making chocolate milk. You want some?
Ross: No thanks, I'm 29.

(Friends)

3]
AL:
BUD
AL

Uh, how was school today, Bud? Not that I care...


I'm glad that you asked that, Dad, because I'm not being all I can be. Now, you know what
we need in this house?
Poison gas coming through the vents?

PEGGY [to Bud] He only thinks of himself. What do we need, dear?


BUD

A computer.
(Married with Children)

4]
Summer just got a job at the same company where Tom works. They have already met but they dont know
anything about each other. Since the moment he saw Summer for the first time, Tom feels interested in her.
Tom: So, how is it going?
Summer: Pretty good.
Tom: So you just moved here, right?
Summer: Uhum.
Tom: When?
Summer: Saturday
Tom: Oh, wow! And what brought you?
Summer: Boredom mostly. I want to try something new and exciting.
Tom: Clearly youve come to the right place.

Summer: So youve worked here long?


Tom: About three years, four years.
Summer: Wow! Youve always wanted to write greeting cards?
Tom: I dont even wanna do it now.
Summer: You should do something else then.
Tom: Yea, I studied to be an architect, actually.
Summer: You did? Thats cool.
(500 hundred days of Summer)

5]
Chandler: Want my sandwich?
Joey: Whats in it?
Chandler: Really?
Joey: Of course I want it! Gimme that!
(Friends)

6]
Ross: Oh, really? Well, I guess Monica should know about Atlantic City. [U1]
Chandler: Du-ude! [U2]
Monica: What happened in Atlantic City? [U3]
Ross: Well, Chandler and I are in a bar... [U4]
Chandler: Did you not hear me say, "Du-ude"? [U5]
Ross: ...and this girl is making eyes at Chandler, okay? So after a while he just goes over to her and, uh,
after a minute or two, I see them kissing. Now, I know what you're thinking. Chandler's not the type of
guy who just goes to bars and makes out with girls. And you're right. Chandler's not the type of guy just
goes to bars and makes out with girls. [U6]
Monica: You kissed a guy? Oh my God. [U7]
Chandler: In my defense, it was dark and he was a very pretty guy. [U8] (Friends)
=>Utterances 2 and 5 are intervening utterances. Chandler doesnt want Ross to tell Monica what
happened in Atlantic City. These two utterances are insertion sequences because they are related to the
utterances above and because after them the initial questions are answered.
7]
(U1)

House: Hows Cameron?

(U2)

Foreman:

Dr. Cameron?

(U3) House:

Sure. Lets start with her and move on to all the other Camerons we know.

(U4) Foreman:

Im sorry. Im just not used to you asking about someones well-being.

(U5) House:

I can understand how the question would surprise you. I dont quite get how it
would confuse you.

(U6) Foreman:

Why do you wanna know?

(U7) House:
(U8) Foreman:
(U9) House:

Why do you wanna know why I want to know?


Just curious.
Me too.

(U10) Foreman:

You dont get curious.

(U11) House:

Im the most curious man in the world.

(U12) Foreman:

Not about trivialities.

(U13) House:

Well, then this must not be trivial. How is Cameron handling everything?

(U14) Foreman:

Just fine.

(U15) House:

Great. Glad we talked.

The adjacency pair question-answer (U1, U14) is interrupted by a long insertion sequence, because
Foreman cannot understand what on earth makes House interested in someone elses well-being.
Interestingly enough, the insertion sequence contains two more intertwined adjacency pairs, in the form
of questions and answers (U6 and U8, U7 and U9), all of which occur because Foreman is not willing to
provide an answer before knowing the motivation behind Houses question.
(House, MD)
8]
Breaking of adjacency pair in The Big Bang Theory
Sheldon and the gang are participating at a science conference. Sheldon opens up the panel with a poorly
received joke:
Sheldon: Good morning everyone and welcome to 'Science and Society'. I'm Dr. Sheldon Cooper, BS,
MS, MA, PhD and ScD. OMG, right? [giggles]
Audience: [silence]
Sheldon: Perhaps that joke was a little too hippie-dippy for this crowd.